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Title: Letters of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy from Italy and Switzerland
Author: Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy from Italy and Switzerland" ***

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Transcriber's note: Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the
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Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was born at Hamburg, on the third of
February, 1809. The name to which he was destined to add such
lustre, was already high in the annals of fame. Moses Mendelssohn,
his grandfather, a great Jewish philosopher, one of the most
remarkable men of his time, was the author of profound Metaphysical
works, written both in German and Hebrew. To this great power of
intellect, Moses Mendelssohn added a purity and dignity of
character worthy of the old stoics. The epigraph on the bust of
this ancestor of the composer, shows the esteem in which he was
held by his contemporaries:

"Faithful to the religion of his fathers, as wise as Socrates, like
Socrates teaching the immortality of the soul, and like Socrates
leaving a name that is immortal."

One of Moses Mendelssohn's daughters married Frederick Schlegel,
and swerving from the religion in which both had been brought up,
both became Roman Catholics.

Joseph Mendelssohn, the eldest son of this great old man, was also
distinguished for his literary taste, and has left two excellent
works of very different characters, one on Dante, the other on the
system of a paper currency.

In conjunction with his brother, Abraham, he founded the
banking-house of Mendelssohn & Company at Berlin, still flourishing
under the management of the sons of the original founders, the
brothers and cousins of Felix, the subject of this memoir.

George Mendelssohn the son of Joseph, was also a distinguished
political writer and Professor in the University at Bonn.

With such an array of intellectual ancestry, the Mendelssohn of our
day came into the world at Hamburg, on the third of February,1809.
He was named Felix, and a more appropriate name could not have been
found for him, for in character, circumstance and endowment, he was
supremely happy. Goethe, speaking of him, said "the boy was born on
a lucky day." His first piece of good fortune, was in having not
only an excellent virtuous woman for his mother, but a woman who,
besides these qualities, possessed extraordinary intellect and had
received an education that fitted her to be the mother of children
endowed as hers were. She professed the Lutheran creed, in which
her children were brought up. Being of a distinguished commercial
family and an heiress, her husband added her name of Bartholdy to
his own. Mme. Mendelssohn Bartholdy's other children were, Fanny
her first-born, whose life is entirely interwoven with that of her
brother Felix, and Paul and Rebecca, born some years later.

When yet a boy, Felix removed with his parents to Berlin, probably
at the time of the formation of the banking house. The Prussian
capital has often claimed the honor of being his birthplace, but
that distinction really belongs to Hamburg.

His extraordinary musical talent was not long in developing itself.
His sister Fanny, his "soul's friend" and constant companion,
almost as richly endowed as himself, aroused his emulation, and
they studied music together first as an art, and then as a science,
to be the foundation of future works of inspiration and genius.

Zelter, severe and classic, profoundly scientific, inexorable for
all that was not true science, became the teacher of these two
gifted children in composition and in counterpoint. For piano-forte
playing, Berger was the professor, though some years later
Moscheles added the benefit of his counsels, and Felix was fond of
calling himself the pupil of Moscheles, with whom in after life he
contracted a close friendship. Zelter was exceedingly proud of his
pupil, soon discovering that instead of an industrious and
intelligent child, one of the greatest musical geniuses ever known
was dawning on the world. When he was but fifteen, Zelter took the
young musician to Weimar, and secured for him the acquaintance and
good will of Goethe, which as long as Goethe lived, seemed to be
the necessary consecration of all talent in Germany. By this time
not only was he an admirable performer on the piano, possessed of
a talent for improvisation and a memory so wonderful, that not only
could he play almost all Bach, Händel, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven
by heart, but he could also without hesitation accompany a whole
opera from memory, provided he had but seen the score once. The
overture to Midsummer Night's Dream, so popular now in every
country, was composed before he was seventeen, and was played for
the first time as a duet on the piano by his sister Fanny and
himself on the 19th November, 1826. This is indeed the inspiration
of youth with its brilliancy, its buoyancy, its triumphant joy,
full of the poetry of a young heart, full of the imagination of a
mind untainted by the world. It was not till some years after, that
Mendelssohn completed the music to Shakspeare's great play. In
1827, Felix left the University of Berlin with great honors. He was
a profound classical scholar, and has left as a specimen of his
knowledge, a correct, graceful and elegant translation of Terence's
comedy of Andria, a work greatly approved of by Goethe. He excelled
in gymnastics, was an elegant rider, and like Lord Byron, a bold
and accomplished swimmer. The year he left the University, he went
to England, where Henrietta Sonntag was in the height of her fame.
He played in several concerts where she sang, as well as with
Moscheles, his old friend and teacher, now established in London.

On his return to Germany in 1830, he visited Goethe at Weimar, and
there planned his journey to Italy, a country which all men of
genius yearn after, as the promised land of inspiration. When in
Rome, Felix Mendelssohn began the grand Cantata of the Walpurgis
Night, to Goethe's words, at which he worked for some years. On his
return from his travels, Mendelssohn, who had now all the assurance
and self-possession of an artist, was appointed chapel-master at
Düsseldorf, a position which gave him the direction of the grand
musical festivals held at that time in this city and in
Aix-la-Chapelle. It was during his residence in Düsseldorf, that he
composed his oratorio of St. Paul, and also, the first set of his
"Songs without Words" for the piano, where the music, by its varied
expression and its intensity, alone told the story of the poet.
These compositions were a novelty for piano-forte players, and
inaugurated a new style, full of interest, gradually setting aside
the variations and sonatas which had become so meaningless and
tedious. The oratorio of St. Paul was not given until 1836, when it
was produced at Düsseldorf, under his own special superintendence.
Mendelssohn composed very rapidly, but he was cautious in giving
his works to the public, until they thoroughly satisfied his
judgment, the most critical to which they could be submitted.

In the latter part of 1836, having gone to Frankfort, to direct a
concert of the Ceciliaverein, he became acquainted with Cecilia
Jeanrenaud, a beautiful and accomplished girl, the second daughter
of a clergyman of the Reformed Church, and in the spring of 1837
she became his wife. The marriage had been delayed some months by
Mendelssohn's ill health; he had begun to feel the first symptoms
of the nervous disease, affecting the brain, from which he was
destined henceforth to suffer, and of which, finally, he was fated
to die.

After his marriage he undertook the direction of the Leipzig
Concerts. All over Germany, Mendelssohn was in requisition; his
immense genius as a composer, his great skill as a conductor, his
gentle, fascinating manners, gave him extraordinary popularity. It
was England, however, after all, who appreciated him most. Sacred
music seems to appeal especially to the English taste. Haydn,
Händel, Beethoven have all found more patronage and appreciation in
England than in their own country. So it was with Mendelssohn; the
greatest musical triumph ever achieved, was the performance of the
oratorio of Elijah, given at Birmingham, the work on which
Mendelssohn's fame will rest. He was nine years in composing this
oratorio; and notwithstanding the most flattering ovation,
Mendelssohn's serene temperament was not moved to vanity or
conceit. In the very moment of his success, he sat down modestly to
correct many things that had not satisfied him. The trio for three
female voices (without accompaniment) one of the most beautiful
pieces in the oratorio, was added by the composer after the public
had declared itself satisfied with the work as it originally stood.
Elijah was produced in 1847, but Mendelssohn had been several times
to England before this, playing at the ancient and Philharmonic
concerts; at that time, the resort of the élite in London.

It was during one of these visits in 1842, that Prince Albert, who
as a German and a musician, had sought his acquaintance, introduced
him to Queen Victoria. The visit was entirely devoid of formality,
for without any previous announcement, the Prince conducted
Mendelssohn from his private apartments, to the Queen's study,
where they found her surrounded by papers, and just terminating her
morning's work. The Queen receiving him most graciously, apologized
to the composer for the untidiness of the room, beginning herself
to put it in order and laughingly accepting his assistance. After
some agreeable conversation Mendelssohn sat down to the piano and
played whatever the Queen asked of him. When at length he rose,
Prince Albert asked the Queen to sing, and gracefully choosing one
of Mendelssohn's own compositions, she complied with the request.
Mendelssohn of course applauded, but the Queen laughingly told him,
that she had been too frightened to sing well. "Ask Lablache,"
(Lablache was her singing master) added the Queen, "he will tell
you that I can sing better than I have done to-day." Prince Albert
and the Queen were ever warm patrons and friends of Mendelssohn.

During all this time so brilliantly filled up, Mendelssohn's health
was continually and gradually declining. His nervous susceptibility
was such that he was often obliged to abstain from playing for
weeks together, his gentle and affectionate wife watching him and
keeping him as much as possible from composition. This was a very
difficult task, for Mendelssohn was a great worker. Even when
travelling, he would take out pen and ink from his pocket and
compose at one corner of the table, whilst the dinner was getting

Little was Mendelssohn prepared, either mentally or physically at
this time, to bear the one great sorrow that overwhelmed this happy
life, on which the sun of prosperity had ever shone. His sister
Fanny, to whom many of his letters were written, and who had been
the companion of his studies, possessing the same tastes and a
great deal of the same genius; his sister Fanny, who was the
nearest and dearest affection of his life, was suddenly taken from
him. She had married and was living in Frankfort, where she was the
ornament of society, in this enlightened and art-loving city, when
in the midst of a rehearsal of Faust, a symphony of her own
composition, she was struck with apoplexy and fell back dead in her
chair. There is no doubt that this shock considerably increased the
disease from which Mendelssohn was suffering, and though he used to
rally and even appear resigned, this sorrow, until the day of his
death, lay heavy at his heart. Again he tried to find health and
peace in travel; he went to Switzerland with his wife, who strove
to keep him from all occupation and labor, but he would gently urge
her to let him work. "The time is not far off, when I shall rest; I
must make the most of the time given me." "I know not how short a
time it may be," would he say to her. On his return from
Switzerland and Baden-Baden, he went to Berlin; and once more all
that remained of this tenderly attached family, were united for a
short time. At length he returned to his home in Leipzig, serene as
ever, but worn to a shadow by the acute and continued pains in the
head for which he could obtain no relief. On the 9th of October, he
went to the house of a friend, one of the artists of the Leipzig
concerts, and entreated her to sing for him a song he had that
night composed. By a strange coincidence, this song began with
these words, "Vanished has the light of day." It was Mendelssohn's
last composition, the last music he heard on earth, for whilst the
lady was singing it, he was seized with vertigo and was carried
insensible back to his house. He recovered, however, comparatively
from this attack, but a second stroke of apoplexy placed his life
in extreme peril, and a third, on the 3rd of November, made him
utterly unconscious. Towards nine o'clock on the evening of the
4th, (1847,) he breathed his last, going to his everlasting rest as
easily and as calmly as a tired child sinks to sleep. He was in the
thirty-ninth year of his age.

Mendelssohn's death was looked upon, throughout Germany, as a
public calamity. The funeral ceremonies at Leipzig were of a most
imposing character, and all the way from Leipzig to Berlin, where
the corpse was taken, to be buried in the family vault, the most
touching honors greeted it. Nearly all the crowned heads of Europe
wrote letters of condolence to his widow.

Mendelssohn as a musician is profoundly original. In his oratorios
"Paul" and "Elijah" he has swerved from the conventional religious
style; eschewing all fugues, his oratorios are full of power, and
contain great dramatic effects--at once grand and solemn. His other
music is remarkable for the sweetness of its melodies--its earnest
simplicity. His instrumentality is scientific without being
pedantic or heavy, and utterly devoid of antiquated formalism;
though pathetic often, there is always a vigor and life in all his
inspirations; the low mournful wail that runs through all Chopin's
works, arising from a morbid condition of health and heart, is
never felt in Mendelssohn. There is none of the bitterness, the
long suffering that artists' lives entail and that artists infuse
into their works, for Mendelssohn was a happy man from first to

Mendelssohn the happy, "the boy born on a lucky day," has left a
life-record that amid the gloomy heart-rending and often degrading
histories of artists, shines with a chaste and holy life. Nature,
the world and circumstance had done every thing for him. To the
great and all-sufficient gift of his musical genius he added many
others,--he had the eye of a painter, the heart of a poet, his
intellect was of the highest order; he was tall, handsome,
graceful, his social position one of the finest in Berlin, rich,
and surrounded by the tenderest family affections. With all these
advantages, with all the success that attended him, with all the
flattery lavished on him, Mendelssohn was never vain or proud, and
throughout his life was utterly free from envy. His fine, fearless,
childlike spirit, led him through the world, unconscious of evil,
undaunted by it. With all the temptations that must have assailed
the young, handsome, rich man, there is not one moment of his life
over which his friends would wish to draw a veil. On such a life as
that of Felix Mendelssohn, it is good for every one to look, for
once, genius is not set forth as a dazzling screen to hide and to
excuse disorder and crime, but genius, that one great gift from
heaven, was employed as heaven would have directed it, each action,
each succeeding year of his life, bringing forth in various but
harmonious ways, that extraordinary moral and intellectual worth,
that rare beauty of character that endeared him to all who knew
him, ensured him the unvarying love of kindred and friends, and the
admiration of the whole world.


Last year a paragraph was inserted in the newspapers, requesting
any one who possessed letters from Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy to
send them to Professor Droysen, or to myself, with the view of
completing a selection from his correspondence which we
contemplated publishing. Our design in this was twofold.

In the first place, we wished to offer to the public in
Mendelssohn's own words, which always so truly and faithfully
mirrored his thoughts, the most genuine impression of his
character; and secondly, we thought that the biographical elements
contained in such a correspondence, might be of infinite use in the
compilation of a memoir--which we reserve for a future day--and
serve as its precursor and basis.

There are difficulties, however, opposed to the immediate
fulfilment of our original purpose to its full extent; and at
present it is impossible to decide when these can be removed.

I have, therefore, formed the resolution to carry out my plan in
the meantime within more circumscribed limits, but which leaves me

On Mendelssohn's return from his first visit to England, in the
year 1829, he came to Berlin for a short time to attend a family
festivity, and thence in 1830 proceeded to Italy, returning through
Switzerland to France, and in the beginning of 1832 visiting
England for the second time.

This period, which to a certain degree forms a separate section of
his life, and which, through the vivid impressions it made,
assuredly exercised an important influence on Mendelssohn's
development (we may mention that he was only one-and-twenty at the
commencement of his journey), supplies us with a number of letters
addressed to his parents, and to his sisters, Fanny and Rebecca, as
well as to myself. I have also added some communications of the
same date, to various friends, partly entire and partly in
extracts, and now present them to the public in their original

Those who were personally acquainted with Mendelssohn, and who wish
once more to realize him as he was when in life,--and those also
who would be glad to acquire a more definite idea of his
individuality than can be found in the general inferences deduced
from his musical creations,--will not lay down these letters
dissatisfied. Along with this particular source of interest they
offer a more universal one, as they prove how admirably
Mendelssohn's superior nature, and perceptions of Art, mutually
pervaded and regulated each other.

With this view, it appeared to me a duty to give to the public
these letters, stored up in the peaceful home for which they were
originally destined and exclusively intended, and thus to make them
accessible to a more extended circle. They begin by a visit to
Goethe. May his words then accompany these Letters, as an
appropriate convoy:--

     "Be sure the works of mighty men,
     The good, the faithful, the sublime,
     Stored in the gallery of Time,
     Repose awhile--to wake again."[1]


  BERLIN, _March_, 1861.

  [1] "Was in der Zeiten Bildersaal
      Jemals ist trefflich gewesen,
      Das wird immer einer einmal
      Wieder auffrischen und lesen."


     Weimar, May 21st, 1830.

Never, in the whole course of my travels, do I remember a more
glorious and inspiriting day for a journey than yesterday. At an
early hour in the morning the sky was grey and cloudy, but the sun
presently burst forth; the air was cool and fresh, and being
Ascension Sunday the people were all dressed in their best. In one
village I saw them crowding into church as I passed, in another
coming away from divine service, and, last of all, playing at
bowls. The gardens were bright with tulips, and I drove quickly
past, eagerly looking at everything. At Weissenfels they gave me a
little basket carriage, and at Naumburg an open droschky. My
effects, including my hat and cloak, were piled upon it behind. I
bought a few bunches of lilies-of-the-valley, and thus I travelled
on through the country, as if on a pleasure excursion.

Some collegians came up to me beyond Naumburg, and envied me. We
then drove past President G----, seated in a small carriage, which
evidently had some difficulty in containing him, and his daughters
or _wives_; in short, the two ladies with him, who appeared equally
envious of my position. We actually _trotted_ up the Kösen Hill,
for the horses scarcely drew bridle, and overtook several
heavily-laden carriages, the drivers of which no doubt also envied
me, for I was really to be envied. The scenery had a charming air
of spring--so cheerful and gay, and blooming. The sun sank solemnly
behind the hills, and presently we came up with the Russian
minister and his suite, in two heavy carriages, each with four
horses, in true ponderous official array; and my light droschky
darted past him like a hare.

In the evening I got a pair of restive horses, so that I had my
little annoyance also, (according to my theory, enhancing
pleasure,) and not a single bar did I compose all day, but enjoyed
complete idleness. It was a delicious day, and one I shall not soon
forget. I close this description with the remark, that the children
in Eckartsberge dance merry rounds hand-in-hand, just as ours do at
home, and that the appearance of a stranger did not in the least
disturb them, in spite of his distinguished air; I should have
liked to join in their game.

     May 24th.

I wrote this before going to see Goethe, early in the forenoon,
after a walk in the park; but I could not find a moment to finish
my letter till now. I shall probably remain here for a couple of
days, which is no sacrifice, for I never saw the old gentleman so
cheerful and amiable as on this occasion, or so talkative and
communicative. My especial reason however for staying two days
longer, is a very agreeable one, and makes me almost vain, or I
ought rather to say proud, and I do not intend to keep it secret
from you,--Goethe, you must know, sent me a letter yesterday
addressed to an artist here, a painter, which I am to deliver
myself; and Ottilie confided to me that it contains a commission to
take my portrait, as Goethe wishes to place it in a collection of
likenesses he has recently commenced of his friends. This
circumstance gratified me exceedingly; as however I have not yet
seen the complaisant artist who is to accomplish this, nor has he
seen me, it is probable that I shall have to remain here until the
day after to-morrow. I don't in the least regret this, for, as I
have told you, I live a most agreeable life here, and thoroughly
enjoy the society of the old poet. I have dined with him every day,
and am invited again to-day. This evening there is to be a party at
his house, where I am to play. It is quite delightful to hear him
conversing on every subject, and seeking information on all points.

I must however tell you everything regularly and in order, so that
you may know each separate detail.

Early in the day I went to see Ottilie, who, though still delicate,
and often complaining, I thought more cheerful than formerly, and
quite as kind and amiable as ever towards myself. We have been
constantly together since then, and it has been a source of much
pleasure to me to know her more intimately. Ulrike is more
agreeable and charming than formerly; a certain earnestness
pervades her whole nature, and she has now a degree of repose, and
a depth of feeling, that render her one of the most attractive
creatures I have ever met. The two boys, Walter and Wolf, are
lively, studious, cordial lads, and to hear them talking about
"Grandpapa's Faust," is most pleasant.

But to return to my narrative. I sent Zelter's letter at once to
Goethe, who immediately invited me to dinner. I thought him very
little changed in appearance, but at first rather silent and
apathetic; I think he wished to see how I demeaned myself. I was
vexed, and thought that possibly he was always now in this mood.
Happily the conversation turned on the _Frauen-Vereine_ in Weimar,
and on the 'Chaos,' a humorous paper circulated among themselves
by the ladies here, I having soared so high as to be a contributor
to this undertaking. All at once the old man became quite
gay, laughing at the two ladies about their charities and
intellectualism, and their subscriptions and hospital work, which
he seems cordially to detest. He called on me to aid him in his
onslaught, and as I did not require to be asked twice, he speedily
became just what he used to be, and at last more kind and
confidential than I had ever seen him. The assault soon became
general. The 'Robber Bride' of Ries, he said contained all that an
artist in these days required to live happily,--a robber and a
bride; then he attacked the young people of the present day for
their universal tendency to languor and melancholy, and related the
story of a young lady to whom he had once paid court, and who also
felt some interest in him; a discussion on the exhibitions
followed, and a fancy bazaar for the poor, where the ladies of
Weimar were the shopwomen, and where he declared it was impossible
to purchase anything because the young people made a private
agreement among themselves, and hid the different articles till the
proper purchasers appeared.

After dinner he all at once began--"Gute Kinder--hübsche
Kinder--muss immer lustig sein--tolles Volk," etc., his eyes
looking like those of a drowsy old lion. Then he begged me to play
to him, and said it seemed strange that he had heard no music for
so long; that he supposed we had made great progress, but he knew
nothing of it. He wished me to tell him a great deal on the
subject, saying "Do let us have a little rational conversation
together;" and turning to Ottilie, he said, "No doubt you have
already made your own wise arrangements, but they must yield to my
express orders, which are, that you must make tea here this
evening, that we may be all together again." When in return she
asked him if it would not make him too late, as Riemer was coming
to work with him, he replied, "As you gave your children a holiday
from their Latin to-day, that they might hear Felix play, I think
you might also give me one day of relaxation from _my_ work." He
invited me to return to dinner, and I played a great deal to him in
the evening.

My three Welsh pieces, dedicated to three English sisters, have
great success here;[2] and I am trying to rub up my English. As I
had begged Goethe to address me as _thou_, he desired Ottilie to
say to me on the following day, in that case I must remain longer
than the two days I had fixed, otherwise he could not regain the
more familiar habit I wished. He repeated this to me himself,
saying that he did not think I should lose much by staying a little
longer, and invited me always to dine with him when I had no other
engagement. I have consequently been with him every day, and
yesterday I told him a great deal about Scotland, and Hengstenberg,
and Spontini, and Hegel's 'Æsthetics.'[3] He sent me to Tiefurth
with the ladies, but prohibited my driving to Berka, because a very
pretty girl lived there, and he did not wish to plunge me into

  [2] Three pieces for the piano, composed in 1829 for the album of
  three young English ladies; subsequently published as Opus 16.

  [3] Felix Mendelssohn attended the Berlin University as a
  matriculated student for more than a year; a vast number of
  sheets written by him at this period, during the lectures, are
  still extant.

I thought to myself, this was indeed the Goethe of whom people will
one day say, that he was not one single individual, but consisted
of several little _Goethiden_. I am to play over to him to-day
various pieces of Bach, Haydn, and Mozart, and thus lead him on, as
he said, to the present day.

I should indeed have been very foolish to have regretted my delay;
besides, I am a conscientious traveller, and have seen the Library,
and 'Iphigenia in Aulis.' Hummel has struck out all the octaves,


     Weimar, May 25th, 1830.

I have just received your welcome letter, written on Ascension Day.
I cannot help myself, but must still write to you from this place.
I will soon send you, dear Fanny, a copy of my symphony; I am
having it written out here, and mean to forward it to Leipzig
(where perhaps it will be performed), with strict orders to deliver
it into your own hands, as soon as possible. Try to collect
opinions as to the title I ought to select; Reformation Symphony,
Confession Symphony, Symphony for a Church Festival, Juvenile
Symphony, or whatever you like. Write to me on this subject, and
instead of a number of stupid suggestions, send me one clever one;
still, I should rather like to hear some of the nonsensical ones
sure to be devised on the occasion.

Yesterday evening I was at a party at Goethe's, and played alone
the whole evening,--the Concert-Stück, the Invitation à la Valse,
and Weber's Polonaise in C, my three Welsh pieces, and my Scotch
Sonata. It was over by ten o'clock, but I of course stayed till
twelve o'clock, when we had all sorts of fun, dancing and singing;
so you see I lead a most jovial life here. The old gentleman goes
to his room regularly at nine o'clock, and as soon as he is gone,
we begin our frolics, and never separate before midnight.

To-morrow my portrait is to be finished; a large black-crayon
sketch, and very like; but I look rather sulky. Goethe is so
friendly and kind to me, that I don't know how to thank him
sufficiently, or what to do to deserve it. In the forenoon he likes
me to play to him the compositions of the various great masters, in
chronological order, for an hour, and also tell him the progress
they have made, while he sits in a dark corner, like a _Jupiter
tonans_, his old eyes flashing on me. He did not wish to hear
anything of Beethoven's, but I told him that I could not let him
off, and played the first part of the Symphony in C minor. It
seemed to have a singular effect on him; at first he said, "This
causes no emotion, nothing but astonishment: it is _grandios_." He
continued grumbling in this way, and after a long pause he began
again,--"It is very grand, very wild; it makes one fear that the
house is about to fall down; and what must it be when played by a
number of men together!" During dinner, in the midst of another
subject, he alluded to it again. You know that I dine with him
every day, when he questions me very minutely, and is always so gay
and communicative after dinner, that we generally remain together
alone for an hour while he speaks on uninterruptedly.

I have no greater pleasure than when he brings out engravings, and
explains them to me, or gives his opinion of Ernani, or Lamartine's
Elegies, or the theatre, or pretty girls. He has several times
lately invited people, which he rarely does now, so that most of
the guests had not seen him for a long time. I then play a great
deal, and he compliments me before all these people, and "_ganz
stupend_" is his favourite expression. To-day he has invited a
number of Weimar beauties on my account, because he thinks that I
ought to enjoy the society of young people. If I go up to him on
such occasions, he says, "My young friend, you must join the
ladies, and make yourself agreeable to them." I am not however
devoid of tact, so I contrived to have him asked yesterday whether
I did not come too often; but he growled out to Ottilie, who put
the question to him, that "he must now begin to speak to me in good
earnest, for I had such clear ideas, that he hoped to _learn much
from me_." I became twice as tall in my own estimation, when
Ottilie repeated this to me. He said so to me himself yesterday;
and when he declared that there were many subjects he had at heart
that I must explain to him, I _said_, "Oh, certainly!" but I
_thought_, "This is an honour I can never forget,"--often it is the
very reverse.


     Munich, June 6th, 1830.

It is a long time since I have written to you, and I fear you may
have been anxious on my account. You must not be angry with me, for
it was really no fault of mine, and I have been not a little
annoyed about it. I expedited my journey as well as I could,
inquiring everywhere about diligences, and invariably receiving
false information. I travelled through one night on purpose to
enable me to write to you by this day's post, of which I was told
at Nürnberg; and when at last I arrive, I find that no post leaves
here to-day: it is enough to drive one wild, and I feel out of all
patience with Germany and her petty Principalities, her different
kinds of money, her diligences, which require an hour and a quarter
for a German mile, and her Thuringian forests, where there is
incessant rain and wind,--nay, even with her 'Fidelio' this very
evening, for, though dead beat, I must do my duty by going to see
it, when I would far rather go to bed. Pray do not be angry with
me, or scold me for my delay in writing; I do assure you that this
very night while I was travelling, I thought I saw peeping through
the clouds the shadow of your threatening finger; but I shall now
proceed to explain why I could not write sooner.

Some days after my last letter from Weimar, I wished, as I told
you, to set off for this place, and said so during dinner to
Goethe, who made no reply. After dinner however he withdrew with
Ottilie into the recess of a window, and said, "You must persuade
him to remain." She endeavoured to prevail on me to do so, and
walked up and down in the garden with me. I wished however to show
that I was a man of determination, so I remained steady to my
resolve. Then came the old gentleman himself, and said he saw no
use in my being in such a hurry; that he had still a great deal to
tell me, and I had still a great deal to play to him; and what I
had told him as to the object of my journey, was really all
nonsense,--Weimar was my present object,--and he could not see that
I was likely to find in _tables-d'hôte_ elsewhere, what I could not
obtain here: I would see plenty of hotels in my travels. He talked
on in this style, which touched my heart, especially as Ottilie and
Ulrike added their persuasions, assuring me that the old gentleman
much more often insisted on people going away, than on their
remaining; and as no one can be so sure of enjoying a number of
happy days, that he can afford to throw away those that cannot fail
to be pleasant, and as they promised to go with me to Jena, I
resolved _not_ to be a man of determination, and agreed to stay.

Seldom in the course of my life have I so little regretted any
resolution as on this occasion, for the following day was by far
the most delightful that I ever passed in Goethe's house. After an
early drive, I found old Goethe very cheerful; he began to converse
on various subjects, passing from the 'Muette de Portici' to Walter
Scott, and thence to the beauties in Weimar; to the 'Students,'
and the 'Robbers,' and so on to Schiller; then he spoke on
uninterruptedly for more than an hour, with the utmost animation,
about Schiller's life and writings, and his position in Weimar. He
proceeded to speak of the late Grand-Duke, and of the year 1775,
which he designated as the intellectual spring of Germany,
declaring that no man living could describe it so well as he could;
indeed, it had been his intention to have devoted the second volume
of his life to this subject; but what with botany, and meteorology,
and other stuff of the same kind, for which no one cared a straw,
he had not yet been able to fulfil his purpose. He proceeded to
relate various anecdotes of the time when he was director of the
theatre, and when I wished to thank him, he said, "It is mere
chance, it all comes to light incidentally,--called forth by your
welcome presence." These words sounded marvellously pleasant to me;
in short, it was one of those conversations that a man can never
forget so long as he lives. Next day he made me a present of a
sheet of the manuscript of 'Faust,' and at the bottom of the page
he wrote, "To my dear young friend F. M. B., mighty, yet delicate
master of the piano--a friendly souvenir of happy May days in 1830.
J. W. von Goethe." He also gave me three letters of introduction to
take with me.

If that relentless 'Fidelio' did not begin at so early an hour. I
could tell you much more, but as it is, I have only time to detail
my farewell interview with the old gentleman. At the very beginning
of my visit to Weimar, I spoke of a print taken from Adrian von
Ostade, of a peasant family praying, which nine years ago made a
deep impression on me. When I went at an early hour to take leave
of Goethe, I found him seated beside a large portfolio, and he
said, "So you are actually going away? I must try to keep all right
till you return; but at all events we won't part now without some
pious feelings, so let us once more look at the praying family
together." He told me that I must sometimes write to him--(courage!
courage! I mean to do so from this very place), and then he
embraced me, and we drove off to Jena, where the Frommans received
me with much kindness, and where the same evening I took leave of
Ottilie and Ulrike, and came on here.

_Nine o'clock._--'Fidelio' is over; and while waiting for supper I
add a few words.

Schechner is very much gone off; the quality of her voice has
become husky; she repeatedly sang flat, yet there were moments when
her expression was so touching, that I wept in my own fashion; all
the others were bad, and there was also much to censure in the
performance. Still, there is great talent in the orchestra, and the
style in which they played the overture was very good. Certainly
our Germany is a strange land; producing great people, but not
appreciating them; possessing many fine singers and intellectual
artists, but none sufficiently modest and subordinate to render
their parts faithfully, and without false pretension. Marzeline
introduces all sorts of flourishes into her part; Jaquino is a
blockhead; the minister a simpleton: and when a German like
Beethoven writes an opera, then comes a German like Stuntz or
Poissl (or whoever it may have been) and strikes out the
ritournelle, and similar unnecessary passages; another German adds
a trombone part to his symphonies; a third declares that Beethoven
is overloaded: and thus is a great man sacrificed.

Farewell! be happy and merry; and may all my heartfelt wishes for
you be fulfilled.



     Munich, June 14th, 1830.

     My dearest Sister,

I received your letter of the 5th this morning; I see from it that
you are not yet quite well. I wish I were with you, and could see
you, and talk to you; but this is impossible, so I have written a
song for you expressive of my wishes and thoughts. You were in my
mind when I composed it, and I was in a tender mood. There is
indeed nothing very new in it. You know me well, and what I am; in
no respect am I changed, so you may smile at this and rejoice. I
could say and wish many other things for you, but none better; and
this letter too shall contain nothing else. You know that I am
always your own; and may it please God to bestow on you all that I
hope and pray.




     Linz, August 11th, 1830.

     Dearest Mother,

"How a travelling musician bore his bad luck in Salzburg."
A fragment from the unwritten journal of Count F. M. B.
(continuation.) After I had finished my last letter to you, a
regular day of misfortunes commenced for me. I took up my pencil,
and so entirely destroyed two of my pet sketches, taken in the
Bavarian mountains, that I was obliged to tear them from my book,
and to throw them out of the window. This provoked me exceedingly;
so to divert my mind, I went to the Capuchin Hill: of course I
contrived to lose my way, and at the very moment, when I at last
found myself on the summit, it began to rain so furiously that I
was forced to run down again with all speed under the shelter of an
umbrella. Well! I resolved at all events to have a look at the
monastery at the foot of the hill, so I rang the bell, when I
suddenly recollected that I had not sufficient money to give the
monk who was to show the building, and as this is a kind of thing
that they take highly amiss, I hurried away without waiting till
the porter appeared.

I then closed my packet of letters for Leipzig, and took it myself
to the post, but there I was told, that it must first be examined
at the Custom-house; so thither I went. They kept me waiting a
whole hour, till they composed a certificate of three lines, and
behaved so saucily that I was forced to quarrel with them. Hang
Salzburg! thought I; so I ordered horses for Ischl, where I hoped
to escape from all my bad luck. No horses were to be had without a
permission from the police. I went to the police office. "No
permission can be granted till you bring your passport." Why pursue
the subject? After innumerable delays, and running about hither and
thither, the wished-for post-carriage arrived. My dinner was over,
my luggage ready, and I thought that at last all was in good train:
my bill and the servants fees were paid.

Just as I reached the door, I saw two handsome open carriages
approaching at a foot's pace, and the people of the inn hurrying to
receive the travellers, who were following on foot. I however paid
no attention to the new arrivals, but jumped into my carriage. I
observed, that at the same moment, one of the travelling carriages
drew up close to mine, and that a lady was seated in it,--but what
a lady! That you may not instantly jump to the conclusion that I
had suddenly fallen in love, which would have been the crowning
point of my unlucky day, I must tell you that she was an elderly
lady; but she looked very amiable and benevolent; she wore a black
dress, and a massive gold chain, and smiled good-humouredly when
she paid the postilion his fare. Heaven knows why I continued to
arrange my luggage instead of driving off. I did look across
continually at the other carriage, and though the lady was an
entire stranger to me I felt a strong inclination to address her.
It might be mere imagination on my part, but I do think that she
too looked at the dusty traveller in his student's cap. At length
she got out of the carriage, and stood close to the door of my
vehicle, leaning her hand on it, and I required all my knowledge of
the common proprieties of travelling, not to get out myself and say
to her, "Dear lady, what may your name be?" Routine however
conquered, and I called out with an air of dignity, "Postilion! go
on!" on which the lady quickly withdrew her hand, and we set off. I
felt in no very pleasant humour, and while thinking over the events
of the day, I fell asleep.

A carriage with two gentlemen passing us, woke me up, and the
following dialogue ensued between the postilion and myself. _I._
These gentlemen are coming from Ischl, so I shall probably find no
horses there. _He._ Oh! the two carriages that stopped at the Inn
were also from Ischl; still there is no doubt you will get horses.
_I._ Are you sure they came from Ischl? _He._ Quite sure: they go
there every year, and were here last summer also; I drove them. It
is a baroness from Vienna, (Heavens! thought I,) and she is
dreadfully rich, and has such handsome daughters. When they went to
Berchtesgaden to visit the mines, I drove them, and very nice they
looked in their miner's dresses: they have a grand estate, and yet
they speak to us quite familiarly. Halt! cried I; what name?--Don't
know.--Pereira?[4]--Not sure.--Drive back,--said I in a resolute
tone.--If I do, we shall not reach Ischl to-night, and we have got
over the worst hill; you can learn the name at the next stage.--I
hesitated, and we drove on. They did not know the name at the next
stage, nor at the following one either. At length, at the end of
seven long wearisome hours, we arrived, and before I left the
carriage, I said, who were the party who drove to Salzburg this
morning in two carriages? and received the quiet reply,--Baroness
Pereira; she proceeds to Gastein early to-morrow morning, but
returns four or five days hence. Now I had arrived at a certainty,
and I also spoke to her driver, who said that none of the family
were here. The two gentlemen I met in a carriage on the road, were
sons of the Baroness (the very two I had never seen). In addition
to all this, I remembered a wretched portrait that I had once got a
glimpse of at our aunt H----'s, and the lady in the black dress was
Baroness Pereira! Heaven knows when I may have another opportunity
of seeing her! I do not think that she ever could have made a more
pleasing impression on me, and I shall not assuredly soon forget
her attractive appearance, and her kind expression of countenance.

  [4] A relation of the family.

Nothing is more unsatisfactory than a presentiment; we all
experience them, but we never discover till too late, that they
really were presentiments. I would have returned then and there,
and travelled through the night, but I reflected that I should only
overtake her at the very moment of her departure, or that possibly
she might have left Salzburg before my arrival, and that I should
thus frustrate all the plan of my journey to Vienna. At one moment
I thought of going to Gastein, but I could not help feeling that
Salzburg had treated me very badly, so I once more said adieu, and
went to bed very crest-fallen. Next morning I desired that her
empty house should be pointed out to me, and made a sketch of it
for you, dear mother. My bad luck, however, was still growling in
the distance, for I could find no favourable spot to take my sketch
from. Besides, they charged me more than a ducat at the inn for
one night's entertainment, etc., etc. I gave utterance to various
anathemas, both in English and German, and drove away, laying aside
among the things of the past, Ischl, Salzburg, Baroness Pereira,
and the Traunsee; and so I came on here, where I have taken a day's

To-morrow I intend to pursue my journey, and (D. V.) to sleep in
Vienna the day after. I will write to you further from thence. Thus
ended my day of misfortunes; "truth, and _no_ poetry," not even the
leaning the hand against the door of my carriage is invention; all
is a portrait taken from life. The most incomprehensible thing is
that I should have totally overlooked Flora, who it seems was also
there, for the old lady in a tartan cloak, who went into the inn,
was Frau von W----, and the old gentleman with green spectacles who
followed her, could not well have been Flora? In short, when things
once take a wrong turn, they will have their course. I can write no
more to-day, for my disappointment is still too recent; in my next
letter I will describe the Salzkammergut, and all the beauties of
my journey yesterday. How right Devrient was to advise me to take
this route! The Traunstein also, and the Traun Falls, are
wonderfully fine; and after all, the world is a very pleasant
world, and it is fortunate for me that you are in it, and that I
shall find letters from you the day after to-morrow, and possibly
much that is agreeable besides. Dear Fanny, I mean now to compose
my _Non nobis_, and the symphony in A minor. Dear Rebecca, if you
could hear me singing "Im warmen Thal" in a spasmodic fashion, you
would think it rather deplorable; you could sing it better. Oh,
Paul! can you declare that you understand the Schein Gulden, W. W.
Gulden, heavy Gulden, light Gulden, Conventions Gulden, and the
devil and his grandmother's Gulden? I don't, one bit. I wish
therefore that you were with me, but for many reasons besides this
one. Farewell!

     Presburg, September 27th, 1830.

     Dear Brother,

Peals of bells, drums and music, carriages on carriages, people
hurrying in all directions, everywhere gay crowds, such is the
general aspect around me, for to-morrow is to be the coronation of
the King, which the whole city has been expecting since yesterday,
and are now imploring that the sky may clear up, and wake bright
and cheerful, for the grand ceremony which ought to have taken
place yesterday was obliged to be deferred on account of the
torrents of rain. This afternoon the sky is blue and beautiful, and
the moon is now shining down tranquilly on the tumult of the city.
To-morrow at a very early hour the Crown Prince is to take his
oaths (as King of Hungary) in the large Market-place; he is then to
go to church in grand procession, attended by a whole array of
bishops and nobles of the realm, and afterwards rides up the
Königsberg, which lies opposite my windows, in order to wave his
sword towards the banks of the Danube and the four quarters of the
globe, in token that he takes possession of his new realm.

This excursion has made me acquainted with a new country; for
Hungary with her magnates, her high dignitaries, her Oriental
luxury, and also her barbarism, is to be seen here, and the streets
offer a spectacle which is to me both novel and striking. We really
seem here to approach closer to the East; the miserably obtuse
peasants or serfs; the troops of gipsies; the equipages and
retainers of the nobles overloaded with gold and gems, (for the
grandees themselves are only visible through the closed windows of
their carriages); then the singularly bold national physiognomy,
the yellow hue, the long moustaches, the soft foreign idiom--all
this makes the most motley impression in the world.

Early yesterday I went alone through the streets. First came a long
array of jovial officers, on spirited little horses; behind them a
crew of gipsies, making music; succeeded by Vienna fashionables,
with eye-glasses and kid gloves, conversing with a Capuchin monk;
then a couple of uncivilized peasants in long white coats, their
hats pressed down on their foreheads, and their straight black hair
cut even all round, (they have reddish-brown complexions, a languid
gait, and an indescribable expression of savage stupidity and
indifference); then came a couple of sharp, acute-looking students
of theology, in their long blue coats, walking arm-in-arm;
Hungarian proprietors in their dark blue national costume; court
servants; and numbers of carriages every moment arriving, covered
with mud. I followed the crowd as they slowly moved on up the hill,
and so at last I arrived at the dilapidated castle, which commands
an extensive view of the whole city and the Danube. People were
looking down on all sides from the ancient white walls, and from
the towers and balconies; in every corner boys were scribbling
their names on the walls for the benefit of posterity; in a small
chamber (perhaps once on a time a chapel, or a sleeping-apartment)
an ox was in the act of being roasted whole, and as it turned on
the spit, the people shouted with delight; a succession of cannons
bristled before the castle, destined to bellow forth their
appropriate thunders at the coronation.

Below, on the Danube, which runs very rapidly here, darting with
the speed of an arrow through the pontoon bridge, lay a new
steamer, that had just arrived, laden with strangers; then the
extensive view of the flat but wooded country, and meadows
overflowed by the Danube; of the embankments and streets swarming
with human beings, and mountains clothed with Hungarian vines--all
this was not a little strange and foreign. Then the pleasant
contrast of living in the same house with the best and most
friendly people in the world, and finding novelty doubly
interesting in their society. These were really among the happy
days, dear brother, that a kind Providence so often and so richly
bestows on me.

     September 28th, one o'clock.

The King is crowned--the ceremony was wonderfully fine. How can I
even try to describe it to you? An hour hence we will all drive
back to Vienna, and thence I pursue my journey. There is a
tremendous uproar under my windows, and the Burgher-guards are
flocking together, but only for the purpose of shouting "_Vivat!_"
I pushed my way through the crowd, while our ladies saw everything
from the windows, and never can I forget the effect of all this
brilliant and almost fabulous magnificence.

In the great square of the Hospitallers the people were closely
packed together, for there the oaths were to be taken on a platform
hung with cloth; and afterwards the people were to be allowed the
privilege of tearing down the cloth for their own use; close by was
a fountain spouting red and white Hungarian wine. The grenadiers
could not keep back the people; one unlucky hackney coach that
stopped for a moment was instantly covered with men, who clambered
on the spokes of the wheels, and on the roof, and on the box,
swarming on it like ants, so that the coachman, unable to drive on
without becoming a murderer, was forced to wait quietly where he
was. When the procession arrived, which was received bare-headed, I
had the utmost difficulty in taking off my hat, and holding it
above my head; an old Hungarian, however, behind me, whose view it
intercepted, quickly devised a remedy, for without ceremony he made
a snatch at my unlucky hat, and in an instant flattened it to the
size of a cap; then they yelled as if they had all been spitted,
and fought for the cloth; in short they were a mob; but my Magyars!
the fellows look as if they were born noblemen, and privileged to
live at ease, looking very melancholy, but riding like the devil.

When the procession descended the hill, first came the court
servants, covered with embroidery, the trumpeters and kettle drums,
the heralds and all that class, and then suddenly galloped along
the street a mad Count, _en pleine carrière_, his horse plunging
and capering, and the caparisons edged with gold; the Count himself
a mass of diamonds, rare herons' plumes, and velvet embroidery
(though he had not yet assumed his state uniform, being bound to
ride so madly--Count Sandor is the name of this furious cavalier.)
He had an ivory sceptre in his hand with which he urged on his
horse, causing it each time to rear, and to make a tremendous bound

When his wild career was over, a procession of about sixty more
magnates arrived, all in the same fantastic splendour, with
handsome coloured turbans, twisted moustaches, and dark eyes. One
rode a white horse covered with a gold net; another a dark grey,
the bridle and housings studded with diamonds; then came a black
charger with purple cloth caparisons. One magnate was attired from
head to foot in sky blue, thickly embroidered with gold, a white
turban, and a long white dolman; another in cloth of gold, with a
purple dolman; each one more rich and gaudy than the other, and all
riding so boldly and fearlessly, and with such defiant gallantry,
that it was quite a pleasure to look at them. At length came the
Hungarian Guards, with Esterhazy at their head, dazzling in gems
and pearl embroidery. How can I describe the scene? You ought to
have seen the procession deploy and halt in the spacious square,
and all the jewels and bright colours, and the lofty golden mitres
of the bishops, and the crucifixes glittering in the brilliant
sunshine like a thousand stars!

Well, to-morrow, God willing, I proceed on my journey. Now, dear
brother, you have a letter, so pray write soon, and let me hear how
you are getting on. So you have had an _émeute_ in Berlin? and
that, too, an _émeute_ of tailors' apprentices? What did it all
mean? Once more I send you my farewell from Germany, my dear
parents, and brother and sisters. I am leaving Hungary for Italy,
and thence I hope to write to you more frequently and more at
leisure. Be of good cheer, dear Paul, and go forwards in a
confident spirit; rejoice with those that rejoice, and do not
forget the brother who is wandering about the world.

     Yours, FELIX.

     Venice, October 10th, 1830.

Italy at last! and what I have all my life considered as the
greatest possible felicity, is now begun, and I am basking in it.
The day has been so fruitful in enjoyment, that I must, now that it
is evening, endeavour to collect my thoughts a little to write to
you, my dear parents, and to thank you for having bestowed such
happiness on me. You also, my dear brother and sisters, are often
in my thoughts. How much I wish for you, Paul, to be with me here,
once more to enjoy your delight in our rapid travels by sea and by
land; and I should like to prove to you, Hensel, that the
"Assumption of the Blessed Virgin" is the most divine work ever
produced by the hands of man. You are not here, however, so I am
obliged to give vent to my enthusiasm in bad Italian to the
_laquais de place_, who stands still and listens.

I shall however become quite confused, if things are to go on as
they have done on this first day, when every hour brought with it
so much never to be forgotten, that I do not know where to find
sufficient grasp of intellect to comprehend it all properly. I saw
the "Assumption," then a whole gallery of paintings in the Manfrini
Palace; then a church festival in the church where hangs Titian's
St. Peter; afterwards St. Mark's, and in the afternoon I had a row
on the Adriatic, and visited the public gardens, where the people
lie on the grass and eat. I then returned to the Piazza of St.
Mark, where in the twilight there is always an immense crowd and
crush of people; and all this I was obliged to see to-day, because
there is so much that is novel and interesting to be seen

But I must now relate methodically how I came hither by water,
(for, as Telemachus says, to do so by land would be no easy
matter,) and so I begin my history at Gratz, which is certainly the
most tiresome hole in the world, and where you yawn all day; and
why should I have stayed a single day longer, on account of a (he)
relation? How can a traveller with any experience possibly accept
of a brother, who is also an ensign, in the place of a charming
mother and sister? In short, the man did not know what to do with
me, for which I forgive him freely, and shall not defame him to his
mother, when I perform my promise and write to her; but he took me
to the theatre to see the "Rehbock," the most wretched, silly,
objectionable piece that the late Kotzebue ever wrote; and moreover
he declared it to be very good and very amusing, and this is not to
be forgiven, for this _Rehbock_ has such a _haut goût_ or _fumet_,
that it could not even please a cat: but at all events I have left
Gratz, for here I am in Venice.

My old vetturino woke me up at four o'clock in the dark, and the
horse crawled off with us both. I thought of you, dear father, at
least a hundred times during our journey of two days. You would
certainly have gone wild with impatience, and possibly assaulted
the coachman also, for at every little declivity, he got slowly off
the box, deliberately put on the drag, and crept up the smallest
hill at a snail's pace; then he thought fit to walk beside his
horses for a time, to stretch his legs: every possible conveyance
passed us on the road, even when drawn by dogs or donkeys, and when
at last, at a steep hill, the fellow put on two oxen as leaders,
whose pace exactly corresponded with that of his horse, I had the
greatest difficulty in not belabouring him, indeed I did so more
than once; but he then gravely assured me that we were going at a
capital pace, and I had no means of proving the contrary. Moreover
he always passed the night in the most detestable pot-houses,
starting again at four o'clock in the morning, so on arriving at
Klagenfurt I was fairly worn out; but when in answer to my question
as to the time the Venetian diligence set out, I received the
answer,--in an hour hence,--I seemed to revive. I was promised a
place, and I also got a good supper. The diligence, indeed, did not
arrive for two hours after its time, having been detained by deep
snow on the Sömmering, but still it came at last. Three Italians
were inside, and chattered so that I could scarcely get to sleep,
but my snoring fairly silenced them after a time.

At last morning broke, and as we drove into Resciutta, the driver
said, that on the other side of the bridge there, no one understood
a word of German. I therefore took leave of my mother tongue for a
long time to come, and we drove over the bridge. The style of the
houses immediately beyond was entirely different. The flat roofs
with their convex tiles, the deep windows, the high white walls,
and lofty square towers, all betokened another land. The pale olive
faces of the men, the innumerable beggars who besieged the
carriage, the various small chapels, brightly and carefully painted
on every side with flowers, the nuns, monks, and so forth, were all
symptomatic of Italy. The monotonous character of the whole scenery
however, and of the road we were travelling, passing through bare
white rocks, along the banks of a river with a rough rocky bed, in
summer creeping along in the form of a tiny brook, certainly does
not seem characteristic of Italy. "I purposely made this passage
rather meagre, in order that the _subject_ might be more distinctly
heard," says Abt Vogler; and I almost think that Providence has
done pretty much the same here, for when we had passed Ospedaletto
the _subject_ did come out well, and a fine sight it was. I had
imagined that the first impression of Italy would be like that of a
sudden explosion, violent and startling; I have not hitherto found
this to be the case. The effect produced on me has been rather that
of a genial warmth, mildness and cheerfulness, and an indescribable
sensation of pervading content and satisfaction.

After passing Ospedaletto we entered a plain, leaving the blue
mountains behind us; the sun shone bright and warm through the
foliage of the vines; the road winding through orchards, in which
the trees were connected by trailing boughs. I felt as if I were
at home again, and knew every object, and was once more about to
take possession of it all. The carriage too seemed to _fly_ over
the smooth road, and towards evening we arrived at Udine, where we
passed the night, when for the first time I ordered my supper in
Italian, my tongue skating as if on slippery ice, first gliding
into English, and then stumbling afresh. Moreover next morning I
was famously cheated, but I did not in the least care, and on we
went. It happened to be Sunday, and on every side people were
coming along, in bright southern costumes, and flowers; the women
with roses in their hair. Light single-horse carriages drove past,
and men were riding to church on donkeys; at the inns, groups of
idlers were to be seen in the most picturesque, indolent attitudes:
among others, one man placed his arm quietly round his wife's
waist, and swung round with her and then they went on their way;
this sounds trivial enough, and yet it had a pretty effect.
Venetian villas now were occasionally visible from the road, and by
degrees became more frequent, till at length our way led past
houses, trees, and gardens like a park. The whole country had a gay
festive air, as if a Prince were expected to make his grand entry,
and the vine-branches with their rich purple grapes hanging in
festoons from the trees, made the most lovely of all festive
wreaths. The inhabitants were all gaily dressed and adorned, and a
few scattered cypresses only enhanced the general effect.

In Treviso there was an illumination, paper lanterns suspended in
every part of the great square, and a large gaudy transparency in
the centre. Some most lovely girls were walking about, in their
long white veils and scarlet petticoats. It was quite dark when we
arrived at Mestre last night, when we got into a boat, and in a
dead calm, gently rowed across to Venice. On our passage thither,
where nothing but water is to be seen, and distant lights, we saw a
small rock which stands in the midst of the sea; on this a lamp was
burning; all the sailors took off their hats as we passed, and one
of them said, this was the "Madonna of Tempests," which are often
most dangerous and violent here. We then glided quietly into the
great city, under innumerable bridges, without sound of post-horns,
or rattling of wheels, or toll-keepers; the passage now became more
thronged, and numbers of ships were lying near; past the theatre,
where gondolas in long rows lie waiting for their masters, just as
our own carriages do at home, then into the great canal, past the
church of St. Mark, the Lions, the palace of the Doges, and the
Bridge of Sighs. The obscurity of night only enhanced my delight on
hearing the familiar names, and seeing the dark outlines.

And so I am actually in Venice! Well, to-day I have seen the finest
pictures in the world, and have at last personally made the
acquaintance of a very admirable man, whom hitherto I only knew by
name--I allude to a certain Signor Giorgione, an inimitable
artist--and also to Pordenone, who paints the most noble
portraits, both of himself and many of his simple scholars, in such
a devout, faithful, and pious spirit, that you seem to converse
with him, and to feel an affection for him. Who would not have been
confused by all this? But if I am to speak of Titian, I must do so
in a more reverent mood. Till now, I never knew that he was the
felicitous artist I have this day seen him to be. That he
thoroughly enjoyed life, in all its beauty and fulness, the picture
in Paris proves; but he has fathomed the depths of human sorrow, as
well as the joys of Heaven. His glorious "Entombment," and also the
"Assumption," fully evince this. How Mary floats on the cloud,
while a waving movement seems to pervade the whole picture; how you
see at a glance her very breathing, her awe, and piety, and in
short a thousand feelings,--all words seem poor and commonplace in
comparison! The three angels too, on the right of the picture, are
of the highest order of beauty,--pure, serene loveliness, so
unconscious, so bright and so seraphic. But no more of this! or I
must perforce become poetical, or indeed am so already, and this
does not at all suit me; but I shall certainly see it every day.

I must however say a few words about the "Entombment," as you have
the engraving. Look at it, and think of me. This picture represents
the conclusion of a great tragedy: so still, so grand, and so
acutely painful. Magdalene is supporting Mary, fearing that she
will die of anguish; she endeavours to lead her away, but looks
round herself once more, evidently wishing to imprint this
spectacle indelibly on her heart, thinking that it is for the last
time; it surpasses everything; and then the sorrowing John, who
sympathizes and suffers with Mary; and Joseph, who absorbed in his
piety, and occupied with the tomb, directs and conducts the whole;
and Christ himself, lying there so tranquil, having endured to the
end: then the blaze of brilliant colour, and the gloomy mottled
sky! It is a composition that speaks to my heart and fills me with
enthusiasm, and will never leave my memory.

I believe few things I have yet to see in Italy will affect me so
deeply; but you know that I am devoid of all prejudices, and I give
you a fresh proof of this by telling you that the "Martyrdom of St.
Peter," from which I expected the most, pleased me the least of the
three; it did not strike me as being a complete whole; the
landscape, which is very fine, seemed to me to predominate
too much. Then I was dissatisfied with the disposition in the
picture of _two_ victims and only _one_ murderer; (for the small
figure inthe distant background does not remedy this). I could
not bring myself to consider it a martyrdom. But probably I am
in error, and I intend to study it more carefully to-morrow; my
contemplation of it, besides, was disturbed by some one strumming most
sacrilegiously on the organ, and these sacred forms were forced to
listen to such miserable opera _finales_! But this matters not:
where such pictures are, I require no organist. I play the organ in
my thoughts for myself, and feel as little irritated by such trash
as I should be by an ignorant rabble. Titian, however, was a man
well adapted to improve others; so I shall try to profit by him,
and to rejoice that I am in Italy. At this moment the gondoliers
are shouting to each other, and the lights are reflected in the
depths of the waters; one is playing a guitar, and singing to it.
It is a charming night. Farewell! and think of me in every happy
hour as I do of you.



     Venice, October 16th, 1830.

     Dear Professor,

I have entered Italy at last, and I intend this letter to be the
commencement of a regular series of reports, which I purpose
transmitting to you, of all that appears to me particularly worthy
of notice. Though I only now for the first time write to you, I
must beg you to impute the blame to the state of constant
excitement in which I lived, both in Munich and in Vienna. It was
needless for me to describe to you the parties in Munich, which I
attended every evening, and where I played the piano more
unremittingly than I ever did in my life before; one _soirée_
succeeding another so closely, that I really had not a moment to
collect my thoughts. Moreover, it would not have particularly
interested you, for after all, "good society which does not offer
materials for the smallest epigram," is equally vapid in a letter.
I hope that you have not taken amiss my long silence, and that I
may expect a few lines from you, even if they contain nothing save
that you are well and cheerful.

  [5] Mendelssohn's instructor in the theory of music.

The aspect of the world at this moment is very bleak and stormy,
and much that was once thought durable and unchangeable, has been
swept away in the course of a couple of days. It is then doubly
welcome to hear well-known voices, to convince us that there are
certain things which cannot be annihilated or demolished, but
remain firm and steadfast. You must know that I am at this moment
very uneasy at not having received any news from home for some
weeks past. I found no letters from my family, either at Trieste or
here, so a few lines from you, written in your old fashion, would
both cheer and gratify me, especially as it would prove that you
think of me with the same kindness that you have always done from
my childhood to the present time.

My family have no doubt told you of the exhilarating impression
made on me by the first sight of the plains of Italy. I hurry from
one enjoyment to another hour by hour, and constantly see something
novel and fresh; but immediately on my arrival I discovered some
masterpieces of art, which I study with deep attention, and
contemplate daily for a couple of hours at least. These are three
pictures by Titian. The "Presentation of Mary as a Child in the
Temple;" the "Assumption of the Virgin;" and the "Entombment of
Christ." There is also a portrait by Giorgione, representing a girl
with a cithern in her hand, plunged in thought, and looking forth
from the picture in serious meditation (she is apparently about to
begin a song, and you feel as if you must do the same): besides
many others.

To see these alone would be worth a journey to Venice; for the
fruitfulness, genius, and devotion of the great men who painted
these pictures, seem to emanate from them afresh as often as you
gaze at their works, and I do not much regret that I have scarcely
heard any music here; for I suppose I must not venture to include
the music of the angels, in the "Assumption," encircling Mary with
joyous shouts of welcome; one gaily beating the tambourine, a
couple of others blowing away on strange crooked flutes, while
another charming group are singing--or the music floating in the
thoughts of the cithern player. I have only once heard anything on
the organ, and miserable it was. I was gazing at Titian's
"Martyrdom of St. Peter" in the Franciscan Church. Divine service
was going on, and nothing inspires me with more solemn awe than
when on the very spot for which they were originally created and
painted, those ancient pictures in all their grandeur, gradually
steal forth out of the darkness in which the long lapse of time has
veiled them.

As I was earnestly contemplating the enchanting evening landscape
with its trees, and angels among the boughs, the organ commenced.
The first sound was quite in harmony with my feelings; but the
second, third, and in fact all the rest, quickly roused me from my
reveries, and sent me straight home, for the man was playing in
church and during divine service, and in the presence of
respectable people, thus:


with the "Martyrdom of St. Peter" actually close beside him! I was
therefore in no great hurry to make the acquaintance of the
organist. There is no regular Opera here at this moment, and the
gondoliers no longer sing, Tasso's stanzas; moreover, what I have
hitherto seen of modern Venetian art, consists of poems framed and
glazed on the subject of Titian's pictures, or Rinaldo and Armida,
by a new Venetian painter, or a St. Cecilia by a ditto, besides
various specimens of architecture in no style at all; as all these
are totally insignificant, I cling to the ancient masters, and
study how they worked. Often, after doing so, I feel a musical
inspiration, and since I came here I have been busily engaged in

Before I left Vienna, a friend of mine made me a present of
Luther's Hymns, and on reading them over I was again so much struck
by their power, that I intend to compose music for several next
winter. I have nearly completed here the choral "Aus tiefer Noth,"
for four voices _a capella_; and the Christmas hymn, "Vom Himmel
hoch," is already in my head. I wish also to set the following
hymns to music: "Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein," "Wir glauben
all' an einen Gott," "Verleih uns Frieden," "Mitten wir im Leben
sind," and finally "Ein' feste Burg." The latter, however, it is my
intention to compose for a choir and orchestra. Pray write to me
about this project of mine, and say whether you approve of my
retaining the ancient melodies in them all, but not adhering to
them too strictly: for instance, if I were to take the first verse
of "Vom Himmel hoch" as a separate grand chorus. Besides this, I am
hard at work at an orchestral overture, and if an opportunity for
an opera offered it would be most welcome.

I finished two pieces of sacred music in Vienna--a choral in three
movements for chorus and orchestra ("O! Haupt voll Blut und
Wunden") and an Ave Maria for a choir of eight voices, _a capella_.
The people I associated with there were so dissipated and
frivolous, that I became quite spiritually-minded, and conducted
myself like a divine among them. Moreover, not one of the best
pianoforte players there, male or female, ever played a note of
Beethoven, and when I hinted that he and Mozart were not to be
despised, they said, "So you are an admirer of classical
music?"--"Yes," said I.

To-morrow I intend to go to Bologna to have a glance at the St.
Cecilia, and then proceed by Florence to Rome, where I hope (D. V.)
to arrive eight or ten days hence. I will then write to you more
satisfactorily. I only wished to make a beginning to-day, and to
beg you not to forget me, and kindly to accept my heartfelt wishes
for your health and happiness. Your faithful


     Florence, October 23rd, 1830.

Here am I in Florence, the air warm and the sky bright; everything
is beautiful and glorious, "wo blieb die Erde," as Goethe says. I
have now received your letter of the 3rd, by which I see that you
are all well, that my anxiety was needless, that you are all going
on as usual, and thinking of me; so I feel happy again, and can
now see everything, and enjoy everything, and am able to write to
you; in short, my mind is at rest on the main point. I made my
journey here amid a thousand doubts and fears, quite uncertain
whether to go direct to Rome, because I did not expect any letters
at Florence. Fortunately, however, I decided on coming here, and
now it is of no consequence how the misunderstanding arose, that
caused me to wait for letters in Venice, while you had written to
Florence; all I can promise is to endeavour in future to be less
over-anxious. My driver pointed out a spot between the hills, on
which lay a blue mist, and said "_Ecco Firenze!_" I eagerly looked
towards the place, and saw the round dome looming out of the mist
before me, and the spacious wide valley in which the city is
situated. My love of travel revived when at last Florence appeared.
I looked at some willow-trees (as I thought) beside the road, when
the driver said, "Buon olio," and then I saw that they were hanging
full of olives.

My driver, as a genus, is undoubtedly a most villanous knave,
thief, and impostor; he has cheated me and half-starved me, and yet
I think him almost amiable from his enthusiastic animal nature.
About an hour before we arrived in Florence he said that the
beautiful scenery was now about to commence; and true it is that
the fair land of Italy does first begin then. There are villas on
every height, and decorated old walls, with sloping terraces of
roses and aloes, flowers and grapes and olive leaves, the sharp
points of cypresses, and the flat tops of pines, all sharply
defined against the sky; then handsome square faces, busy life on
the roads on every side, and at a distance in the valley, the blue

So I drove confidently into Florence in my little open carriage,
and though I looked shabby and dusty, like one coming from the
Apennines, I cared little for that. I passed recklessly through all
the smart equipages from which the most refined English ladies
looked at me; while I thought it may one day actually come to pass
that you who are now looking down on the _roturier_, may shake
hands with him, the only difference being a little clean linen and
so forth. By the time that we came to the _battisterio_, I no
longer felt diffident, but gave orders to drive to the Post, and
then I was really happy, for I received three letters,--yours of
the 22nd and the 3rd, and my father's also. I was now quite
delighted, and as we drove along beside the Arno, to Schneider's
celebrated hotel, the world seemed once more a very pleasant world.

     October 24th.

The Apennines are really not so beautiful as I had imagined; for
the name always suggested to me richly wooded, picturesque hills,
covered with vegetation, whereas they are merely a long chain of
melancholy bleak hills; and the little verdure there is, not
gratifying to the eye. There are no dwellings to be seen, no merry
brooks or rills; only an occasional stream, its broad bed dried up,
or a little water-channel. Add to this the shameful roguery of the
inhabitants: really, at last, I became quite confused and
perplexed, by their incessant cheating, and could scarcely discover
for what object they were lying. I therefore, once for all,
invariably protested against every demand they made, and declared
that I would not pay at all if they asked more than I chose to
give; so in this way I managed very tolerably.

Last night I was again in grand quarters: I had made an agreement
with the vetturino for board and lodging, and all I required. The
natural consequence was, that the fellow took me to the most
detestable little inns, and actually starved me. So late yesterday
we arrived at a solitary pothouse, the filth of which no pen can
describe. The stair was strewed with heaps of dead leaves and
firewood; moreover the cold was intense, and they invited me to
warm myself in the kitchen, which I agreed to do. A bench was
placed for me beside the fire; a whole troop of peasants were
standing about, also warming themselves. I looked quite regal from
my bench on the hearth among this rough set of fellows, who, in
their broad-leaved hats, lit up by the fire, and babbling in their
incomprehensible dialect, looked vastly suspicious characters. I
made them prepare my soup under my own eyes, giving moreover good
advice on the subject; but, after all, it was not eatable.

I entered into conversation with my subjects from my throne on the
hearth, and they pointed out to me a little hill in the distance
incessantly vomiting forth flames, which had a singular effect in
the dark ("Raticosa" is the name of the hill), and then I was
conducted to my bed-room. The landlord took hold of the sackcloth
sheets, and said, "Very fine linen!" but I slept as sound as a
bear, and before falling asleep I said to myself, Now you are in
the Apennines: and next morning, after getting no breakfast, my
vetturino civilly asked me how I liked my night's entertainment.
The fellow talked a great deal of nonsense about politics, and the
present state of France, abused his horse in German for being born
in Switzerland, and spoke French to the beggars who swarmed round
the cabriolet, while I corrected many a fault in his pronunciation.

     October 25th.

I now intend to go once more to the Tribune, to be inspired with
feelings of reverence. There is a particular place where I like to
sit, as the little Venus de' Medici is directly opposite, and
above, that of Titian, and by turning rather to the left, I have a
view of the Madonna del Cardello, a favourite picture of mine, and
which invariably reminds me of _la belle Jardinière_, and seems to
me a kindred creation; and also the Fornarina, which made no great
impression on me from the first, for I know the engraving, which is
very faithful, and the face has, I think, a most disagreeable and
even ordinary expression. In gazing thus, however, at the two
Venuses, their loveliness inspires a feeling of piety; it is as if
the two spirits who could produce such creations, were flying
through the hall and grasping you as they passed.

Titian must have been a marvellous man, and enjoyed his life in his
works; still the fair Medici is not to be slighted, and then the
divine Niobe with all her children: while we gaze at her, we can
find no words. I have not yet been to the Pitti Palace, which
possesses the Saint Ezekiel, and the Madonna della Sedia, of
Raphael. I saw the gardens of the palace yesterday in sunshine;
they are superb, and the thick solid stems of the myrtles and
laurels, and the innumerable cypresses, made a strange exotic
impression on me; but when I declare that I consider beeches,
limes, oaks, and firs, ten times more beautiful and picturesque, I
think I hear Hensel exclaim, "Oh, the northern bear!"

     October 30th.

After the soft rain of yesterday, the air is so mild and genial,
that I am at this moment seated at the open window writing to you;
and indeed it is pleasant enough to see the people going about the
streets, offering the prettiest baskets of flowers, fresh violets,
roses, and pinks. Two days ago, being satiated with all pictures,
statues, vases, and museums, I resolved to take a long walk till
sunset; so after buying a bunch of narcissuses and heliotropes, I
went up the hill through the vineyards. It was one of the most
delightful walks I ever remember; every one must feel revived and
refreshed at the sight of nature in such a garb as this, and a
thousand happy thoughts passed through my mind.

First of all, I went to a villa called Bello Sguardo, whence the
whole of Florence and its spacious valley are to be seen, and I
thoroughly enjoyed the view of the superb city and its massive
towers and palaces. But most of all I admired the countless villas,
covering every hill and every acclivity as far as the eye can
reach, as if the city extended beyond the mountains into the far
distance. And when I took up a telescope and looked down on the
valley through the blue mists, every portion of it seemed thickly
dotted with bright objects and white villas, while such a large
circle of dwellings inspired me with a feeling of home and comfort.

I proceeded far over the hills to the highest point I could see, on
which stood an ancient tower, and when I reached it I found all the
people throughout the building busily engaged in making wine,
drying grapes, and repairing casks. It proved to be Galileo's
tower, from which he used to make his discoveries and observations;
from here also there was a very extensive view, and the girl who
took me to the roof of the tower related a number of stories in her
peculiar dialect, which I scarcely understood at all; but she
afterwards presented me with some of her sweet dried grapes, which
I ate with great gusto. And so I went on to another tower I saw at
a distance, but could not manage to find my way; and examining my
map as I went along, I stumbled on a traveller busily searching
his map also; the only difference between us being, that he was an
old Frenchman with green spectacles, who addressed me thus, "È
questo S. Miniato al Monte, Signor?" With admirable decision I
replied, "Sì, Signor;" and it turned out that I was right. A. F----
immediately recurred to my memory, as she had advised me to see
this monastery, which is indeed wonderfully fine.

When I tell you I went from there to the Boboli Gardens, where I
saw the sun set, and at night enjoyed the brightest moonlight, you
may imagine how much I was invigorated by my ramble. I will write
to you about the pictures here some other time, for to-day it is
too late, as I have still to take leave of the Pitti Palace and the
great Gallery, and to gaze once more at my Venus, who is not indeed
mentioned before ladies, but whose beauty is truly divine. The
courier goes at five o'clock, and God willing, I shall be in Rome
the day after to-morrow. From thence you shall hear again.


     Rome, November 2nd, 1830.

... I refrain from writing longer in this melancholy strain; for
just as your letter, after a lapse of fourteen days, has saddened
me, my answer will have the same effect on you fourteen days hence.
You would write to me in the same style, and so it might go on for
ever. As four weeks must pass before I can receive any answer, I
feel that I ought to restrict myself to relating events past and
present, and not dwell much on the particular frame of my mind at
the moment, which is indeed usually sufficiently manifest in the
narrative given, and the various occurrences described.

I have scarcely yet arrived at the conviction that I am now
actually in Rome; and when yesterday, just as day was breaking, I
drove across a bridge with statues, under a deep blue sky, and in
dazzling white moonlight, and the courier said, "Ponte Molle," it
all seemed to me like a dream, and at the same moment I saw before
me my sick-bed in London a year ago, and my rough Scotch journey,
and Munich, and Vienna, and the pines on these hills. The journey
from Florence to Rome has very few attractions. Siena, which is, I
understand worth seeing, we passed through during the night. It was
unpleasant to see a regular Government courier compelled to take a
military escort, which was doubled at night; still it must be
absolutely necessary, as he is obliged to pay for it. In these days
this ought not to be the case. In the meantime everything
progresses, and there are moments when the bound forwards is
actually visible.

I was still in Florence, waiting for the departure of the post,
reading a French newspaper, when at the very moment the bell
sounded, I read among the advertisements, "Vie de Siebenkäs, par
Jean Paul." Many reflections occurred to me as to so many men of
renown gradually vanishing from our sight, and our great geniuses
having such homage paid to them after their death, and yet during
their _life_, Lafontaine's novels and French vaudevilles alone make
any impression on their fellow-countrymen; while _we_ only strive
to appreciate the very refuse of the French, and neglect
Beaumarchais and Rousseau. However, it matters little after all.

The first thing connected with music that I met with here, was the
"Tod Jesu," by Graun, which an Abbate here, Fortunato Santini, has
translated faithfully and admirably into Italian. It appears that
the music of this heretic has been sent along with the translation
to Naples, where it is to be produced this winter at a great
festival, and I hear that the musical world there are quite
enchanted with it, and are studying the work with infinite love and
enthusiasm. I understand that the Abbate has been long impatiently
expecting me, because he hopes to obtain considerable information
from me about German music, and thinks I may also have the score of
Bach's "Passion." Thus music progresses onwards, as sure to pierce
through as the sun; if mists still prevail, it is merely a sign
that the spring-time has not yet come, but come again it must and
will! Farewell! and from my heart I say,--May a merciful Providence
preserve you all in health and happiness!


     Rome, November 8th, 1830.

I must now write to you of my first week in Rome; how I have
arranged my time, how I look forward to the winter, and what
impression the glorious objects by which I am surrounded have made
on me; but this is no easy task. I feel as if I were entirely
changed since I came here. Formerly when I wished to check my haste
and impatience to press forward, and to continue my journey more
rapidly, I attributed this eagerness merely to the force of habit,
but I am now fully persuaded that it arose entirely from my anxiety
to reach this goal. Now that I have at last attained it my mood is
so tranquil and joyous, and yet so earnest, that I shall not
attempt to describe it to you. What it is that thus works on me I
cannot exactly define; for the awe-inspiring Coliseum, and the
brilliant Vatican, and the genial air of spring, all contribute to
make me feel thus, and so do the kindly people, my comfortable
apartments, and everything else. At all events I am different from
what I was. I am better in health and happier than I have been for
a long time, and take delight in my work, and feel such an
inclination for it, that I expect to accomplish much more than I
anticipated; indeed, I have already done a good deal. If it pleases
Providence to grant me a continuation of this happy mood, I look
forward to the most delightful and productive winter.

Picture to yourself a small house, with two windows in front, in
the Piazza di Spagna, No. 5 which all day long enjoys the warm
sun, and an apartment on the first floor, where there is a good
Viennese grand piano: on the table are some portraits of
Palestrina, Allegri, etc., along with the scores of their works,
and a Latin psalm-book, from which I am to compose the _Non
Nobis_;--such is my present abode. The Capitol was too far away,
besides I had a great dread of the cold air, which here I have no
cause to guard against; for when I look out of my window in the
morning across the square, I see every object sharply defined in
the sunshine against the blue sky. My landlord was formerly a
captain in the French army, and his daughter has the most splendid
contralto voice I ever heard. Above me lives a Prussian captain,
with whom I talk politics,--in short, the situation is excellent.

When I come into the room early in the morning, and see the sun
shining so brightly on the breakfast-table (you see I am marred as
a poet), I feel so cheerful and comfortable, for it is now far on
in the autumn, and who in our country at this season looks for
warmth, or a bright sky, or grapes and flowers? After breakfast I
begin my work, and play, and sing, and compose till near noon. Then
Rome in all her vast dimensions lies before me like an interesting
problem to enjoy; but I go deliberately to work, daily selecting
some different object appertaining to history. One day I visit the
ruins of the ancient city; another I go to the Borghese gallery, or
to the Capitol, or St. Peter's, or the Vatican. Each day is thus
made memorable, and as I take my time, each object becomes firmly
and indelibly impressed on me. When I am occupied in the forenoon I
am willing to leave off, and should like to continue my writing,
but I say to myself that I must see the Vatican, and when I am
actually there, I equally dislike leaving it; thus each of my
occupations causes me the most genuine pleasure, and one enjoyment
follows another.

Just as Venice, with her past, reminded me of a vast monument: her
crumbling modern palaces, and the perpetual remembrance of former
splendour, causing sad and discordant sensations; so does the past
of Rome suggest the impersonation of history; her monuments elevate
the soul, inspiring solemn yet serene feelings, and it is a thought
fraught with exultation that man is capable of producing creations,
which, after the lapse of a thousand years, still renovate and
animate others. When I have fairly imprinted an object like this on
my mind, and each day a fresh one, twilight has usually arrived and
the day is over.

I then visit my friends and acquaintances, when we mutually
communicate what each has done, which means _enjoyed_ here, and are
reciprocally pleased. I have been most evenings at Bendemann's and
Hübner's, where German artists usually assemble, and I sometimes go
to Schadow's. The Abbate Santini is a valuable acquaintance for me,
as he has a very complete library of ancient Italian music, and he
kindly gives or lends me anything I like, for no one can be more
obliging. At night he makes either Ahlborn or me accompany him
home, as an Abbate being seen alone at night in the streets would
bring him into evil repute. That such youngsters as Ahlborn and I
should act as duennas to a priest of sixty is diverting enough.

The Duchess of ---- gave me a list of old music which she was
anxious to procure copies of if possible. Santini's collection
contains all this, and I am much obliged to him for having
furnished me with copies, for I am now looking through them all,
and becoming acquainted with them. I beg you will send me for him,
as a token of my gratitude, the six cantatas of Sebastian Bach,
published by Marx at Simrock's, or some of his pieces for the
organ. I should however prefer the cantatas: he already has the
"Magnificat" and the Motets, and others. He has translated the
"Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied," and intends it to be executed at
Naples, for which he deserves a reward. I am writing to Zelter all
particulars about the Papal singers, whom I have heard three
times,--in the Quirinal, in the Monte Cavallo, and once in San

I look forward with delight to seeing Bunsen, we shall have much to
discuss together, and I have likewise an idea that he has got some
work for me; if I can conscientiously undertake it, I will do so
gladly, and render it all the justice in my power. Among my home
pleasures I include that of reading for the first time Goethe's
Journey to Italy; and I must avow that it is a source of great
satisfaction to me to find that he arrived in Rome the very same
day that I did; that he also went first to the Quirinal, and heard
a Requiem there; that he was seized with the same fit of impatience
in Florence and Bologna; and felt the same tranquil, or as he calls
it, solid spirit here: indeed, everything that he describes, I
exactly experience myself, so I am pleased.

He speaks in detail of a large picture of Titian's in the Vatican,
and declares that its meaning is not to be devised; only a number
of figures standing beautifully grouped together. I fancy, however,
that I have discovered a very deep sense in it, and I believe that
whoever finds the most beauties in Titian, is sure to be most in
the right, for he was a glorious man. Though he has not had the
opportunity of displaying and diffusing his genius here, as Raphael
has done in the Vatican, still I can never forget his three
pictures in Venice, and to these I may add the one in the Vatican,
which I saw for the first time this morning. If any one could come
into the world with full consciousness, every object around would
smile on him with the same vivid life and animation, that these
pictures do on us. "The School of Athens," and the "Disputa," and
the "Peter," stand before us precisely as they were created; and
then the entrance through splendid open arches, whence you can see
the Piazza of St. Peter's, and Rome, and the blue Alban hills; and
above our heads figures from the Old Testament, and a thousand
bright little angels, and arabesques of fruit, and garlands of
flowers; and then on to the gallery!

You may well be proud, dear Hensel, for your copy of the
"Transfiguration" is superb! The pleasing emotion which seizes me,
when I see for the first time some immortal work, and the pervading
idea and chief impression it inspires, I did not experience on this
occasion from the original, but from _your_ copy. The first effect
of this picture to-day, was precisely the same that yours had
previously made on me; and it was not till after considerable
research and contemplation that I succeeded in finding out anything
new to me. On the other hand, the Madonna di Foligno dawned on me
in the whole splendour of her loveliness. I have passed a happy
morning in the midst of all these glorious works; as yet I have not
visited the statues, but have reserved my first impression of them
for another day.

     November 9th, morning.

Thus every morning brings me fresh anticipations, and every day
fulfils them. The sun is again shining on my breakfast-table and I
am now going to my daily work. I will send you, dear Fanny, by the
first opportunity, what I composed in Vienna, and anything else
that may be finished, and my sketch-book to Rebecca; but I am far
from being pleased with it this time, so I intend to study
attentively the sketches of the landscape painters here, in order
to acquire if possible a new manner. I tried to produce one of my
own, but it would not do!

To-day I am going to the Lateran, and the ruins of ancient Rome;
and in the evening to a kind English family, whose acquaintance I
made here. Pray send me a good many letters of introduction. I am
exceedingly anxious to know numbers of people, especially Italians.
So I live on happily, and think of you in every pleasant moment.
May you also be happy, and rejoice with me at the prospect which
lies before me here!

        FELIX M. B.

     Rome, November 16th, 1830.

     Dear Fanny,

No post left this the day before yesterday, and I could not talk to
you, so when I remembered that my letter must necessarily remain
two days before it left Rome, I felt it impossible to write; but I
thought of you times without number, and wished you every
happiness, and congratulated myself that you were born a certain
number of years ago. It is, indeed, cheering to think what
charming, rational beings, are to be found in the world; and you
are certainly one of these. Continue cheerful, bright, and well,
and make no great change in yourself. I don't think you require to
be much better; may good fortune ever abide with you!

And now I think these are all my birthday good wishes; for really
it is not fair to expect that a man of my _calibre_ should wish you
also a fresh stock of musical ideas; besides you are very
unreasonable in complaining of any deficiency in that respect. _Per
Bacco!_ if you had the inclination, you certainly have sufficient
genius to compose, and if you have no desire to do so, why grumble
so much? If I had a baby to nurse, I certainly should not write any
scores, and as I have to compose _Non Nobis_, I cannot unluckily
carry my nephew about in my arms. But to speak seriously, your
child is scarcely six months old yet, and you can think of anything
but Sebastian?[6] (not Bach!) Be thankful that you have him. Music
only retreats when there is no longer a place for her, and I am not
surprised that you are not an unnatural mother. However, you have
my best wishes on your birthday, for all that your heart desires;
so I may as well wish you half-a-dozen melodies into the bargain;
not that this will be of much use.

  [6] The name of the child.

In Rome here, we celebrated the 14th of November by the sky
shining, in blue and festive array, and breathing on us warm genial
air. So I went on pleasantly towards the Capitol and into church,
where I heard a miserable sermon from ----, who is no doubt a very
good man, but to my mind has a most morose style of preaching; and
any one who could irritate me on _such_ a day, in the Capitol, and
in church, must have an especial talent for so doing. I afterwards
went to call on Bunsen, who had just arrived. He and his wife
received me most kindly, and we conversed on much that was
interesting, including politics and regrets for your absence.
_Apropos_, my favourite work that I am now studying is Goethe's
'Lili's Park,' especially three portions: "Kehr' ich mich um, und
brumm:" then, "Eh la menotte;" and best of all, "Die ganze Luft ist
warm, ist blüthevoll," where decidedly clarionets must be
introduced. I mean to make it the subject of a scherzo for a

Yesterday, at dinner at Bunsen's, we had among others a German
musician. Oh, heavens! I wish I were a Frenchman! The man said to
me, "Music must be _handled_ every day." "Why?" replied I, which
rather embarrassed him. He also spoke of earnest purpose; and said
that Spohr had no earnest purpose, but that he had distinctly
discerned gleams of an earnest purpose in my _Tu es Petrus_. The
fellow, however, has a small property at Frascati, and is about to
_lay down_ the profession of music. We have not got so far as that

After dinner came Catel, Eggers, Senf, Wolf, then a painter, and
then two more, and others. I played the piano, and they asked for
pieces by Sebastian Bach, so I played numbers of his compositions,
which were much admired. I also explained clearly to them the mode
in which the "Passion" is executed; for they seemed scarcely to
believe it. Bunsen possesses it, arranged for the piano; he showed
it to the Papal singers, and they said before witnesses, that such
music could not possibly be executed by human voices. I think the
contrary. It seems, however, that Trautwein is about to publish
the score of the Passion of St. John. I suppose I must order a set
of studs for Paris, _à la Back_.

To-day Bunsen is to take me to Baini's, whom he has not seen for a
year as he never goes out except to hear confessions. I am glad to
know him, and shall endeavour to improve my intimacy with him, for
he can solve many an enigma for me. Old Santini continues as kind
as ever. When we are together in society, if I praise any
particular piece or am not acquainted with it, next morning he is
sure to knock gently at my door, and to bring me the piece in
question carefully wrapped up in a blue pocket-handkerchief; I, in
return, accompany him home every evening; and we have a great
regard for each other. He also brought me his _Te Deum_, written in
eight parts, requesting me to correct some of the modulations, as G
major predominates too much; so I mean to try if I cannot introduce
some A minor or E minor.

I am now very anxious to become acquainted with a good many
Italians. I visit at the house of a certain Maestro di San Giovanni
Laterano, whose daughters are musical, but not pretty, so this does
not count for much. If therefore you can send me letters, pray do
so. I work in the morning; at noon I see and admire, and thus the
day glides away till sunset: but I should like in the evening to
associate with the Roman world. My kind English friends have
arrived from Venice; Lord Harrowby and his family are to pass the
winter here. Schadow, Bendeman, Bunsen, Tippelskirch, all receive
every evening; in short I have no lack of acquaintances, but I
should like to know some Italians also.

The present, dear Fanny, that I have prepared for your birthday, is
a psalm, for chorus and orchestra, _Non nobis, Domine_. You know
the melody well; there is an air in it which has a good ending, and
the last chorus will I hope please you. I hear that next week I
shall have an opportunity of sending it to you, along with a
quantity of new music. I intend now to finish my overture, and then
(D.V.) to proceed with my symphony. A pianoforte concerto, too,
that I wish to write for Paris, begins to float in my head. If
Providence kindly bestows on me success and bright days, I hope we
shall enjoy them together. Farewell! May you be happy!


     Rome, November 22nd, 1830.

     My dear Brother and Sisters,

You know how much I dislike, at a distance of two hundred miles,
and fourteen days' journey from you, to offer good advice. I mean
to do so, however, for once. Let me tell you therefore of a mistake
in your conduct, and in truth the same that I once made myself. I
do assure you that never in my life have I known my father write in
so irritable a strain as since I came to Rome, and so I wish to
ask you if you cannot devise some domestic recipe to cheer him a
little? I mean by forbearance and yielding to his wishes, and in
this manner, by allowing my father's view of any subject to
predominate over your own; then, not to speak at all on topics that
irritate him; and instead of saying shameful, say unpleasant; or
instead of superb, very fair. This method has often a wonderfully
good effect; and I put it, with all submission to yourselves,
whether it might not be equally successful in this case? For, with
the exception of the great events of the world, ill-humour often
seems to me to proceed from the same cause that my father's did
when I chose to pursue my own path in my musical studies. He was
then in a constant state of irritation, incessantly abusing
Beethoven and all visionaries; and this often vexed me very much,
and made me sometimes very unamiable. At that very time something
new came out, which put my father out of sorts, and made him I
believe not a little uneasy. So long therefore as I persisted in
extolling and exalting my Beethoven, the evil became daily worse;
and one day, if I remember rightly, I was even sent out of the
room. At last, however, it occurred to me that I might speak a
great deal of truth, and yet avoid the particular truth obnoxious
to my father; so the aspect of affairs speedily began to improve,
and soon all went well.

Perhaps you may have in some degree forgotten that you ought now
and then to be forbearing, and not aggressive. My father considers
himself both much older and more irritable than, thank God, he
really is; but it is our duty always to submit our opinion to his,
even if the truth be as much on our side, as it often is on his,
when opposed to us. Strive, then, to praise what he likes, and do
not attack what is implanted in his heart, more especially ancient
established ideas. Do not commend what is new till it has made some
progress in the world, and acquired a name, for till then it is a
mere matter of taste. Try to draw my father into your circle, and
be playful and kind to him. In short, try to smooth and to equalize
things; and remember that I, who am now an experienced man of the
world, never yet knew any family, taking into due consideration all
defects and failings, who have hitherto lived so happily together
as ours.

Do not send me any answer to this, for you will not receive it for
a month, and by that time no doubt some fresh topic will have
arisen; besides, if I have spoken nonsense, I do not wish to be
scolded by you; and if I have spoken properly, I hope you will
follow my good advice.

     November 23rd.

Just as I was going to set to work at the "Hebrides," arrived Herr
B----, a musical professor from Magdeburg. He played me over a
whole book of songs, and an Ave Maria, and begged to have the
benefit of my opinion. I seemed in the position of a juvenile
Nestor, and made him some insipid speeches, but this caused me the
loss of a morning in Rome, which is a pity. The Choral, "Mitten wir
im Leben sind," is finished, and is certainly one of the best
sacred pieces that I have yet composed. After I have completed the
Hebrides, I think of arranging Händel's Solomon for future
performance, with proper curtailments, etc. I then purpose writing
the Christmas music of "Vom Himmel hoch," and the symphony in A
minor; perhaps also some pieces for the piano, and a concerto,
etc., just as they come into my head.

I own I do sadly miss some friend to whom I could communicate my
new works, and who could examine the score along with me, and play
a bass or a flute; whereas now when a piece is finished I must lay
it aside in my desk without its giving pleasure to any one. London
spoiled me in this respect. I can never again expect to meet all
together such friends as I had there. Here I can only say the half
of what I think, and leave the best half unspoken; whereas there it
was not necessary to say more than the half, because the other half
was a mere matter of course, and already understood. Still, this is
a most delightful place.

We young people went lately to Albano, and set off in the most
lovely weather. The road to Frascati passed under the great
aqueduct, its dark brown outlines standing out sharply defined
against the clear blue sky; thence we proceeded to the monastery at
Grotta Ferrata, where there are some beautiful frescoes by
Domenichino; then to Marino, very picturesquely situated on a
hill, and proceeding along the margin of the lake we reached Castel
Gandolfo. The scenery, like my first impression of Italy, is by no
means so striking or so wonderfully beautiful as is generally
supposed, but most pleasing and gratifying to the eye, and the
outlines undulating and picturesque, forming a perfect whole, with
its _entourage_ and distribution of light.

Here I must deliver a eulogy on monks; they finish a picture at
once, giving it tone and colour, with their wide loose gowns, their
pious meditative, gait, and their dark aspect. A beautiful shady
avenue of evergreen oaks runs along the lake from Castel Gandolfo
to Albano, where monks of every order are swarming, animating the
scenery and yet marking its solitude. Near the city a couple of
begging monks were walking together; further on, a whole troop of
young Jesuits; then we saw an elegant young priest in a thicket
reading; beyond this two more were standing in the wood with their
guns, watching for birds. Then we came to a monastery, encircled by
a number of small chapels. At last all was solitude; but at that
moment appeared a dirty, stupid-looking Capuchin, laden with huge
nosegays, which he placed before the various shrines, kneeling down
in front of them before proceeding to decorate them.

As we passed on, we met two old prelates engaged in eager
conversation. The bell for vespers was ringing in the monastery of
Albano, and even on the summit of the highest hill stands a
Passionist convent, where they are only permitted to speak for a
single hour daily, and occupy themselves solely in reading the
history of the passion of Christ. In Albano, among girls with
pitchers on their heads, vendors of flowers and vegetables, and all
the crowd and tumult, we saw a coal-black dumb monk, returning to
Monte Cavo, who formed a singular contrast to the rest of the
scene. They seem to have taken entire possession of all this
splendid country, and form a strange melancholy ground-tone for all
that is lively, gay, and free, and the ever-living cheerfulness
bestowed by nature. It is as if men, on that very account, required
a counterpoise. This is not however my case, and I need no contrast
to enable me to enjoy what I see.

I am often with Bunsen, and as he likes to turn the conversation on
the subject of his Liturgy and its musical portions, which I
consider very deficient, I am perfectly plain-spoken, and give him
a straight-forward opinion; and I believe this is the only way to
establish a mutual understanding. We have had several long, serious
discussions, and I hope we shall eventually know each other better.
Yesterday Palestrina's music was performed at Bunsen's house (as on
every Monday), and then for the first time I played before the
Roman musicians _in corpore_. I am quite aware of the necessity in
every foreign city of playing so as to make myself understood by
the audience. This makes me usually feel rather embarrassed, and
such was the case with me yesterday. After the Papal singers
finished Palestrina's music, it was my turn to play something. A
brilliant piece would have been unsuitable, and there had been more
than enough of serious music; I therefore begged Astolfi, the
Director, to give me a theme, so he lightly touched the notes with
one finger thus:--


smiling as he did so. The black-frocked Abbati pressed round me and
seemed highly delighted. I observed this, and it inspirited me so
much that towards the end I succeeded famously; they clapped their
hands like mad, and Bunsen declared that I had astounded the
clergy; in short, the affair went off well. There is no encouraging
prospect of any public performance here, so society is the only
resource, which is fishing in troubled waters.

         Yours, FELIX.

     Rome, November 30th, 1830.

To come home from Bunsen's by moonlight, with your letter in my
pocket, and then to read it through leisurely at night,--this is a
degree of pleasure I wish many may enjoy. In all probability I
shall stay here the whole winter, and not go to Naples till April.
It is so delightful to look round on every side, and to appreciate
it all properly. There is much that must be thought over, in order
to receive a due impression from it. I have also within myself so
much work requiring both quiet and industry, that I feel anything
like haste would be utter destruction; and though I adhere
faithfully to my system, to receive each day only one fresh image
into my mind, still I am sometimes compelled even then to give
myself a day of rest, that I may not become confused. I write you a
short letter to-day, because I must for the present adhere to my
work; and yet I cannot refrain from culling all the beauty that
lies at my feet. The weather, too, is _brutto_ and cold, so that I
am not in a very communicative mood. The Pope is dying, or possibly
dead by this time. "We shall soon get a new one," say the Italians,
coolly. His death will not affect the Carnival, nor the church
festivals, with their pomps and processions, and fine music; and as
there will be in addition to these, solemn requiems, and the
lying-in-state at St. Peter's, they care little about it, provided
it does not occur in February.

I am delighted to hear that Mantius sings my songs, and likes them.
Give him my kind regards, and ask him why he does not perform his
promise, and write to me. I have written to him repeatedly in the
shape of music. In the "Ave Maria," and in the choral "Aus tiefer
Noth," some passages are composed expressly for him, and he will
sing them charmingly. In the "Ave," which is a salutation, a tenor
solo takes the lead of the choir (I thought of a disciple all the
time). As the piece is in A major, and goes rather high at the
words _Benedicta tu_, he must prepare his high A; it will vibrate
well. Ask him to sing you a song I sent to Devrient from Venice,
"Von schlechtem Lebenswandel." It is expressive of mingled joy and
despair; no doubt he will sing it well. Show it to no one, but
confine it solely to forty eyes. Ritz[7] too never writes, and yet
I am constantly longing for his violin and his depth of feeling
when he plays, which all recurs to my mind when I see his welcome
writing. I am now working daily at the "Hebrides," and will send it
to Ritz as soon as it is finished. It is quite a piece to suit
him--so very singular.

  [7] The violin player, Edward Ritz, an intimate friend of

Next time I write I will tell you more of myself. I work hard, and
lead a pleasant, happy life; my mirror is stuck full of Italian,
German, and English visiting-cards, and I spend every evening with
one of my acquaintances. There is a truly Babylonian confusion of
tongues in my head, for English, Italian, German and French are all
mixed up together in it. Two days ago I again extemporized before
the Papal singers. The fellows had contrived to get hold of the
most strange, quaint theme for me, wishing to put my powers to the
test. They call me, however, _l'insuperabile professorone_, and are
particularly kind and friendly. I much wished to have described to
you the Sunday music in the Sistina, a _soirée_ at Torlonia's, the
Vatican, St. Onofrio, Guido's Aurora, and other small matters, but
I reserve them for my next letter. The post is about to set off,
and this letter with it. My good wishes are always with you, to-day
and ever.

          Yours, FELIX.

     Rome, December 7th, 1830.

I cannot even to-day manage to write to you as fully as I wish.
Heaven knows how time flies here! I was introduced this week to
several agreeable English families, and so I have the prospect of
many pleasant evenings this winter. I am much with Bunsen. I intend
also to cultivate Baini. I think he conceives me to be only a
_brutissimo Tedesco_, so that I have a famous opportunity of
becoming well acquainted with him. His compositions are certainly
of no great value, and the same may be said of the whole music
here. The wish is not wanting, but the means do not exist. The
orchestra is below contempt. Mdlle. Carl,[8] (who is engaged as
_prima donna assoluta_ for the season, at both the principal
theatres here,) is now arrived, and begins to make _la pluie et le
beau temps_. The Papal singers even are becoming old; they are
almost all unmusical, and do not execute even the most established
pieces in tune. The whole choir consists of thirty-two singers,
but that number are rarely together. Concerts are given by the
so-called Philharmonic Society, but only with the piano. There is
no orchestra, and when recently they wished to perform Haydn's
"Creation," the instrumentalists declared it was impossible to play
it. The sounds they bring out of their wind instruments, are such
as in Germany we have no conception of.

  [8] Formerly a singer in the Royal Theatre at Berlin.

The Pope is dead, and the Conclave assembles on the 14th. A great
part of the winter will be occupied with the ceremonies of his
funeral, and the enthronement of the new Pope. All music therefore
and large parties must be at an end, so I very much doubt whether I
shall be able to undertake any public performance during my stay
here; but I do not regret this, for there are so many varied
objects to enjoy inwardly, that my dwelling on these and meditating
on them is no disadvantage. The performance of Graun's "Passion" in
Naples, and more especially the translation of Sebastian Bach's,
prove that the good cause is sure eventually to make its way,
though it will neither kindle enthusiasm, nor will it be
appreciated. It is no worse however with regard to music--in fact,
rather better--than with their estimate of every other branch of
the fine arts; for when some of Raphael's Loggie are with
inconceivable recklessness and disgraceful barbarism actually
defaced, to give place to inscriptions in pencil; when the lower
parts of the arabesques are totally destroyed, because Italians
with knives, and Heaven knows what else besides, inscribe their
insignificant names there; when one person painted in large
letters under the Apollo Belvedere, 'Christ;' when an altar has
been erected in front of Michael Angelo's "Last Judgment," so large
that it hides the centre of the picture, thus destroying the whole
effect; when cattle are driven through the splendid saloons of the
Villa Madama, the walls of which are painted by Giulio Romano, and
fodder is stored in them, simply from indifference towards the
beautiful,--all this is certainly much worse than a bad orchestra,
and painters must be even more distressed by such things than I am
by their miserable music.

The fact is, that the people are mentally enervated and apathetic.
They have a religion, but they do not believe in it; they have a
Pope and a Government, but they turn them into ridicule; they can
recall a brilliant and heroic past, but they do not value it. It is
thus no marvel that they do not delight in Art, for they are
indifferent to all that is earnest. It is really quite revolting to
see their unconcern about the death of the Pope, and their unseemly
merriment during the ceremonies. I myself saw the corpse lying in
state, and the priests standing round incessantly whispering and
laughing; and at this moment, when masses are being said for his
soul, they are in the very same church hammering away at the
scaffolding of the catafalque, so that the strokes of the hammers
and the noise of the workpeople entirely prevent any one hearing
the religious services. As soon as the Cardinals assemble in
conclave, satires appear against them, where, for instance, they
parody the Litanies, and instead of praying to be delivered from
each particular sin, they name the bad qualities of each well-known
cardinal; or, again, they perform an entire opera, where all the
characters are Cardinals, one being the _primo amoroso_, another
the _tiranno assoluto_, a third, stage candle-snuffer, etc. This
could not be the case where the people took any pleasure in Art.
Formerly it was no better, but they had faith then; and it is this
which makes the difference. Nature, however, and the genial
December atmosphere, and the outlines of the Alban hills,
stretching as far as the sea, all remain unchanged. There they can
scribble no names, or compose no inscriptions. These every one can
still individually enjoy in all their freshness, and to these I
cling. I feel much the want of a _friend_ here, to whom I could
freely unbosom myself; who could read my music as I write it, thus
making it doubly precious in my eyes; in whose society I could feel
an interest, and enjoy repose; and honestly learn from him, (it
would not require a very wise man for this purpose.) But just as
trees are not ordained to grow up into the sky, so probably such a
man is not likely to be found here; and the good fortune I have
hitherto so richly enjoyed elsewhere, is not to fall to my share at
present; so I must hum over my melodies to myself, and I dare say I
shall do well enough.


     Rome, December 10th, 1830.

     Dear Father,

It is a year this very day since we kept your birthday at Hensel's,
and now let me give you some account of Rome, as I did at that time
of London. I intend to finish my Overture to the "Einsame Insel"[9]
as a present to you, and if I write under it the 11th December,
when I take up the sheets I shall feel as if I were about to place
them in your hands. You would probably say that you could not read
them, but still I should have offered you the best it was in my
power to give; and though I desire to do this every day, still
there is a peculiar feeling connected with a birthday. Would I were
with you! I need not offer you my good wishes, for you know them
all already, and the deep interest I, and all of us, take in your
happiness and welfare, and that we cannot wish any good for you,
that is not reflected doubly on ourselves. To-day is a holiday. I
rejoice in thinking how cheerful you are at home; and when I repeat
to you how happily I live here, I feel as if this were also a
felicitation. A period like this, when serious thought and
enjoyment are combined, is indeed most cheering and invigorating.
Every time I enter my room I rejoice that I am not obliged to
pursue my journey on the following day, and that I may quietly
postpone many things till the morrow--that I am in Rome! Hitherto
much that passed through my brain was swept away by fresh ideas,
each new impression chasing away the previous one, while here, on
the contrary, they are all in turn properly developed. I never
remember having worked with so much zeal, and if I am to complete
all that I have projected, I must be very industrious during the
winter. I am indeed deprived of the great delight of showing my
finished compositions to one who could take pleasure in them, and
enter into them along with me; but this impels me to return to my
labours, which please me most when I am fairly in the midst of
them. And now this must be combined with the various solemnities,
and festivals of every kind, which are to supplant my work for a
few days; and as I have resolved to see and to enjoy all I possibly
can, I do not allow my occupation to prevent this, and shall then
return with fresh zeal to my composition.

  [9] Afterwards published under the name of "Overture to the

This is indeed a delightful existence! My health is as good as
possible, though the hot wind, called here the _sirocco_, rather
attacks my nerves, and I find I must beware of playing the piano
much, or at night; besides it is easy for me to refrain from doing
so for a few days, as for some weeks past I have been playing
almost every evening. Bunsen, who often warns me against playing
if I find it prejudicial, gave a large party yesterday, where
nevertheless I was obliged to play; but it was a pleasure
to me, for I had the opportunity of making so many agreeable
acquaintances. Thorwaldsen, in particular, expressed himself in so
gratifying a manner with regard to me, that I felt quite proud, for
I honor him as one of the greatest of men, and always have revered
him. He looks like a lion, and the very sight of his face is
invigorating. You feel at once that he must be a noble artist; his
eyes look so clear, as if with him every object must assume a
definite form and image. Moreover he is very gentle, and kind, and
mild, because his nature is so superior; and yet he seems to be
able to enjoy every trifle. It is a real source of pleasure to see
a great man, and to know that the creator of works that will endure
for ever stands before you in person; a living being with all his
attributes, and individuality, and genius, and yet a man like

     December 11th, morning.

Now your actual birthday is arrived! A few lines of music suggested
themselves to me on the occasion, and though they may not be worth
much, the congratulations I have been in the habit of offering,
were of quite as little value. Fanny may add the second part. I
have only written what occurred to my mind as I entered the room,
the sun shining, on your birthday:--




Bunsen has just been here, and begs me to send you his best regards
and congratulations. He is all kindness and courtesy towards me,
and as you wish to know, I think I may say that we suit each other
remarkably well. The few words you wrote about P---- recalled him
to my memory in all his offensiveness. The Abbate Santini ought to
be an obscure man compared with him, for he never attempts to
magnify his own importance by impertinence or self-sufficiency.
P---- is one of those collectors who make learning and libraries
distasteful to others by their narrow-mindedness, whereas Santini
is a genuine collector, in the best sense of the word, caring
little whether his collection be of much value in a pecuniary point
of view. He therefore gives everything away indiscriminately, and
is only anxious to procure something new, for his chief object is
the diffusion and universal knowledge of ancient music. I have not
seen him lately, as every morning now he figures, _ex officio_, in
his violet gown at St. Peter's; but if he has made use of some
ancient text, he will say so without scruple, as he has no wish to
be thought the first discoverer. He is, in fact, a man of limited
capacity; and this I consider great praise in a certain sense, for
though he is neither a musical nor any other luminary, and even
bears some resemblance to Lessing's inquisitive friar, still he
knows how to confine himself within his own sphere. Music itself
does not interest him much, if he can only have it on his shelves;
and he is, and esteems himself to be, simply a quiet, zealous
collector. I must admit that he is fatiguing, and not altogether
free from irritability; still I love any one who adopts and
perseveres in some particular pursuit, prosecuting it to the best
of his ability, and endeavouring to perfect it for the benefit of
mankind, and I think every one ought to esteem him just the same,
whether he chance to be tiresome or agreeable.

I wish you would read this aloud to P----. It always makes me
furious when men who have no pursuit, presume to criticize those
who wish to effect something, even on a small scale; so on this
very account I took the liberty of rebuking lately a certain
musician in society here. He began to speak of Mozart, and as
Bunsen and his sister love Palestrina, he tried to flatter their
tastes by asking me, for instance, what I thought of the worthy
Mozart, and all his sins. I however replied, that so far as I was
concerned, I should feel only too happy to renounce all _my_
virtues in exchange for Mozart's sins: but that of course I could
not venture to pronounce on the extent of _his_ virtues. The people
all laughed, and were highly amused. How strange it is that such
persons should feel no awe of so great a name!

It is some consolation, however, that it is the same in every
sphere of art, as the painters here are quite as bad. They are most
formidable to look at, sitting in their _Café Greco_. I scarcely
ever go there, for I dislike both them and their favourite places
of resort. It is a small dark room, about eight feet square, where
on one side you may smoke, but not on the other; so they sit round
on benches, with their broad-leaved hats on their heads, and their
huge mastiffs beside them; their cheeks and throats, and the whole
of their faces covered with hair, puffing forth clouds of smoke
(only on one side of the room), and saying rude things to each
other, while the mastiffs swarm with vermin. A neckcloth or a coat
would be quite innovations. Any portion of the face visible through
the beard, is hid by spectacles; so they drink coffee, and speak of
Titian and Pordenone, just as if they were sitting beside them, and
also wore beards and wide-awakes! Moreover, they paint such sickly
Madonnas and feeble saints, and such milk-sop heroes, that I feel
the strongest inclination to knock them down. These infernal
critics do not even shrink from discussing Titian's picture in the
Vatican, about which you asked me; they say that it has neither
subject nor meaning; yet it never seems to occur to them, that a
master who had so long studied a picture with due love and
reverence, must have had quite as deep an insight into the subject
as they are likely to have, even with their coloured spectacles.
And if in the course of my life I accomplish nothing but this, I am
at all events determined to say the most harsh and cutting things
to those who show no reverence towards their masters, and then I
shall at least have performed one good work. But there they stand,
and see all the splendour of those creations, so far transcending
their own conceptions, and yet dare to criticize them.

In this picture there are three stages, or whatever they are
called the same as in the "Transfiguration." Below, saints and
martyrs are represented in suffering and abasement; on every face
is depicted sadness, nay almost impatience; one figure in rich
episcopal robes looks upwards, with the most eager and agonized
longing, as if weeping, but he cannot see all that is floating
above his head, but which _we_ see, standing in front of the
picture. Above, Mary and her Child are in a cloud, radiant with
joy, and surrounded by angels, who have woven many garlands; the
Holy Child holds one of these, and seems as if about to crown the
saints beneath, but his Mother withholds his hand for the moment.
The contrast between the pain and suffering below, whence St.
Sebastian looks forth out of the picture with such gloom and almost
apathy, and the lofty unalloyed exultation in the clouds above,
where crowns and palms are already awaiting him, is truly
admirable. High above the group of Mary, hovers the Holy Spirit,
from whom emanates a bright streaming light, thus forming the apex
of the whole composition. I have just remembered that Goethe, at
the beginning of his first visit to Rome, describes and admires
this picture; but I no longer have the book to enable me to read it
over, and to compare my description with his. He speaks of it in
considerable detail. It was at that time in the Quirinal, and
subsequently transferred to the Vatican; whether it was painted on
a given subject, as some allege, or not, is of no moment. Titian
has imbued it with his genius and his poetical feeling, and has
thus made it his own. I like Schadow much, and am often with him;
on every occasion, and especially in his own department, he is mild
and clear-judging, doing justice with due modesty to all that is
truly great; he recently said that Titian had never painted an
indifferent or an uninteresting picture, and I believe he is right;
for life and enthusiasm and the soundest vigour are displayed in
all his productions, and where these are, it is good to be also.
There is one singular and fortunate peculiarity here: though all
the objects have been, a thousand times over, described, discussed,
copied, and criticized, in praise or blame, by the greatest
masters, and the most insignificant scholars, cleverly or stupidly,
still they never fail to make a fresh and sublime impression on
all, affecting each person according to his own individuality. Here
we can take refuge from man in all that surrounds us; in Berlin it
is often exactly the reverse.

I have this moment received your letter of the 27th, and am pleased
to find that I have already answered many of the questions it
contains. There is no hurry about the letters I asked for, as I
have now made almost more acquaintances than I wish; besides, late
hours, and playing so much, do not suit me in Rome, so I can await
the arrival of these letters very patiently: it was not so at the
time I urged you to send them. I cannot however understand what you
mean by your allusion to _coteries_ which I ought to have outgrown,
for I know that I, and all of us, invariably dreaded and detested
what is usually so called,--that is, a frivolous, exclusive circle
of society, clinging to empty outward forms. Among persons,
however, who daily meet, while their mutual objects of interest
remain the same, who have no sympathy with public life (and this is
certainly the case in Berlin, with the exception of the theatre),
it is not unnatural that they should form for themselves a gay,
cheerful, and original mode of treating passing events, and that
this should give rise to a peculiar, and perhaps monotonous style
of conversation; but this by no means constitutes a _coterie_. I
feel convinced that I shall never belong to one, whether I am in
Rome or Wittenberg. I am glad that the last words I was writing
when your letter arrived, chanced to be that in Berlin you must
take refuge in society from all that surrounds you; thus proving
that I had no spirit of _coterie_, which invariably estranges men
from each other. I should deeply regret your observing anything of
the kind in me or in any of us, except indeed for the moment.
Forgive me, my dear father, for defending myself so warmly, but
this word is most repugnant to my feelings, and you say in your
letters that I am always to speak out what I think in a
straightforward manner, so pray do not take this amiss.

I was in St. Peter's to-day, where the grand solemnities called the
absolutions have begun for the Pope, and which last till Tuesday,
when the Cardinals assemble in conclave. The building surpasses all
powers of description. It appears to me like some great work of
nature, a forest, a mass of rocks, or something similar; for I
never can realize the idea that it is the work of man. You strive
to distinguish the ceiling as little as the canopy of heaven. You
lose your way in St. Peter's, you take a walk in it, and ramble
till you are quite tired; when divine service is performed and
chanted there, you are not aware of it till you come quite close.
The angels in the Baptistery are monstrous giants; the doves,
colossal birds of prey; you lose all idea of measurement with the
eye, or proportion; and yet who does not feel his heart expand,
when standing under the dome, and gazing up at it? At present a
monstrous catafalque has been erected in the nave in this
shape.[10] The coffin is placed in the centre under the pillars;
the thing is totally devoid of taste, and yet it has a wondrous
effect. The upper circle is thickly studded with lights, so are all
the ornaments; the lower circle is lighted in the same way, and
over the coffin hangs a burning lamp, and innumerable lights are
blazing under the statues. The whole structure is more than a
hundred feet high, and stands exactly opposite the entrance. The
guards of honour, and the Swiss, march about in the quadrangle; in
every corner sits a Cardinal in deep mourning, attended by his
servants, who hold large burning torches, and then the singing
commences with responses, in the simple and monotonous tone you no
doubt remember. It is the only occasion when there is any singing
in the middle of the church, and the effect is wonderful. Those who
place themselves among the singers (as I do) and watch them, are
forcibly impressed by the scene: for they all stand round a
colossal book from which they sing, and this book is in turn lit up
by a colossal torch that burns before it; while the choir are
eagerly pressing forward in their vestments, in order to see and to
sing properly: and Baini with his monk's face, marking time with
his hand, and occasionally joining in the chant with a stentorian
voice. To watch all these different Italian faces, was most
interesting; one enjoyment quickly succeeds another here, and it is
the same in their churches, especially in St. Peter's, where by
moving a few steps the whole scene is changed. I went to the very
furthest end, whence there was indeed a wonderful _coup d'oeil_.
Through the spiral columns of the high altar, which is confessedly
as high as the palace in Berlin, far beyond the space of the
cupola, the whole mass of the catafalque was seen in diminished
perspective, with its rows of lights, and numbers of small human
beings crowding round it. When the music commences, the sounds do
not reach the other end for a long time, but echo and float in the
vast space, so that the most singular and vague harmonies are borne
towards you. If you change your position, and place yourself right
in front of the catafalque, beyond the blaze of light and the
brilliant pageantry, you have the dusky cupola replete with blue
vapour; all this is quite indescribable. Such is Rome!

  [10] A little sketch of the catafalque was enclosed in the

This has become a long letter, so I must conclude; it will reach
you on Christmas-day. May you all enjoy it happily! I send each of
you presents, which are to be dispatched two days hence, and will
arrive in time for the anniversary of your silver wedding-day. Many
glad festivals are thus crowded together, and I scarcely know
whether to imagine myself with you to-day, and to wish you, dear
father, all possible happiness, or to arrive with my letter at
Christmas, and not to be allowed by my mother to pass through the
room with the Christmas-tree. I am afraid I must be contented with
thinking of you.--Farewell all! May you be happy!


I have just received your letter, which brings me the intelligence
of Goethe's illness. What I personally feel at this news I cannot
express. This whole evening his words, "I must try to keep all
right till your return," have sounded continually in my ears, to
the exclusion of every other thought: when he is gone, Germany will
assume a very different aspect for artists. I have never thought of
Germany without feeling heartfelt joy and pride that Goethe lived
there; and the rising generation seem for the most part so weakly
and feeble, that it makes my heart sink within me. He is the last;
and with him closes a happy prosperous period for us! This year
ends in solemn sadness.

     Rome, December 20th, 1830.

In my former letter I told you of the more serious aspect of Roman
life; but as I wish to describe to you how I live, I must now tell
you of the gayeties that have prevailed during this week.

To-day we have the most genial sunshine, a blue sky, and a
transparent atmosphere, and on such days I have my own mode of
passing my time. I work hard till eleven o'clock, and from that
hour till dark, I do nothing but breathe the air. For the first
time, for some days past, we yesterday had fine weather. After
therefore working for a time in the morning at "Solomon," I went to
the Monte Pincio, where I rambled about the whole day. The effect
of this exhilarating air is quite magical; and when I arose to-day,
and again saw bright sunshine, I exulted in the thoughts of the
entire idleness I was again about to indulge in. The whole world is
on foot, revelling in a December spring. Every moment you meet some
acquaintance, with whom you lounge about for a time, then leave
him, and once more enjoy your solitary revery. There are swarms of
handsome faces to be seen. As the sun declines, the appearance of
the whole landscape, and every hue, undergo a change. When the Ave
Maria sounds, it is time to go to the church of Trinità de' Monti,
where French nuns sing; and it is charming to hear them. I declare
to heaven that I am become quite tolerant, and listen to bad music
with edification; but what can I do? the composition is positively
ridiculous; the organ playing even more absurd. But it is
twilight, and the whole of the small bright church is filled with
persons kneeling, lit up by the sinking sun each time that the door
is opened; both the singing nuns have the sweetest voices in the
world, quite tender and touching, more especially when one of them
sings the responses in her melodious voice, which we are accustomed
to hear chanted by priests in a loud, harsh, monotonous tone. The
impression is very singular; moreover, it is well known that no one
is permitted to see the fair singers,--so this caused me to form a
strange resolution. I have composed something to suit their voices,
which I observed very minutely, and I mean to send it to
them,--there are several modes to which I can have recourse to
accomplish this. That they will sing it, I feel quite assured; and
it will be pleasant for me to hear my chant performed by persons
whom I never saw, especially as they must in turn sing it to the
_barbaro Tedesco_, whom they also never beheld. I am charmed with
this idea. The text is in Latin,--a Prayer to Mary. Does not this
notion please you?[11]

  [11] This piece appeared afterwards as Opus 39.

After church I walk again on the hill until it is quite dark, when
Madame Vernet and her daughter, and pretty Madame V---- (for whose
acquaintance I have to thank Roesel), are much admired by us
Germans, and we form groups round them, or follow, or walk beside
them. The background is formed by haggard painters with terrific
beards; they smoke tobacco on the Monte Pincio, whistle to their
huge dogs, and enjoy the sunset in their own way.

As I am in a frivolous mood to-day, I must relate to you, dear
sisters, every particular of a ball I lately attended, and where I
danced with a degree of zeal I never did before. I had spoken a few
fair words to the _maître de danse_ (who stands in the middle here,
and regulates everything), consequently he allowed the galop to
continue for more than half an hour, so I was in my element, and
pleasantly conscious that I was dancing in the Palazzo Albani, in
Rome, and also with the prettiest girl in it, according to the
verdict of the competent judges (Thorwaldsen, Vernet, etc.) The way
in which I became acquainted with her is also an anecdote of Rome.
I was at Torlonia's first ball, though not dancing, as I knew none
of the ladies present, but merely looking at the people. Suddenly
some one tapped me on the shoulder, saying, "So you also are
admiring the English beauty; I am quite dazzled." It was
Thorwaldsen himself standing at the door, lost in admiration;
scarcely had he said this, when we heard a torrent of words behind
us,--"Mais où est-elle donc, cette petite Anglaise? Ma femme m'a
envoyé pour la regarder. Per Bacco!" It was quite clear that this
little thin Frenchman, with stiff, grey hair, and the ribbon of the
Legion of Honour, must be Horace Vernet. He now discussed the
youthful beauty with Thorwaldsen, in the most earnest and
scientific manner; and it was quite a pleasure to me to see these
two old masters admiring the young girl together, while she was
dancing away, quite unconcerned. They were then presented to her
parents, but I felt very insignificant, as I could not join in the
conversation. A few days afterwards, however, I was with some
acquaintances whom I knew through the Attwoods, at Venice, they
having invited me for the purpose of presenting me to some of their
friends; and these friends turned out to be the very persons I have
been speaking of; so your son and brother was highly delighted.

My pianoforte playing is a source of great gratification to me
here. You know how Thorwaldsen loves music, and I sometimes play to
him in the morning while he is at work. He has an excellent
instrument in his studio, and when I look at the old gentleman and
see him kneading his brown clay, and delicately fining off an arm,
or a fold of drapery,--in short, when he is creating what we must
all admire when completed, as an enduring work,--then I do indeed
rejoice that I have the means of bestowing any enjoyment on him.
Nevertheless, I have not fallen into arrear with my own tasks. The
"Hebrides" is completed at last, and a strange production it is.
The chant for the nuns is in my head; and I think of composing
Luther's choral for Christmas, but on this occasion I must do so
quite alone; and it will be a more serious affair this time, and so
will the anniversary of your silver wedding-day, when I intend to
have a great many lights, and to sing my "Liederspiel," and to have
a peep at my English _bâton_. After the new year, I intend to
resume instrumental music, and to write several things for the
piano, and probably a symphony of some kind, for two have been
haunting my brain.

I have lately frequented a most delightful spot,--the tomb of
Cecilia Metella. The Sabine hills had a sprinkling of snow, but it
was glorious sunshine; the Alban hills were like a dream or a
vision. There is no such thing as distance in Italy, for all the
houses on the hills can be counted, with their roofs and windows. I
have thus inhaled this air to satiety; and to-morrow in all
probability, more serious occupations will be resumed, for the sky
is cloudy, and it is raining hard, but what a spring this will be!

     December 21st.

This is the shortest day, and very gloomy, as might have been
anticipated; so to-day nothing can be thought of but fugues,
chorals, balls, etc. But I must say a few words about Guido's
"Aurora," which I often visit; it is a picture the very type of
haste and impetus; for surely no man ever imagined such hurry and
tumult, such sounding and clashing. Painters maintain that it is
lighted from two sides,--they have my full permission to light
_theirs_ from three if it will improve them,--but the difference
lies elsewhere.

I really cannot compose a tolerable song here, for who is there to
sing it to me? But I am writing a grand fugue, "Wir glauben all,"
and sing it to myself in such a fashion that my friend the Captain
rushes downstairs in alarm, puts in his head, and asks what I want.
I answer--a counter theme. But how much I do really want; and yet
how much I have got! Thus life passes onwards.


     Rome, December 28th, 1830.

Rome in wet weather is the most odious, uncomfortable place
imaginable. For some days past we have had incessant storms and
cold, and streams of water from the sky; and I can scarcely
comprehend how, only one week ago, I could write you a letter full
of rambles and orange-trees and all that is beautiful: in such
weather as this everything becomes ugly. Still, I must write to you
about it, otherwise my previous letter would not have the advantage
of contrast, and of that there is no lack. If in Germany we can
form no conception of the bright winter days here, quite as little
can we realize a really wet winter day in Rome; everything is
arranged for fine weather, so the bad is borne like a public
calamity, and in the hope of better times. There is no shelter
anywhere; in my room, which is usually so comfortable, the water
pours in through the windows, which will not shut fast; the wind
whistles through the doors, which will not close; the stone floor
chills you in spite of double mattings, and the smoke from the
chimney is driven into the room, because the fire will not burn;
foreigners shiver and freeze here like tailors.

All this is, however, actual luxury when compared with the streets;
and when I am obliged to go out, I consider it a positive
misfortune. Rome, as every one knows, is built on seven large
hills; but there are a number of smaller ones besides, and all the
streets are sloping, so the water pours down them, and rushes
towards you; nowhere is there a raised footpath, or a _trottoir_;
at the stair of the Piazza di Spagna, there is a flood like the
great water-works in Wilhelms-Höhe; the Tiber has overflowed its
banks, and inundated the adjacent streets: this, then, is the water
from below. From above come violent showers of rain, but that is
the least part. The houses have no water-spouts, and the long roofs
slant precipitously, but, being of different lengths, this causes
an incessant violent inundation on both sides of the street, so
that go where you will, close to the houses, or in the middle of
the streets, beside a barber's shop or a palace, you are sure to be
deluged, and, quite unawares, you find yourself standing under a
tremendous shower-bath, the water pelting on your umbrella, while a
stream is running before you that you cannot jump over, so you are
obliged to return the way you came: this is the water overhead.
Then the carriages drive as rapidly as possible, and close to the
houses, so that you must retreat into the doorways till they are
past; they not only splash men and houses, but each other, so that
when two meet, one must drive into the gutter, which, being a rapid
current, the consequences are lamentable. Lately I saw an Abbate
hurrying along, whose umbrella chancing to knock off the
broad-brimmed hat of a peasant, it fell with the crown exposed to
one of these deluges, and when the man went to pick it up, it was
quite filled with water. "Scusi," said the Abbate. "Padronè,"
replied the peasant. The hackney coaches moreover only ply till
five o'clock, so if you go to a party at night, it costs you a
scudo. _Fiat justitia et pereat mundus_--Rome in rainy weather is
vastly disagreeable.

I see by a letter of Devrient's, that one I wrote to him from
Venice, and which I took to the post myself on the 17th of October,
had not reached him on the 19th of November. It would appear also,
that another which I sent the same day to Munich had not arrived;
both these letters contained music, and this accounts for the loss.
At that very time in Venice they carried off all my manuscripts to
the Custom-house, after visiting my effects at night, shortly
before the departure of the post, and I only received them again
here, after much worry and writing backwards and forwards. Every
one assured me that the cause of this was a secret correspondence
being suspected in cipher in the manuscript music. I could scarcely
credit such intolerable stupidity; but as my two letters from
Venice containing music have not arrived, and these only, the
thing is clear enough. I intend to complain of this to the Austrian
ambassador here, but it will do no good, and the letters are lost,
which I much regret. Farewell!


     Rome, January 17th, 1831.

For a week past we have had the most lovely spring weather. Young
girls are carrying about nosegays of violets and anemones, which
they gather early in the morning at the Villa Pamfili. The streets
and squares swarm with gaily attired pedestrians; the Ave Maria has
already been advanced twenty minutes, but what is become of the
winter? Some little time ago it indeed reminded me of my work, to
which I now mean to apply steadily, for I own that during the gay
social life of the previous weeks, I had rather neglected it. I
have nearly completed the arrangement of "Solomon," and also my
Christmas anthem, which consists of five numbers; the two
symphonies also begin to assume a more definite form, and I
particularly wish to finish them here. Probably I shall be able to
accomplish this during Lent, when parties cease (especially balls)
and spring begins, and then I shall have both time and inclination
to compose, in which case I hope to have a good store of new
works. Any performance of them here is quite out of the question.
The orchestras are worse than any one could believe; both
musicians, and a right feeling for music, are wanting. The two or
three violin performers play just as they choose, and join in when
they please; the wind instruments are tuned either too high or too
low; and they execute flourishes like those we are accustomed to
hear in farm-yards, but hardly so good; in short the whole forms a
Dutch concert, and this applies even to compositions with which
they are familiar.

The question is, whether all this could be radically reformed by
introducing other people into the orchestra, by teaching the
musicians time, and by instructing them in first principles. I
think in that case the people would no doubt take pleasure in it;
so long, however, as this is not done, no improvement can be hoped
for, and every one seems so indifferent on the subject, that there
is not the slightest prospect of such a thing. I heard a solo on
the flute, where the flute was more than a quarter of a tone too
high; it set my teeth on edge, but no one remarked it, and when at
the end a shake came, they applauded mechanically. If it were even
a shade better with regard to singing! The great singers have left
the country. Lablache, David, Lalande, Pisaroni, etc., sing in
Paris, and the minor ones who remain, copy their inspired moments,
which they caricature in the most insupportable manner.

We in Germany may perhaps wish to accomplish something false or
impossible, but it is, and always will be, quite _dissimilar_; and
just as a _cicisbeo_ will for ever be odious and repulsive to my
feelings, so is it also with Italian music. I may be too obtuse to
comprehend either; but I shall never feel otherwise; and recently,
at the Philharmonic, after the music of Pacini and Bellini, when
the Cavaliere Ricci begged me to accompany him in "Non più andrai,"
the very first notes were so utterly different and so infinitely
remote from all the previous music, that the matter was clear to me
then, and never will it be equalized, so long as there is such a
blue sky, and such a charming winter as the present. In the same
way the Swiss can paint no beautiful scenery, precisely because
they have it the whole day before their eyes. "Les Allemands
traitent la musique comme une affaire d'état," says Spontini, and I
accept the axiom. I lately heard some musicians here talking of
their composers, and I listened in silence. One quoted ----, but
the others interrupted him, saying he could not be considered an
Italian, for the German school still clung to him, and he had never
been able to get rid of it; consequently he had never been at home
in Italy: we Germans say precisely the reverse of him, and it must
be not a little trying to find yourself so _entre deux_, and
without any fatherland. So far as I am concerned I stick to my own
colours, which are quite honourable enough for me.

Last night a theatre that Torlonia has undertaken and organized,
was opened with a new opera of Pacini's. The crowd was great, and
every box filled with handsome, well-dressed people; young Torlonia
appeared in a stage-box with his mother, the old Duchess, and they
were immensely applauded. The audience called out _Bravo, Torlonia,
grazie, grazie!_ Opposite to him was Jerome, with his suite, and
covered with orders: in the next box Countess Samoilow, etc. Over
the orchestra is a picture of Time pointing to the dial of the
clock, which revolves slowly, and is enough to make any one
melancholy. Pacini then appeared at the piano, and was kindly
welcomed. He had prepared no overture, so the opera began with a
chorus, accompanied by strokes on an anvil tuned in the proper key.
The Corsair came forward, sang his _aria_, and was applauded, on
which the Corsair above, and the Maestro below, bowed (this pirate
is a contralto, and sung by Mademoiselle Mariani); a variety of
airs followed, and the piece became very tiresome. This seemed to
be also the opinion of the public, for when Pacini's grand _finale_
began, the whole pit stood up, talking to each other as loud as
they could, laughing and turning their backs on the stage. Madame
Samoilow fainted in her box, and was carried out. Pacini glided
away from the piano, and at the end of the act, the curtain fell in
the midst of a great tumult. Then came the grand ballet of _Barbe
Bleue_, followed by the last act of the opera. As the audience were
now in a mood for it, they hissed the whole ballet from the very
beginning, and accompanied the second act also with hooting and
laughter. At the close Torlonia was called for, but he would not

This is the matter-of-fact narrative of a first performance at the
opening of a theatre in Rome. I had anticipated much amusement, so
I came away considerably out of humour; still, if the music had
made _furore_, I should have been very indignant, for it is so
wretched that it really is beneath all criticism. But that they
should turn their backs on their favourite Pacini, whom they wished
to crown in the Capitol, parody his melodies, and sing them in a
ludicrous style, this does, I confess, provoke me not a little, and
is likewise a proof of how low such a musician stands in the public
opinion. Another time they will carry him home on their shoulders;
but this is no compensation. They would not act thus in France with
regard to Boieldieu; independent of all love of art, a sense of
propriety would prevent their doing so: but enough of this subject,
for it is too vexatious.

Why should Italy still insist on being the land of Art, while it is
in reality the Land of Nature, thus delighting every heart! I have
already described to you my walks to the Monte Pincio. I continue
them daily. I went lately with the Vollards to Ponte Nomentano, a
solitary dilapidated bridge in the spacious green Campagna. Many
ruins from the days of ancient Rome, and many watch-towers from the
Middle Ages, are scattered over this long succession of meadows;
chains of hills rise towards the horizon, now partially covered
with snow, and fantastically varied in form and colour by the
shadows of the clouds. And there is also the enchanting, vapoury
vision of the Alban hills, which change their hues like a
chameleon, as you gaze at them,--where you can see for miles little
white chapels glittering on the dark ground of the hills, as far as
the Passionist Convent on the summit, and whence you can trace the
road winding through thickets, and the hills sloping downwards to
the Lake of Albano, while a hermitage peeps through the trees. The
distance is equal to that from Berlin to Potsdam, say I as a good
Berliner; but that it is a lovely vision, I say in earnest. No lack
of music _there_; it echoes and vibrates _there_ on every side; not
in the vapid, tasteless theatres. So we rambled about, chasing each
other in the Campagna, and jumping over the fences, and when the
sun went down we drove home, feeling so weary, and yet so
self-satisfied and pleased, as if we had done great things; and so
we have, if we _rightly appreciated_ it all.

I have now applied myself again to drawing, and have latterly put
in some tints, as I should be glad to be able to recall some of
these bright hues, and practice quickens the perceptions. I must
now tell you, dear mother, of a great, very great pleasure I
recently enjoyed, because you will rejoice with me. Two days ago I
was for the first time in a small circle with Horace Vernet, and
played there. He had previously told me that his most favourite and
esteemed music was "Don Juan," especially the Duet and the
Commendatore at the end; and as I highly approved of such
sentiments on his part, the result was, that while playing a
prelude to Weber's _Concert-Stück_, I imperceptibly glided further
into extemporizing--thought I would please him by taking these
themes, and so I worked them up fancifully for some time. This
caused him a degree of delight far beyond what I ever knew my music
produce in any one, and we became at once more intimate. Afterwards
he suddenly came up to me, and whispered that we must make an
exchange, for that he also was an improvisatore; and when I was
naturally curious to know what he meant, he said it was his secret.
He is however like a little child, and could not conceal it for
more than a quarter of an hour, when he came in again, and taking
me into the next room, he asked me if I had any time to spare, as
he had stretched and prepared a canvas, and proposed painting my
portrait on it, which I was to keep in memory of this day, or roll
it up and send it to you, or take it with me, just as I chose. He
said he should have no easy task with his improvisation, but at all
events he would attempt it. I was only too glad to give my consent,
and cannot tell you how much I was enchanted with the delight and
enthusiasm he evidently felt in my playing.

It was in every respect a happy evening; as I ascended the hill
with him, all was so still and peaceful, and only one window lit up
in the large dark villa.[12] Fragments of music floated on the
air, and its echoes in the dark night, mingled with the murmuring
of fountains, were sweeter than I can describe. Two young students
were drilling in the anteroom, while the third acted the part of
lieutenant, and commanded in good form. In another room my friend
Montfort, who gained the prize for music in the Conservatorium, was
seated at a piano, and others were standing round, singing a
chorus; but it went very badly. They urged another young man to
join them, and when he said that he did not know how to sing, his
friend rejoined, "Qu'est-ce que ça fait? c'est toujours une voix de
plus!" I helped them as I best could, and we were well amused.
Afterwards we danced, and I wish you could have seen Louisa Vernet
dancing the Saltarella with her father. When at length she was
forced to stop for a few moments, and snatched up a tambourine,
playing with the utmost spirit, and relieving us, who could really
scarcely any longer move our hands, I wished I had been a painter,
for what a superb picture she would have made! Her mother is the
kindest creature in the world, and the grandfather, Charles Vernet
(who paints such splendid horses), danced a quadrille the same
evening with so much ease, making so many _entrechats_, and varying
his steps so gracefully, that it is a sad pity he should actually
be seventy-two years of age. Every day he rides, and tires out two
horses, paints and draws a little, and spends the evening in

  [12] Vernet lived in the Villa Medici.

In my next letter I must tell you of my acquaintance with Robert,
who has just finished an admirable picture, "The Harvest," and also
describe my recent visits with Bunsen to the studios of Cornelius,
Koch, Overbeck, etc. My time is fully occupied, for there is plenty
to do and to see; unluckily I cannot make time elastic, however
much I may strive to extend it. I have as yet said nothing of
Raphael's portrait as a child, and Titian's "Nymphs Bathing," who
in a piquant enough fashion are designated "Sacred and Profane
Love," one being in full gala costume, while the other is devoid of
all drapery,[13] or of my exquisite "Madonna di Foligno," or of
Francesco Francia, the most guileless and devout painter in the
world; or of poor Guido Reni, whom the bearded painters of the
present day treat with such contempt, and yet he painted a certain
Aurora, and many other splendid objects besides; but what avails
description? It is well for me that I can revel in the sight of
them. When we meet, I may perhaps be able to give you a better idea
of them.

         Your FELIX.

  [13] This picture is in the Borghese Gallery.

     Rome, February 1st, 1831.

I intended not to write to you till my birthday, but possibly two
days hence I may not be in a writing mood, and must drive all
fancies away by hard work. It does not seem probable that the Papal
military band will surprise me in the morning,[14] and as I have
told all my acquaintances that I was born on the 25th, I think the
day will glide quietly by; I prefer this to a trivial half-and-half
celebration. I will place your portrait before me in the morning,
and feel happy in looking at it and in thinking of you. I shall
then play over my military overture, and select my favourite dish
for dinner, from the _carte_ at the _Lepre_. It is not unprofitable
to be obliged to do all this for one's self, both on birthdays and
other days. I feel isolated enough, and am rather partial to the
other extreme. At night the Torlonias are so obliging as to give a
ball to eight hundred persons; on Wednesday, the day before, and
on Friday, the day after my birthday, I am invited to the house
of some English friends. During the previous week, I have been
busily engaged in sight-seeing, and revisited many well-known
objects;--thus I was in the Vatican, the Farnesina, Corsini, the
Villa Lante, Borghese, etc. Two days ago I saw the frescoes for the
first time in Bartholdy's house;[15] inasmuch as the English ladies
who reside there, and who have transformed the painted saloon into
a sleeping apartment, with a four-post bed, would never hitherto
permit me to enter it. So this was my first visit to my uncle's
house, where at last I saw his pictures, and the view of the city.
It was a noble, regal idea to have these frescoes; and the
execution of such a sublime thought, in spite of every kind of
impediment and annoyance, simply in order that the design should be
carried out, seems to me very charming.

  [14] On the 3rd of February, 1830, the bands of some regiments in
  Berlin gave Mendelssohn a serenade in honour of his birthday.

  [15] The Prussian Consul-General Bartholdy, who died in Rome, and
  was an uncle of Felix Mendelssohn's.

But to turn to an entirely different subject. In many circles here,
it is the fashion to consider piety and dulness synonymous, and yet
they are very different; our German clergyman here is not
behindhand in this respect. There are men in Rome with an amount of
fanaticism credible in the sixteenth century, but quite monstrous
in the present day; they all wish to make converts, abusing each
other in a Christian manner, and each ridiculing the belief of his
neighbour, till it is quite too sad to hear them. As if to have
simplicity, and to be simple, were the same thing! Unfortunately I
must here retract my favourite axiom, that _goodwill_ can effect
all things, _ability_ must accompany it; but I am soaring too high,
and my father will lecture me. I wish this letter were better, but
we have snow on the ground; the roofs in the Piazza di Spagna are
quite white, and heavy clouds of snow are gathering; nothing can be
more odious to us Southerners, and we are freezing. The Monte
Pincio is a mass of ice. Your Northern Lights have their revenge on
us. Who can write or think with any degree of warmth? I was so
pleased at the idea of being a whole winter without snow, but now I
must give up that notion. The Italians say that spring breezes will
come in a few days; then gay life, and gay letters, will be
resumed. Farewell! may you enjoy every good, and think of me.


     Rome, February 8th, 1831.

The Pope is elected: the Pope is crowned. He performed mass in St.
Peter's on Sunday, and conferred his benediction; in the evening
the dome was illuminated, succeeded by the Girandola; the Carnival
began on Saturday, and pursues its headlong course in the most
motley forms. The city has been illuminated each evening. Last
night there was a ball at the French Embassy; to-day the Spanish
Ambassador gives a grand entertainment. Next door to me they sell
_confetti_, and how they do shout! And now I might as well stop,
for why attempt to describe what is, in fact, indescribable? You
ought to make Hensel tell you of these splendid _fêtes_, which in
pomp, brilliancy, and animation, surpass all the imagination can
conceive, for my sober pen is not equal to the task. What a
different aspect everything has assumed during the last eight days,
for now the mildest and most genial sun is shining, and we remain
in the balcony enjoying the air till after sunset. Oh, that I could
enclose for you, in this letter, only one quarter of an hour of all
this pleasure, or tell you how life actually flies in Rome, every
minute bringing its own memorable delights! It is not difficult to
give _fêtes_ here; if the simple architectural outlines are lighted
up, the dome of St. Peter's blazes forth in the dark purple
atmosphere, calmly shining. If there are fireworks, they brighten
the gloomy solid walls of the Castle of St. Angelo, and fall into
the Tiber; when they commence their fantastic _fêtes_ in February,
the most lustrous sun shines down on them and beautifies them. It
is a wondrous land.

But I must not forget to tell you that I spent my birthday very
differently from what I expected. I must however be brief, for an
hour hence I go to join the Carnival in the Corso. My birthday had
three celebrations--the eve, the birthday itself, and the day
after. On the 2nd of February, Santini was sitting in my room in
the morning, and in answer to my impatient questions about the
Conclave, he replied with a diplomatic air, that there was little
chance of a Pope being elected before Easter. Herr Brisbane also
called, and told me that after leaving Berlin, he had been in
Constantinople, and Smyrna, etc., and inquired after all his
acquaintances in Berlin, when suddenly the report of a cannon was
heard, and then another, and the people rushed across the Piazza di
Spagna, shouting with all their might. We three started off, Heaven
knows how, and ran breathlessly to the Quirinal, where the man was
just retreating, who had shouted through a broken window--"Annuncio
vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam R. E. dominum Capellari, qui
nomen assumsit Gregorius XVI." All the Cardinals now crowded into
the balcony, to breathe fresh air, and laughed, and talked together
It was the first time they had been in the open air for fifty
days, and yet they looked so gay, their red caps shining brightly
in the sun; the whole Piazza was filled with people, who clambered
on the obelisk, and on the horses of Phidias, and the statues
projected far above in the air. Carriage after carriage drove up,
amid jostling and shouting. Then the new Pope appeared, and before
him was borne the golden cross, and he blessed the crowd for the
first time, while the people at the same moment prayed, and cried
"Hurrah!" All the bells in Rome were ringing, and there was firing
of cannons, and flourishes of trumpets, and military music. This
was the _eve_ of my birthday.

Next morning I followed the crowd down the long street to the
Piazza of St. Peter's, which looked finer than I had ever seen it,
lit up brightly by the sun, and swarming with carriages; the
Cardinals in their red coaches, driving in state to the sacristy,
with servants in embroidered liveries, and people innumerable, of
every nation, rank, and condition; and high above them the dome and
the church seeming to float in blue vapour, for there was
considerable mist in the morning air. And I thought that Capellari
would probably appropriate all this to himself when he saw it; but
I knew better. It was all to celebrate my birthday; and the
election of the Pope, and the homage, a mere spectacle in honour of
me; but it was well and naturally performed; and so long as I live.
I shall never forget it.

The Church of St. Peter's was crowded to the door. The Pope was
borne in on his throne, and fans of peacocks' feathers carried
before him, and then set down on the High Altar, when the Papal
singers intoned, "_Tu es sacerdos magnus_." I only heard two or
three chords, but it required no more; the sound was enough. Then
one Cardinal succeeded another, kissing the Pope's foot and his
hands, when he in turn embraced them. After surveying all this for
a time, standing closely pressed by a crowd, and unable to move, to
look suddenly aloft to the dome, as far as the lantern, inspires a
singular sensation. I was with Diodati, among a throng of
Capuchins; these saintly men are far from being devotional on an
occasion of this kind, and by no means cleanly. But I must hasten
on; the Carnival is beginning, and I must not lose any portion of

At night, (in honour of my birthday,) barrels of pitch were burned
in all the streets, and the Propaganda illuminated. The people
thought this was owing to its being the former residence of the
Pope, but _I_ knew it was because I lived exactly opposite, and I
had only to lean out of my window to enjoy it all. Then came
Torlonia's ball, and in every corner were seen glimpses of red caps
above, and red stockings below. The following day they worked very
hard at scaffoldings, platforms, and stages for the Carnival;
edicts were posted up about horse-racing, and specimens of masks
were displayed at the windows, and (in celebration of the day
following my birthday) the illumination of the dome, and the
Girandola were fixed for Sunday. On Saturday all the world went to
the Capitol, to witness the form of the Jews' supplications to be
suffered to remain in the Sacred City for another year; a request
which is refused at the foot of the hill, but after repeated
entreaties, granted on the summit, and the Ghetto is assigned to
them. It was a tiresome affair; we waited two hours, and after all,
understood the oration of the Jews as little as the answer of the
Christians. I came down again in very bad humour, and thought that
the Carnival had commenced rather unpropitiously. So I arrived in
the Corso and was driving along, thinking no evil, when I was
suddenly assailed by a shower of sugar comfits. I looked up; they
had been flung by some young ladies whom I had seen occasionally at
balls, but scarcely knew, and when in my embarrassment I took off
my hat to bow to them, the pelting began in right earnest. Their
carriage drove on, and in the next was Miss T----, a delicate young
Englishwoman. I tried to bow to her, but she pelted me too, so I
became quite desperate, and clutching the _confetti_, I flung them
back bravely; there were swarms of my acquaintances, and my blue
coat was soon as white as that of a miller. The B----s were
standing on a balcony, flinging _confetti_ like hail at my head;
and thus pelting and pelted, amid a thousand jests and jeers, and
the most extravagant masks, the day ended with races.

The following day there was no carnival, but as a compensation, the
Pope conferred his benediction from the Loggia, in the Piazza of
St. Peter's; he was consecrated as Bishop in the Church, and at
night the dome was lighted up. The sudden, nay _instantaneous_
change the illumination of the building effects, you must ask
Hensel to paint or to describe, whichever he prefers. Nothing can
be more startling than the sudden and surprising vision, of so
many hundred human beings, previously invisible, now revealed as
it were in the air, working and moving about--and the glorious
Girandola,--but who can conceive it! Now the gaieties recommence.
Farewell! in my next letter I mean to continue my description.
Yesterday, at the Carnival, flowers and _bonbons_ were indiscriminately
thrown, and a mask gave me a bouquet, which I have dried, and mean
to bring home for you. All idea of occupation is out of the question
at present; I have only composed one little song; but when Lent comes,
I intend to be more industrious. Who can at such a moment think either
of writing or music? I must go out, so farewell, dear ones.


     Rome, February 22nd, 1831.

A thousand thanks for your letter of the 8th, which I received
yesterday, on my return from Tivoli. I cannot tell you, dear Fanny,
how much I am delighted with your plan about the Sunday music. This
idea of yours is most brilliant, and I do entreat of you, for
Heaven's sake, not to let it die away again; on the contrary, pray
give your travelling brother a commission to write something new
for you. He will gladly do so, for he is quite charmed with you,
and with your project. You must let me know what voices you have,
and also take counsel with your subjects as to what they like best
(for the people, O Fanny, have rights). I think it would be a good
plan to place before them something easy, interesting and
pleasing,--for instance, the Litany of Sebastian Bach. But to speak
seriously, I recommend the "Shepherd of Israel," or the "Dixit
Dominus," of Hændel.

Do you mean to play something during the intervals to these people?
I think this would not be unprofitable to either party, for they
must have time to take breath, and you must study the piano, and
thus it would become a vocal and instrumental concert. I wish so
much that I could be one of the audience, and compliment you
afterwards. Be discreet and indulgent, and avoid fatiguing either
yourself or the voices of your singers. Do not be irritable when
things go badly; say very little on the subject to any one. Lastly,
above all, endeavour to prevent the choir feeling any tedium, for
this is the principal point. One of my pieces certainly owes its
birth to this Sunday music. When you wrote to me about it lately, I
reflected whether there was anything I could send you, thus
reviving an old favourite scheme of mine, which has however now
assumed such vast proportions, that I cannot let you have any part
of it by E----, but you shall have it at some future time.

Listen and wonder! Since I left Vienna I have partly composed
Goethe's first "Walpurgis Night," but have not yet had courage to
write it down. The composition has now assumed a form, and become a
grand Cantata, with full orchestra, and may turn out well. At the
opening there are songs of spring, etc., and plenty of others of
the same kind. Afterwards, when the watchmen with their "Gabeln,
und Zacken, und Eulen," make a great noise, the fairy frolics
begin, and you know that I have a particular foible for them; the
sacrificial Druids then appear, with their trombones in C major,
when the watchmen come in again in alarm, and here I mean to
introduce a light mysterious tripping chorus; and lastly to
conclude with a grand sacrificial hymn. Do you not think that this
might develop into a new style of Cantata? I have an instrumental
introduction, as a matter of course, and the effect of the whole is
very spirited. I hope it will soon be finished. I have once more
begun to compose with fresh vigour, and the Italian symphony makes
rapid progress; it will be the most sportive piece I have yet
composed, especially the last movement. I have not yet decided on
the _adagio_, and think I shall reserve it for Naples. "Verleih uns
Frieden" is completed, and "Wir glauben all" will also be ready in
a few days. The Scotch symphony alone is not yet quite to my
liking; if any brilliant idea occurs to me, I will seize it at
once, quickly write it down, and finish it at last.


     Rome, March 1st, 1831.

While I write this date, I shrink from the thought of how time
flies. Before this month is at an end the Holy Week begins, and
when it is over, my stay in Rome will be drawing to a close. I now
try to reflect whether I have made the best use of my time, and on
every side I perceive a deficiency. If I could only compass one of
my two symphonies! I must and will reserve the Italian one till I
have seen Naples, which must play a part in it, but the other also
seems to elude my grasp; the more I try to seize it and the nearer
the end of this delightful quiet Roman period approaches, the more
am I perplexed, and the less do I seem to succeed. I feel as if it
will be long indeed before I can write again as freely as here, and
so I am eager to finish what I have to do, but I make no progress.
The "Walpurgis Night" alone gets on quickly, and I hope it will
soon be accomplished. Besides, I cannot resist every day sketching,
that I may carry away with me reminiscences of my favourite haunts.
There is still much that I wish to see, so I perfectly well know
that this month will suddenly come to an end, and much remain
undone; and indeed it is quite too beautiful here.

Rome is considerably changed, and neither so gay nor so cheerful as
formerly.[16] Almost all my acquaintances are gone; the promenades
and streets are deserted, the galleries closed, and it is
impossible to gain admittance into them. All news from without
almost entirely fails us, (for we saw the details about Bologna
first in the 'Allgemeine Zeitung' yesterday;) people seldom or
never congregate together; in fact, everything has subsided into
entire rest; but then the weather is lovely, and no one can deprive
us of this warm, balmy atmosphere. Those who are most to be pitied
in the present state of affairs are the Vernet ladies, who are
unpleasantly situated here. The hatred of the entire Roman populace
is, strangely enough, directed against the French Pensionaries,
believing that their influence alone could easily effect a
revolution. Threatening anonymous letters have been repeatedly sent
to Vernet; indeed he one day found an armed Transteverin stationed
in front of the windows of his studio, who however took to flight
when Vernet fetched his gun: and as the ladies are now entirely
alone, and isolated in the villa, their family are naturally very
uneasy. Still all continues quiet and serene within the city, and I
am quite convinced it will remain so.

  [16] Some disturbances had in the meantime broken out in the
  Ecclesiastical States, at Bologna.

The German painters are really more contemptible than I can tell
you. Not only have they cut off their whiskers and moustaches, and
their long hair and beards, openly declaring that as soon as all
danger is at an end they will let them grow again, but these tall
stalwart fellows go home as soon as it is dark, lock themselves in,
and discuss their fears together. They call Horace Vernet a
braggart, and yet he is very different from these miserable
creatures, whose conduct makes me cordially despise them. Latterly
I occasionally visited some of the modern studios. Thorwaldsen has
just finished a statue in clay of Lord Byron. He is seated amidst
ancient ruins, his feet resting on the capital of a column, while
he is gazing into the distance, evidently about to write something
on the tablets he holds in his hand. He is represented not in Roman
costume, but in a simple modern dress, and I think it looks well,
and does not destroy the general effect. The statue has the natural
air and easy pose so remarkable in all this sculptor's works, and
yet the poet looks sufficiently gloomy and elegiac, though not
affected. I must some day write you a whole letter about the
'Triumph of Alexander,' for never did any piece of sculpture make
such an impression on me; I go there every week, and stand gazing
at that alone, and enter Babylon along with the Conqueror. I lately
called on A----; he has brought with him some admirable pencil
sketches from Naples and Sicily, so I should be glad to take some
hints from him, but I fear that he is a considerable exaggerator,
and does not sketch faithfully. His landscape of the Colosseum,
at H. B., is a beautiful romance; for I cannot say that in
the original I ever perceived woods of large cypresses and
orange-trees, or fountains or thickets in the centre, extending to
the ruins. Moreover, _his_ moustaches have also disappeared.

I have something amusing to tell you in conclusion. I wish, O my
Fanny, that as a contrast to your Sunday harmony you had heard the
music we perpetrated last Sunday evening. We wished to sing the
Psalms of Marcello, being Lent, and the best dilettanti
consequently assembled. A Papal singer was in the middle, a
_maestro_ at the piano, and we sang. When a soprano solo came, all
the ladies pressed forward, each insisting on singing it, so it was
executed as a _tutti_. The tenor by my side never alighted on the
right note, and rambled about in the most insecure regions. When I
chimed in as second tenor, he dropped into my part, and when I
tried to assist him, he seemed to think that was my original part,
and kept steadily to his own. The Papal singer at one instant sang
in the soprano falsetto, and presently took the first bass; soon
after he quaked out the _alt_, and when all that was of no avail,
he smiled sorrowfully across at me, and we nodded mysteriously to
each other. The _maestro_, in striving to set us all right,
repeatedly lost his own place, being a bar behind, or one in
advance, and thus we sang with the most complete anarchy, just as
we thought fit. Suddenly came a very solemn solo passage for the
bass, which _all_ attacked valiantly, but at the second bar broke
into a chorus of loud laughter, in which we unanimously joined, so
the affair ended in high good-humour. The people who had come as
audience talked at the pitch of their voices, and then went out and
dispersed. Eynard came in and listened to our music for a time,
then made a horrid grimace, and was seen no more. Farewell! Health
and happiness attend you all!


     Rome, March 15th, 1831.

The letters of introduction that R---- sent me, have been of no use
to me here. L---- likewise, to whom I was presented by Bunsen, has
not taken the smallest notice of me, and tries to look the other
way when we meet. I rather suspect the man is an aristocrat. Albani
admitted me, so I had the honour of conversing for half an hour
with a Cardinal. After reading the introductory letter, he asked me
if I was a pensioner of the King of Hanover. "No," said I. He
supposed that I must have seen St. Peter's? "Yes," said I. As I
knew Meyerbeer, he assured me that he could not endure his music;
it was too scientific for him; indeed, everything he wrote was so
learned, and so devoid of melody, that you at once saw that he was
a German, and the Germans, _mon ami_, have not the most remote
conception of what melody is! "No," said I. "In _my_ scores,"
continued he, "all sing; not only the voices sing, but also the
first violin sings, and the second violin also, and the oboe sings,
and so it goes on, even to the horns, and last of all the
double-bass sings too." I was naturally desirous, in all humility,
to see some of his music; he was modest, however, and would show me
nothing, but he said that wishing to make my stay in Rome a
agreeable as possible, he hoped I would pay a visit to his villa,
and I might take as many of my friends with me as I chose. It was
near such and such a place. I thanked him very much, and
subsequently boasted considerably of this gracious permission; but
presently discovered that this villa is open to the public, and any
one can go there who chooses. Since that time I have heard no more
of him, and as this and some other instances have inspired me with
respect, mingled with aversion, towards the highest Roman circles,
I resolved not to deliver the letter to Gabrielli, and was
satisfied by having the whole Bonaparte family pointed out to me on
the promenade, where I met them daily.

I think Mizkiewicz very tiresome. He possesses that kind of
indifference which bores both himself and others, though the ladies
persist in designating it melancholy and lassitude; but this makes
it no better in my eyes. If he looks at St. Peter's, he deplores
the times of the hierarchy; if the sky is blue and beautiful, he
wishes it were dull and gloomy; if it is gloomy, he is freezing; if
he sees the Colosseum, he wishes he had lived at that period. I
wonder what sort of a figure he would have made in the days of

You inquire about Horace Vernet, and this is, indeed, a pleasant
theme. I believe I may say that I have learned something from him,
and every one may do the same. He produces with incredible facility
and freshness. When a form meets his eye which touches his
feelings, he instantly adopts it, and while others are deliberating
whether it can be called beautiful, and praising or censuring, he
has long completed his work, entirely deranging our æsthetical
standard. Though this facility cannot be acquired, still its
principle is admirable, and the serenity which springs from it, and
the energy it calls forth in working, nothing else can replace.

Among the alleys of evergreen trees, where at this season of
blossoms the fragrance is so charming, in the midst of the
shrubberies and gardens of the Villa Medicis, stands a small house,
in which as you approach you invariably hear a tumult,--shouting
and wrangling, or a piece executed on a trumpet, or the barking of
dogs; this is Vernet's _atelier_. The most picturesque disorder
everywhere prevails; guns, a hunting-horn, a monkey, palettes, a
couple of dead hares or rabbits; the walls covered with pictures,
finished and unfinished. "The Investiture of the National Cockade"
(an eccentric picture which does not please me), portraits recently
begun of Thorwaldsen, Eynard, Latour-Maubourg, some horses, a
sketch of Judith, and studies for it; the portrait of the Pope, a
couple of Moorish heads, bagpipers, Papal soldiers, my unworthy
self, Cain and Abel, and last of all a drawing of the interior of
the place itself, all hang up in his studio.

Lately his hands were quite full, owing to the number of portraits
bespoken from him; but in the street, he saw one of the Campagna
peasants, who are armed and mounted by Government, and ride about
Rome. The singular costume caught the artist's eye, and next day he
began a picture representing a similar peasant, sitting on his
horse in bad weather in the Campagna, and seizing his gun in order
to take aim at some one with it; in the distance are visible a
small troop of soldiers, and the desolate plain. The minute details
of the weapon, where the peasant peeps through the soldier's
uniform, the wretched horse and its shabby trappings, the
discomfort prevalent throughout, and the Italian phlegm in the
bearded fellow, make a charming little picture; and no one can help
envying him, who sees the real delight with which his brush
traverses the stretched canvas, at one moment putting in a little
rivulet, and a couple of soldiers, and a button on the saddle; then
lining the soldier's great-coat with green. Numbers of people come
to look on: during my first sitting twenty persons, at least,
arrived one after the other. Countess E---- asked him to allow her
to be present when he was at work; but when he darted on it as a
hungry man does on food, her amazement was great. The whole family
are, as I told you, good people, and when old Charles talks about
his father Joseph, you must feel respect for them, and I maintain
that they are noble. Good-bye, for it is late, and I must send my
letter to the Post.


     Rome, March 29th, 1831.

In the midst of the Holy Week. To-morrow for the first time I am to
hear the Miserere, and while you last Sunday performed "The
Passion," the Cardinals and all the priesthood here received
twisted palms and olive-branches. The Stabat Mater of Palestrina
was sung, and there was a grand procession. My work has got on
badly during the last few days. Spring is in all her bloom; a
genial blue sky without, such as we at most only dream of, and a
journey to Naples in my every thought; so even a quiet time to
write is not to be found. C----, who is usually a cool fellow, has
written me such a glowing letter from Naples! The most prosaic men
become poetical when they speak of it. The finest season of the
year in Italy, is from the 15th of April to the 15th of May. Who
can wonder that I find it impossible to return to my misty Scotch
mood? I have therefore laid aside the Scotch symphony for the
present, but hope to write out the "Walpurgis Night" here. I shall
manage to do so if I work hard to-day and to-morrow, and if we have
bad weather, for really a fine day is too great a temptation. As
soon as an impediment occurs, I hope to find some resource in the
open air, so I go out and think of anything and everything but my
composition, and do nothing but lounge about, and when the church
bells begin to ring, it is the Ave Maria already. All I want now is
a short overture. If I can accomplish this, the thing is complete,
and I can write it out in a couple of days. Then I have done with
music, and leaving all music-paper here, I shall go off to Naples,
where, please God, I mean to do nothing.

Two French friends of mine have tempted me to _flâner_ with them a
good deal of late. When they are together, it is either a perpetual
tragedy, or comedy,--as you will. Y---- distorts everything,
without a spark of talent, always groping in the dark, but
esteeming himself the creator of a new world; writing moreover the
most frightful things, and yet dreaming and thinking of nothing but
Beethoven, Schiller, and Goethe; a victim at the same time to the
most boundless vanity, and looking down condescendingly on Mozart
and Haydn, so that all his enthusiasm seems to me very doubtful.
Z---- has been toiling for three months at a little rondo on a
Portuguese theme; he arranges neatly and brilliantly, and according
to rule, and he now intends to set about composing six waltzes, and
is in a state of perfect ecstasy if I will only play him over a
number of Vienna waltzes. He has a high esteem for Beethoven, but
also for Rossini and for Bellini, and no doubt for Auber,--in
short, for everybody. Then my turn comes to be praised, who would
be only too glad to murder Y----, till he chances to eulogize
Gluck, when I can quite agree with him. I like nevertheless to walk
about with these two, for they are the only musicians here, and
both very pleasant, amiable persons. All this forms an amusing

You say, dear mother, that Y---- must have a fixed aim in his art;
but this is far from being my opinion. I believe he wishes to be
married, and is in fact worse than the other, because he is by far
the most affected of the two. I really cannot stand his obtrusive
enthusiasm, and the gloomy despondency he assumes before
ladies,--this stereotyped genius in black and white; and if he were
not a Frenchman, (and it is always pleasant to associate with them,
as they have invariably something interesting to say,) it would be
beyond endurance. A week hence, I shall probably write you my last
letter from Rome, and then you shall hear of me from Naples. It is
still quite uncertain whether I go to Sicily or not; I almost think
not, as in any event I must have recourse to a steamboat, and it is
not yet settled that one is to go.

         In haste, yours, FELIX.

     Rome, April 4th, 1831.

The Holy Week is over, and my passport to Naples prepared. My room
begins to look empty, and my winter in Rome is now among my
reminiscences of the past. I intend to leave this in a few days,
and my next letter (D. V.) shall be from Naples. Interesting and
amusing as the winter in Rome has been, it has closed with a truly
memorable week; for what I have seen and heard far surpassed my
expectations, and being the conclusion, I will endeavour in this,
my last letter from Rome, to give you a full description of it
all. People have often both zealously praised and censured the
ceremonies of the Holy Week, and have yet omitted, as is often the
case, the chief point, namely its perfection as a complete whole.
My father may probably remember the description of Mdlle. de R----,
who after all only did what most people do, who write or talk about
music and art, when in a hoarse and prosaic voice she attempted at
dinner to give us some idea of the fine clear Papal choir. Many
others have given the mere music, and been dissatisfied, because
external adjuncts are required to produce the full effect. Those
persons may be in the right; still so long as these indispensable
externals are there, and especially in such entire perfection, so
long will it impress others; and just as I feel convinced that
place, time, order, the vast crowd of human beings awaiting in the
most profound silence the moment for the music to begin, contribute
largely to the effect, so do I contemn the idea of deliberately
separating what ought in fact to be indivisible, and this for the
purpose of exhibiting a certain portion, which may thus be
depreciated. That man must be despicable indeed, on whom the
devotion and reverence of a vast assemblage did not make a
corresponding impression of devotion and reverence, even if they
were worshipping the Golden Calf; let him alone destroy this, who
can replace it by something better.

Whether one person repeats it from another, whether it comes up to
its great reputation, or is merely the effect of the imagination,
is quite the same thing. It suffices that we have a perfect
totality, which has exercised the most powerful influence for
centuries past, and still exercises it, and therefore I reverence
it, as I do every species of real perfection. I leave it to
theologians to pronounce on its religious influence, for the
various opinions on that point are of no great value. There is more
to be considered than the mere ceremonies: for me it is sufficient,
as I already said, that in any sphere the object should be fully
carried out, so far as ability will permit, with fidelity and
conscientiousness, to call forth my respect and sympathy. Thus you
must not expect from me a formal critique on the singing, as to
whether they intoned correctly or incorrectly, in tune or out of
tune, or whether the compositions are fine. I would rather strive
to show you, that as a whole the affair cannot fail to make a
solemn impression, and that everything contributes to this result,
and as last week I enjoyed music, forms, and ceremonies, without
severing them, revelling in the perfect whole, so I do not intend
to separate them in this letter. The technical part, to which I
naturally paid particular attention, I mean to detail more minutely
to Zelter.

The first ceremony was on Palm Sunday, when the concourse of people
was so great, that I could not make my way through the crowd to my
usual place on what is called the Prelates' Bench, but was forced
to remain among the Guard of Honour, where indeed I had a very good
view of the solemnities, but could not follow the singing
properly, as they pronounced the words very indistinctly, and on
that day I had no book. The result was that on this first day, the
various antiphons, Gospels, and Psalms, and the mode of chanting,
instead of reading, which is employed here in its primitive form,
made the most confused and singular impression on me. I had no
clear conception what rule they followed with regard to the various
cadences. I took considerable pains gradually to discover their
method, and succeeded so well, that at the end of the Holy Week I
could have sung with them. I thus also escaped the extreme
weariness, so universally complained of during the endless Psalms
before the Miserere; for I quickly detected any variety in the
monotony, and when perfectly assured of any particular cadence, I
instantly wrote it down; so I made out by degrees (which indeed I
deserved) the melodies of eight Psalms. I also noted down the
antiphons, etc., and was thus incessantly occupied and interested.

The first Sunday, however, as I already told you, I could not make
it all out satisfactorily: I only knew that the choir sang "Hosanna
in excelsis," and intoned various hymns, while twisted palms were
offered to the Pope, which he distributed among the Cardinals.
These palms are long branches decorated with buttons, crosses, and
crowns, all entirely made of dried palm-leaves, which makes them
look like gold. The Cardinals, who are seated in the Chapel in the
form of a quadrangle, with the abbati at their feet, now advance
each in turn to receive their palms, with which they return to
their places; then come the bishops, monks, abbati, and all the
other orders of the priesthood; the Papal singers, the knights, and
others, who receive olive-branches entwined with palm-leaves. This
makes a long procession, during which the choir continues to sing
unremittingly. The abbati hold the long palms of their cardinals
like the lances of sentinels, slanting them on the ground before
them, and at this moment there is a brilliancy of colour in the
chapel that I never before saw at any ceremony. There were the
Cardinals in their gold embroidered robes and red caps, and the
violet abbati in front of them, with golden palms in their hands,
and further in advance, the gaudy servants of the Pope, the Greek
priests, the patriarchs in the most gorgeous attire; the Capuchins
with long white beards, and all the other religious Orders; then
again the Swiss, in their popinjay uniforms, all carrying green
olive-branches, while singing is going on the whole time; though
certainly it is scarcely possible to distinguish what is being
sung, yet the mere sound is sufficient to delight the ear.

The Pope's throne is then carried in, on which he is elevated in
all processions, and where I saw Pius VIII. enthroned on the day of
my arrival (_vide_ the 'Heliodorus' of Raphael, where he is
portrayed). The Cardinals, two and two, with their palms, head the
procession, and the folding doors of the chapel being thrown open,
it slowly defiles through them. The singing, which has hitherto
incessantly prevailed, like an element, becomes fainter and
fainter, for the singers also walk in the procession, and at length
are only indistinctly heard, the sound dying away in the distance.
Then a choir in the chapel bursts forth with a query, to which the
distant one breathes a faint response; and so it goes on for a
time, till the procession again draws near, and the choirs reunite.
Let them sing how or what they please, this cannot fail to produce
a fine effect; and though it is quite true that nothing can be more
monotonous, and even devoid of form, than the hymns _all' unisono_,
being without any proper connection, and sung _fortissimo_
throughout, still I appeal to the impression that as a _whole_ it
must make on every one. After the procession returns, the Gospel is
chanted in the most singular tone, and is succeeded by the Mass. I
must not omit here to make mention of my favourite moment; I mean
the Credo. The priest takes his place for the first time in the
centre, before the altar, and after a short pause, intones in his
hoarse old voice the Credo of Sebastian Bach. When he has finished,
the priests stand up, the Cardinals leave their seats, and advance
into the middle of the chapel, where they form a circle, all
repeating the continuation in a loud voice, "Patrem omnipotentem,"
etc. The choir then chimes in, singing the same words. When I for
the first time heard my well-known

  [Music: Cre-do in u-num De-um]

and all the grave monks round me began to recite in loud and eager
tones, I felt quite excited, for this is the moment I still like
the best of all. After the ceremony, Santini made me a present of
his olive-branch, which I carried in my hand the whole day when
I was walking about, for the weather was beautiful. The Stabat
Mater which succeeds the Credo, made much less effect; they
sang it incorrectly and out of tune, and likewise curtailed it
considerably. The 'Sing Akademie' executes it infinitely better.
There is nothing on Monday or Tuesday; but on Wednesday, at
half-past four, the nocturns begin.

The Psalms are sung in alternate verses by two choirs, though
invariably by one class of voices, basses or tenors. For an hour
and a half, therefore, nothing but the most monotonous music is
heard; the Psalms are only once interrupted by the Lamentations,
and this is the first moment when, after a long time, a complete
chord is given. This chord is very softly intoned, and the whole
piece sung _pianissimo_, while the Psalms are shouted out as much
as possible, and always upon one note, and the words uttered with
the utmost rapidity, a cadence occurring at the end of each verse,
which defines the different characteristics of the various
melodies. It is not therefore surprising that the mere soft sound
(in G major) of the first Lamentation, should produce so touching
an effect. Once more the single tone recommences; a wax light is
extinguished at the end of each Psalm, so that in the course of an
hour and a half the fifteen lights round the altar are all out; six
large-sized candles still burn in the vestibule. The whole strength
of the choir, with alti and soprani, etc., intone _fortissimo_ and
_unisono_, a new melody, the "Canticum Zachariæ," in D minor,
singing it slowly and solemnly in the deepening gloom; the last
remaining lights are then extinguished. The Pope leaves his throne,
and falls on his knees before the altar, while all around do the
same, repeating a paternoster _sub silentio_; that is, a pause
ensues, during which you know that each Catholic present says the
Lord's Prayer, and immediately afterwards the Miserere begins
_pianissimo_ thus:--

  [Music: mi-se-re-re me-i]

This is to me the most sublime moment of the whole. You can easily
picture to yourself what follows, but not this commencement. The
continuation, which is the Miserere of Allegri, is a simple
sequence of chords, grounded either on tradition, or what appears
to me much more probable, merely embellishments, introduced by some
clever _maestro_ for the fine voices at his disposal, and
especially for a very high soprano. These _embellimenti_ always
recur on the same chords, and as they are cleverly constructed,
and beautifully adapted for the voice, it is invariably pleasing to
hear them repeated. I could not discover anything unearthly or
mysterious in the music; indeed, I am perfectly contented that its
beauty should be earthly and comprehensible. I refer you, dearest
Fanny, to my letter to Zelter. On the first day they sang Baini's

On Thursday, at nine o'clock in the morning, the solemnities
recommenced, and lasted till one o'clock. There was High Mass, and
afterwards a procession. The Pope conferred his benediction from
the Loggia of the Quirinal, and washed the feet of thirteen
priests, who are supposed to represent the pilgrims, and were
seated in a row, wearing white gowns and white caps, and who
afterwards dine. The crowd of English ladies was extraordinary, and
the whole affair repugnant to my feelings. The Psalms began again
in the afternoon, and lasted on this occasion till half past seven.
Some portions of the Miserere were taken from Baini, but the
greater part were Allegri's. It was almost dark in the chapel when
the Miserere commenced. I clambered up a tall ladder standing there
by chance, and so I had the whole chapel crowded with people, and
the kneeling Pope and his Cardinals, and the music, beneath me. It
had a splendid effect. On Friday forenoon the chapel was stripped
of every decoration, and the Pope and Cardinals in mourning. The
history of the Passion, according to St. John, the music by
Vittoria, was sung; then the Improperia of Palestrina, during
which the Pope and all the others, taking off their shoes, advance
to the cross and adore it. In the evening Baini's Miserere was
given, which they sang infinitely the best.

Early on Saturday, in the baptistery of the Lateran, Heathens,
Jews, and Mahomedans were baptized, all represented by a little
child, who screeched the whole time, and subsequently some young
priests received consecration for the first time. On Sunday the
Pope himself performed High Mass in the Quirinal, and subsequently
pronounced his benediction on the people, and then all was over. It
is now Saturday, the 9th of April, and to-morrow at an early hour I
get into a carriage and set off for Naples, where a new style of
beauty awaits me. You will perceive by the end of this letter that
I write in haste. This is my last day, and a great deal yet to be
done. I do not therefore finish my letter to Zelter, but will send
it from Naples. I wish my description to be correct, and my
approaching journey distracts my attention sadly. Thus I am off to
Naples; the weather is clearing up, and the sun shining, which it
has not done for some days past. My passport is prepared, the
carriage ordered, and I am looking forward to the months of spring.


     Naples, April 13th, 1831.

     Dear Rebecca,

This must stand in lieu of a birthday letter: may it wear a holiday
aspect for you! It arrives late in the day, but with equally
sincere good wishes. Your birthday itself I passed in a singular
but delightful manner, though I could not write, having neither
pens nor ink; in fact, I was in the very middle of the Pontine
Marshes. May the ensuing year bring you every happiness, and may we
meet somewhere! If you were thinking of me on that day, our
thoughts must have met either on the Brenner or at Inspruck; for I
was constantly thinking of you. Even without looking at the date of
this letter, you will at once perceive by its tone that I am in
Naples. I have not yet been able to compass one serious quiet
reflection, there is everywhere such jovial life here, inviting you
to do nothing, and to think of nothing, and even the example of so
many thousand people has an irresistible influence. I do not indeed
intend that this should continue, but I see plainly that it must go
on for the first few days. I stand for hours on my balcony, gazing
at Vesuvius and the Bay.

But I must now endeavour to resume my old descriptive style, or my
materials will accumulate so much that I shall become confused, and
I fear you may not be able to follow me properly. So much that is
novel crowds on me, that a journal would be requisite to detail to
you my life and my state of excitement. So I begin by acknowledging
that I deeply regretted leaving Rome. My life there was so quiet,
and yet so full of interest, having made many kind and friendly
acquaintances, with whom I had become so domesticated, that the
last days of my stay, with all their discomforts and perpetual
running about, seemed doubly odious. The last evening I went to
Vernet's to thank him for my portrait, which is now finished, and
to take leave of him. We had some music, talked politics, and
played chess, and then I went down the Monte Pincio to my own
house, packed up my things, and the next morning drove off with my
travelling companions. As I gazed out of the cabriolet at the
scenery, I could dream to my heart's desire. When we arrived at our
night quarters, we all went out walking. The two days glided past
more like a pleasure excursion than a journey.

The road from Rome to Naples is indeed the most luxuriant that I
know, and the whole mode of travelling most agreeable. You fly
through the plain; for a very slight gratuity the postilions gallop
their horses like mad, which is very advisable in the Marshes. If
you wish to contemplate the scenery, you have only to abstain from
offering any gratuity, and you are soon driven slowly enough. The
road from Albano, by Ariccia and Genzano, as far as Velletri, runs
between hills, and is shaded by trees of every kind; uphill and
downhill, through avenues of elms, past monasteries and shrines. On
one side is the Campagna, with its heather, and its bright hues;
beyond comes the sea, glittering charmingly in the sunshine, and
above, the clearest sky; for since Sunday morning the weather has
been glorious.

Well! we drove into Velletri, our night quarters, where a great
Church festival was going on. Handsome women with primitive faces
were pacing the alleys in groups, and men were standing together
wrapped in cloaks, in the street. The church was decorated with
garlands of green leaves, and as we drove past it we heard the
sounds of a double bass and some violins; fireworks were prepared
in the square; the sun went down clear and serene, and the Pontine
Marshes, with their thousand colours, and the rocks rearing their
heads one by one against the horizon, indicated the course we were
to pursue on the following day. After supper I resolved to go out
again for a short time, and discovered a kind of illumination; the
streets were swarming with people, and when I at last came to the
spot where the church stood, I saw, on turning the corner, that the
whole street had burning torches on each side, and in the middle
the people were walking up and down, crowding together, and pleased
to see each other so distinctly at night. I cannot tell you what a
pretty sight it was. The concourse was greatest before the church;
I pressed forward into it along with the rest. The little building
was filled with people kneeling, adoring the Host, which was
exposed; no one spoke a word, nor was there any music. This
stillness, the lighted church, and the many kneeling women with
white handkerchiefs on their heads, and white gowns, had a striking
effect. When I left the church a shrewd, handsome Italian boy
explained the whole festival, assuring me that it would have been
far finer had it not been for the recent disturbances, for they had
been the cause of depriving the people of the horseraces, and
barrels of pitch, etc., and on this account it was unlucky that the
Austrians had not come sooner.

The following morning, at six o'clock, we pursued our way through
the Pontine Marshes. It is a species of Bergstrasse. You drive
through a straight avenue of trees along a plain. On one side of
the avenue is a continued chain of hills, on the other the Marshes.
They are, however, covered with innumerable flowers, which smell
very sweet; but in the long-run this becomes very stupefying, and I
distinctly felt the oppression of the atmosphere, in spite of the
fine weather. A canal runs along beside the _chaussée_, constructed
by the orders of Pius VI. to form a conduit for the marshes, where
we saw a number of buffaloes wallowing, their heads emerging out of
the water, and apparently enjoying themselves. The straight, level
road has a singular appearance. You see the chain of hills at the
end of the avenue when you come to the first station, and again at
the second and third, the only difference being that as you advance
so many miles nearer, the hills loom gradually larger. Terracina,
which is situated exactly at the end of this avenue, is invisible
till you come quite close to it. On making a sudden turn to the
left, round the corner of a rock, the whole expanse of the sea lies
before you. Citron-gardens, and palms, and a variety of plants of
Southern growth, clothe the declivity in front of the town; towers
appearing above the thickets, and the harbour projecting into the
sea. To me, the finest object in nature is, and always will be,
the ocean. I love it almost more than the sky. Nothing in Naples
made a more enchanting impression on my mind than the sea, and I
always feel happy when I see before me the spacious surface of

The South, properly speaking, begins at Terracina. This is another
land, and every plant and every bush reminds you of it. Above all,
the two mighty ridges of hills delighted me, between which the road
runs; they were totally devoid of bushes or trees, but clothed
entirely with masses of golden wall-flowers, so that they had a
bright yellow hue, and the fragrance was almost too strong. There
is a great want of grass and large trees. The old robbers' nests of
Fondi and Itri looked very piratical and gloomy. The houses are
built against the walls of the rocks, and there are likewise some
large towers of the date of the Middle Ages. Many sentinels and
posts were stationed on the tops of the hills; but we made out our
journey without any adventure. We remained all night in Mola di
Gaeta; there we saw the renowned balcony whence you look over
orange and citron groves to the blue sea, with Vesuvius and the
islands in the far distance. This was on the 11th of April. As I
had been celebrating your birthday all day long in my own thoughts,
I could not in the evening resist informing my companions that it
was your birthday; so your health was drunk again and again. An old
Englishman, who was of the party, wished me a "happy return to my
sister." I emptied the glass to your health, and thought of you.
Remain unchanged till we meet again.

With such thoughts in my head, I went in the evening to the
citron-garden, close to the sea-shore, and listened to the waves
rolling in from afar, and breaking on the shore, and sometimes
gently rippling and splashing. It was indeed a heavenly night.
Among a thousand other thoughts, Grillparzer's poem recurred to my
memory, which it is almost impossible to set to music; for which
reason, I suppose, Fanny has composed a charming melody on it; but
I do not jest when I say that I sang the song over repeatedly to
myself, for I was standing on the very spot he describes. The sea
had subsided, and was now calm, and at rest; this was the first
song. The second followed next day, for the sea was like a meadow
or pure ether as you gazed at it, and pretty women nodded their
heads, and so did olives and cypresses; but they were all equally
brown, so I remained in a poetic mood.

What is it that shines through the leaves, and glitters like gold?
Only cartridges and sabres; for the King had been reviewing some
troops in Sant' Agata, and soldiers defiled on both sides of the
path, who had the more merit in my eyes because they resembled the
Prussians, and for a long time past I have seen only Papal
soldiers. Some carried dark-lanterns on their muskets, as they had
been marching all night. The whole effect was bold and gay. We now
came to a short rocky pass, from which you descend into the valley
of Campana, the most enchanting spot I have ever seen; it is like
a boundless garden, covered entirely with plants and vegetation as
far as the eye can reach. On one side are the blue outlines of the
sea, on the other an undulating range of hills above which snowy
peaks project; and at a great distance Vesuvius and the islands,
bathed in blue vapours, start up on the level surface; large
avenues of trees intersect the vast space, and a verdant growth
forces its way from under every stone. Everywhere you see grotesque
aloes and cactuses, and the fragrance and vegetation are quite

The pleasure we enjoy in England through men, we here enjoy through
nature; and as there is no corner there, however small, of which
some one has not taken possession in order to cultivate and adorn
it, so here there is no spot which Nature has not appropriated,
bringing forth on it flowers and herbs, and all that is beautiful.
The Campana valley is fruitfulness itself. On the whole of the vast
immeasurable surface bounded in the far distance by blue hills and
a blue sea, nothing but green meets the eye. At last you come to
Capua. I cannot blame Hannibal for remaining too long there. From
Capua to Naples the road runs uninterruptedly between trees, with
hanging vines, till at the end of the avenue, Vesuvius, and the
sea, with Capri, and a mass of houses, lie before you. I am living
here in St. Lucia as if in heaven; for in the first place I see
before me Vesuvius, and the hills as far as Castellamare, and the
bay, and in the second place, I am living up three stories high.
Unfortunately that traitor Vesuvius does not smoke at all, and
looks precisely like any other fine mountain; but at night the
people float in lighted boats on the Bay, to catch sword-fish. This
has a pretty enough effect. Farewell!


     Naples, April 10th, 1831.

We are so accustomed to find that everything turns out quite
differently from what we expected and calculated, that you will
feel no surprise when instead of a letter like a journal, you
receive a very short one, merely saying that I am quite well, and
little else.

As for the scenery, I cannot describe it, and if you have no
conception of what it really is, after all that has been said and
written on the subject, there is little chance of my enlightening
you; for what makes it so indescribably beautiful, is precisely
that it is not of a nature to admit of description. Any other
detail I could send you would be about my life here; but it is so
simple, that a very few words suffice to depict it. I do not wish
to make any acquaintances, for I am resolved not to remain here
longer than a few weeks. I intend to make various excursions to see
the country, and all I desire here, is to become thoroughly
intimate with nature: so I go to bed at nine o'clock, and rise at
five, to refresh myself by gazing from my balcony at Vesuvius, the
sea, and the coast of Sorrento, in the bright morning light. I
have also taken very long solitary rambles, discovering beautiful
views for myself, and I have infinite satisfaction in finding that
what I consider the loveliest spot of all is almost entirely
unknown to the Neapolitans. During these excursions I sought out
some house on a height, to which I scrambled up; or else merely
followed any path I fancied, allowing myself to be surprised by
night and moonshine, and making acquaintance with vine-dressers, in
order to learn my way back; arriving at last at home about nine
o'clock, very tired, through the Villa Reale. The view from this
villa, of the sea and the enchanting Capri by moonlight, is truly
charming, and so is the almost overpowering fragrance of the
acacias in full bloom, and the fruit-trees scattered all over with
rose-coloured blossoms, looking like trees with pink foliage,--all
this is indeed quite indescribable.

As I live chiefly with and in nature, I can write less than usual;
perhaps we may talk it over when we meet, and the sketches in our
sitting-room at home will furnish materials and reminiscences for
conversation. One thing I must not however omit, dear Fanny, which
is, that I quite approve of your taste when I recall what you told
me years ago that your favorite spot was the island of Nisida.
Perhaps you may have forgotten this, but I have not. It looks as if
it were made expressly for pleasure-grounds. On emerging from the
thicket of Bagnuolo, Nisida has quite a startling effect, rising
out of the sea, so near, so large and so green; while the other
islands, Procida, Ischia, and Capri, stand afar off, and indistinct
in their blue tints. After the murder of Cæsar, Brutus took refuge
in this island, and Cicero visited him there; the sea lay between
them then, and the rocks, covered with vegetation, bent over the
sea, just as they do now. _These_ are the antiquities that interest
me, and are infinitely more suggestive than crumbling mason-work.
There is a degree of innate superstition and dishonesty among the
people here that is totally inconceivable, and this has often even
marred my pleasure in nature; for the Swiss, of whom my father
complained so much, are positively guileless, primitive beings,
compared with the Neapolitans. My landlord invariably gives me too
little change for a piastre, and when I tell him of it, he coolly
fetches the remainder. The only acquaintances I intend to make here
are musical ones, that I may leave nothing incomplete,--for
instance Fodor, who does not sing in public, Donizetti, Coccia,

I now conclude by a few words to you, dear Father. You write to me
that you disapprove of my going to Sicily; I have consequently
given up this plan, though I cannot deny that I do so with great
reluctance, for it was really more than a mere _whim_ on my part.
There is no danger to be apprehended, and, as if on purpose to vex
me, a steamer leaves this city on the 4th of May, which is to make
the entire tour; and a good many Germans, and probably the minister
here, are to take advantage of it. I should have liked to see a
mountain vomiting forth flames, as Vesuvius has been hitherto so
unkind as not even to smoke. Your instructions however have till
now so entirely coincided with my own inclinations, that I cannot
allow the first opportunity I have of showing my obedience to your
wishes (even when opposed to my own), to pass without complying
with them, so I have effaced Sicily from my travelling route.
Perhaps we may meet sooner in consequence of this; and now
farewell, for I am going to walk to Capo di Monte.


     Naples, April 27th, 1831.

It is now nearly a fortnight since I have heard from you. I do
earnestly hope that nothing unpleasant has occurred, and every day
I expect the post will bring me tidings of you all. My letters from
Naples are of little value, for I am too deeply absorbed here to be
able easily to extricate myself, and to write descriptive letters.
Besides, when we had bad weather lately, I took advantage of it to
resume my labours, and zealously applied myself to my "Walpurgis
Night," which daily increases in interest for me, so I employ every
spare moment in completing it. I hope to finish it in a few days,
and I think it will turn out well. If I continue in my present
mood, I shall finish my Italian symphony also in Italy, in which
case I shall have a famous store to bring home with me, the fruits
of this winter. Moreover every day I have something new to see. I
generally make my excursions with the Schadows.

Yesterday we went to Pompeii. It looks as if it had been burnt
down, or like a recently deserted city. As both of these always
seem to me deeply affecting, the impression made on me was the most
melancholy that I have yet experienced in Italy. It is as if the
inhabitants had just gone out, and yet almost every object tells of
another religion and another life; in short, of seventeen hundred
years ago; and the French and English ladies scramble about as
gaily as possible, and sketch it all. It is the old tragedy of the
Past and the Present, a problem I never can solve. Lively Naples is
indeed a pleasant contrast; but it is painful to see the crowd of
wretched beggars who waylay you in every street and path, swarming
round the carriage the instant it stops. The old white-haired men
particularly distress me, and such a mass of misery exceeds all
belief. If you are walking on the sea-shore, and gazing at the
islands, and then chance to look round at the land, you find
yourself the centre of a group of cripples, who make a trade of
their infirmities; or you discover (which lately happened to me)
that you are surrounded by thirty or forty children, all whining
out their favourite phrase, "Muoio di fame," and rattling their
jaws to show that they have nothing to eat. All this forms a most
repulsive contrast; and yet to me it is still more repugnant that
you must entirely renounce the great pleasure of seeing happy
faces; for even when you have given the richest gratuities to
guards, waiters, or workpeople, in short, to whom you will, the
invariable rejoinder is, "Nienti di più?" in which case you may be
very sure that you have given too much. If it is the proper sum,
they give it back with the greatest apparent indignation, and then
return and beg to have it again. These are trifles, certainly, but
they show the lamentable condition of the people. I have even gone
so far as to feel provoked with the perpetual smiling aspect of
nature, when in the most retired spots troops of beggars everywhere
assailed me, some even persisting in following me a long way. It is
only when I am quietly seated in my own room, gazing down on the
Bay, and on Vesuvius, that being totally alone with them I feel
really cheerful and happy.

To-day we are to ascend the hill to visit the Camaldoli Monastery,
and to-morrow, if the weather permits, we proceed to Procida and
Ischia. I go this evening to Madame Fodor's with Donizetti,
Benedict, etc. She is very kind and amiable towards me, and her
singing has given me great pleasure, for she has wonderful
facility, and executes her _fiorituri_ with so much taste, that it
is easy to see how many things Sonntag acquired from her,
especially the _mezza voce_, which Fodor, whose voice is no longer
full and fresh, most prudently and judiciously introduces into many
passages. As she is not singing at the theatre, I am most fortunate
in having made her acquaintance personally. The theatre is now
closed for some weeks, because the blood of St. Januarius is
shortly to liquefy. What I heard at the opera previously did not
repay the trouble of going. The orchestra, like that in Rome, was
worse than in any part of Germany, and not even one tolerable
female singer. Tamburini alone, with his vigorous bass voice,
imparted some life to the whole. Those who wish to hear Italian
operas, must now-a-days go to Paris or London. Heaven grant that
this may not eventually be the case with German music also!

I must however return to my "Witches," so you must forgive my not
writing any more to-day. This whole letter seems to hover in
uncertainty, or rather I do so in my "Walpurgis Night," whether I
am to introduce the big drum or not. "Zacken, Gabeln, und wilde
Klapperstöcke," seem to force me to the big drum, but moderation
dissuades me. I certainly am the only person who ever composed for
the scene on the Brocken without employing a piccolo-flute, but I
can't help regretting the big drum, and before I can receive
Fanny's advice, the "Walpurgis Night" will be finished and packed
up. I shall then set off again on my travels, and Heaven knows what
I may have in my head by that time. I feel convinced that Fanny
would say _yes_; still, I feel very doubtful; at all events a vast
noise is indispensable.

Oh, Rebecca! can you not procure the words of some songs, and send
them to me? I feel quite in the humour for them, and you must
require something new to sing. If you can furnish me with some
pretty verses, old or new, gay or grave, I will compose something
in a style to suit your voice. I am at your service for any compact
of this kind. Pray do send me wherewithal to work at, during my
journey, in the inns. Now, farewell to you all! May you be as happy
as I ever wish you to be, and think of me!


     Naples, May 17th, 1831.

On Saturday, the 14th of May, at two o'clock, I told my driver to
turn the carriage. We were opposite the Temple of Ceres at Pæstum,
the most southern point of my journey. The carriage consequently
turned towards the north, and from that moment, as I journey
onwards, I am every hour drawing nearer to you. It is about a year
now since I travelled with my father to Dessau and Leipzig; the
time in fact exactly corresponds, for it was about the half-year. I
have made good use of the past year. I have acquired considerable
experience and many new impressions. Both in Rome and here I have
been very busy, but no change has occurred in my outward
circumstances; and till the beginning of the new year, in fact so
long as I am in Italy, it will probably be the same. This period
has not however been less valuable to me than some when outwardly,
and in the opinion of others, I have appeared to make greater
progress; for there must always be a close connection between the
two. If I have gathered experience, it cannot fail to influence me
outwardly, and I shall allow no opportunity to escape to show that
it has done so. Possibly some such may occur before the end of my
journey, so I may for the present continue to enjoy nature, and the
blue sky, during the months that still remain for me in Italy,
without thinking of anything else; for _there_ alone lies true art,
now in Italy,--_there_ and in her monuments; and there it will ever
remain; and there we shall ever find it, for our instruction and
delight, so long as Vesuvius stands, and so long as the balmy air,
and the sea, and the trees do not pass away.

In spite of all this, I am enough of a musician to own that I do
heartily long once more to hear an orchestra or a full chorus where
there is at least some sound, for here there is nothing of the
sort. This is _our_ peculiar province, and to be so long deprived
of such an element, leaves a sad void. The orchestra and chorus
here are like those in our second-rate provincial towns, only more
harsh and incorrect. The first violinist, all through the opera,
beats the four quarters of each bar on a tin candle-stick, which is
often more distinctly heard than the voices (it sounds somewhat
like obbligati castanets, only louder); and yet in spite of this
the voices are never together. Every little instrumental solo is
adorned with old-fashioned flourishes, and a bad tone pervades the
whole performance, which is totally devoid of genius, fire, or
spirit. The singers are the worst Italian ones I ever heard
anywhere (except, indeed, in Italy), and those who wish to have a
true idea of Italian singing must go to Paris or to London. Even
the Dresden company, whom I heard last year in Leipzig, are
superior to any here. This is but natural, for in the boundless
misery that prevails in Naples, where can the bases of a theatre be
found, which of course requires considerable capital? The days when
every Italian was a born musician, if indeed they ever existed, are
long gone by. They treat music like any other fashionable article,
with total indifference; in fact, they scarcely pay it the homage
of outward respect, so it is not to be wondered at that every
single person of talent should, as regularly as they appear,
transfer themselves to foreign countries, where they are better
appreciated, their position better defined, and where they find
opportunities of hearing and learning something profitable and

The only really good singer here is Tamburini; he has, however,
long since been heard in Vienna and Paris, and I believe in London
also; so now, when he begins to discover that his voice is on the
decline, he comes back to Italy. I cannot admit either that the
Italians alone understand the art of singing; for there is no
music, however florid. I have ever heard executed by Italians, that
Sonntag cannot accomplish, and in even greater perfection. She
certainly, as she acknowledges, learned much from Fodor; but why
should not another German in turn learn the same from Sonntag? and
Malibran is a Spaniard. Italy can no longer claim the glorious
appellation of "the land of music;" in truth, she has already lost
it, and possibly she may yet do so even in the opinion of the
world, though this is problematical. I was lately in company with
some professional musicians, who were speaking of a new opera by a
Neapolitan, Coccia; and one of them asked if it was clever.
"Probably it is," said another, "for Coccia was long in England,
where he studied, and some of his compositions are much liked
there." This struck me as very remarkable, for in England they
would have spoken exactly in the same way of Italy; but _quo me
rapis_? I say nothing to you, dear sisters, in this letter, but in
the course of a few days I mean to send you a little pamphlet
dedicated to you. Do not be alarmed, it is not poetry; the thing is
simply entitled "Journal of an Excursion to the Islands, in May."


     Naples, May 28th, 1831.

     My dear Sisters,

As my journal is become too stupid and uninteresting to send you, I
must at least supply you with an _abrégé_ of my history. You must
know, then, that on Friday, the 20th of May, we breakfasted _in
corpore_ at Naples, on fruit, etc.; this _in corpore_ includes the
travelling party to Ischia, consisting of Ed. Bendemann, T.
Hildebrand, Carl Sohn, and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. My knapsack
was not very heavy, for it contained scarcely anything but Goethe's
poems, and three shirts; so we packed ourselves into a hired
carriage, and drove through the grotto of Posilippo to Pozzuoli.
The road runs along by the sea, and nothing can be more lovely; so
it is all the more painful to witness the horrible collection of
cripples, blind men, beggars, and galley slaves, in short, the poor
wretches of every description who there await you, amid the holiday
aspect of nature.

I seated myself quietly on the mole and sketched, while the others
plodded and toiled through the Temple of Serapis, the theatres, the
hot springs, and extinct volcanoes, which I had already seen to
satiety on three different occasions. Then, like youthful
patriarchs or nomads, we collected all our goods and chattels,
cloaks, knapsacks, books and portfolios on donkeys, and placing
ourselves also on them, we made the tour of the Bay of Baiæ, as far
as the Lake of Avernus, where you are obliged to buy fish for
dinner; we crossed the hill to Cumæ (_vide_ Goethe's 'Wanderer')
and descended on Baiæ, where we ate and rested. We then looked at
more ruined temples, ancient baths, and other things of the kind,
and thus evening had arrived before we crossed the bay.

At half-past nine we arrived at the little town of Ischia, where we
found every corner of the only inn fully occupied, so we resolved
to go on to Don Tommaso's; a journey of two hours nominally, but
which we performed in an hour and a quarter. The evening was
deliciously cool, and innumerable glow-worms, who allowed us to
catch them, were scattered on the vine-branches, and fig-trees, and
shrubs. When we at last arrived, somewhat fatigued, at Don
Tommaso's house, about eleven o'clock, we found all the people
still up, clean rooms, fresh fruits, and a friendly deacon to wait
on us, so we remained comfortably seated opposite a heap of
cherries till midnight. The next morning the weather was bad, and
the rain incessant, so we could not ascend the Epomeo, and as we
seemed little disposed to converse (we did not get on in this
respect, Heaven knows why!) the affair would have become rather a
bore, if Don Tommaso had not possessed the prettiest poultry-yard
and farm in Europe. Right in front of the door stands a large leafy
orange-tree covered with ripe fruit, and from under its branches a
stair leads to the dwelling. Each of the white stone steps is
decorated with a large vase of flowers, these steps leading to a
spacious open hall, whence through an archway you look down on the
whole farm-yard, with its orange-trees, stairs, thatched roofs,
wine casks and pitchers, donkeys and peacocks. That a foreground
may not be wanting, an Indian fig-tree stands under the walled
arch, so luxuriant that it is fastened to the wall with ropes. The
background is formed by vineyards with summer-houses, and the
adjacent heights of the Monte Epomeo. Being protected from the rain
by the archway, the party seated themselves there under shelter,
and sketched the various objects in the farm the best way they
could, the whole livelong day. I was on no ceremony, and sketched
along with them, and I think I in some degree profited by so doing.
At night we had a terrific storm, and as I was lying in bed, I
remarked that the thunder growled tremendously on Monte Epomeo, and
the echoes continued to vibrate like those on the Lake of Lucerne,
but even for a greater length of time.

Next morning, Sunday, the weather was again fine. We went to Foria,
and saw the people going to the cathedral in their holiday
costumes. The women wore their well-known head-dress of folds of
white muslin placed flat on the head; the men were standing in the
square before the church, in their bright red caps, gossiping about
politics, and we gradually wound our way through these festal
villages up the hill. It is a huge rugged volcano, full of
fissures, ravines, cavities, and steep precipices. The cavities
being used for wine cellars, they are filled with large casks.
Every declivity is clothed with vines and fig-trees, or
mulberry-trees. Corn grows on the sides of the steep rocks, and
yields more than one crop every year. The ravines are covered with
ivy, and innumerable bright-coloured flowers and herbs, and
wherever there is a vacant space, young chestnut-trees shoot up,
furnishing the most delightful shade. The last village, Fontana,
lies in the midst of verdure and vegetation. As we climbed higher,
the sky became overcast and gloomy, and by the time we reached the
most elevated peaks of the rocks, a thick fog had come on. The
vapours flitted about, and although the rugged outlines of the
rocks, and the telegraph, and the cross, stood forth strangely in
the clouds, still we could not see even the smallest portion of the
view. Soon afterwards rain commenced, and as it was impossible to
remain, and wait as you do on the Righi, we were obliged to take
leave of Epomeo without having made his acquaintance. We ran down
in the rain, one rushing after the other, and I do believe that we
were scarcely an hour in returning.

Next day we went to Capri. This place has something Eastern in its
aspect, with the glowing heat reflected from its rocky white walls,
its palm-trees, and the rounded domes of the churches that look
like mosques. The sirocco was burning, and rendered me quite unfit
to enjoy anything; for really climbing up five hundred and
thirty-seven steps to Anacapri in this frightful heat, and then
coming down again, is toil only fit for a horse. True, the sea is
wondrously lovely, looking down on it from the summit of the bleak
rock, and through the singular fissures of the jagged peaks, so
strangely formed.

But above all, I must tell you of the blue grotto, for it is not
known to every one, as you can only enter it either in very calm
weather, or by swimming. The rocks there project precipitously into
the sea, and are probably as steep under the water as above it. A
huge cavity has been hollowed out by nature, but in such a manner,
that round the whole circumference of the grotto, the rocks rest
on the sea in all their breadth, or rather are sunk precipitously
into it, and ascend thence to the vault of the cavern. The sea
fills the whole space of the grotto, the entrance to which lies
under the water, only a very small portion of the opening
projecting above the water, and through this narrow space you can
only pass in a small boat, in which you must lie flat. When you are
once in, the whole extent of the huge cave and its vault is
revealed, and you can row about in it with perfect ease, as if
under a dome. The light of the sun also pierces through the opening
into the grotto underneath the sea, but broken and dimmed by the
green sea water, and thence it is that such magical visions arise.
The whole of the rocks are sky-blue and green in the twilight,
resembling the hue of moonshine, yet every nook, and every depth,
is distinctly visible. The water is thoroughly lighted up and
brilliantly illuminated by the light of the sun, so that the dark
skiff glides over a bright shining surface. The colour is the most
dazzling blue I ever saw, without shadow or cloud, like a pane of
opal glass; and as the sun shines down, you can plainly discern all
that is going on under the water, while the whole depths of the sea
with its living creatures are disclosed. You can see the coral
insects and polypuses clinging to the rocks, and far below, fishes
of different species meeting and swimming past each other. The
rocks become deeper in colour as they go lower into the water, and
are quite black at the end of the grotto, where they are closely
crowded together, and still further under them, you can see crabs,
fishes, and reptiles in the clear waters. Every stroke too of the
oars echoes strangely under the vault, and as you row round the
wall, new objects come to light. I do wish you could see it, for
the effect is singularly magical. On turning towards the opening by
which you entered, the daylight seen through it seems bright
orange, and by moving even a few paces you are entirely isolated
under the rock in the sea, with its own peculiar sunlight: it is as
if you were actually living under the water for a time.

We then proceeded to Procida, where the women adopt the Greek
dress, but do not look at all prettier from doing so. Curious faces
were peeping from every window. A couple of Jesuits, in black gowns
and with gloomy countenances, were seated in a gay arbour of vines,
evidently enjoying themselves, and made a good picture. Then we
crossed the sea to Pozzuoli, and through the grotto of Posilippo
again home.

I cannot write to Paul about his change of residence, and his
entrance into the great, wide world of London, because he mentions
casually, that he will probably leave for London in the course of
three weeks, so my letter could not possibly reach him in Berlin; a
week hence I shall take my chance, and address to my brother in
London. That smoky place is fated to be now and ever my favourite
residence; my heart glows when I even think of it, and I paint to
myself my return there, passing through Paris, and finding Paul
independent, alone, and another man, in the dear old haunts; when
he will present me to his new friends, and I will present him to my
old ones, and we shall live and dwell together: so even at this
moment I am all impatience soon to go there. I see by some
newspapers my friends have sent me, that my name is not forgotten,
and so I hope when I return to London, to be able to work steadily,
which I was previously unable to do, being forced to go to Italy.
If they make any difficulty in Munich about my opera, or if I
cannot get a _libretto_ that I like, I intend in that case to
compose an opera for London. I know that I could receive a
commission to do so, as soon as I chose. I am also bringing some
new pieces with me for the Philharmonic, and so I shall have made
good use of my time.

As my evenings here are at my own disposal, I read a little French
and English. The "Barricades" and "Les États de Blois" particularly
interest me, as while I read them I realize with horror a period
which we have often heard extolled as a vigorous epoch, too soon
passed away. Though these books seem to me to have many faults, yet
the delineation of the two opposite leaders is but too correct;
both were weak, irresolute, miserable hypocrites, and I thank God
that the so highly-prized middle ages are gone never to return. Say
nothing of this to any disciple of Hegel's, but it is so
nevertheless; and the more I read and think on the subject, the
more I feel this to be true. Sterne has become a great favourite
of mine. I remembered that Goethe once spoke to me of the
'Sentimental Journey,' and said that it was impossible for any one
better to paint what a froward and perverse thing is the human
heart. I chanced to meet with the book, and thought I should like
to read it. It pleases me very much. I think it very subtle, and
beautifully conceived and expressed.

There are very few German books to be had here. I am therefore
restricted to Goethe's Poems, and assuredly these are suggestive
enough, and always new. I feel especial interest in those poems
which he evidently composed in or near Naples, such as Alexis and
Dora; for I daily see from my window how this wonderful work was
created. Indeed, which is often the case with master-pieces, I
often suddenly and involuntarily think, that the very same ideas
might have occurred to myself on a similar occasion, and as if
Goethe had only by some chance been the first to express them.

With regard to the poem, "Gott segne dich, junge Frau," I maintain
that I have discovered its locality and dined with the woman
herself; but of course she is now grown old, and the boy she was
then nursing is become a stalwart vine-dresser. Her house lies
between Pozzuoli and Baiæ, "eines Tempels Trümmern," and is fully
three miles from Cumæ. You may imagine therefore with what new
light and truth these poems dawn on me, and the different feeling
with which I now regard and study them. I say nothing of Mignon's
song at present, but it is singular that Goethe and Thorwaldsen
are still living, that Beethoven only died a few years ago, and yet
H---- declares that German art is as dead as a rat. _Quod non._ So
much the worse for him if he really feels thus; but when I reflect
for a time on his conclusions, they appear to me very shallow.
_Apropos_, Schadow, who returns to Düsseldorf in the course of a
few days, has promised to extract, if possible, some new songs for
me from Immermann, which rejoices me much. That man is a true poet,
which is proved by his letters, and everything that he has written.
Count Platen is a little, shrivelled, wheezing old man, with gold
spectacles, yet not more than five-and-thirty! He quite startled
me. The Greeks look very different! He abuses the Germans terribly,
forgetting however that he does so in German. But farewell for


     Rome, June 6th, 1831.

     My dear Parents,

It is indeed high time that I should write to you a rational,
methodical letter, for I fear that none of those from Naples were
worth much. It really seemed as if the atmosphere there deterred
every one from serious reflection, at least I very seldom succeeded
in collecting my thoughts or ideas; and now I have been scarcely
more than a few hours here, when I once more resume that Roman
tranquillity, and grave serenity, which I alluded to in my former
letters from this place. I cannot express how infinitely better I
love Rome than Naples. People allege that Rome is monotonous, of
one uniform hue, melancholy, and solitary. It is certainly true
that Naples is more like a great European city, more lively and
varied, and more cosmopolitan; but I may say to you confidentially,
that I begin gradually to feel the most decided hatred of all that
is cosmopolitan;--I dislike it, just as I dislike _many-sidedness_,
which, moreover, I rather think I do not much believe in. Anything
that aspires to be distinguished, or beautiful, or really great,
must be _one-sided_; but then this _one side_ must be brought to a
state of the most consummate perfection, and no man can deny that
such is the case at Rome.

Naples seems to me too small to be called properly a great
city; all the life and bustle are confined to two large
thoroughfares--the Toledo, and the coast from the harbour to the
Chiaja. Naples does not realize to my mind the idea of a centre for
a great nation, which London offers in such perfection; chiefly
indeed because it is deficient in a people: for the fishermen and
lazzaroni I cannot designate as a people, they are more like
savages, and their centre is not Naples, but the sea. The middle
classes, by which I mean those who pursue various trades, and the
working citizens who form the basis of other great towns, are quite
subordinate; indeed, I may almost say that such a class is not to
be found there. It was this that often made me feel out of humour
during my stay in Naples, much as I loved and enjoyed the scenery;
but as a dissatisfied feeling constantly recurred, I think I at
last discovered the cause to lie within myself. I cannot say that I
was precisely unwell during the incessant sirocco, but it was more
disagreeable than an indisposition which passes away in a few days.
I felt languid, disinclined for all that was serious,--in fact,
lazy. I lounged about the streets all day with a morose face, and
would have preferred lying on the ground, without the trouble of
thinking, or wishing, or doing anything; then it suddenly occurred
to me, that the principal classes in Naples live in reality
precisely in the same manner; that consequently the source of my
depression did not spring from myself, as I had feared, but from
the whole combination of air, climate, etc. The atmosphere is
suitable for grandees who rise late, never require to go out on
foot, never think (for this is heating), sleep away a couple of
hours on a sofa in the afternoon, then eat ice, and drive to the
theatre at night, where again they do not find anything to think
about, but simply make and receive visits. On the other hand, the
climate is equally suitable for a fellow in a shirt, with naked
legs and arms, who also has no occasion to move about--begging for
a few _grani_ when he has literally nothing left to live on--taking
his afternoon's siesta stretched on the ground, or on the quay, or
on the stone pavement (the pedestrians step over him, or shove him
aside if he lies right in the middle). He fetches his _frutti di
mare_ himself out of the sea, sleeps wherever he may chance to
find himself at night; in short, he employs every moment in doing
exactly what he likes best, just as an animal does.

These are the two principal classes of Naples. By far the largest
portion of the population of the Toledo there, consists of gaily
dressed ladies and gentlemen, or husbands and wives driving
together in handsome equipages, or of those olive _sans-culottes_
who sometimes carry about fish for sale, brawling in the most
stentorian way, or bearing burdens when they have no longer any
money left. I believe there are few indeed who have any settled
occupation, or follow up any pursuit with zeal and perseverance, or
who like work for the sake of working. Goethe says that the
misfortune of the North is, that people there always wish to be
doing something, and striving after some end; and he goes on to
say, that an Italian was right, who advised him not to think so
much, for it would only give him a headache. I suspect however that
he was merely jesting; at all events, he did not act in this manner
himself, but, on the contrary, like a genuine Northman. If however
he means that the difference of character is produced by nature,
and subservient to her influence, then there is no doubt that he is
quite in the right. I can perfectly conceive that it must be so,
and why wolves howl; still it is not necessary to howl along with
them. The proverb should be exactly reversed. Those who, owing to
their position, are obliged to work, and must consequently both
think and bestir themselves, treat the matter as a necessary evil,
which brings them in money, and when they actually have it, they
too live like the great, or the naked, gentlemen. Thus there is no
shop where you are not cheated. Natives of Naples, who have been
customers for many years, are obliged to bargain, and to be as much
on their guard as foreigners; and one of my acquaintances, who had
dealt at the same shop for fifteen years, told me that during the
whole of that period there had been invariably the same battle
about a few scudi, and that nothing could prevent it.

Thence it is that there is so little industry or competition, and
that Donizetti finishes an opera in ten days; to be sure, it is
sometimes hissed, but that does not matter, for it is paid for all
the same, and he can then go about amusing himself. If at last
however his reputation becomes endangered, he will in that case be
forced really to work, which he would find by no means agreeable.
This is why he sometimes writes an opera in three weeks, bestowing
considerable pains on a couple of airs in it, so that they may
please the public, and then he can afford once more to divert
himself, and once more to write trash. Their painters, in the same
way, paint the most incredibly bad pictures, far inferior even to
their music. Their architects also erect buildings in the worst
taste; among others, an imitation, on a small scale, of St.
Peter's, in the Chinese style. But what does it matter? the
pictures are bright in colour, the music makes plenty of noise, the
buildings give plenty of shade, and the Neapolitan grandees ask no

My physical mood was similar to theirs, everything inspiring me
with a wish to be idle, and to lounge about, and sleep; yet I was
constantly saying to myself that this was wrong; and striving to
occupy myself, and to work, which I could not accomplish. Hence
arose the querulous tone of some of the letters I wrote to you, and
I could only escape from such a mood by rambling over the hills,
where nature is so divine, making every man feel grateful and
cheerful. I did not neglect the musicians, and we had a great deal
of music, but I cared little in reality for their flattering
encomiums. Fodor is hitherto the only genuine artist, male or
female, that I have seen in Italy; elsewhere I should probably have
found a great many faults with her singing, but I overlooked them
all, because when she sings it is real music, and after such a long
privation, that was most acceptable.

Now however I am once more in old Rome, where life is very
different. There are processions daily, for last week was the
Corpus Domini; and just as I left the city during the celebration
of the week following the Holy Week, I now return after the Corpus
Christi to find them engaged in the same way. It made a singular
impression on me to see that the streets had in the interim assumed
such an aspect of summer: on all sides booths with lemons and iced
water, the people in light dresses, the windows open, and the
_jalousies_ closed. You sit at the doors of coffee-houses, and eat
_gelato_ in quantities; the Corso swarms with equipages, for people
no longer walk much, and though in reality I miss no dear friends
or relatives, yet I felt quite moved when I once more saw the
Piazza di Spagna, and the familiar names written up on the corners
of the streets. I shall stay here for about a week, and then
proceed northwards.

The Infiorata is on Thursday, but it is not yet quite certain that
it will take place, because they have some apprehensions of a
revolution; but I hope I shall witness this ceremony. I mean to
take advantage of this opportunity to see the hills once more, and
then to set off for the north. Wish me a good journey, for I am on
the eve of departure. It is a year this very day since I arrived in
Munich, heard 'Fidelio,' and wrote to you. We have not met since
then; but, please God, we shall see each other again before another


     Rome, June 16, 1831.

     Dear Professor,

It was my intention some time ago to have written you a description
of the music during the Holy Week, but my journey to Naples
intervened, and during my stay there, I was so constantly occupied
in wandering among the mountains, and in gazing at the sea, that I
had not a moment's leisure to write; hence arose the delay for
which I now beg to apologize. Since then I have not heard a single
note worth remembering; in Naples the music is most inferior.
During the last two months, therefore, I have no musical
reminiscences to send you, save those of the Holy Week, which
however made so indelible an impression on my mind, that they will
be always fresh in my memory. I already described to my parents the
effect of the whole ceremonies, and they probably sent you the

It was fortunate that I resolved to listen to the various Offices
with earnest and close attention, and still more so, that from the
very first moment I felt sensations of reverence and piety. I
consider such a mood indispensable for the reception of new ideas,
and no portion of the general effect escaped me, although I took
care to watch each separate detail.

The ceremonies commenced on Wednesday, at half past four o'clock,
with the antiphon "Zelus domus tuæ." A little book containing the
Offices for the Holy Week explains the sense of the various
solemnities. "Each Nocturn contains three Psalms, signifying that
Christ died for all, and also symbolical of the three laws, the
natural, the written, and the evangelical. The 'Domine labia mea'
and the 'Deus in adjutorium' were not sung on this occasion, when
the death of our Saviour and Master is deplored, as slain by the
hands of wicked godless men. The fifteen lights represent the
twelve apostles and the three Marys." (In this manner the book
contains much curious information on this subject, so I mean to
bring it with me for you.) The Psalms are chanted _fortissimo_ by
all the male voices of two choirs. Each verse is divided into two
parts, like a question and answer, or rather, classified into A and
B; the first chorus sings A, and the second replies with B. All the
words, with the exception of the last, are sung with extreme
rapidity on one note, but on the last they make a short "melisma,"
which is different in the first and second verse. The whole Psalm,
with all its verses, is sung on this melody, or _tono_ as they call
it, and I wrote down seven of these _toni_, which were employed
during the three days. You cannot conceive how tiresome and
monotonous the effect is, and how harshly and mechanically they
chant through the Psalms. The first _tonus_ which they sang was--

  [Music: In-fi-xus sum in li-mo pro-fun-di,
  et non est sub-stan-tia]

Thus the whole forty-two verses of the Psalm are sung in precisely
the same manner; one half of the verse ending in G, A, G, the other
in G, E, G. They sing with the accent of a number of men
quarrelling violently, and it sounds as if they were shouting out
furiously one against another. The closing words of each Psalm are
chanted more slowly and impressively, a long "triad" being
substituted for the "melisma," sung _piano_. For instance, this is
the first:--

  [Music: Qui di-li-gunt no-men e-jus
  ha-bi-ta-bunt in e-a.]

An antiphon, and sometimes more than one, serves as an introduction
to each Psalm. These are generally sung by two counter-tenor
voices, in _canto fermo_, in harsh, hard tones; the first half of
each verse in the same style, and the second responded to by the
chorus of male voices that I already described. I have kept the
several antiphons that I wrote down, that you may compare them with
the book. On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 68th, 69th, and 70th
Psalms were sung. (By the bye, this division of the verses of the
Psalms sung in turns by each chorus, is one of the innovations that
Bunsen has introduced into the Evangelical Church here; he also
ushers in each choral by an antiphon, composed by Georg, a musician
who resides here, in the style of _canti fermi_, first sung by a
few voices, succeeded by a choral, such as "Ein' feste Burg ist
unser Gott.") After the 70th Psalm comes a paternoster _sub
silentio_--that is, all present stand up, and a short silent
inward prayer ensues, and a pause.

Then commences the first Lamentation of Jeremiah, sung in a low
subdued tone, in the key of G major, a solemn and fine composition
of Palestrina's. The solos are chanted entirely by high tenor
voices, swelling and subsiding alternately, in the most delicate
gradations, sometimes floating almost inaudibly, and gently
blending the various harmonies; being sung without any bass voices,
and immediately succeeding the previous harsh intonation of the
Psalms, the effect is truly heavenly. It is rather unfortunate
however that those very parts which ought to be sung with the
deepest emotion and reverence, being evidently those composed with
peculiar fervour, should chance to be merely the titles of the
chapter or verse, _aleph_, _beth_, _gimel_, etc., and that the
beautiful commencement, which sounds as if it came direct from
Heaven, should be precisely on these words, "Incipit Lamentatio
Jeremiæ Prophetæ Lectio I." This must be not a little repulsive to
every Protestant heart, and if there be any design to introduce a
similar mode of chanting into our churches, it appears to me that
this will always be a stumbling-block; for any one who sings
"chapter first" cannot possibly feel any pious emotions, however
beautiful the music may be, let him strive as he will.

My little book indeed says, "Vedendo profetizzato il
crocifiggimento con gran pietà, si cantano eziandio molto
lamentevolmente _aleph_, e le altre simili parole, che sono le
lettere dell' alfabeto Ebreo, perchè erano in costume di porsi in
ogni canzone in luogo di lamento, come è questa. Ciascuna lettera
ha in se, tutto it sentimento di quel versetto che la segue, ed è
come un argomento di esso;" but this explanation is not worth much.
After this the 71st, 72nd, and 73rd Psalms are sung in the same
manner, with their antiphons. These are apportioned to the various
voices. The soprano begins, "In monte Oliveti," on which the bass
voices chime in _forte_, "Oravit ad Patrem: Pater," etc. Then
follow the lessons, from the treatise of Saint Augustine on the
Psalms. The strange mode in which these are chanted appeared to me
very extraordinary when I heard them for the first time on Palm
Sunday, without knowing what it meant. A solitary voice is heard
reciting on one note, not as in the Psalms, but very slowly and
impressively, making the tone ring out clearly.

There are different cadences employed for the different punctuation
of the words, to represent a comma, interrogation, and full stop.
Perhaps you are already acquainted with these: to me they were a
novelty, and appeared very singular. The first, for example, was
chanted by a powerful bass voice in G. If a comma occurs, he sings
so, on the last word:--


an interrogation thus:--


a full stop:--


For example:--

  [Music: con-jun-ga-mus o-ra-ti-o-nem.]

I cannot describe to you how strange the falling cadence from A to
C sounds; especially when the bass is followed by a soprano, who
begins on D, and makes the same falling cadence from E to G; then
an alto does the same in his key; for they sang three different
lessons alternately with the _canto fermo_. I send you a specimen
of the mode in which they render the _canto fermo_, regardless both
of the words and the sense. The phrase "better he had never been
born" was thus sung:--

  [Music: Me-li-us il-li e-rat si
  na-tus non fu-is-set]

quite _fortissimo_ and monotonously. Then came the Psalms 74, 75,
and 76, followed by three lessons, succeeded by the Miserere, sung
in the same style as the preceding Psalms, in the following

  [Music: Et se-cun-dum mul-ti-tu-di-nem
  mi-se-ra-tio-rum tua--rum
  de-le i-ni-qui-ta-tem me-am.]

It will be long before you can improve on this. Then followed
Psalms 8, 62, and 66; "Canticum Moysi" in its own tone. Psalms 148,
149, and 150 came next, and then antiphons. During this time the
lights on the altar are all extinguished, save one which is placed
behind the altar. Six wax candles still continue to burn high above
the entrance, the rest of the space is already dim, and now the
whole chorus _unisono_ intone with the full strength of their
voices the "Canticum Zachariæ," during which the last remaining
lights are extinguished. The mighty swelling chorus in the gloom,
and the solemn vibration of so many voices, have a wonderfully fine

The melody (in D minor) is also very beautiful. At the close all is
profound darkness. An antiphon begins on the sentence, "Now he that
betrayed him gave them a sign," and continues to the words "that
same is he, hold him fast." Then all present fall on their knees,
and one solitary voice softly sings, "Christus factus est pro nobis
obediens usque ad mortem;" on the second day is added, "mortem
autem crucis;" and on Good Friday, "propter quod et Deus exaltavit
illum, et dedit illi Nomen, quod est super omne nomen." A pause
ensues, during which each person repeats the Paternoster to
himself. During this silent prayer, a death-like silence prevails
in the whole church; presently the Miserere commences, with a chord
softly breathed by the voices, and gradually branching off into two
choirs. This beginning, and its first harmonious vibration,
certainly made the deepest impression on me. For an hour and a half
previously, one voice alone had been heard chanting almost without
any variety; after the pause came an admirably constructed chord,
which has the finest possible effect, causing every one to feel in
their hearts the power of music; it is this indeed that is so
striking. The best voices are reserved for the Miserere, which is
sung with the greatest variety of effect, the voices swelling and
dying away, from the softest _piano_ to the full strength of the
choir. No wonder that it should excite deep emotion in every heart.
Moreover they do not neglect the power of contrast; verse after
verse being chanted by all the male voices in unison, _forte_, and
harshly. At the beginning of the subsequent verses, the lovely,
rich, soft sounds of voices steal on the ear, lasting only for a
short space, and succeeded by a chorus of male voices. During the
verses sung in monotone, every one knows how beautifully the softer
choir are about to uplift their voices; soon they are again heard,
again to die away too quickly, and before the thoughts can be
collected, the service is over.

On the first day, when the Miserere of Baini was given in the key
of B minor, they sang thus:--"Miserere mei Deus" to "misericordiam
tuam" from the music, with solo voices, two choirs using the whole
strength of voices at their command; then all the bass singers
commenced _tutti forte_ by F sharp, chanting on that note "et
secundum multitudinem" to "iniquitatem meam," which is immediately
succeeded by a soft chord in B minor, and so on, to the last verse
of all, which they sing with their entire strength; a second short
silent prayer ensues, when all the Cardinals scrape their feet
noisily on the pavement, which betokens the close of the ceremony.
My little book says, "This noise is symbolical of the tumult made
by the Hebrews in seizing Christ." It may be so, but it sounded
exactly like the commotion in the pit of a theatre, when the
beginning of a play is delayed, or when it is finally condemned.
The single taper still burning, is then brought from behind the
altar, and all silently disperse by its solitary light.

On leaving the chapel, I must not omit to mention the striking
effect of the blazing chandelier lighting up the great vestibule,
when the Cardinals and their attendant priests traverse the
illuminated Quirinal through ranks of Swiss Guards. The Miserere
sung on the first day was Baini's, a composition entirely devoid of
life or power, like all his works; still it had chords and music,
and so it made a certain impression.

On the second day they gave some pieces by Allegri and Bai. On Good
Friday all the music was Bai's. As Allegri composed only one verse,
on which the rest are chanted, I heard the three compositions which
they gave on that day. It is however quite immaterial which they
sing, for the _embellimenti_ are pretty much the same in all three.
Each chord has its _embellimento_, thus very little of the original
composition is to be discovered. How these _embellimenti_ have
crept in they will not say. It is maintained that they are
traditional; but this I entirely disbelieve. In the first place no
musical tradition is to be relied on; besides, how is it possible
to carry down a five-part movement to the present time, from mere
hearsay? It does not sound like it. It is evident that they have
been more recently added; and it appears to me that the director,
having had good high voices at his command, and wishing to employ
them during the Holy Week, wrote down for their use ornamental
phrases, founded on the simple unadorned chords, to enable them to
give full scope and effect to their voices. They certainly are not
of ancient date, but are composed with infinite talent and taste,
and their effect is admirable; one in particular is often
repeated, and makes so deep an impression, that when it begins, an
evident excitement pervades all present; indeed, in any discussion
as to the mode of executing this music, and when people say that
the voices do not seem like the voices of men, but those of angels
from on high, and that these sounds can never he heard elsewhere,
it is this particular _embellimento_ to which they invariably
allude. For example, in the Miserere, whether that of Bai or
Allegri (for they have recourse to the same _embellimenti_ in both)
these are the consecutive chords:--


Instead of this, they sing it so:--



The soprano intones the high C in a pure soft voice, allowing it to
vibrate for a time, and slowly gliding down, while the alto holds
the C steadily, so that at first I was under the delusion that the
high C was still held by the soprano; the skill, too, with which
the harmony is gradually developed is truly admirable. The other
_embellimenti_ are adapted in the same way to the consecutive
chords: but the first one is by far the most beautiful. I can give
no opinion as to the particular mode of executing the music; but
what I once read, that some particular acoustic contrivance caused
the continued vibration of the sounds, is an entire fable, quite as
much so as the assertion that they sing from tradition, and without
any fixed time, one voice simply following the other; for I saw
plainly enough the shadow of Baini's long arm moving up and down;
indeed, he sometimes struck his music-desk quite audibly. There is
no lack of mystery too, on the part of the singers and others: for
example, they never say beforehand what particular Miserere they
intend to sing, but that it will be decided at the moment, etc.,
etc. The key in which they sing, depends on the purity of the
voices. The first day it was in B minor, the second and third in E
minor, but each time they finished almost in B flat minor.

The chief soprano, Mariano, came from the mountains to Rome
expressly to sing on this occasion, and it is to him I owe hearing
the _embellimenti_ with their highest notes. However careful and
attentive the singers may be, still the negligence and bad habits
of the whole previous year have their revenge, consequently the
most fearful dissonance sometimes occurs.

I must not forget to tell you that on the Thursday, when the
Miserere was about to begin, I clambered up a ladder leaning
against the wall, and was thus placed close to the roof of the
chapel, so that I had the music, the priests, and the people far
beneath me in gloom and shadow. Seated thus alone without the
vicinity of any obtrusive stranger, the impression made on me was
very profound. But to proceed: you must have had more than enough
of Misereres in these pages, and I intend to bring you more
particular details, both verbal and written.

On Thursday, at half-past ten o'clock, high Mass was celebrated.
They sang an eight-part composition of Fazzini's, in no way
remarkable. I reserve for you some _canti fermi_ and antiphons,
which I wrote down at the time, and my little book describes the
order of the various services and the meaning of the different
ceremonies. At the "Gloria in Excelsis" all the bells in Rome peal
forth, and are not rung again till after Good Friday. The hours are
marked in the churches by wooden clappers. The words of the
"Gloria," the signal for all the strange tumult of bells, were
chanted from the altar by old Cardinal Pacca, in a feeble trembling
voice; this being succeeded by the choirs and all the bells, had a
striking effect. After the "Credo" they sang the "Fratres ego enim"
of Palestrina, but in the most unfinished and careless manner. The
washing of the pilgrims' feet followed, and a procession in which
all the singers join; Baini beating time from a large book carried
before him, making signs first to one, and then to another, while
the singers pressed forward to look at the music, counting the time
as they walked, and then chiming in,--the Pope being borne aloft in
his state chair. All this I have already described to my parents.

In the evening there were Psalms, Lamentations, Lessons, and the
Miserere again, scarcely differing from those of the previous day.
One lesson was chanted by a soprano solo on a peculiar melody, that
I mean to bring home with me. It is an adagio, in long-drawn notes,
and lasts a quarter of an hour at least. There is no pause in the
music, and the melody lies very high, and yet it was executed with
the most pure, clear, and even intonation. The singer did not drop
his tone so much as a single comma, the very last notes swelling
and dying away as even and full as at the beginning; it was,
indeed, a masterly performance. I was struck with the meaning they
attach to the word _appoggiatura_. If the melody goes from C to D,
or from C to E, they sing thus:--

  [Music] or [Music] or [Music]

and this they call an _appoggiatura_. Whatever they may choose to
designate it, the effect is most disagreeable, and it must require
long habit not to be discomposed by this strange practice, which
reminds me very much of our old women at home in church; moreover
the effect is the same. I saw in my book that the "Tenebræ" was to
be sung, and thinking that it would interest you to know how it is
given in the Papal chapel, I was on the watch with a sharp-pointed
pencil when it commenced, and send you herewith the principal
parts. It was sung very quick, and _forte_ throughout, without
exception. The beginning was:--

  [Music: Te-ne-bræ fac----tæ sunt
  dum cru-ci-fi-xis--sent
  Je--sum Ju-dæ-i.


  [Music: De-us me--us, ut quid me
  ex-cla--mans Je-sus vo--ce
  mag-na a-it: Pa-ter, in ma-
  nus tu-as com-men-do spi-ri-tum

I cannot help it, but I own it does irritate me to hear such holy
and touching words sung to such dull, drawling music. They say it
is _canto fermo_, Gregorian, etc.; no matter. If at that period
there was neither the feeling nor the capability to write in a
different style, at all events we have now the power to do so, and
certainly this mechanical monotony is not to be found in the
scriptural words; they are all truth and freshness, and moreover
expressed in the most simple and natural manner. Why then make them
sound like a mere formula? and, in truth, such singing as this is
nothing more! The word "Pater" with a little flourish, the "meum"
with a little shake, the "ut quid me"--can this be called sacred
music? There is certainly no false expression in it, because there
is _none_ of any kind; but does not this very fact prove the
desecration of the words? A hundred times during the ceremony I was
driven wild by such things as these; and then came people in a
state of ecstasy, saying how splendid it had all been. This sounded
to me like a bad joke, and yet they were quite in earnest!

At Mass early on Friday morning, the chapel is stripped of all its
decorations, the altar uncovered, and the Pope and Cardinals in
mourning. The "Passion," from St. John, was sung, composed by
Vittoria, but the words of the people in the chorus alone are his,
the rest are chanted according to an established formula: but more
of this hereafter. The whole appeared to me too trivial and
monotonous, I was quite out of humour, and, in fact, dissatisfied
with the affair altogether. One of the two following modes ought to
be adopted. The "Passion" ought either to be recited quietly by the
priest, as St. John relates it, in which case there is no occasion
for the chorus to sing "Crucifige eum," nor for the alto to
represent Pilate--or else the scene should be so thoroughly
realized, that it ought to make me feel as if I were actually
present, and saw it all myself. In that event, Pilate ought to sing
just as he would have spoken, the chorus shout out "Crucifige" in a
tone anything but sacred; and then, through the impress of entire
truth, and the dignity of the object represented, the singing would
become sacred church music.

I require no under-current of thought when I hear music, which is
not to me "a mere medium to elevate the mind to piety," as they say
here, but a distinct language speaking plainly to me; for though
the sense is _expressed_ by the words, it is equally contained in
the music. This is the case with the "Passion" of Sebastian Bach;
but as they sing it here, it is very imperfect, being neither a
simple narrative, nor yet a grand solemn dramatic truth. The chorus
sings "Barabbam" to the same sacred chords as "et in terra pax."
Pilate speaks exactly in the same manner as the Evangelist. The
voice that represents our blessed Saviour commences always _piano_,
in order to have one definite distinction, but when the chorus
breaks loose, shouting out their sacred chords, it seems entirely
devoid of meaning. Pray forgive these strictures. I now proceed to
simple narration again. The Evangelist is a tenor, and the mode of
chanting, the same as that of the Lessons, with a peculiar falling
cadence at the comma, interrogation, and full stop. The Evangelist
intones on D, and sings thus at a full stop:--


at a comma:--


and at the conclusion, when another personage enters, so:--


Christ is represented by a bass, and commences always thus:--

  [Music: E----go]

I could not catch the formula, though I noted down several parts,
which I can show you when I return: among others, the words spoken
on the Cross. All the other personages,--Pilate, Peter, the Maid,
and the High Priest,--are altos, and sing this melody only:--


The chorus sings the words of the people from their places above,
while everything else is sung from the altar. I must really mark
down here as a curiosity the "Crucifige," just as I noted it at the

  [Music: Tol-le! Tol-le! Cru-ci-fi-
  ge e-um.]

The "Barabbam" too is most singular;--very tame Jews indeed! But my
letter is already too long, so I shall discuss the subject no
further. Prayers are then offered up for all nations and
institutions, each separately designated. When the prayer for the
Jews is uttered, no one kneels, as they do at all the others, nor
is Amen said. They pray _pro perfidis Judæis_, and the author of my
book discovers an explanation of this also. Then follows the
Adoration of the Cross; a small crucifix is placed in the centre
of the chapel, and all approach barefooted (without shoes), fall
down before it and kiss it; during this time the "Improperia" are
sung. I have only once heard this composition, but it seems to me
to be one of Palestrina's finest works, and they sing it with
remarkable enthusiasm. There is surprising delicacy and harmony in
its execution by the choir; they are careful to place every passage
in its proper light, and to render it sufficiently prominent
without making it too conspicuous--one chord blending softly with
the other. Moreover, the ceremony is very solemn and dignified, and
the most profound silence reigns in the chapel.

They sing the oft-recurring Greek "Holy" in the most admirable
manner, each time with the sane smoothness and expression. You will
be not a little surprised, however, when you see it written down,
for they sing as follows:--

  [Music: A-gi-os O The---os]

  [Music: Sanc-tus De-us.]

Such passages as that at the commencement, where all the voices
sing the very same embellishment, repeatedly occur, and the ear
becomes accustomed to them. The effect of the whole is undoubtedly
superb. I only wish you could hear the tenors in the first chorus,
and the mode in which they take the high A on the word "Theos;" the
note is so long-drawn and ringing, though softly breathed, that it
sounds most touching. This is repeated again and again till all in
the chapel have performed the Adoration of the Cross; but as on
this occasion the crowd was not very great, I unluckily had not the
opportunity of hearing it as often as I could have wished.

I quite understand why the "Improperias" produced the strongest
effect on Goethe, for they are nearly the most faultless of all, as
both music and ceremonies, and everything connected with them, are
in the most entire harmony. A procession follows to fetch the Host,
which had been exposed and adored on the previous evening in
another chapel of the Quirinal, lighted up by many hundred
wax-lights. The morning service closed at half-past one with a hymn
in _canto fermo_. At half-past three in the afternoon the first
nocturn began, with the Psalms, Lessons, etc. I corrected what I
had written down, heard the Miserere of Baini, and about seven
o'clock followed the Cardinals home through the illuminated
vestibule--so all was now seen, and all was now over.

I was anxious, dear Professor, to describe the Holy Week to you
minutely, as they were memorable days to me, every hour bringing
with it something interesting and long anticipated. I also
particularly rejoiced in feeling that, in spite of the excitement
and the numerous discussions in praise or blame, the solemnities
made as vivid an impression on me, as if I had been quite free from
all previous prejudice or prepossession. I thus saw the truth
confirmed, that perfection, even in a sphere the most foreign to
us, leaves its own stamp on the mind. May you read this long letter
with even half the pleasure I feel in recalling the period of the
Holy Week at Rome.

     Yours faithfully,

     Florence, June 25th, 1831.

     Dear Sisters,

On such a day as this my paternal home and those I love are much in
my thoughts; my feelings on this point are rather singular. If I
feel at any time unwell, or fatigued, or out of humour, I have no
particular longing for my own home or for my family; but when
brighter days ensue, when every hour makes an indelible impression,
and every moment brings with it glad and pleasant sensations then I
ardently wish that I were with you, or you with me; and no minute
passes without my thinking of one or other of you, to whom I have
something particular to say.

I have to-day passed the whole forenoon, from ten till three, in
the gallery; it was glorious! Besides all the beautiful work I saw,
from which so much fresh benefit is always to be derived, I
wandered about among the pictures, feeling so much sympathy, and
such kindly emotions in gazing at them. I now first thoroughly
realized the great charm of a large collection of the highest works
of art. You pass from one to the other, sitting and dreaming for an
hour before some picture, and then on to the next.

Yesterday was a holiday here, so to-day the Palazzo degli Uffizi
was crowded with people who had come into the city to see the
races, and to visit the far-famed gallery; chiefly peasants, male
and female, in their country costumes. All the apartments were
thrown open, and as I was about to contemplate them for the last
time. I contrived to slip quietly through the crowd, and to remain
quite solitary, for I knew that I had not one acquaintance among

The busts of the various princes who founded and enriched this
collection, are placed near the entrance, at the top of the
staircase. I suppose I must have been peculiarly susceptible
to-day, for the faces of the Medici interested me exceedingly; they
looked so noble and refined, so proud and so dignified. I stood
looking at them for a long time, and imprinted on my memory those
countenances of world-wide renown.

I then went to the Tribune. This room is so delightfully small you
can traverse it in fifteen paces, and yet it contains a world of
art. I again sought out my favourite armchair, which stands under
the statue of the "Slave Whetting his Knife" (_L'Arrotino_), and
taking possession of it, I enjoyed myself for a couple of hours;
for here, at one glance, I had the "Madonna del Cardellino," "Pope
Julius II.," a female portrait by Raphael, and above it a lovely
Holy Family, by Perugino; and so close to me that I could have
touched the statue with my hand, the Venus de' Medici; beyond, that
of Titian; on the other side, the "Apollino" and the "Wrestlers"
(_Lottatori_); in front of the Raphael, the merry Greek Dancing
Faun, who seems to feel an uncouth delight in discordant music, for
the fellow has just struck two cymbals together, and is listening
to the sound, while treading with his foot on a kind of Pan's
pipes, as an accompaniment: what a clown he is! The space between
is occupied by other pictures of Raphael's, a portrait by Titian, a
Domenichino, etc., and all these within the circumference of a
small semicircle, no larger than one of your own rooms. This is a
spot where a man feels his own insignificance, and may well learn
to be humble.

I occasionally walked through the other rooms, where a large
picture by Leonardo da Vinci, only commenced and sketched in, with
all its wild dashes and strokes, is very suggestive. I was
especially struck with the genius of the monk Fra Bartolommeo, who
must have been a man of the most devout, tender, and earnest
spirit. There is a small picture of his here, which I discovered
for myself. It is about the size of this sheet of paper, in two
divisions, and represents the "Adoration" and the "Presentation in
the Temple." The figures are about two-thirds of a finger-length in
size, but finished in the most exquisite and consummate manner,
with the most brilliant colouring, the brightest decorations, and
in the most genial sunshine. You can see in the picture itself,
that the pious _maestro_ has taken delight in painting it, and in
finishing the most minute details; probably with the view of giving
it away, to gratify some friend. We feel as if the painter belonged
to it, and still ought to be sitting before his work, or had only
this moment left it. I felt the same with regard to many pictures
to-day, especially that of the "Madonna del Cardellino," which
Raphael painted as a wedding-gift, and a surprise for his friend.
I could not help meditating on all these great men, so long passed
away from earth, though their whole inner soul is still displayed
in such lustre to us, and to all the world.

While reflecting on these things, I came by chance into the room
containing the portraits of great painters. I formerly merely
regarded them in the light of valuable curiosities, for there are
more than three hundred portraits, chiefly painted by the masters
themselves, so that you see at the same moment the man and his
work; but to-day a fresh idea dawned on me with regard to
them,--that each painter resembles his own productions, and that
each while painting his own likeness, has been careful to represent
himself just as he really was. In this way you become personally
acquainted with all these great men, and thus a new light is shed
on many things. I will discuss this point more minutely with you
when we meet; but I must not omit to say, that the portrait of
Raphael is almost the most touching likeness I have yet seen of
him. In the centre of a large rich screen, entirely covered with
portraits, hangs a small solitary picture, without any particular
designation, but the eye is instantly arrested by it; this is
Raphael--youthful, very pale and delicate, and with such onward
aspirations, such longing and wistfulness in the mouth and eyes,
that it is as if you could see into his very soul. That he
cannot succeed in expressing all that he sees and feels, and
is thus impelled to go forward, and that he must die an early
death,--all this is written on his mournful, suffering, yet fervid
countenance, and when looking at his dark eyes, which glance at you
out of the very depths of his soul, and at the pained and
contracted mouth, you cannot resist a feeling of awe.

How I wish you could see the portrait that hangs above it; that of
Michael Angelo, an ugly, muscular, savage, rugged fellow, in all
the vigour of life, looking gruff and morose; and on the other side
a wise, grave man, with the aspect of a lion, Leonardo da Vinci;
but you cannot see this portrait, and I will not describe it in
writing, but tell you of it when we meet. Believe me, however, it
is truly glorious. Then I passed on to the Niobe, which of all
statues makes the greatest impression on me; and back again to my
painters, and to the Tribune, and through the Corridors, where the
Roman Emperors, with their dignified yet knavish physiognomies,
stare you in the face; and last of all I took a final leave of the
Medici family.

It was indeed a morning never to be forgotten.

     June 26th.

Do not suppose however that I mean to assert that all days are
spent thus. You must battle your way through the present living
mob, before you can arrive at the nobility, long since dead, and
those who have not a strong arm are sure to come badly off in the
conflict. Such a journey as mine from Rome to Perugia, and on here,
is no joke. Jean Paul says that the presence of a person who openly
hates you is most painful and oppressive. Such a being is the
Roman _vetturino_: he grants you no sleep; exposes you to hunger
and thirst; at night, when he is bound to provide you with your
_pranzo_, he contrives that you shall not arrive till midnight,
when every one is of course asleep, and you are only too thankful
to get a bed. In the morning he sets off before four o'clock, and
rests his horses at noon for five hours, but invariably in some
solitary little wayside inn, where nothing is to be had. Each day
he makes out about six German miles, and drives _piano_, while the
sun burns _fortissimo_.

I was very badly off owing to all this, for my fellow-travellers
were far from being congenial; three Jesuits inside, and in the
cabriolet, where I particularly desired to sit, a most disagreeable
Venetian lady. If I wished to escape from her, I was obliged to go
inside, and listen to the praises of Charles X., and to hear that
Ariosto ought to have been burnt as a corrupt writer, subversive of
all morality. It was still worse outside, and we never seemed to
get on. The first day, after a journey of four hours, the axletree
broke, and we were obliged to remain for nine hours in the same
house in the Campagna where we chanced to be, and at last to stay
all night. If there was a church on the road that we had an
opportunity of visiting, the most beautiful and devotional
creations of Perugino, or Giotto, or Cimabue, enchanted our eyes;
and so we passed from irritation to delight, and then to irritation
again. This was a wretched state to be in. I was not in the least
amused by it all; and if Nature had not bestowed on us bright
moonshine at the Lake of Thrasymene, and if the scenery had not
been so wonderfully fine, and if in every town we had not seen a
superb church, and if we had not passed through a large city each
day as we journeyed on, and if--but you see I am not easily

The route however was beautiful, and I must now describe my arrival
in Florence, which also includes my whole Italian life of the
previous days. At Incisa, half a day's journey from Florence, my
_vetturino_ became so intolerable from his insolence and abuse,
that I found it necessary to take out my luggage, and to tell him
to drive to the devil,--which he accordingly did, rather against
his will.

It was Midsummer's day, and a celebrated fête was to take place in
Florence the same evening, which I would on no account whatever
have missed. This is just the kind of thing that the Italians take
advantage of, so the landlady at Incisa offered me a carriage at
four times the proper fare. When I refused to take it, she said I
might try to procure another; and so I accordingly did, but found
that no carriages for hire were to be had, only post-horses. I went
to the Post, and was there told, to my disgust, that they were at
my landlady's, and that she had wished to make me pay an exorbitant
price for them. I went back and demanded horses. She said, if I did
not choose to pay what she asked, I should have none. I desired to
see the regulations, which they are all obliged to have. She said
there was no occasion to show them, and turned her back on me. The
use of physical strength, which plays a great part here, was
resorted to by me on this occasion, for I seized her and pushed her
back into a room (for we were standing in the passage) and then
hurried down the street to the Podestà. It turned out however that
there was no such person in the town, but that he lived four miles
off. The affair became every instant more disagreeable, the crowd
of boys at my heels increasing at every step. Fortunately a
decent-looking man came up, to whom the mob seemed to show some
respect; so I accosted him, and explained all that had occurred. He
sympathized with me, and took me to a vine-dresser's who had a
little carriage for hire.

The whole crowd now congregated before his door, many pressing
forward into the house after me, and shouting that I was mad; but
the carriage drove up, and I threw a few scudi to an old beggar, on
which they all called out that I was a _bravo Signore_, and wished
me _buon viaggio_. The moderate price the man demanded more fully
showed me the abominable overcharge of the landlady. The carriage
was easy, and the horses went on at a good pace, and so we
travelled across the hills to Florence. In the course of half an
hour we overtook my lazy vetturino. I put up my umbrella to defend
me from the sun, and I scarcely ever travelled so pleasantly and so
comfortably as during those few hours, having left all annoyances
behind me, and before me the prospect of the beautiful fête.

Very soon the Duomo, and the hundreds of villas scattered through
the valleys, were visible. Once more we passed by decorated
terraces, and the tops of trees seen over them; the Arno valley
looking lovelier than ever. And so I arrived here in good spirits
and dined; and even while doing so I heard a tumult, and looking
out of the window I saw crowds, both young and old, all hurrying in
their holiday costumes across the bridges.

I followed them to the Corso, and then to the races; afterwards to
the illuminated Pergola, and last of all to a masked ball in the
Goldoni Theatre. At one o'clock in the morning I went towards home,
thinking that the whole affair was over; but the Arno was still
covered with gondolas, illuminated by coloured lamps, and crossing
each other in every direction. Under the bridge a large ship was
passing, hung with green lanterns; the water shone brightly as it
rippled along, while a still brighter moon looked down on the whole
scene. I recalled to myself the various occurrences of the day, and
the thoughts that had chased each other through my mind, and
resolved to write them all to you. It is in fact a reminiscence for
myself, for it may not be so suggestive to you, but it will one day
be of service to me, enabling me to recall various scenes connected
with fair Italy.


     Genoa, July, 1831.

At first I resolved not to answer your letter until I had fulfilled
your injunctions, and composed "Napoleon's Midnight Review;" and
now I have to ask your forgiveness for not having done so, but
there is a peculiarity in this matter. I take music in a very
serious light, and I consider it quite inadmissible to compose
anything that I do not thoroughly feel. It is just as if I were to
utter a falsehood; for notes have as distinct a meaning as words,
perhaps even a more definite sense. Now it appears to me almost
impossible to compose for a descriptive poem. The mass of
compositions of this nature do not militate against this opinion,
but rather prove its truth; for I am not acquainted with one single
work of the kind that has been successful. You are placed between a
dramatic conception or a mere narrative; the one, in the "Erl
König," causes the willows to rustle, the child to shriek, and the
horse to gallop. The other imagines a ballad singer, calmly
narrating the horrible tale, as you would a ghost story, and this
is the most accurate view of the two; Reichardt almost invariably
adopted this reading, but it does not suit me; the music stands in
my way. I feel in a far more spectral spirit when I read such a
poem quietly to myself, and imagine the rest, than when it is
depicted, or related to me.

It does not answer to look on "Napoleon's Midnight Review" as a
narrative, inasmuch as no particular person speaks, and the poem is
not written in the style of a ballad. It seems to me more like a
clever conception than a poem; it strikes me that the poet himself
placed no great faith in his misty forms.

I could indeed have composed music for it in the same descriptive
style, as Neukomm and Fischhof, in Vienna. I might have introduced
a very novel rolling of drums in the bass, and blasts of trumpets
in the treble, and have brought in all sorts of hobgoblins. But I
love my serious elements of sound too well to do anything of the
sort; for this kind of thing always appears to me a joke; somewhat
like the painting's in juvenile spelling-books, where the roofs are
coloured bright red, to make the children aware they are intended
for roofs; and I should have been most reluctant to write out and
send you anything incomplete, or that did not entirely please
myself, because I always wish you to have the best I can


     Milan, July 14th, 1831.

This letter will probably be the last (D.V.) that I shall write to
you from an Italian city; I may possibly send you another from the
Borromean Islands, which I intend to visit in a few days, but do
not rely on this.

My week here has been one of the most agreeable and amusing that I
have passed in Italy; and how this could be the case in Milan,
hitherto utterly unknown to me, I shall now proceed to relate. In
the first place, I immediately secured a small piano, and attacked
with _rabbia_ that endless "Walpurgis Night," to finish the thing
at last; and to-morrow morning it will be completed, except the
overture; for as yet I have not quite made up my mind whether it
shall be a grand symphony, or a short introduction breathing of
spring. I should like to take the opinion of some adept on this
point. I must say the conclusion has turned out better than I
myself expected. The hobgoblins and the bearded Druid, with the
trombones sounding behind him, diverted me immensely, and so I
passed two forenoons very happily.

'Tasso' also contributed to my pleasure, which I have now for the
first time been able to read with facility; it is a splendid poem.
I was glad to be already well acquainted with Goethe's 'Tasso;'
being constantly reminded of it by the principal passages of the
Italian poet, whose verse, like that of Goethe, is so dreamy,
harmonious, and tender, its sweet melody delighting the ear. Your
favourite passage, dear father, "Era la notte allor," struck me as
very beautiful, but the stanzas that I admire most, are those
descriptive of Clorinda's death; they are so wonderfully
imaginative, and fine. The close however does not quite please me.
Tancred's 'Lamentations' are, I think, more charmingly composed
than true to nature; they contain too many clever ideas and
antitheses; and even the words of the hermit, which soothe him,
sound more like a censure on the hermit himself. I should
infallibly have killed him on the spot, if he had talked to me in
such a strain.

Recently I was reading the episode of 'Armida' in a carriage,
surrounded by a company of Italian actors, who were incessantly
singing Rossini's "Ma trema, trema," when suddenly there recurred
to my thoughts Gluck's "Vous m'allez quitter," and Rinaldo's
falling asleep, and the voyage in the air--and I felt in a most
melting mood. This is genuine music; thus have men felt, and thus
have men spoken, and such strains can never die. I do cordially
hate the present licentious style. Do not take it amiss; your motto
is, Without hatred, no love,--and I did feel so moved when I
thought of Gluck, and his grand embodiments.

Every evening I was in society, owing to a mad prank, which however
proved very successful. I think I have invented this kind of
eccentric proceeding, and may take out a patent for it, as I have
already made my most agreeable acquaintances _ex abrupto_, without
letters or introductions of any kind.

I asked by chance on my arrival at Milan the name of the
Commandant, and the _laquais de place_ named General Ertmann. I
instantly thought of Beethoven's Sonata in A major, and its
dedication; and as I had heard all that was good of Madame
Ertmann, from those who knew her; that she was so kind, and had
bestowed such loving care on Beethoven, and played herself so
beautifully, I, next morning, at a suitable hour for a visit, put
on a black coat, desired that the Government-house should be
pointed out to me, and occupied myself on the way thither by
composing some pretty speeches for the General's lady, and went on

I cannot however deny that I felt rather dismayed when I was told
that the General lived in the first story, facing the street; and
when I was fairly in the splendid vaulted hall, I was seized with a
sudden panic, and would fain have turned back: but I could not help
thinking that it was vastly provincial on my part to take fright at
a vaulted hall, so I went straight up to a group of soldiers
standing near, and asked an old man in a short nankeen jacket, if
General Ertmann lived there, intending then to send in my name to
the lady. Unluckily the man replied, "I am General Ertmann: what is
your pleasure?" This was unpleasant, as I was forced to have
recourse to the speech I had prepared. The General, however, did
not seem particularly edified by my statement, and wished to know
whom he had the honour of addressing. This also was far from
agreeable, but fortunately he was acquainted with my name, and
became very polite: his wife, he said was not at home, but I should
find her at two o'clock, or any hour after that which might suit

I was glad that all had gone off so well, and in the meantime went
to the Brera, where I passed the time in studying the 'Sposalizio'
of Raphael, and at two o'clock I presented myself to Freifrau
Dorothea von Ertmann. She received me with much courtesy, and was
most obliging, playing me Beethoven's Sonata in C sharp minor, and
the one in D minor. The old General, who now appeared in his
handsome grey uniform, covered with orders, was quite enchanted,
and had tears of delight in his eyes, because it was so long since
he had heard his wife play; he said there was not a person in Milan
who cared to hear what I had heard. She mentioned the trio in B
major, but said she could not remember it. I played it, and sang
the other parts: this enchanted the old couple, and so their
acquaintance was soon made.

Since then their kindness to me is so great that it quite
overwhelms me. The old General shows me all the remarkable objects
in Milan; in the afternoon his lady takes me in her carriage to
drive on the Corso, and at night we have music till one o'clock in
the morning. Yesterday at an early hour they drove with me in the
environs; at noon I dined with them, and in the evening there was a
party. They are the most agreeable and cultivated couple you can
imagine, and both as much in love with each other as if they
were a newly wedded pair,--and yet they have been married for
four-and-thirty years. Yesterday he spoke of his profession, of
military life, of personal courage, and similar subjects, with a
degree of lucidity, and liberality of feeling, that I scarcely
ever met with, except in my father. The General has been now an
officer for six-and-forty years, and you should really see him
galloping beside his wife's carriage in the park,--the old
gentleman looking so dignified and animated!

She plays Beethoven's works admirably, though it is so long since
she studied them; she sometimes rather exaggerates the expression,
dwelling too long on one passage, and then hurrying the next; but
there are many parts that she plays splendidly, and I think I have
learned something from her. When sometimes she can bring no more
tone out of the instrument, and begins to sing in a voice that
emanates from the very depths of her soul, she reminds me of you,
dear Fanny, though you are infinitely her superior. When I was
approaching the end of the adagio in the B major trio, she
exclaimed, "The amount of expression here is beyond any one's
playing;" and it is quite true of this passage.

The following day, when I went there again to play her the symphony
in C minor, she insisted on my taking off my coat, as the day was
so hot. In the intervals of our music she related the most
interesting anecdotes of Beethoven, and that when she was playing
to him in the evening he not unfrequently used the snuffers as a
tooth-pick! She told me that when she lost her last child,
Beethoven at first shrank from coming to her house; but at length
he invited her to visit him, and when she arrived, she found him
seated at the piano, and simply saying, "Let us speak to each
other by music," he played on for more than an hour, and, as
she expressed it, "he said much to me, and at last gave me
consolation." In short I am now in the most genial mood, and quite
at my ease, having no occasion to resort to any disguise, or to be
silent, for we understand each other admirably on all points. She
played the Kreutzer Sonata yesterday with violin accompaniment, and
when the violin-player (an Austrian cavalry officer) made a long
flourish, _à la_ Paganini, at the beginning of the adagio, the old
General made such a desperate grimace, that I nearly fell off my
chair from laughing.

I called on Teschner, as you, dear mother, desired me to do so;
such a musician however is as depressing as a thick fog. Madame
Ertmann has more soul in her little finger than that fellow has in
his whole body, with his formidable moustaches, behind which he
seems to lie in ambush. There is no public music in Milan; they
still speak with enthusiasm of last winter, when Pasta and Rubini
sang here, but say that they were miserably supported, and the
orchestra and choruses bad. I however heard Pasta six years ago in
Paris, and I can do the same every year, with the addition of a
good orchestra and a good chorus, and many other advantages; so it
is evident that if I wish to hear Italian music, I must go to Paris
or to England. The Germans however take it amiss when you say this,
and persist _par force_ in singing, playing, and acquiring new
ideas here, declaring this is the land of inspiration; while I
maintain that inspiration is peculiar to no country, but floats
about in the air.

Two days ago I was in the morning theatre here, and was amused.
There you can see more of the life of the people than in any other
part of Italy. It is a large theatre with boxes, the pit filled
with wooden benches, on which you can find places if you come
early; the stage is like every other stage, but there is no roof
either over the pit or boxes, so that the bright sun shines into
the theatre and into the eyes of the actors. Moreover, the piece
they gave was in the Milanese dialect. You feel as if you were
secretly watching all these complicated and diverting situations,
and might take part in them if necessary, and thus the most
familiar comic dilemmas become novel and interesting; and the
public seem to feel the most lively interest in them. And now, good
night. I wished to talk to you a little before going to bed, and so
it has become a letter.



     Milan, July 15th, 1831.

You reproach me with being two-and-twenty without having yet
acquired fame. To this I can only reply, had it been the will of
Providence that I should be renowned at the age of two-and-twenty,
I no doubt should have been so. I cannot help it, for I no more
write to gain a name, than to obtain a Kapellmeister's place. It
would be a good thing if I could secure both. But so long as I do
not actually starve, so long is it my duty to write only as I feel,
and according to what is in my heart, and to leave the results to
_Him_ who disposes of other and greater matters. Every day,
however, I am more sincerely anxious to write exactly as I feel,
and to have even less regard than ever to external views; and when
I have composed a piece just as it sprang from my heart, then I
have done my duty towards it; and whether it brings hereafter fame,
honour, decorations, or snuff-boxes, etc., is a matter of
indifference to me. If you mean, however, that I have neglected, or
delayed perfecting myself, or my compositions, then I beg you will
distinctly and clearly say in what respect and wherein I have done
so. This would be indeed a serious reproach.

You wish me to write operas, and think I am unwise not to have done
so long ago. I answer, place a right libretto in my hand, and in
two months the work shall be completed, for every day I feel more
eager to write an opera. I think that it may become something fresh
and spirited, if I begin it now; but I have got no words yet, and I
assuredly never will write music for any poetry that does not
inspire me with enthusiasm. If you know a man capable of writing
the libretto of an opera, for Heaven's sake tell me his name, that
is all I want. But till I have the words, you would not wish me to
be idle--even if it were possible for me to be so?

I have recently written a good deal of sacred music; that is quite
as much a necessity to me, as the impulse that often induces people
to study some particular book, the Bible, or others, as the only
reading they care for at the time. If it bears any resemblance to
Sebastian Bach, it is again no fault of mine, for I wrote it just
according to the mood I was in; and if the words inspired me with a
mood akin to that of old Bach, I shall value it all the more, for I
am sure you do not think that I would merely copy his form, without
the substance; if it were so, I should feel such disgust and such a
void, that I could never again finish a composition. Since then I
have written a grand piece of music which will probably impress the
public at large--the first "Walpurgis Night" of Goethe. I began it
simply because it pleased me, and inspired me with fervour, and
never thought that it was to be performed; but now that it lies
finished before me, I see that it is quite suitable for a great
_Concertstück_, and you must sing the Bearded Pagan Priest at my
first subscription concert in Berlin. I wrote it expressly to suit
your voice; and as I have hitherto found that the pieces I have
composed with least reference to the public are precisely those
which gave them the greatest satisfaction, so no doubt it will be
on this occasion also. I only mention this to prove to you that I
do not neglect _the practical_. To be sure this is invariably an
after-thought, for who the deuce could write music, the most
unpractical thing in the world--the very reason why I love it so
dearly--and yet think all the time of the practical! It is just as
if a lover were to bring a declaration of love to his mistress in
rhyme and verse, and recite it to her.

I am now going to Munich, where they have offered me an opera, to
see if I can find a man there who is a poet, for I will only have a
man who has a certain portion of fire and genius. I do not expect a
giant, and if I fail in meeting with a poet there, I shall probably
make Immermann's acquaintance for this express purpose, and if he
is not the man either, I shall try for him in London. I always
fancy that the right man has not yet appeared; but what can I do to
find him out? He certainly does not live in the Reichmann Hotel,
nor next door; so where does he live? Pray write to me on this
subject; although I firmly believe that a kind Providence, who
sends us all things in due time when we stand in need of them, will
supply this also if necessary; still we must do our duty, and look
round us--and I do wish the libretto were found.

In the meantime I write as good music as I can, and hope to make
progress, and we already agreed, when discussing this affair in my
room, that, as I said before, I am not responsible for the rest.
But enough now of this dry tone. I really have become once more
almost morose and impatient, and yet I had so firmly resolved never
again to be so!

     Lucerne, August 27th, 1831.

I quite feel that any opera I were to write now, would not be
nearly so good as any second one I might compose afterwards; and
that I must first enter on the new path I propose to myself, and
pursue it for some little time, in order to discover whither it
will lead, and how far it will go, whereas in instrumental music I
already begin to know exactly what I really intend. Having worked
so much in this sphere, I feel much more clear and tranquil with
regard to it--in short, it urges me onwards. Besides, I have been
made very humble lately, by a chance occurrence that still dwells
on my mind.

In the valley of Engelberg I found Schiller's "Wilhelm Tell," and
on reading it over again, I was anew enchanted and fascinated by
such a glorious work of art, and by all the passion, fire, and
fervour it displays. An expression of Goethe's suddenly recurred to
my mind. In the course of a long conversation about Schiller, he
said that Schiller had been able to _supply_ two great tragedies
every year, besides other poems. This business-like term _supply_,
struck me as the more remarkable on reading this fresh, vigorous
work; and such energy seemed to me so wonderfully grand, that I
felt as if in the course of my life I had never yet produced
anything of importance; all my works seem so isolated. I feel as if
I too must one day _supply_ something. Pray do not think this
presumptuous; but rather believe that I only say so because I know
what _ought_ to be, and what _is not_. Where I am to find the
opportunity, or even a glimpse of one, is hitherto to me quite a
mystery. If however it be my mission, I firmly believe that the
opportunity will be granted, and if I do not profit by it another
will; but in that case I cannot divine why I feel such an impulse
to press onwards. If you could succeed in not thinking about
singers, decorations, and situations, but feel solely absorbed in
representing men, nature, and life, I am convinced that you would
yourself write the best libretto of any one living; for a person
who is so familiar with the stage as you are, could not possibly
write anything undramatic, and I really do not know what you could
wish to change in your poetry. If there be an innate feeling for
nature and melody, the verses cannot fail to be musical, even
though they sound rather lame in the libretto; but so far as I am
concerned, you may write prose if you like, I will compose music
for it. But when one form is to be moulded into another, when the
verses are to be made musically, but not _felt_ musically, when
fine words are to replace outwardly what is utterly deficient in
fine feeling inwardly--there you are right--this is a dilemma from
which no man can extricate himself; for as surely as pure metre,
happy thoughts, and classical language do not suffice to make a
good poem, unless a certain flash of poetical inspiration pervades
the whole, so an opera can only become thoroughly musical, and
accordingly thoroughly dramatic, by a vivid feeling of life in all
the characters.

There is a passage on this subject in Beaumarchais, who is censured
because he makes his personages utter too few fine thoughts, and
has put too few poetical phrases into their mouths. He answers,
that this is not his fault. He must confess that during the whole
time he was writing the piece, he was engaged in the most lively
conversation with his _dramatis personæ_: that while seated at his
writing table he was exclaming: "Figaro, prends garde, le Comte
sait tout!--Ah! Comtesse, quelle imprudence!--vite, sauve-toi,
petit page;" and then he wrote down their answers, whatever they
chanced to be,--nothing more. This strikes me as being both true
and charming.

The sketch of the opera introducing an Italian Carnival, and the
close in Switzerland, I already knew, but was not aware that it was
yours. Be so good however as to describe Switzerland with great
vigour, and immense spirit. If you are to depict an effeminate
Switzerland, with _jodeln_ and languishing, such as I saw here in
the theatre last night in the 'Swiss Family,' when the very
mountains and Alpine horns became sentimental, I shall lose all
patience, and criticize you severely in Spener's paper. I beg you
will make it full of animation, and write to me again on the

     Isola Bella, July 24th, 1831.

You no doubt imagine that you inhale the fragrance of
orange-flowers, see blue sky, and a bright sun, and a clear lake,
when you merely read the date of this letter. Not at all! The
weather is atrocious, rain pouring down, and claps of thunder heard
at intervals;--the hills look frightfully bleak, as if the world
were enshrouded in clouds; the lake is grey, and the sky sombre. I
can smell no orange-flowers, and this island might quite as
appropriately be called "Isola Brutta!" and this has gone on for
three days! My unfortunate cloak! I am confessedly the "spirit of
negation" (I refer to my mother), and as it is at present the
fashion with every one not to consider the Borromean Islands "by
any means so beautiful," and somewhat formal; and as the weather
seems resolved to disgust me with this spot,--from a spirit of
opposition I maintain that it is perfectly lovely. The approach to
these islands, where you see crowded together green terraces with
quaint statues, and many old-fashioned decorations, along with
verdant foliage, and every species of southern vegetation, has a
peculiar charm for me, and yet something affecting and solemn too.
For what I last year saw in all the luxuriance and exuberance of
wild nature, and to which my eye had become so accustomed, I find
now cultivated by art, and about to pass away from me for ever.
There are citron-hedges and orange-bushes; and sharp-pointed aloes
shoot up from the walls--it is just as if, at the end of a piece,
the beginning were to be repeated; and this, as you know, I
particularly like.

In the steamboat was the first peasant girl I have seen here in
Swiss costume; the people speak a bad half-French Italian. This is
my last letter from Italy, but believe me the Italian lakes are not
the least interesting objects in this country; _anzi_,--I never saw
any more beautiful. People tried to persuade me that the gigantic
forms of the Swiss Alps that have haunted me from my childhood[17]
had been exaggerated by my imagination, and that after all a snowy
mountain was not in reality so grand as I thought. I almost dreaded
being undeceived, but at first sight of the foreground of the Alps
from the Lake of Como, veiled in clouds, with here and there a
surface of bright snow, sharp black points rearing their heads, and
sinking precipitously into the lake, the hills first scattered over
with trees and villages, and covered with moss, and then bleak and
desolate, and on every side deep ravines filled with snow,--I felt
just as I formerly did, and saw that I had exaggerated nothing.

  [17] The whole family had been in Switzerland in the year 1821.

In the Alps all is more free, more sharply defined; more
uncivilized, if you will: yet I always feel there both healthier
and happier. I have just returned from the gardens of the Palace,
which I visited in the midst of the rain. I wished to imitate
Albano,[18] and sent for a barber to open a vein: he however
misunderstood my purpose, and shaved me instead,--a very pardonable
mistake. Gondolas are landing on every part of the island, for
to-day is the fête following the great festival of yesterday, in
honour of which the P. P. Borromeo sent for singers and musicians
from Milan, to sing and play to the islanders. The gardener asked
me if I knew what a wind instrument was. I said with a clear
conscience that I did; and he replied that I ought to try to
imagine the effect of thirty such instruments, and violins and
basses, all played at once; but indeed I could not possibly imagine
it, for it must be heard to be believed. The sounds (continued he)
seemed to come from Heaven, and all this was produced by
_philharmony_. What he meant by this term I know not; but the music
had evidently made more impression on him, than the best orchestra
often does on musical connoisseurs. At this moment some one has
just begun to play the organ in the church for Divine service, in
the following strain:--


Full organ in the bass, Bourdon 16, and reed stops, have a very
fine effect. The fellow has come all the way from Milan, too,
expressly to make this disturbance in the church. I must go there
for a little, so farewell for a few moments. I intend to remain
here for the night, instead of crossing the lake again, for I am so
much pleased with this little island. I certainly cannot say that I
have slept soundly for the last two nights; one night owing to the
innumerable claps of thunder, the next owing to the innumerable
fleas; and, in all probability, I have to-night the prospect of
both combined. But as the following morning I shall be speaking
French, and have left Italy, and crossed the Simplon, I mean to
ramble about all this day and to-morrow in true Italian fashion.

  [18] In the 'Titan' of Jean Paul.

I must now relate to you historically how I happened to come here.
At the very last moment of my stay in Milan, the Ertmanns came to
my room to bid me farewell, and we took leave of each other more
cordially than I have done of any one for many a long day. I
promised to send you many kind wishes from them, though they are
unacquainted with you, and I also agreed to write to them
occasionally. Another valued acquaintance I made there, is Herr
Mozart, who holds an office in Milan; but he is a musician, heart
and soul. He is said to bear the strongest resemblance to his
father, especially in disposition; for the very same phrases that
affect the feelings in his father's letters, from their candour and
simplicity, constantly recur in the conversation of the son, whom
no one can fail to love from the moment he is known. For instance,
I consider it a very charming trait in him, that he is as jealous
of the fame and name of his father, as if he were an incipient
young musician; and one evening, at the Ertmanns', when a great
many of Beethoven's works had been played, the Baroness asked me in
a whisper to play something of Mozart's, otherwise his son would be
quite mortified; so when I played the overture to "Don Juan," he
began to thaw, and begged me to play also the overture to the
"Flauto Magico" of his "_Vatter_," and seemed to feel truly filial
delight in hearing it: it is impossible not to like him.

He gave me letters to some friends near the Lake of Como, which
procured me for once a glimpse of Italian provincial life, and I
amused myself famously there for a few days with the Doctor, the
Apothecary, the Judge, and other people of the locality. There were
very lively discussions on the subject of Sand, and many expressed
great admiration of him; this appeared strange to me, as the
occurrence is of such distant date that no one any longer argues on
the subject. They also spoke of Shakspeare's plays, which are now
being translated into Italian. The Doctor said that the tragedies
were good, but that there were some plays about witches that were
too stupid and childish: one, in particular, "Il Sonno d' una Notte
di Mezza State." In it the stale device occurred of a piece being
rehearsed in the play, and it was full of anachronisms and childish
ideas; on which they all chimed in that it was very silly and
advised me not to read it.[19] I remained meekly silent, and
attempted no defence! I bathed frequently in the Lake, and
sketched, and yesterday rowed on the Lake of Lugano, which frowned
sternly on us with its cascades and dark canopy of clouds; then
across the hills to Luvino, and to-day I came here by steam.

  [19] The overture to the "Midsummer Night's Dream" was composed
  by Mendelssohn as early as the year 1826.

_Evening._--I have this moment returned from the Isola Madre, and
most splendid it is; spacious, and full of terraces, citron-hedges,
and evergreen shrubs. The weather has at last become less
inclement; thus the large white house on the island, with its ruins
and terraces, looked very pretty. It is indeed a unique land, and I
only wish I could bring with me to Berlin a portion of the same
balmy air that I inhaled when in the boat to-day. You have nothing
like it, and I would rather you enjoyed it, than all the people who
imbibe it here. A fiercely moustachioed German was with me in the
boat, who examined all the beautiful scenery as if he were about to
purchase it and thought it too dear. Presently I heard a trait
quite in the style of Jean Paul. When we were walking on the
island, surrounded by verdure, an Italian, who was of the party,
observed that this was a spot well adapted for lovers to ramble in,
and to enjoy the charms of nature. "Ah! yes!" said I, in a
languishing tone. "It was on this account," continued he, "that I
separated from my wife ten years ago; I established her at Venice
in a small tobacconist's shop, and now I live as I please. You must
one day do the same."

The old boatman told us that he had rowed General Bonaparte on this
lake, and related various anecdotes of him and Murat. He said Murat
was a most extraordinary man; all the time that he was rowing him
on the lake, he never ceased singing to himself for a single
moment, and once when setting off on a journey he gave him his
spirit-flask, and said he would buy another for himself in Milan. I
cannot tell why these little traits, especially the singing, seemed
to realize the man in my mind more than many a book of history.

The "Walpurgis Nacht" is finished and revised, and the overture
will soon be equally far advanced. The only person who has heard it
as yet, is Mozart, and he was so delighted with it that the
well-known composition caused me fresh pleasure; he insisted on my
publishing it immediately. Pray forgive this letter, written in
true student phraseology. You no doubt perceive from its style that
I have not worn a neckcloth for a week past; but I wished you to
know how gay and happy I have been during the days spent among the
mountains, and with what pleasure I look forward to those that yet
await me.

         Yours, FELIX.

     A l'Union-prieuré de Chamounix, end of July, 1831.

     My dear Parents,

I cannot refrain from writing to you from time to time, to thank
you for my wondrously beautiful journey; and if I ever did so
before, I must do so again now, for more delightful days than those
on my journey hither, and during my stay here, I never experienced.
Fortunately you already know this valley, so there is no occasion
for me to describe it to you; indeed, how could I possibly have
done so? But this I may say, that nowhere has nature in all her
glory met my eyes in such brightness as here, both when I saw it
with you for the first time and now; and as every one who sees it,
ought to thank God for having given him faculties to comprehend,
and to appreciate such grandeur, so I must also thank you for
having supplied me with the means of enjoying such a pleasure.

I had been told that I exaggerated the forms of the mountains in my
imagination; but yesterday, at the hour of sunset, I was pacing up
and down in front of the house, and each time that I turned my back
on the mountains, I endeavoured vividly to represent to myself
these gigantic masses, and each time when I again faced them, they
far exceeded my previous conceptions. Like the morning that we
drove away from this when the sun was rising[20] (no doubt you
remember it) the hills have been clear and lovely ever since I
arrived. The snow pure, and sharply defined, and apparently near in
the dark blue atmosphere; the glaciers thundering unremittingly,
as the ice is melting; when clouds gather, they lie lightly on the
base of the mountains, the summits of which stand forth clear
above. Would that we could see them together! I have passed this
whole day here quietly, and entirely alone. I wished to sketch the
outlines of the mountains, so I went out and found an admirable
point of view, but when I opened my book, the paper seemed so very
small that I hesitated about attempting it. I have indeed succeeded
in giving the outlines what is called _correctly_,--but every
stroke looks so formal, when compared with the grace and freedom
which everywhere here pervade nature. And then the splendour of
colour! In short, this is the most brilliant point of my travels;
and the whole of my excursion on foot, so solitary, independent,
and enjoyable, is something new to me, and a hitherto unknown

  [20] In the year 1821.

I must however relate how I came here, otherwise my letter at last
will contain nothing but exclamations. As I previously wrote to
you, I had the most odious weather on the Lago Maggiore, and the
Islands. It continued so incessantly stormy, cold, and wet, that
the same evening I took my place in the diligence in rather a sulky
humour, and we drove on towards the Simplon. Scarcely had we been
journeying for half an hour, when the moon came out, the clouds
dispersed, and next morning the weather was most bright and
beautiful. I felt almost ashamed of this undeserved good fortune,
and I could now thoroughly enjoy the glorious scenery; the road
winding first through high green valleys, then through rocky
ravines and meadows, and at last past glaciers and snowy mountains.
I had with me a little French book on the subject of the Simplon
road, which both pleased and affected me; for the subject was
Napoleon's correspondence with the _Directoire_ about the projected
work, and the first report of the General who crossed the mountain.
With what spirit and vigour these letters are written! and yet a
little swagger too, but with such a glow of enthusiasm that it
quite touched me, as I was driven along this capital level road by
an Austrian postilion. I compared the fire and poetry displayed in
every description contained in these letters (I mean those of the
subaltern General) with the eloquence of the present day, which
leaves you so terribly cold and is so odiously prosaic in all its
philanthropic views, and so lame--where there is plenty of
_fanfaronnade_, but no genuine youth--and I could not but feel that
a great epoch has passed away for ever. I was unable to divest
myself of the idea that Napoleon never saw this work--one of
his favourite conceptions--for he never crossed the Simplon
when the road was finished, and was thus deprived of this great
gratification. High up, in the Simplon village, all is bleak, and I
actually shivered from cold for the first time during the last year
and a half. A neat civil Frenchwoman keeps the inn on the summit,
and it would not be easy to describe the sensation of satisfaction
caused by its thrifty cleanliness, which is nowhere to be found in

We then descended into the Valais, as far as Brieg, where I stayed
all night, overjoyed to find myself once more among honest, natural
people, who could speak German, and who plundered me into the
bargain in the most infamous manner. The following day I drove
through the Valais--an enchanting journey: the road all along, like
those you have seen in Switzerland, ran between two lofty ranges of
mountains, their snowy peaks starting up at intervals, and through
avenues of green, leafy walnut-trees, standing in front of pretty
brown houses,--below, the wild grey Rhone,--past Lenk, and every
quarter of an hour a village with a little church. From Martigny I
travelled for the first time in my life literally on foot, and as I
found the guides too dear I went on quite alone, and started with
my cloak and knapsack on my shoulders. About a couple of hours
later I met a stout peasant lad, who became my guide, and also
carried my knapsack; and so we went on past Forclas to Trient, a
little dairy village, where I breakfasted on milk and honey, and
thence to the Col de Balme.

The whole valley of Chamouni, and Mont Blanc, with all its
precipitous glaciers, lay before me bathed in sunshine. A party of
gentlemen and ladies (one of the latter very pretty and young) came
from the opposite side on mules, with a number of guides; scarcely
had we all assembled under one roof, when subtle vapours began to
rise, shrouding first the mountain and then the valley, and at
last thickly covering every object, so that soon nothing was to be
seen. The ladies were afraid of going out into the fog, just as if
they were not already in the midst of it; at last they set off, and
from the window I watched the singular spectacle of the caravan
leaving the house, all laughing, and talking loudly in French and
English and _patois_. The voices presently became indistinct; then
the figures likewise; and last of all I saw the pretty girl in her
wide Scotch cloak; then only glimpses of grey shadows at intervals,
and they all disappeared. A few minutes later I ran down the
opposite side of the mountain with my guide; we soon emerged once
more into sunshine, and entered the green valley of Chamouni with
its glaciers; and at length arrived here at the Union. I have just
returned from a ramble to Montanvert, the Mer de Glace, and to the
source of the Arveiron. You know this splendid scenery, and so you
will forgive me, if, instead of going to Geneva to-morrow, I first
make the tour of Mont Blanc, that I may become acquainted with this
personage from the southern side also, which is I hear the most
striking. Farewell, dear parents! May we have a happy meeting!--Yours,


     Charney, August 6th, 1831.

     My dear Sisters,

You have, I know, read Ritter's "Afrika" from beginning to end, but
still I do not think you know where Charney is situated, so fetch
out Keller's old travelling map, that you may be able to accompany
me on my wanderings. Trace with your finger a line from Vevay to
Clarens, and thence to the Dent de Jaman; this line represents a
footpath; and where your finger has been my legs also went this
morning--for it is now only half-past seven, and I am still
fasting. I mean to breakfast here, and am writing to you in a neat
wooden room, waiting till the milk is made warm for me; without, I
have a view of the bright blue lake; and so I now begin my journal,
and mean to continue it as I best can during my pedestrian tour.

_After breakfast._--Heavens! here is a pretty business. My landlady
has just told me with a long face, that there is not a creature in
the village to show me the way across the Dent, or to carry my
knapsack, except a young girl; the men being all at work. I usually
set off every morning very early and quite alone, with my bundle on
my shoulders, because I find the guides from the inns both too
expensive and too tiresome; a couple of hours later I hire the
first honest-looking lad I see, and so I travel famously on foot. I
need not say how enchanting the lake and the road hither were; you
must recall for yourself all the beauties you once enjoyed there.
The footpath is in continued shade, under walnut-trees and up
hill,--past villas and castles,--along the lake which glitters
through the foliage; villages everywhere, and brooks and streams
rushing along from every nook, in every village; then the neat
tidy houses,--it is all quite too charming, and you feel so fresh
and so free. Here comes the girl with her steeple hat. I can tell
you she is vastly pretty into the bargain, and her name is Pauline;
she has just packed my things into her wicker basket. Adieu!

     Evening, Château d'Oex, candle-light.

I have had the most delightful journey. What would I not give to
procure you such a day! But then you must first become two youths
and be able to climb actively, and drink milk when the opportunity
offered, and treat with contempt the intense heat, the many rocks
in the way, the innumerable holes in the path, and the still larger
holes in your boots, and I fear you are rather too dainty for this;
but it was most lovely! I shall never forget my journey with
Pauline; she is one of the nicest girls I ever met, so pretty and
healthy-looking, and naturally intelligent; she told me anecdotes
about her village, and I in return told her about Italy; but I know
who was the most amused.

The previous Sunday, all the young people of _distinction_ in her
village had gone to a place far across the mountain, to dance there
in the afternoon. They set off shortly after midnight, arrived
while it was still dark, lighted a large fire and made coffee.
Towards morning the men had running and wrestling matches before
the ladies, (we passed a broken hedge testifying to the truth of
this;) then they danced, and were at home again by Sunday evening,
and early on Monday morning they all resumed their labours in the
vineyards. By Heavens, I felt a strong inclination to become a
Vaudois peasant, while I was listening to Pauline, when from above
she pointed out to me the villages where they dance when the
cherries are ripe, and others where they dance when the cows go to
pasture in the meadows and give milk. To-morrow they are to dance
in St. Gingolph; they row across the lake, and any one who can
play, takes his instrument with him; but Pauline is not to be of
the party, because her mother will not allow it, from dread of the
wide lake, and many other girls also do not go for the same reason,
as they all cling together.

She then asked my leave to say good-day to a cousin of hers, and
ran down to a neat cottage in the meadow; soon the two girls came
out together and sat on a bench and chattered; on the Col de Jaman
above, I saw her relations busily mowing, and herding the cows.

What cries and shouts ensued! Then those above began to _jodel_, on
which they all laughed. I did not understand one syllable of their
_patois_, except the beginning, which was, Adieu Pierrot! All these
sounds were taken up by a merry mad echo, that shouted and laughed
and _jodelled_ too. Towards noon we arrived at Allière. When I had
rested for a time, I once more shouldered my knapsack, for a fat
old man provoked me by offering to carry it for me; then Pauline
and I shook hands, and we took leave of each other. I descended
into the meadows, and if you do not care about Pauline, or if I
have bored you with her, it is not my fault, but that of the mode
in which I have described her; nothing could be more pleasant in
reality, and so was my further journey. I came to a cherry-orchard,
where the people were gathering the fruit, so I lay down on the
grass and ate cherries for a time along with them. I took my
mid-day rest at Latine, in a clean wooden house. The carpenter who
built it gave me his company to some roast lamb, and pointed out to
me with pride every table, and press, and chair.

At length I arrived here, at night, through dazzling green meadows,
interspersed with houses, surrounded by fir-trees and rivulets: the
church here stands on a velvet green eminence; more houses in the
distance, and still further away, huts and rocks; and in a ravine,
patches of snow still lying on the plain. It is one of those
idyllic spots such as we have seen together in Wattwyl, but the
village smaller and the mountains more green and lofty. I must
conclude however to-day by a high eulogy on the Canton de Vaud. Of
all the countries I know this is the most beautiful, and it is the
spot where I should most like to live when I become really old. The
people are so contented, and look so well, and the country also.
Coming from Italy it is quite touching to see the honesty that
still exists in the world,--happy faces, a total absence of
beggars, or saucy officials: in short, there is the most complete
contrast between the two nations. I thank God for having created so
much that is beautiful; and may it be His gracious will to permit
us all, whether in Berlin, England, or in the Château d'Oex, to
enjoy a happy evening and a tranquil night!

     Boltigen, August 7th, evening.

The lightning and thunder are terrific outside, and torrents of
rain besides; in the mountains you first learn respect for weather.
I have not gone further, for it would have been such a pity to
traverse the lovely Simmen valley under an umbrella. It was grey
morning, but delightfully cool for walking in the forenoon. The
valley at Saanen, and the whole road, is incredibly fresh and gay.
I am never weary of looking at the verdure. I do believe that if
during a long life I were always gazing at undulating verdant
meadows, dotted over with reddish-brown houses, I should always
experience the same pleasure in looking at them. The road winds the
whole way through meadows of this kind, and past running streams.

At noon I dined at Zweisimmen, in one of those enormous Bernese
houses, where everything glitters with neatness and cleanliness,
and where even the smallest detail is carefully attended to. I
there dispatched my knapsack by the diligence to Interlaken, and am
now about to walk as a regular pedestrian through the country; a
shirt in my pocket, a brush and comb, and my sketch-book, this is
all I require; but I am very tired. May the weather be fine

     Wimmis, the 8th.

A pretty affair! the weather is three times as bad as ever. I must
give up my plan of going to Interlaken to-day, as there is no
possibility of getting on. For the last few hours the water has
been pouring straight down, as if the clouds above had been fairly
squeezed out; the roads are as soft as feather-beds; only
occasional shreds of the mountains are to be seen, and even these
but rarely. I almost thought sometimes that I was in the Margravate
of Brandenburg, and the Simmen valley looked perfectly flat. I was
obliged to button my waistcoat tight over my sketch-book, for very
soon my umbrella was of no use whatever, and so I arrived here to
dinner about one o'clock. I had my breakfast in the following
place. [_Vide_ page 234.]

     Weissenburg, August 8th.

I sketched this on the spot with a pen, so do not laugh at the bold
stream. I passed the night very uncomfortably at Boltigen. There
was no room in the inn, owing to a fair, so I was obliged to lodge
in an adjacent house, where there were swarms of vermin quite as
bad as in Italy, a creaking house clock, striking hoarsely every
hour, and a baby that screeched the whole night. I really could not
help for a time noticing the child's cries, for it screamed in
every possible key, expressive of every possible emotion; first
angry, then furious, then whining, and when it could screech no
longer, it grunted in a deep bass. Let no one tell me that we must
wish to return to the days of our childhood, because children are
so happy. I am convinced that such a little mortal as this, flies
into a rage just as we do, and has also his sleepless nights, and
his passions, and so forth.


This philosophical view occurred to me this morning, while I was
sketching Weissenburg, and so I wished to communicate it to you on
the spot; but I took up the 'Constitutionnel,' in which I read
that Casimir Périer wishes to resign, and many other things that
furnish matter for reflection; among others a most remarkable
article on the cholera, which I should like to transcribe, for it
is so extraordinary. The existence of this disease is totally and
absolutely denied; only one person had it in Dantzic,--a Jew,--and
he got well. Then followed a number of "Hegelisms" in French, and
the election of the deputies--oh world!--As soon as I had finished
reading the paper, I was obliged to set off again in the rain
through the meadows. No such enchanting country as this is to be
seen, even in a dream; in the worst weather, the little churches,
and the numerous houses, and shrubs, and rills are still truly
lovely. The verdure to-day was quite in its element. Dinner has
been long over, and it is still pouring. I intend to go no further
than Spiez this evening. I regret much that I can neither see this
place, which seems beautifully situated, nor Spiez, which I know
from Rösel's sketches. This is, in fact, the climax of the whole
Simmen valley, and thence the old song says:--

  [Music: Hin-term Nie-sen, vorn am Nie-sen, sind die be-sten
  Al-pen im Sie-be-thal, Sie-be-thal,
  Sie-be-thal, Sie-be-thal, Sie-be-thal.]

I sang this the whole day while walking along. The Siebethal,
however, showed no gratitude for the compliment, and the rain
continued unremittingly.

     Wyler, evening.

They could not take me in at Spiez, for there is no inn there where
you can lodge, so I was obliged to return here. I very much admired
the situation of Spiez; it is built on a rock, which projects into
the lake, with numbers of turrets, and gables, and peaks. There I
saw a manor-house, with an orangery; a sulky-looking nobleman with
two sporting dogs at his heels; a little church, and terraces with
bright flowers. It was all very lovely. To-morrow I shall see it
from the other side, if the weather permits. To-day it has rained
for three hours consecutively, and I was well soaked on the way
here. The mountain streams are superb in such weather, for they
leap and rage furiously. I crossed one of these demons, the Kander,
which seemed to have taken leave of its senses, leaping and
blustering, and foaming; the water looked quite brown, and
scattered its yellow spray in all directions. A black peak of the
mountains was here and there visible through the rain-laden clouds,
which hung deeper into the valley than I ever before saw them. Yet
the day was most enjoyable.

     Wyler, the 9th, morning.

To-day the weather is worse than ever. It has rained the whole
night through, and this morning too it is pouring. I have however
intimated that I shall not set out in such weather, and if it
continues I shall write to you again to-night from Wyler. In the
meantime I have an opportunity of making acquaintance with my Swiss
host. They are very primitive. I could not get on my shoes, because
they had shrunk, owing to the rain. The landlady asked if I wished
to have a shoe-horn; and as I said I did, she brought me a
tablespoon; but it answered the purpose. And moreover they are
eager politicians. Over my bed hangs a horrible distorted face,
under which is written. "Brinz Baniadofsgi." If he had not a kind
of Polish costume, it would be difficult to discover whether it is
intended for a man or a woman, for neither the portrait itself nor
the inscription throw much light on the subject.

     Evening, at Untersee.

All jesting is turned into sad earnest, which in these days may
easily be the case. The storm has raged furiously, and caused great
damage and devastation; the people here say that they remember no
more violent storm and rain for many years; and the hurricane
rushes on with such incredible rapidity. This morning early the
weather was merely wet and disagreeable, and yet this afternoon all
the bridges are swept away, and every passage blocked up for the
moment. There has been a landslip at the Lake of Brienz, and
everything is in an uproar.

I have just heard here that war has been proclaimed in Europe; so
the world certainly bears a wild, bleak aspect at this time, and I
ought to feel thankful, that at all events for the present I have a
warm room here, and a comfortable roof over my head. The rain
ceased for a time early this morning, and I thought that the clouds
were fairly exhausted; so I left Wyler, but soon found that the
roads were sadly cut up; but worse was to come; the rain began
again gently, but came down so violently about nine o'clock, and in
such sudden squalls, that it was evident something strange was
brewing. I crept into a half built hut, where a great mass of
fodder was lying, and nestled comfortably among the fragrant hay. A
soldier of the Canton, who was on his way to Thun, also crept in
from the other side, and in the course of an hour, as the weather
did not improve, we went on our different paths.

I was obliged to take shelter again under a roof at Leisengen, and
waited there a long time; but as my luggage was at Interlaken, a
distance of only two hours from thence, I thought that I would set
the weather at defiance; so about one o'clock I set out for
Interlaken. There was literally nothing to be seen but the grey
surface of the lake,--no mountains, and seldom even the outlines of
the opposite shore. The little springs, which as you may remember
often run along by the footpaths, had swollen into streams,
through which I was obliged to wade; and where the road was hilly,
the waters accumulated in the hollows and formed a pool, so I was
forced to jump over dripping hedges, into marshy meadows; the small
blocks of wood--by means of which brooks are crossed here--lay deep
under the water; at one moment I found myself between two of these
brooks, which had run into each other, and for a considerable time
I was obliged to walk against the current, above my ankles in
water. All the streams are black, or chocolate-brown, looking like
earth flowing along. Torrents poured down from above; the wind
shook down the water from the dripping walnut-trees; the waterfalls
which tumble into the lake thundered frightfully from both shores.
You could trace the course of the brown muddy streaks, rushing
along through the pure waters of the lake, which, in the midst of
all this uproar, remained perfectly tranquil, its surface scarcely
ruffled, quietly receiving all the blustering streams that poured
into its bosom.

A man now came up, who had taken off his shoes and stockings, and
turned up his trowsers. This made me feel rather nervous. Presently
I met two women, who said that I could not go through the village,
for all the bridges were gone. I asked how far it was to
Interlaken. "A good hour," they said. I could not make up my mind
to turn back, so I went on towards the village, where the people
shouted to me from the windows, that I could come no further,
because the waters were rushing down so impetuously from the
mountains; and certainly there was a fine commotion in the middle
of the village. The muddy stream had swept everything along with
it, eddying round the houses, and running along the meadows and
footpaths, and finally thundering down into the lake. Luckily there
was a little boat there, in which I was ferried across to Neuhaus,
though this expedition in an open boat, in torrents of rain, was
far from pleasant. My condition, when I arrived at Neuhaus, was
miserable enough; I looked as if I wore long black boots over my
light-coloured trowsers, my shoes and stockings quite up to my
knees, dark brown; then came the original white, then a soaked blue
paletôt; even my sketch-book, that I had buttoned under my
waistcoat, was wet through.

I arrived in this plight at Interlaken, where I was very ill
received, for the people there either could not or would not find
room for me, and so I was forced to return to Untersee, where I am
famously lodged, and most comfortable. Singularly enough, I had
been all along anticipating with such pleasure revisiting the inn
at Interlaken, of which I had so many reminiscences, and I drove up
in my little Neuhaus carriage to the Nuss-Baum Platz, and saw the
well-known glass gallery; the pretty landlady, too, came to the
door, but somewhat aged and altered. Neither the dreadful storms,
nor the various discomforts I had endured, annoyed me half so much
as not being able to remain at Interlaken, consequently for the
first time since I left Vevay I was out of humour for half an hour,
and obliged to


sing Beethoven's adagio in A flat major, three or four times over,
before I could recover my equanimity. I learned here, for the first
time, the damage the storm had already done, and may yet do, for
the rain is still incessant.

_Half-past Nine o'clock at Night._--The bridge at Zweilütschenen is
carried away; the _vetturini_ from Brienz, and Grindelwald, will
not encounter the risk of driving home, from the fear of some rock
falling on their heads. The water here has risen to within a foot
and a half of the Aar bridge; the gloom of the sky I cannot
describe. I mean to wait here patiently; besides, I do not require
the aid of localities, to enable me to summon up my reminiscences.
They have given me a room where there is a piano; it indeed bears
the date of the year 1794, and somewhat resembles in tone the
little old "Silbermann" in my room at home, so I took a fancy to it
at the very first chord I struck, and it also recalls you to my
mind. This piano has outlived many things, and probably never
dreamt that I was likely to compose by its aid, as I was not born
till 1809, now fully two-and-twenty years ago; in the meantime, the
piano, though seven-and-thirty years old, has plenty of good
material in it yet.

I have some new "Lieder" in hand, dear sisters. You have not seen
my favourite one in E major "Auf der Reise,"--it is very
sentimental. I am now composing one which will not, I fear, be very
good; but it will, at all events, please us three, for it is at
least well intended. The words are Goethe's, but I don't say what
they are; it is very daring in me to compose for this poetry, and
the words are by no means suitable for music, but I thought them so
divinely beautiful, that I could not resist singing them to myself.
Enough for to-day; so good night, dear ones.

     August 10th.

The weather this morning is clear and bright, and the storm has
passed away; would that all storms ended as quickly, and were as
soon allayed! I have passed a glorious day, sketching, composing,
and inhaling fresh air. In the afternoon I went on horseback to
Interlaken, for no man can go there on foot at this moment. The
whole road is flooded, so that even on horseback I got very wet. In
this place, too, every street is inundated and impassable. How
beautiful Interlaken is! How humble and insignificant we feel when
we see how splendid the good Lord has made this world; and nowhere
can you see it in greater magnificence than here. I sketched for my
father one of the walnut-trees he so much admires, and for the same
reason I mean to send him a faithful drawing of one of the Bernese
houses. Various parties of ladies and gentlemen, and children,
drove past and stared at me; I thought to myself that they were now
enjoying the same luxury I formerly did, and would fain have called
out to them not to forget this! Towards evening, the snowy
mountains were glowing in the clearest outlines and in the
loveliest hues.

When I came back. I asked for some music paper, and they referred
me to their Pastor, and he to the Forest-ranger, whose daughter
gave me two pretty neat sheets. The "Lied" which I alluded to
yesterday is now finished; I cannot help after all telling you what
it is--but you must not laugh at me--it is actually,--but don't
think I am seized with hydrophobia--a sonnet, "Die Liebende
schreibt."[21] I am afraid its merit is not great; I think it was
more inwardly felt than outwardly well expressed; still there are
some good passages in it, and to-morrow I am going to set to music
a little poem of Uhland's; a couple of pieces for the piano are
also in progress. I can unfortunately form no judgment of my new
compositions; I cannot tell whether they are good or bad; and this
arises from the circumstance that all the people to whom I have
played anything for the last twelve months, forthwith glibly
declared it to be wonderfully beautiful, and that will never do. I
really wish that some one would let me have a little rational blame
once more, or what would be still more agreeable, a little
_rational_ praise, and then I should find it less indispensable to
act the censor towards myself, and to be so distrustful of my own
powers. Nevertheless, I must go on writing in the meantime.

  [21] In the "Liederheft," Opus 15 of his posthumous works.

When I was at the Forest-ranger's, I heard that the whole country
was devastated, and the most sad intelligence comes from all sides.
All the bridges in the Hasli valley are entirely swept away, and
also many houses and cottages. A man came here to-day from
Lauterbrunnen, and he was up to his shoulders in water; the high
road is ruined, and what sounded most dismal of all to me, a
quantity of furniture and household things were seen floating down
the Kander, coming no one knows whence. Happily the waters are
beginning to subside, but the damage they have done cannot so
easily be repaired. My travelling plans have also been considerably
disturbed by these inundations, for, if there be any risk, I shall
certainly not go into the mountains.

     The 11th.

So I now close the first part of my journal, and send it off to
you. To-morrow I shall begin a new one, for I intend then to go to
Lauterbrunnen. The road is practicable for pedestrians, and not an
idea of any danger; travellers from thence have come here to-day,
but for carriages, the road will not be passable during the
remainder of the year. I purpose, therefore, proceeding across the
Lesser Scheideck to Grindelwald, and by the Great Scheideck to
Meiringen; by Furka and Grimsel to Altorf, and so on to Lucerne;
storms, rain, and everything else permitting,--which means, if God
will. This morning early, I was on the Harder, and saw the
mountains in the utmost splendour. I never remember the Jungfrau so
clear and so glowing as both yesterday evening and at early dawn
to-day. I rode back to Interlaken, where I finished my sketch of
the walnut-tree. After that I composed for a time, and wrote three
waltzes for the Forest-ranger's daughter on the remaining
music-paper she had given me, politely presenting them to her
myself. I have just returned from a watery expedition to an
inundated reading-room, as I wished to see how the Poles are
getting on--unluckily there is no reference to them in the papers.
I must now occupy myself till the evening in packing, but I am most
reluctant to leave this room, where I am so comfortable, and shall
sadly miss my little piano. I intend to sketch the view from this
window with my pen on the back of my letter, and also to write out
my second "Lied," and then Untersee will soon also belong to my
reminiscences. "Ach! wie schnell!" I quote myself, which is not
over-modest, but these lines recur to me but too often when the
days are shortening, the leaves of the travelling map turned over,
and first Weimar, then Munich, and lastly Vienna, are all things of
the past year. Well! here you have my window! [_Vide_ page 246.]

_An hour later._--My plans are altered, and I stay here till the
day after to-morrow. The people say that by that time the roads
will be considerably better, and there is plenty here both to see
and to sketch. The Aar has not risen to such a height for seventy
years. To-day people were stationed on the bridge, with poles and
hooks, watching to catch any fragments of the broken-down bridges.
It did look so strange to see a black object come swimming along
in the distance from the hills, which was at last recognized to be
a piece of balustrade, or a cross-beam, or something of the sort,
when all the people made a rush at it, and tried to fish it up with
their hooks, and at length succeeded in dragging the monster out of
the water. But enough of water,--that is, of my journal. It is now
evening, and dark. I am writing by candle-light, and should he so
glad if I could knock at your door, and take my seat beside you at
the round table. It is the old story over again. Wherever it is
bright and cheerful, and I am well and happy, I most keenly feel
your absence, and most long to be with you again. Who knows,
however, whether we may not come here together in future years, and
then think of this day, as we now do of former ones? But as none
can tell whether this may ever come to pass, I shall meditate no
longer on the subject, but write out my "Lied," take another peep
of the mountains, wish you all happiness and good fortune, and thus
close my journal.


     Lauterbrunnen, August 13th, 1831.

I have just returned from an expedition on foot to the Schmadri
Bach, and the Breithorn. All that you can by possibility conceive
as to the grandeur and imposing forms of the mountains here, must
fall far short of the reality of nature. That Goethe could write
nothing in Switzerland but a few weak poems, and still weaker
letters, is to me as incomprehensible as many other things in this
world. The road here is again in a lamentable state; where, six
days ago, there was the most beautiful highway, there is now only a
desolate mass of rocks; numbers of huge blocks lying about, and
heaps of rubbish and sand. No trace whatever of human hands to be
seen. The waters, indeed, have entirely subsided, but they are
still in a troubled state, for from time to time you can hear the
stones tossed about, and the waterfalls also in the midst of their
white foam, roll down black stones into the valley.

My guide pointed out to me a pretty new house, standing in the
midst of a wild turbulent stream; he said that it belonged to his
brother-in-law and formerly stood in a beautiful meadow, which had
been very profitable; the man was obliged to leave the house during
the night; the meadow has disappeared for ever, and masses of
pebbles and stones have usurped its place. "He never was rich, but
now he is poor," said he, in concluding his sad story. The
strangest thing is, that in the very centre of this frightful
devastation,--the Lütschine having overflowed the whole extent
of the valley--among the marshy meadows, and masses of rocks,
where there is no longer even a trace of a road, stands a
_char-à-banc_--and is likely to stand for some time to come. It
chanced that the people in it wished to drive through at the very
time of the hurricane; then came the inundation, so they were
forced to leave the carriage and everything else to fate, thus the
_char-à-banc_ is still standing waiting there. It was a very
frightful sight when we reached the spot, where the whole valley,
with its roads and embankments, is a perfect rocky sea; and my
guide, who went first, kept whispering to himself, "'sisch
furchtbar!" The torrent had carried into the middle of the stream
some large trunks of trees, which are standing aloft; for at the
same moment some huge fragments of rocks having been flung against
them, the bare trees were closely wedged in betwixt them, and they
now stand nearly perpendicular in the bed of the river.

I should never come to an end were I to try to tell you all the
various forms of havoc which I saw between this place and
Untersee. Still the beauty of the valley made a stronger impression
on me than I can describe. It is much to be regretted, that when
you were in this country, you went no further than Staubbach; for
it is from there that the valley of Lauterbrunnen really begins.
The Schwarzer Mönch, and all the other snowy mountains in the
background, become more mighty and grand, and on every side bright
foaming cascades tumble into the valley. You gradually approach the
mountains covered with snow, and the glaciers in the background,
through pine woods, and oaks, and maple-trees. The moist meadows,
too, were covered with a profusion of brilliant flowers--snakewort,
the wild scabious, campanulas, and many others. The Lütschine had
accumulated masses of stones at the sides, having swept along
fragments of rocks, as my guide said, "bigger than a stove," then
the carved brown wooden houses, and the hedges; it is all beautiful
beyond measure! Unfortunately we could not get to the Schmadri
Bach, as bridges, paths, and fords, were all gone; but it was a
walk I can never forget.

I also tried to sketch the Mönch; but what can you hope to do with
a small pencil? Hegel indeed says, "that every single human thought
is more sublime than the whole of Nature;" but in this place I
consider that too presumptuous; the axiom sounds indeed very fine,
but is a confounded paradox nevertheless. I am quite contented, in
the meantime, to adhere to Nature, which is the safest of the two.
You know the situation of the inn here, and if you cannot recall
it, refer to my former Swiss drawing book, where you will find it
sketched, badly enough, and where I put in a footpath in front,
from imagination, which made me laugh heartily to-day, when I
thought of it. I am at this moment looking out of the same window,
and gazing at the dark mountains, for it is late in the evening,
that is, a quarter to eight o'clock, and I have an idea, which is
"more sublime than the whole of Nature"--I mean to go to bed; so
good night, dear ones.

     The 14th, ten o'clock in the forenoon.

From the dairy hut on the Wengern Alp, in heavenly weather, I send
you my greetings.

     Grindelwald, evening.

I could not write more to you early this morning; I was most
reluctant to leave the Jungfrau. What a day this has been for me!
Ever since we were here together I have wished to see the Lesser
Scheideck once more. So I woke early to-day, with some misgivings,
for so much might intervene--bad weather, clouds, rain, fogs--but
none of these occurred. It was a day as if made on purpose for me
to cross the Wengern Alp. The sky was flecked with white clouds,
floating far above the highest snowy peaks; no mists below on any
of the mountains, and all their pinnacles glittering brightly in
the morning air; every undulation, and the face of every hill,
clear and distinct. Why should I even attempt to portray it? You
have already seen the Wengern Alp, but at that time we had bad
weather, whereas to-day the whole mountain range was in holiday
attire. Nothing was wanting; from thundering avalanches, to its
being Sunday, and people dressed in their best going to church,
just as it was then.

The hills had only dwelt in my memory as gigantic peaks, for their
great altitude had entirely absorbed me. To-day I was struck with
amazement at the immense extent of their base, their solid,
spacious masses, and the connection of all these huge piles, which
seem to lean towards each other, and to reach out their hands to
one another. In addition to this you must imagine every glacier,
and snowy plateau, and point of rock, dazzlingly lighted up and
glittering. Then the far summits of distant mountain ranges
stretching hither, as if surveying the others. I do believe that
such are the thoughts of the Almighty. Those who do not yet know
Him, may here see Him, and the nature He created, visibly
displayed. Then the fresh, bracing air, which refreshes you when
weary, and cools you when it is warm,--and so many springs! I must
at some future time write you a separate treatise on springs, but I
have not time for it to-day, as I have something particular to tell

Now you will say, I suppose, he came down the mountain again, and
is going to inform us once more how beautiful Switzerland is. Not
at all. When I arrived at the herdsman's hut, I was told that in a
meadow far up the Alps, there was to be a great fête this very
day, and I saw people at intervals climbing the mountain. I was not
at all fatigued; an Alpine fête is not to be seen every day; the
weather said, _yes_; the guide was willing. "Let us go to
Intramen," said I. The old herdsman went first, so we were obliged
to climb very vigorously; for Intramen is more than a thousand feet
higher than the Lesser Scheideck. The herdsman was a ruthless
fellow, for he ran on before us like a cat; he soon took pity on my
guide, and relieved him of my cloak and knapsack, but even with
them he continued to push forward so eagerly that we really could
not keep up with him. The path was frightfully steep; he extolled
it, however, saying that there was a much nearer, but much steeper
track: he was about sixty years of age, and when my youthful guide
and I with difficulty surmounted a hill, we invariably saw him
descending the next one. We walked on for two hours in the most
fatiguing path I ever encountered; first a steep ascent, then down
again into a hollow, over heaps of crumbling stones, and brooks and
ditches, across two meadows covered with snow, in the most profound
solitude, without a footpath, or the most remote trace of the hand
of man; occasionally we could still hear the avalanches from the
Jungfrau; otherwise all was still, and not a tree to be seen.

When this silence and solitude had continued for some time, and we
had clambered to the top of a grassy acclivity, we suddenly came in
sight of a vast number of people standing in a circle, laughing,
speaking, and shouting. They were all in gay dresses, and had
flowers in their hats; there were a great many girls, some tables
with casks of wine, and all around deep solemn silence, and
tremendous mountains. It was singular that while I was in the act
of climbing, I thought of nothing but rocks and stones, and the
snow and the track; but the moment I saw human beings, all the rest
was forgotten, and I only thought of men, and their sports, and the
merry fête. It was really a fine sight. The scene was in a spacious
green meadow far above the clouds; opposite were the snowy
mountains in all their prodigious altitude, more especially the
dome of the great Eiger, the Schreckhorn, and the Wetterhörner, and
all the others as far as the Blümli's Alp; the Lauterbrunnen valley
lay far beneath us in the misty depths, quite small, as well as our
road of yesterday, with all the little cataracts like threads, the
houses like dots, and the trees like grass. Far in the background
the Lake of Thun occasionally glanced out of the mist.

The crowd now began wrestling, and singing, and drinking, and
laughing; all healthy, strong men. I was much amused by the
wrestling, which I had never before seen. The girls served the men
with _Kirschwasser_ and _Schnapps_; the flasks passed from hand to
hand, and I drank with them, and gave three little children some
cakes, which made them quite happy; a very tipsy old peasant sang
me some songs; then they all sang; then the guide favoured us with
a modern song; and then little boys fought. _Everything_ pleased
me on the Alps, and I remained lying there till towards evening,
and made myself quite at home. We descended rapidly into the
meadows below, and soon descried the familiar inn, and its windows
glittering in the evening sun; a fresh breeze from the glaciers
began to blow; this soon cooled us. It is now getting late, and
from time to time avalanches are heard,--so thus has my Sunday been
spent.--A fête-day indeed!

     On the Faulhorn, August 15th.

I am shivering with cold! Outside thick snow is falling, and the
wind raging and blustering. We are eight thousand feet above the
level of the sea, and a long tract of snow to traverse, but here I
am! Nothing can be seen; all day the weather has been dreadful.
When I remember how fine it was yesterday, while I earnestly wish
that it may be as fine to-morrow, it reminds me of life, for we are
always hovering between the past and the future. Our excursion of
yesterday seems as far past and remote, as if I knew it only from
old memories, and had scarcely been present myself; for to-day when
during five mortal hours we were struggling on, against rain and
fog, sticking in the mud, and seeing nothing round us but grey
vapours, I could scarcely realize that it ever was or ever will be
again fine weather, or that I ever lay idly stretched on this wet
marshy grass. Besides, everything here wears such a wintry aspect;
heated stoves, thick snow, cloaks, freezing, shivering people. I am
at this moment in the highest inn in Europe; and just as in St.
Peter's, you look down on every church, and on the Simplon, upon
every road, so from hence I look down on all other inns; but not
_morally_, for this is little more than a few wooden planks. Never
mind. I am now going to bed, and I will no longer watch my own
breath. Good night! "Tom's a cold."

     Hospital, August 18th.

I have not been able to open my journal for two or three days, as
when night came I had no longer time for anything, but to dry
myself and my clothes at the fire, to warm myself, to sigh over the
weather, like the stove behind which I took refuge, and to sleep a
good deal; besides, I did not wish to try your patience, by my
everlasting repetitions of how deep I had sunk in the mud, and how
incessantly it rained, and so forth. During the last few days in
reality I went through the most beautiful country, and yet saw
nothing but thick fogs, and water in the sky, and from the sky, and
on the earth. I passed places that I had long wished to visit,
without being able to enjoy them; what also damped my writing mood,
was being obliged to battle with the weather, and if it continues
the same, I shall only write occasionally, for really I should have
nothing to say, but "a grey sky--rain and fog." I have been on the
Faulhorn, the Great Scheideck, on Grimsel Spital, and to-day I
crossed Grimsel and Furka, and the principal objects I have seen
were the points of my shabby umbrella, and I had not even a glimpse
of the huge mountains. At one moment, to-day, the Finsteraarhorn
came to light, but it looked as savage as if it wished to devour
us; and yet if we were a single half-hour without rain, it was
truly beautiful. A journey on foot through this country, even in
the most unfavourable weather, is the most enchanting thing you can
possibly imagine; if the sky were bright, I think the excess of
pleasure would be quite overpowering; I must not therefore complain
too much of the weather, for I have had my full share of enjoyment.

During the last few days I felt like Tantalus. When I was on the
Scheideck, a glimpse of the lower part of the Wetterhorn was
sometimes visible through the clouds, and it seemed beyond measure
magnificent and sublime; but I only saw the base. On the Faulhorn,
I could not distinguish objects fifty paces off, although I stayed
there till ten o'clock in the morning. We went down to the
Scheideck in a heavy snow-storm, by a very wet and difficult path,
which the incessant rain had made worse than usual. We arrived at
Grimsel Spital in rain and storm. To-day I wished to have ascended
the Sidelhorn, but was obliged to give it up on account of the fog.
The Mayenwand was shrouded in grey clouds, and we had only a single
peep of the Finsteraarhorn, when we were on the Furka. We also
arrived here in a torrent of rain and water everywhere, but all
this does not signify. My guide is a capital fellow: if it rains,
he sings and _jodels_; if it is fine, so much the better; and
though I failed in seeing some of the finest objects, still I saw a
great deal that was interesting.

On this occasion I have formed a particular friendship for the
glaciers; they are indeed, the most marvellous monsters in the
world. How strangely they are all tumbled about; here, a row of
jagged points, there, toppling crags, and above, towers and
bastions, while on every side, crevices and ravines are visible,
all of the most wondrous pure ice, that rejects all soil of earth,
casting up again on the surface the stones, sand, and gravel, flung
down by the mountains. Then the superb colouring, when the sun
shines on them, and their mysterious advance--they sometimes move
on a foot and a half in a single day, so that the people in the
village are in the greatest anxiety and alarm, when the glacier
arrives so quietly, and yet with such irresistible force, for it
shivers rocks and stones when they lie in the way--then the ominous
crashing and thundering, and the rushing of so many springs near
and round. They are splendid miracles. I was in the Rosenlaui
glacier, which forms a kind of cave, that you can creep through; it
looks as if built of emeralds, only more transparent. Above,
around, on all sides, you can see rivulets running between the
clear ice. In the centre of this narrow passage, the ice has left a
large round window, through which you look down on the valley, and
issue forth again under an arch of ice, and high above, black peaks
rear their heads, from which masses of ice roll down in the boldest
undulations. The glacier of the Rhone is the most imposing that I
have seen, and the sun burst forth on it as we passed early this
morning. This is a suggestive sight, and you get a casual glimpse
of the rocky peak of a mountain, a plateau covered with snow,
cataracts, and bridges spanning them, and masses of crumbling
stones and rocks; in short, even if you see little in Switzerland,
it is at all events more than is to be seen in any other country.

I have been drawing very busily, and think I have made some
progress. I even tried to sketch the Jungfrau; it will at least
serve as a reminiscence, and I can enjoy the thought that these
strokes were actually made on the spot itself. I see people rushing
through Switzerland, and declaring that they find nothing to admire
there, or anywhere else (except themselves); not the least affected
nor roused, remaining cold and prosaic, even in presence of the
mountains; when I meet such people I should like to give them a
good drubbing. Two Englishmen and an English lady are at this
moment sitting beside me near the stove; they are as wooden as
sticks. We have been travelling the same road for a couple of days,
and I declare the people have never uttered a syllable except of
abuse, that there were no fireplaces either on the Grimsel, or
here; but that there are _mountains_ here, is a fact to which they
never allude; their whole journey is occupied in scolding their
guide, who laughs at them, in quarrelling with the innkeepers, and
in yawning in each others' faces. They think everything
commonplace, because they are themselves commonplace, therefore
they are not happier in Switzerland than they would be in Bernau.
I maintain that happiness is relative; another would thank God that
he could see all this, and so I will be that other!

     Fluelen, August 19th.

A day made for a journey; fine, and enjoyable, and bracing. When we
wished to start this morning at six o'clock, there was such a storm
of sleet and snow that we were obliged to wait till nine o'clock,
when the sun came forth, the clouds dispersed, and we had
delightful bright weather as far as this place; but now sombre
clouds, heavy with rain, have collected over the lake, so that no
doubt to-morrow the old troubles will break loose again. But how
glorious this day has been, so clear and sunny--we had the most
charming journey! You know the St. Gothard Road in all its beauty;
you lose much by coming down from above, instead of ascending from
this point, for the grand surprise of the Urner Loch is entirely
lost, and the new road which has been made, with all the grandeur,
as well as convenience, of the Simplon, impairs the effect of the
Devil's Bridge: inasmuch as close beside it a new arch, much bolder
and larger, has been constructed, which makes the old bridge look
quite insignificant, but the ancient crumbling walls look much more
romantic and picturesque. Though the view of Andermatt is thus
lost, and the new Devil's Bridge far from being poetical, still you
go merrily downhill all day, on a delightfully smooth road, flying
rapidly past the various localities, and instead of being sprinkled
by the foam of the waterfall on the old bridge as formerly, and
endangered by the wind, you now pass along far above the stream,
between two ranges of solid parapets.

We came past Göschenen and Wasen and presently appeared the huge
firs and beech-trees close to Amsteg; then the charming valley of
Altorf, with its cottages, meadows, and woods, its rocks and snowy
mountains. We rested at Altorf in a Capuchin Convent, situated on a
height; and finally, here I am on the banks of the Vierwaldstadt
Lake. To-morrow I purpose crossing the lake to Lucerne, where I
hope to find letters from you. I shall then also get rid of a party
of young people from Berlin, who have been pursuing almost the same
route with me, meeting me at every turn, and boring me terribly;
the patriotism of a lieutenant, a dyer, and a young carpenter,--all
three bent on destroying France,--was peculiarly distasteful to me.

     Sarnen, the 20th.

I crossed the Vierwaldstadt Lake early this morning, in a continued
pour of rain, and found your welcome letter of the 5th in Lucerne.
As it contained nothing but good tidings, I immediately arranged a
tour of three days to Unterwalden and the Brünig. I intend to call
again at Lucerne for your next letter, and then I am off to the
West, and out of Switzerland. I shall take leave of it with deep
regret. The country is beautiful beyond all conception; and though
the weather is again odious,--rain and storms the whole day, and
all through the night,--yet the Tellen Platte, the Grütli, Brunnen
and Schwytz, and the dazzling green of the meadows this evening in
Unterwalden, are too lovely ever to be forgotten. The hue of this
green is most unique, refreshing the eye and the whole being. I
shall certainly attend to your kind precautionary injunctions, dear
Mother, but you need be under no apprehensions about me. I am by no
means careless with regard to my health, and have not, for a long
time, felt so well as during my pedestrian excursions in
Switzerland. If eating, and drinking, and sleeping, and music in
one's head, can make a man healthy, then, God be praised, I may
well call myself so; for my guide and I vie with each other in
eating and drinking, and not less so unluckily in singing. In
sleeping alone I surpass him; and though I sometimes disturb him by
my trumpet or oboe tones, he in turn cuts short my morning sleep.
Please God, therefore, we shall have a happy meeting. Before that
time arrives, however, many a page of my journal must yet travel to
you; but even this interval will quickly pass, just as everything
quickly passes, except indeed what is best of all!--so let us be
true and loving to each other.


     Engelberg, August 23rd, 1831.

My heart is so full that I must tell you about it. In this
enchanting valley I have just taken up Schiller's "Wilhelm Tell,"
and read half of the first scene; there is surely no genius like
that of Germany! Heaven knows why it is so, but I do think that no
other nation could fully comprehend such an opening scene, far less
be able to compose it. This is what I call a poem, and a beginning;
first the pure, clear verse, in which the lake, smooth as a mirror,
and all else, is so vividly described, and then the slow
commonplace Swiss talk, and Baumgarten coming in,--it is quite
glorious! How fresh, how powerful, how exciting! We have no such
work as this in music, and yet even that sphere ought one day to
produce something equally perfect. It is so admirable in him too,
to have created an entire Switzerland for himself, inasmuch as he
never saw it, and yet all is so faithful and so strikingly
truthful; the people and life, the scenery and nature. I was
delighted when the old innkeeper here, in a solitary mountain
village, brought me from the monastery the book with the well-known
characters and old familiar names; but the opening again quite
surpassed all my expectations. It is now more than four years since
I read it. I mean presently to go over to the monastery, to work
off my excitement on the organ.


Do not be astonished at my enthusiasm, but read the scene through
again yourself, and then you will find my excitement quite natural.
Such passages as those where all the shepherds and hunters shout
"Save him! save him!" in the close at the Grütli, when the sun is
about to rise, could indeed only have occurred to a German, and
above all to Schiller; and the whole piece is crowded with similar
passages. Let me refer to that particular one at the end of the
second scene, where Tell comes with the rescued Baumgarten to
Stauffacher, and the agitating conference closes in such
tranquillity and peace: this, along with the beauty of the thought,
is so thoroughly Swiss. Then the beginning of the Grütli--the
symphony which the orchestra ought to play at the end I composed in
my mind to-day, because I could do nothing satisfactory on the
little organ: altogether a variety of plans and ideas occurred to
me. There is a vast deal to do in this world, and I mean to be
industrious. The expression that Goethe made use of to me, that
Schiller could have _supplied_ two great tragedies every year, with
its business-like tone, always inspired me with particular respect:
but not till this morning did the full force of its signification
become clear to me, and it has made me feel that I must set to work
in earnest. Even the mistakes are captivating, and there is
something grand in them; and though certainly Bertha, Rudenz, and
old Attinghausen, seem to me great blemishes, still Schiller's idea
is evident, and he was in a manner forced to do as he has done; and
it is consolatory to find that even so great a man could for once
commit such an egregious mistake.

I have passed a most enjoyable morning, and I feel in the kind of
mood which makes you long to recall such a man to life, in order to
thank him, and inspiring an earnest desire, one day, to compose a
work which shall impress others with similar feelings.

Probably you do not understand what induced me to take up my
quarters here in Engelberg. It happened thus:--I have not had a
single day's rest since I left Untersee, and therefore wished to
remain for a day at Meiringen, but was tempted by the lovely
weather in the morning, to come on here. The usual rain and wind
assailed me on the mountains, and so I arrived very tired. This is
the nicest inn imaginable,--clean, tidy, very small and rustic,--an
old white-haired innkeeper; a wooden house, situated in a meadow, a
little apart from the road; and the people so kind and cordial,
that I feel quite at home. I think this kind of domestic comfort is
only to be found among those who speak the German tongue; at all
events, I never met with it anywhere else; and though other nations
may not feel the want of it, or scarcely care about it, still _I_
am a native of Hamburg, and so it makes me feel happy and at home.
It is not therefore strange that I decided on taking my day's rest
here with these worthy old people. My room has windows on every
side, commanding a view of the valley: the room is prettily
panelled with wood; some coloured texts and a crucifix are hanging
on the walls; there is a solid green stove, and a bench encircling
it, and two lofty bedsteads. When I am lying in bed I have the
following view:--


I have failed again in my buildings, and in the hills too, but I
hope to make a better sketch of it for you in my book, if the
weather is tolerable to-morrow. I shall always consider this valley
to be one of the loveliest in all Switzerland. I have not yet seen
the gigantic mountains by which it is encompassed, as they have
been all day shrouded in mist; but the beautiful meadows, the
numerous brooks, the houses, and the foot of the hills, so far as I
could see them, are exquisitely lovely. The green of the
Unterwalden is more brilliant than in any other canton, and it is
celebrated for its meadows even among the Swiss. The previous
journey too from Sarnen was enchanting, and never did I see larger
or finer trees, or a more fruitful country. Moreover the road is
attended with as few difficulties as if you were traversing a large
garden; the declivities are clothed with tall slender beeches; the
stones overgrown by moss and herbs; then there are springs, brooks,
small lakes, and houses: on one side is a view of the Unterwalden
and its green plains; and shortly after a view of the whole vale of
Hasli, the snowy mountains, and cataracts leaping down from rocky
precipices; the road too is shaded the whole way by enormous trees.

Yesterday, early, as I told you, I was tempted by the bright sun to
cross the Genthel valley to ascend the Joch, but on the summit the
most dreadful weather set in; we were obliged to make our way
through the snow, and this was sometimes anything but pleasant. We
speedily, however, emerged out of the sleet and snow, and an
enchanting moment ensued, when the clouds broke, while we were
still standing in them; and far beneath us, we saw through the
mists as through a black veil, the green valley of Engelberg. We
soon made our way down, and heard the silvery bell of the monastery
ring out the Ave Maria. We next saw the white building on the
meadow, and arrived here after an expedition of nine hours. I need
not say how acceptable at such a time is a comfortable inn, and how
good the rice and milk seems, and how long you sleep next morning.

To-day we have had very disagreeable weather, so they brought me
"Wilhelm Tell" from the library of the monastery, and the rest you
know. I was much struck by Schiller having so completely failed in
portraying Rudenz, for the whole character is feeble, and without
sufficient motive, and it seems as if he had resolved purposely to
represent him throughout, in the worst possible light. His words,
in the scene with the apple, might tend to redeem him, but being
preceded by that with Bertha, they make no impression. When he
joins the Swiss, after the death of Attinghausen, it might be
supposed that he is changed, but he instantly proclaims that his
Bertha is carried off, so again he has as little merit as ever. It
occurred to me that if he had uttered the very same manly words
against Gessler, without the explanation with Bertha having
previously taken place, and if such a result had arisen out of this
in the following act, the character would have been much better,
and the explanatory scene not so merely theatrical as it now is.
This is certainly very like the egg and the hen, but I should like
to hear your opinion on the subject. I dare not speak to one of our
learned men on such matters; these gentlemen are a vast deal too
wise! If however I chance some of these days to meet one of those
youthful modern poets, who look down on Schiller, and only partly
approve of him; so much the worse for him, for I must infallibly
crush him to death.

Now, good night; I must rise very early to-morrow; it is to be a
grand fête to-day in the monastery, and a solemn religious service,
and I am to play the organ for them. The monks were listening this
morning while I was extemporizing a little, and were so pleased,
that they invited me to play the people in and out at their
festival to-morrow. The father organist has also given me the
subject on which I am to extemporize; it is better than any that
would have occurred to an organist in Italy.


I shall see to-morrow what I can make of this. I played a couple of
new pieces of mine on the organ this afternoon in the church, and
they sounded rather well. When I came past the monastery the same
evening, the church was closed, and scarcely were the doors shut,
when the monks began to sing nocturns fervently, in the dark
church; they intoned the deep B, which vibrated splendidly, and
could be heard far down the valley.

     August 24th.

This has been another splendid day--the weather bright and
enjoyable, and the bluest sky that I have seen since I left
Chamouni; it was a holiday in the village, and in all the
mountains. After long-continued fogs, and every variety of bad
weather, once more to see from the window in the morning the clear
range of mountains and their pinnacles, is indeed a grand
spectacle. They are acknowledged to be finest after rain, and
to-day they looked as fresh as if newly created. This valley is not
surpassed by any in Switzerland. If I ever return here this shall
be my head-quarters, for it is even more lovely, and more spacious
and unconfined than Chamouni, and more free than Interlaken. The
Spann-örter are incredibly grand peaks, and the round Titlis
heavily laden with snow, the foot of which lies in the meadows, and
the effect of the Urner rocks in the distance, are also well worth
seeing: it is now full moon, and the valley is clothed in beauty.

This whole day I have done nothing but sketch, and play the organ:
in the morning I performed my duties as organist--it was a grand
affair. The organ stands close to the high altar, next to the
stalls for the "patres;"--so I took my place in the midst of the
monks, a very Saul among the prophets. An impatient Benedictine at
my side played the double bass, and others the violins; one of
their dignitaries was first violin. The _pater præceptor_ stood in
front of me, sang a solo, and conducted with a long stick, as thick
as my arm. The _élèves_ in the monastery formed the choir, in their
black cowls; an old decayed rustic played on an old decayed oboe,
and at a little distance two more were puffing away composedly at
two huge trumpets with green tassels; and yet with all this the
affair was gratifying. It was impossible not to like the people,
for they had plenty of zeal, and all worked away as well as they
could. A mass, by Emmerich, was given, and every note of it
betrayed its "powder and pigtail." I played thorough-bass
faithfully from my ciphered part, adding wind instruments from time
to time, when I was weary; made the responses, extemporized on the
appointed theme, and at the end, by desire of the Prelate, played a
march, in spite of my repugnance to do this on the organ, and was
then honourably dismissed.

This afternoon I played again alone to the monks, who gave me the
finest subjects in the world--the "Credo" among others--a
_fantasia_ on the latter was very successful; it is the only one
that in my life I ever wished I could have written down, but now I
can only remember its general purport, and must ask permission to
send Fanny, in this letter, a passage that I do not wish to forget.
By degrees various counter subjects were introduced in opposition
to the _canto fermo_; first dotted notes, then triplets, at last
rapid semiquavers, through which the "Credo" was to work its way;
quite at the close, the semiquavers became very wild, and arpeggios
followed on the whole organ in G minor. I proceeded to take up the
theme on the pedal in long notes (during the continued arpeggios),
so that it ended with A. On the A, I made a pedal point in
arpeggios, and then it suddenly occurred to me to play the
arpeggios with the left hand alone, so that the right hand could
introduce the "Credo" again in the treble with A, thus:--



This was followed by a stop on the last note, and a pause, and then
it concluded. I wish you had heard it, for I am sure you would have
been pleased. It was time for the monks to go to _complines_, and
we took leave of each other cordially. They wished to give me
letters of introduction for some other places in Unterwalden, but I
declined this, as I intend to go to Lucerne early to-morrow, and
after that I expect not to be more than five or six days longer in



     Lucerne, August 27th, 1831.

I wish to offer you my thanks, but I really do not know where to
begin first; whether for the pleasure your songs caused me in
Milan, or for your kind letter which I received yesterday; both
however are closely connected, and so I think we have already made
acquaintance. It is quite as fitting that we should be presented to
each other through the medium of music-paper, as by a third person
in society; indeed I think that in the former case you feel even
more intimate and confidential. Moreover, persons who introduce any
one often pronounce the name so indistinctly, that you seldom know
who is standing before you; and they never say one word as to
whether the man is gay and good-humoured, or melancholy and gloomy.
So we are infinitely better off. Your songs have pronounced your
name clearly and plainly; they also disclose what you think and
what you are; that you love music, and wish to make progress; so
thus perhaps I know you better than if we had frequently met.

What a source of pleasure it is, and how cheering, to know there is
another musician in the world who has the same purposes and
aspirations, and who follows the same path as yourself; perhaps you
cannot feel this so strongly as I do at this moment, who have just
come from a country where music no longer exists among the people.
I never before could have believed this of any nation, and least of
all of Italy, with such rich and luxuriant nature, and such
glorious, inspiriting antecedents. But alas! the occurrences I
latterly witnessed there, fully proved to me that even more than
harmony is dead in that land; it would indeed be marvellous if any
music could exist where there is no solid principle. At last I was
really bewildered, and thought that I must have become a
hypochondriac, for all the buffoonery I saw was most distasteful to
me, and yet a vast number of serious people and sedate citizens
entered into it. When they played me anything of their own, and
afterwards praised and extolled my pieces, I cannot tell you how
repugnant it was to me; I felt disposed to become a hermit, with
beard and cowl, and the whole world was at a discount with me. In
Italy you first learn to value a true musician; that is, one whose
thoughts are absorbed in _music_, and not in money, or decorations,
or ladies, or fame; it is doubly delightful when you find that,
without your being aware of it, your own ideas exist and are
developed elsewhere; your songs therefore gave me especial
pleasure, because I could gather from them that you must be a
genuine musician, and so let us mutually stretch out our hands
across the mountains.

I beg that you will also look on me in the light of a friend, and
not write so formally as to my "counsel" and "teaching." This
portion of your letter makes me feel almost nervous, and I scarcely
know what to say; the most agreeable part however is your promise
to send me something to Munich, and to write to me again. I will
then tell you frankly and freely my honest opinion, and you shall
do the same with regard to my new compositions, and thus I think we
shall give each other good counsel. I am very eager to see those
recent works of yours that you have promised me, for I do not doubt
that I shall receive much gratification from them, and many things
which are only foreshadowed in the former songs, will probably in
these become manifest and distinct. I shall therefore say nothing
to-day of the impression your songs have made on me, because
possibly any suggestion or question may be already answered in what
you are about to send me. I earnestly entreat of you to write to me
fully, and in detail, about yourself, in order that we may become
better acquainted. I can then write to you what I purpose and what
I think, and thus we shall continue in close connection.

Let me know what you have recently composed and are now composing;
your mode of life in Berlin, and your plans for the future; in
short all that concerns your musical life, which will be of the
greatest interest to me. Probably this will be obvious in the music
you have so kindly promised me, but fortunately both may be
combined. Have you hitherto composed nothing on a greater scale;
some wild symphony, or opera, or something of the kind? I, for my
part, feel at this moment the most invincible desire to write an
opera, and yet I have scarcely leisure even to commence any work,
however small. I do believe that if the libretto were to be given
to me to-day, the opera would be written by to-morrow, so strong
is my impulse towards it. Formerly the bare idea of a symphony was
so exciting, that I could think of nothing else when one was in my
head; the sound of instruments has such a solemn and glorious
effect; and yet for some time past I have laid aside a symphony
that I had commenced, in order to compose on a cantata of Goethe's
merely because it included, besides the orchestra, voices and a
chorus. I intend now, indeed, to complete the symphony, but there
is nothing I so strongly covet as a regular opera.

Where the libretto is to come from I know less than ever since last
night, when for the first time for more than a year I saw a German
æsthetic paper. The German Parnassus seems in as disorganized a
condition as European politics. God help us! I was obliged to
digest the supercilious Menzel, who presumed modestly to depreciate
Goethe,--and the supercilious Grabbe, who modestly depreciates
Shakspeare,--and the philosophers who proclaim Schiller to be
rather trivial! Is this new, arrogant, overbearing spirit, this
perverse cynicism, as odious to you as it is to me? and are you of
the same opinion with myself, that the first and most indispensable
quality of any artist is to feel respect for great men, and to bow
down in spirit before them; to recognize their merits, and not to
endeavour to extinguish their great flame, in order that his own
feeble rushlight may burn a little brighter? If a person be
incapable of feeling true greatness, I should like to know how he
intends to make _me_ feel it? And as all these people, with their
airs of contempt, only at last succeed in producing imitations of
this or that particular form, without any presentiment of free,
fresh, creative power, unfettered by individual opinion, or
æsthetics or criticism, or the whole world besides; as this is the
case, do they not deserve to be abused? and I do abuse them. Pray
do not take this amiss; perhaps I have gone too far. But, it was
long since I had read anything of the kind, and it vexes me to see
that such folly still goes on, and that the philosopher who
maintains that art is dead, still persists in declaring that it is
so; as if art could in reality ever die.

These are truly strange, wild, and troubled times; and let those
who feel that art is no more, allow it for Heaven's sake to rest in
peace; but however roughly the storm may rage without, it cannot so
quickly succeed in sweeping away the dwelling; and he who works on
quietly within, fixing his thoughts on his own capabilities and
purposes, and not on those of others, will see the hurricane blow
over, and afterwards find it difficult to realize that it ever was
so violent as it appeared at the time. I have resolved to act thus
so long as I can, and to pursue my path steadily, for at all events
no one will deny that music still exists, and that is the chief

How cheering it is to meet with a person who has chosen the same
object and the same means as yourself! and I would fain tell you
how gratifying each new corroboration of this is to me, but I
scarcely know how to do so. You must imagine it for yourself, and
your own thoughts must supply any deficiencies; so farewell! Pray
let me hear from you soon, and frequently. I beg to send my kindest
wishes to our dear friend Berger;[22] I have been long intending to
write to him, but have never yet accomplished it. I shall certainly
however do so one of these days. Forgive this long, dry letter,
next time it shall be more interesting, and now once more


  [22] Ludwig Berger, Mendelssohn's instructor on the piano.

     Righi Culm, August 30th, 1831.

I am on the Righi! I need say no more, for you know this mountain.
What can be more grand or superb? I left Lucerne early this
morning. All the mountains were obscured, and the weather-wise
prophesied bad weather. As however I have always found that the
very opposite of what the wise people say invariably occurs! I
tried to make out signs for myself, though hitherto, in spite of
their aid, I have found my predictions quite as false as those of
the others; but this morning I really thought the weather very
tolerable; still, as I did not wish to begin my ascent while all
was still shrouded in vapour (for the Faulhorn had taught me
caution), I spent the whole morning in sauntering round the foot
of the Righi, gazing eagerly upwards, to see if the mists were
likely to clear off. At last, about twelve o'clock, at Küssnacht, I
stood on the cross path leading towards the Righi to the right, and
Immensee to the left; and making up my mind not to see the Righi on
this occasion, I took a tender farewell of it, and went through the
Hohle Gasse to the Lake of Zug, along a charming path, past the
water, to Arth; but could not resist frequently glancing at the
summit of the Righi Culm, to see if it was becoming clearer; and
while I was dining at Arth it did clear up. The wind was very
favourable, the clouds lifted on every side; so I made up my mind
to begin the ascent.

There was no time to lose, however, if I wished to witness the
sunset; so I went along at a steady mountain pace, and in the
course of two hours and three-quarters I reached the Culm, and the
well-known house. I then became aware that there were about forty
men standing on the top, uplifting their hands in admiration, and
making signs in a state of the greatest excitement. I ran up, and a
new and wondrous sight it was. All the valleys were filled with
fogs and clouds, and above them the lofty, snowy crests of the
mountains and the glaciers and black rocks stood out bright and
clear. The mists swept onwards, veiling a portion of the scenery;
then came forth the Bernese Alps, the Jungfrau, the Mönch, and the
Finsteraarhorn; then Titlis, and the Unterwalden mountains. At last
the whole range was distinctly visible; the clouds in the valleys
now also began to roll away, disclosing the lakes of Lucerne and
Zug, and towards the hour of sunset, only thin streaks of bright
vapour still floated on the landscape. Coming from the Alp, and
then looking towards the Righi, it was as if the overture and other
portions were repeated at the end of an opera. All the spots whence
you have seen such sublime scenery, the Wengern Alp, the Wetter
Hörner, the valley of Engelberg, here meet the eye once more in
close vicinity, and you can take leave of them all. I had imagined
that it was only at first, when still ignorant of the glaciers,
that so great an impression was made, from the influence of
surprise, but I think the effect at the last is even more striking
than ever.

     Schwytz, August 31st.

Yesterday and to-day I gratefully recalled the happy auspices under
which I first made acquaintance with this part of the world. The
remembrance of your profound admiration of these wonders, elevating
you above every-day life, has contributed not a little to awaken
and to quicken my own perception of them. I often to-day recurred
to your delight, and the deep impression it made on me at the time.
So the Righi is evidently disposed to be gracious to our family,
and in consequence of this kindly feeling towards us, conferred on
me to-day a sunrise quite as brilliant and splendid as when you
were here. The waning moon, the lively Alpine horn, the
long-protracted rosy dawn which first stole over the cold.
shadowy, snowy mountains, the white clouds on the Lake of Zug, the
clear, sharp peaks bending towards each other in all directions,
the light which gradually crept on the heights, the restless,
shivering people, wrapped in coverlets, the monks from Maria zum
Schnee, nothing was wanting.

I could not tear myself away from this spectacle, and remained on
the summit for six consecutive hours, gazing at the mountains. I
thought that when next I saw them there might be many changes, so I
wished to imprint the sight indelibly on my memory. People came and
went, and talked of these anxious, troubled times, of politics, and
of the grand mountain range before us.

Thus the morning passed away, and at last, at half-past ten
o'clock, I was obliged to go; indeed it was high time, as I wished
to get to Einsiedel the same day, by Hacken. On my way, however, in
the steep path leading to Lowerz, my trusty old umbrella, which
also served me as a mountain staff, broke to pieces; this detained
me, so that I preferred remaining here, and to-morrow I hope to be
quite fresh for a start.

     Wallenstadt, September 2nd.

(Year of rains and storms.) Motto of the copper-smith--"If you
can't sing a new song, then begin the old one afresh." Here am I
again in the midst of fogs and clouds, unable to go either
backwards or forwards, and if fortune specially favours us, we may
have a slight inundation into the bargain. When I crossed the lake,
the boatmen prophesied very fine weather, consequently the rain
began half an hour later, and is not likely soon to cease, for
there are piles of heavy, gloomy clouds, such as you can only see
on the mountains. If it were twice as bad three days hence, I
should not care, but it would be grievous indeed if Switzerland
were to take leave of me with so ill-omened an aspect.

I have this moment returned from the church, where I have been
playing the organ for three hours, far into the twilight: an old
man, a cripple, blew the bellows for me, and except him, there was
not a single soul in the church. The only stops I found available,
were a very weak croaking flute, and a quavering deep pedal
diapason, of sixteen feet. I contrived to extemporize with these
materials, and at last subsided into a choral melody in E minor,
without being able to remember what it was. I could not get rid of
it, when all at once it occurred to me that it was a Litany, the
music of which was in my head because the words were in my heart,
so then I had a wide field, and plenty of food for extemporizing.
At length the consumptive deep bass resounded quite alone in E
minor, thus:--


etc. and then came in its turn the flute, high up in the treble,
with the choral in the same key, and so the sounds of the organ
gradually died away, and I was obliged to stop, from the church
being so dark.

In the meantime there was a terrible hurricane of wind and rain
outside, and not a trace of the grand lofty rocky precipices; the
most dreary weather! and then I read some dreary newspapers, and
everything wore a grey hue. Tell me, Fanny, do you know Auber's
"Parisienne?" I consider it the very worst thing he has ever
produced, perhaps because the subject was really sublime, and for
other reasons also. Auber alone could have been guilty of composing
for a great nation, in the most violent state of excitement, a
cold, insignificant piece, quite commonplace, and trivial. The
_refrain_ revolts me every time I think of it,--it is as if
children were playing with a drum, and singing to it--only more
objectionable. The words also are worthless; little antitheses and
points are quite out of place here. Then the emptiness of the
music! a march for acrobats, and at the end a mere miserable
imitation of the "Marseillaise." Such music is not what this epoch
demands. Woe to us _if_ it be indeed what suits this epoch,--if a
mere copy of the Marseillaise Hymn be all that is required. What in
the latter is full of fire, and spirit, and impetus, is in the
former ostentatious, cold, calculated, and artificial. The
"Marseillaise" is as superior to the "Parisienne" as everything
produced by genuine enthusiasm must be, to what is made for a
purpose, even if it be with a view to promote enthusiasm; it will
never reach the heart, because it does not come from the heart.

By the way, I never saw such a striking identity between a poet and
a musician, as between Auber and Clauren. Auber faithfully renders
note for note, what the other writes word for word--braggadocio,
degrading sensuality, pedantry, epicurism, and parodies of foreign
nationality. But why should Clauren be effaced from the literature
of the day? Is it prejudicial to any one that he should remain
where he is? and do you read what is really good with less
interest? Any young poet must indeed be degenerate, if he does not
cordially hate and despise such trash; but it is only too true that
the people like him; so it is all very well, it is only the
people's own loss. Write me your opinion of the "Parisienne." I
sometimes sing it to myself for fun, as I go along; it makes a man
walk like a chorister in a procession.

     Sargans, September 3rd, noon.

Wretched weather! it has rained all night, and all the morning too,
and the cold as severe as in winter; deep snow is lying on the
adjacent hills. There has been again a tremendous inundation in
Appenzell, which has done the greatest damage, and destroyed all
the roads. At the Lake of Zurich, there are numbers of pilgrimages,
and processions, on account of the weather. I was obliged to drive
here this morning, as all the footpaths were covered with mud and
water. I shall remain till to-morrow, when the diligence passes
through at an early hour, and I intend to go with it up the valley
of the Rhine, as far as Altstetten.

To-morrow I shall probably have reached, or crossed, the boundaries
of Switzerland, for my pleasure excursion is now over. Autumn is
arrived, and I have no right to complain if I pass a few tiresome
days, after so many enchanting ones, that I can never forget. On
the contrary, I think I almost like it; there is always enough to
be done, even in Sargans, (a wretched hole,) and in a regular
deluge, like that of to-day--for happily an organ is always to be
found in this country; they are certainly small, and the lower
octave, both in the key-board and the pedal, imperfect, or as I
call it, crippled; but still they are organs, and that is enough for

I have been playing all this morning, and really begun to practise,
for it is a shame that I cannot play Sebastian Bach's principal
works. I intend, if I can manage it, to practise for an hour every
day in Munich, as after a couple of hours' work to-day, I certainly
made considerable progress with my feet (_nota bene_, sitting).
Ritz once told me that Schneider, in Dresden, played him the D
major fugue, in the "wohl-temperirten Clavier," on the organ,
supplying the bass with the pedal.


This had hitherto appeared to me so fabulous, that I could never
properly comprehend it. It recurred to me this morning when I was
playing the organ, so I instantly attempted it, and I at least see
that it is far from being impossible, and that I shall accomplish
it. The subject went pretty well, so I practised passages from the
D major fugue, for the organ, from the F major toccata, and the G
minor fugue, all of which I knew by heart. If I find a tolerable
organ in Munich, and not an imperfect one, I will certainly conquer
these, and feel childish delight at the idea of playing such pieces
on the organ. The F major toccata, with the modulation at the
close, sounded as if the church were about to tumble down; what a
giant that Cantor was!

Besides organ-playing, I have a good many sketches to finish, in my
new drawing book, (one was entirely filled in Engelberg) and then I
must eat like six hundred wrestlers. After dinner I practise the
organ again, and thus a rainy day passes at Sargans. It seems
prettily situated, with a castle on the hill, but I cannot go a
step beyond the door.

_Evening._--Yesterday at this time, I still projected a pedestrian
tour, and wished at all events to go through the whole of the
Appenzell. It was a strange feeling when I learned that all
mountain excursions were probably at an end for this year: the
heights are covered with deep snow, for just as it has rained here,
in the valley, for thirty-six hours, it has snowed incessantly on
the hills above. The flocks have been obliged to come down into the
valley from the Alps, where they ought to have remained for a
whole month yet, so that all idea of any footpaths is out of the
question. Yesterday I was still on the hills, but now they will be
inaccessible for six months to come. My pedestrian excursions are
over; wondrously beautiful they were, and I shall never forget

I mean to work hard at music, and high time that I should. I played
on the organ till twilight, and was trampling energetically on the
pedal, when we suddenly became aware that the deep C sharp in the
great diapason, went buzzing softly on without ceasing; all our
pressing, and shaking, and thumping on the keys, was of no avail,
so we were obliged to climb into the organ among the big pipes. The
C sharp continued gently humming,--the fault lay in the bellows;
the organist was in the greatest perplexity, because to-morrow is a
fête day; at last I stuffed my handkerchief into the pipe, and
there was no more buzzing, but no more C sharp either. I played
this passage incessantly, all the same:--


and it did very well.

I am now going to finish my sketch of the Glacier of the Rhone, and
then the day will be at my own disposal; which means that I am
going to sleep. I will write to you on the next page to-morrow
evening wherever I am, for to-day I have no idea where I shall be.
Good night! Eight is striking in F minor, and it is raining and
blowing in F sharp minor or G sharp minor; in short, in every
possible sharp key.


     St. Gall, the 4th.

Motto--"Vous pensez que je suis l'Abbé de St. Gall" (Citoyen).[23]
I do feel so comfortable here, after braving such storms and
tempests. During the four hours when I was crossing the mountains
from Altstetten to this place, I was engaged in a regular battle
with the elements; when I tell you that I never experienced
anything like the storm, nor even imagined anything approaching to
it, this does not say much; but the oldest people in the Canton
declare the same: a large manufactory has been demolished, and
several persons killed. To-morrow, in my last letter from
Switzerland, I will tell you of my being again obliged to travel on
foot, and arriving here, after crossing by Appenzell, which looked
like Egypt after the seven plagues. The bell is now ringing for
dinner, and I mean to feast like an abbot.

  [23] Mendelssohn jokingly alludes to a poem of _Bürger_,--Der Abt
  von St. Gallen.

     Lindau, September 5th.

Opposite me lies Switzerland, with her dark blue mountains,
pedestrian journeys, storms, and glorious heights and valleys. Here
ends the greatest part of my journey, and my journal also.

At noon to-day, I crossed the wild grey Rhine in a ferry-boat,
above Rheineck, and now here I am, already in Bavaria. I have of
course entirely given up my projected excursion on foot, through
the Bavarian mountains; for it would be folly to attempt anything
of the kind this year. For the last four days it has rained more or
less with incessant vehemence; it seemed as if Providence were
wroth. I passed to-day through extensive orchards, which were not
under water, but fairly submerged by mud and clay; everything looks
deplorable and depressing; you must therefore forgive the doleful
style of this last sheet. I never in any landscape saw a more
dreary sight than the sward of the green hills, covered with deep
snow; while below, the fruit-trees, with their ripe fruit, were
standing reflected in the water. The scanty covering of muddy snow,
which lay on the fir-woods and meadows, looked the personification
of all that was dismal. A Sargans burgher told me that in 1811 this
little town had been entirely burnt down, and recently with
difficulty rebuilt; that they depend chiefly on the produce of
their vineyards, which have been this year destroyed by
hail-storms, and the Alps also were now no longer available; this
gives rise to serious reflections, and to anxious thoughts with
regard to this year.

It is singular enough that if I am obliged to go on foot in such
weather, and fairly exposed to it, I am not in the least annoyed;
on the contrary, I rather rejoice in setting it at defiance. When I
arrived by the diligence yesterday at Altstetten, in freezing
cold, like a day in December, I found that there was no carriage
road to Tourgen, to which place I had unluckily sent on my cloak
and knapsack on the last fine day. I was obliged to have them the
same evening, for the cold was intense, so I did not hesitate long,
but set off once more for the last time to cross the mountains, and
arrived in the Canton of Appenzell.

The state of the woods, and hills, and meadows, and little bridges,
baffles all description; being Sunday, and divine service going on,
I failed in procuring a guide; not a living soul met me the whole
way, for all the people had crept into their houses, so I toiled on
quite alone towards Tourgen. To pass through a wood in such
weather, and along such paths, inspires a wonderful sense of
independence. Moreover I am now quite perfect in the Swiss _jodeln_
and crowing, so I shouted lustily, and _jodelled_ several airs at
the pitch of my voice, and arrived in Tourgen in capital spirits.
The people in the inn there were rude and saucy, so I politely
said, "You be hanged! I shall go on;" and taking out my map, I
found that St. Gall was the nearest convenient place, and in fact
the only practicable route. I could not succeed in persuading any
one to go with me in such horrible weather, so I resolved to carry
my own things, abusing all Swiss cordiality.

Shortly afterwards, however, came the reverse of the medal, which
not unfrequently occurs. I went to the peasant who had brought my
luggage here, and found him in his pretty newly-built wooden house,
and I had thus an opportunity of seeing a veritable and genuine
Swiss interior, just as we imagine it to be. He and his whole
family were sitting round a table, the house clean and warm, and
the stove burning. The old man rose and gave me his hand, and
insisted on my taking a seat; he then sent through the whole place
to try to get me a carriage, or a man to carry my things, but as no
one would either drive or walk, he at last sent his own son with
me. He only asked two _Batzen_ for carrying my knapsack for two
hours. A very pretty fair daughter was sitting at the table sewing,
the mother reading a thick book, and the old man himself studying
the newspapers; it was a charming picture.

When at last I set off, the weather seemed to say, "If you defy me
I can defy you also," for the storm broke loose with redoubled
violence, and an invisible hand appeared to seize my umbrella at
intervals, shaking it and crumpling it together, and my fingers
were so benumbed that I could scarcely hold it fast; the paths were
so desperately slippery that my guide fell sprawling full length
before me in the mud; but what cared we? We _jodelled_ and reviled
the weather to our hearts' content, and at last we passed the
Nunnery, which we greeted by a serenade, and soon after reached St.

Our journey was happily over, and yesterday I drove here, and at
night met with a wonderful organ, on which I could play "Schmücke
dich, O liebe Seele!" to my heart's content.

To-day I proceed to Memmingen, to-morrow to Augsburg; the day
after, God willing, to Munich; and thus, I may now say, I _have
been_ in Switzerland. Perhaps I have rather bored you by all the
trivial occurrences I have detailed. These are gloomy times, but we
need not be so; and when I sent you my journal, it was chiefly to
show you that I thought of you whenever I was pleased and happy,
and was with you in spirit. The shabby, dripping pedestrian bids
you farewell, and a town gentleman, with visiting-cards, fine
linen, and a black coat, will write to you next time. Farewell.



     Munich, October 6th, 1831.

It is a delightful feeling to wake in the morning and to know that
you are to score a grand allegro with all sorts of instruments, and
various oboes and trumpets, while bright weather holds out the hope
of a cheering long walk in the afternoon.

I have enjoyed these pleasures for a whole week past, so the
favourable impression that Munich made on me during my first visit,
is now very much enhanced. I scarcely know any place where I feel
so comfortable and domesticated as here. It is indeed very
delightful to be surrounded by cheerful faces, and your own to be
so also, and to know every man you meet in the streets.

I am now preparing for my concert, so my hands are pretty full; my
acquaintances every instant interrupting me in my work, the lovely
weather tempting me to go out, and the copyists, in turn, forcing
me to stay at home; all this constitutes the most agreeable and
exciting life. I was obliged to put off my concert, on account of
the October festival, which begins next Sunday, and lasts all the
week. Every evening there is to be a performance at the theatre,
and a ball, so all idea of an orchestra or a concert-room is out of
the question. On Monday evening, however, the 17th, at half-past
six, think of me,--for then we dash off with thirty violins, and
two sets of wind instruments.

The first part begins with the symphony in C minor, the second with
the "Midsummer Night's Dream." The first part closes with my new
concerto in G minor, and at the end of the second I have
unwillingly agreed to extemporize. Believe me, I do so very
reluctantly, but the people insist upon it. Bärmann has decided on
playing again; Breiting, Mlle. Vial, Loehle, Bayer, and Pellegrini
are the singers who are to execute a piece together. The locality
is the large Odeon Hall, and the performance for the benefit of the
poor in Munich. The magistrates invite the orchestra, and the
burgomasters the singers. Every morning I am engaged in writing,
correcting, and scoring till one o'clock, when I go to Scheidel's
coffee-house in the Kaufinger Gasse, where I know each face by
heart, and find the same people every day in the same position; two
playing chess, three looking on, five reading the newspapers, six
eating their dinner, and I am the seventh. After dinner Bärmann
usually comes to fetch me, and we make arrangements about the
concert, or after a walk we have cheese and beer, and then I return
home and set to work again.

This time I have declined all invitations for the evening; but
there are so many agreeable houses, to which I can go uninvited,
that a light is seldom to be seen in my room on the parterre till
after eight o'clock. You must know that I lodge on a level with the
street, in a room which was once a shop, so that if I unbar the
shutters of my glass door, one step brings me into the middle of
the street, and any one passing along, can put his head in at the
window, and say good morning. Next to me a Greek lodges, who is
learning the piano, and he is truly odious; but to make up for
that, my landlord's daughter, who wears a round silver cap and is
very slender, looks all the prettier.

I have music in my rooms at four o'clock in the afternoon, three
times every week: Bärmann, Breiting, Staudacher, young Poissl, and
others, come regularly, and we have a musical picnic. In this way I
become acquainted with operas, which, most unpardonably, I have not
yet either heard or seen; such as Lodoiska, Faniska, Medea; also
the Preciosa, Abu Hassan, etc. The theatre lends us the scores.

Last Wednesday we had capital fun; several wagers had been lost,
and it was agreed that we should enjoy the fruits of them all
together; and after various suggestions, we at last decided on
having a musical soirée in my room, and to invite all the
dignitaries; so a list was made out of about thirty persons;
several also came uninvited, who were presented to us by mutual
friends. There was a sad want of space; at first we proposed
placing several people on my bed, but it was surprising the number
of patient sheep who managed to cram into my small room. The whole
affair was most lively and successful. E---- was present, as dulcet
as ever, languishing in all the glory of poetical enthusiasm, and
grey stockings; in short, tiresome beyond all description.

First I played my old quartett in B minor; then Breiting sang
"Adelaide;" Herr S---- played variations on the violin (doing
himself no credit); Bärmann performed Beethoven's first quartett
(in F major), which he had arranged for two clarionets, corno di
bassetto, and bassoon; an air from "Euryanthe" followed, which was
furiously encored, and as a finale I extemporized--tried hard to
get off--but they made such a tremendous uproar that _nolens_ I
was forced to comply, though I had nothing in my head, but
wine-glasses, benches, cold roast meat, and ham.

The Cornelius ladies were next-door with my landlord and his
family, to listen to me; the Schauroths were making a visit on the
first story for the same purpose, and even in the hall, and in the
street, people were standing; in addition to all this, the heat of
the crowded room, the deafening noise, the gay audience; and when
at last the time for eating and drinking arrived, the uproar was at
its height; we fraternized glass in hand, and gave toasts; the
more formal guests with their grave faces, sat in the midst of the
jovial throng, apparently quite contented, and we did not separate
till half-past one in the morning.

The following evening formed a striking contrast. I was summoned to
play before the Queen, and the Court; there all was proper and
polite, and polished, and every time you moved your elbow, you
pushed against an Excellency; the most smooth and complimentary
phrases circulated in the room, and I, the _roturier_, stood in the
midst of them, with my citizen heart, and my aching head! I managed
however to get on pretty well, and at the end, I was commanded to
extemporize on Royal themes, which I did, and was mightily
commended; what pleased me most was, that when I had finished my
extempore playing, the Queen said to me, that it was strange the
power I possessed of carrying away my audience, for that during
such music, no one could think of anything else; on which I begged
to apologize for carrying away Her Majesty, etc.

This, you see, is the mode in which I pass my time in Munich. I
forgot, however, to say, that every day at twelve o'clock, I give
little Mademoiselle L---- an hour's instruction in double
counterpoint, and four-part composition, etc., which makes me
realize more than ever the stupidity and confusion of most masters
and books on this subject; for nothing can be more clear than the
whole thing when properly explained.

She is one of the sweetest creatures I ever saw, Imagine a small,
delicate-looking, pale girl, with noble but not pretty features, so
singular and interesting, that it is difficult to turn your eyes
from her; while all her gestures and every word are full of genius.
She has the gift of composing songs, and singing them in a way I
never heard before, causing me the most unalloyed musical delight I
ever experienced. When she is seated at the piano, and begins one
of the songs, the sounds are quite unique; the music floats
strangely to and fro, and every note expresses the most profound
and refined feeling. When she sings the first note in her tender
tones, every one present subsides into a quiet and thoughtful mood,
and each, in his own way, is deeply affected.

If you could but hear her voice! so innocent, so unconsciously
lovely, emanating from her inmost soul, and yet so tranquil! Last
year the genius was all there; she had written no song that did not
contain some bright flash of talent, and then M----and I sounded
forth her praises to the musical world; still no one seemed to
place much faith in us; but since that time, she has made the most
remarkable progress. Those who are not affected by her present
singing, can have no feeling at all; but unluckily it is now the
fashion to beg the young girl to sing her songs, and then the
lights are removed from the piano, in order that the society may
enjoy the plaintive strains.

This forms an unpleasant contrast, and repeatedly when I was to
have played something after her, I was quite unable, and declined
doing so. It is probable that she may one day be spoiled by all
this praise, because she has no one to comprehend or to guide her;
and, strangely enough, she is as yet entirely devoid of all musical
cultivation; she knows very little, and can scarcely distinguish
good music from bad; in fact, except her own pieces, she thinks all
else that she hears wonderfully fine. If she were at length to
become satisfied as it were with herself, it would be all over with
her. I have, for my part, done what I could, and implored her
parents and herself in the most urgent manner, to avoid society,
and not to allow such divine genius to be wasted. Heaven grant that
I may be successful! I may, perhaps, dear sisters, soon send you
some of her songs that she has copied out for me, in token of her
gratitude for my teaching her what she already knows from nature;
and because I have really led her to good and solid music.

I also play on the organ every day for an hour, but unfortunately I
cannot practise properly, as the pedal is short of five upper
notes, so that I cannot play any of Sebastian Bach's passages on
it; but the stops are wonderfully beautiful, by the aid of which
you can vary chorals; so I dwell with delight on the celestial,
liquid tone of the instrument. Moreover, Fanny, I have here
discovered the particular stops which ought to be used in Sebastian
Bach's "Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele." They seem actually made for
this melody, and sound so touching, that a tremor invariably
seizes me, when I begin to play it. For the flowing parts I have a
flute stop of eight feet, and also a very soft one of four feet,
which continually floats above the Choral. You have heard this
effect in Berlin; but there is a keyboard for the Choral with
nothing but reed stops, so I employ a mellow oboe and a soft
clarion (four feet) and a viola; these give the Choral in subdued
and touching tones, like distant human voices, singing from the
depths of the heart.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, by the time you will have received
this letter, I shall be on the "Theresien Wiese," with eighty
thousand other people; so think of me there, and farewell.


     Munich, October 18th, 1831.

     Dear Father,

Pray forgive me for not having written to you for so long. The last
few days previous to my concert, were passed in such bustle and
confusion, that I really had not a moment's leisure; besides I
preferred writing to you after my concert was over, that I might
tell you all about it, hence the long interval between this and my
former letter.

I write to you in particular to-day, because it is so long since I
have had a single line from you; I do beg you will soon write to
me, if only to say that you are well, and to send me your kind
wishes. You know this always makes me glad and happy; therefore
excuse my addressing this letter, with all the little details of my
concert, to you. My mother, and sisters, were desirous to hear
them, but I was anxious to say how eagerly I hope for a few lines
from you. Pray let me have them. It is a long time since you wrote
to me!

My concert took place yesterday, and was much more brilliant and
successful than I expected. The affair went off well, and with much
spirit. The orchestra played admirably, and the receipts for the
benefit of the poor will be large. A few days after my former
letter, I attended a general rehearsal, where the whole band were
assembled, and in addition to the official invitation the orchestra
had received, I was obliged to invite them verbally in a polite
speech, in the theatre. This, to me, was the most trying part of
the whole concert; still I did not object to it, for I really
wished to know the sensations of a man who gives a concert, and
this ceremony forms part of it. I stationed myself therefore at the
prompter's box, and addressed the performers very courteously, who
took off their hats, and when my speech was finished, there was a
general murmur of assent. On the following day there were upwards
of seventy signatures to the circular. Immediately afterwards, I
had the pleasure of finding that the chorus singers had sent one of
their leaders to me, to ask if I had not composed some chorus that
I should like to be sung, in which case, they would all be happy to
sing it _gratis_. Although I had decided not to give more than
three pieces of my composition, still the offer was very
gratifying, and the hearty sympathy especially delighted me, for
even the regimental musicians whom I had to engage for the English
horns and trumpets, positively refused to accept a single kreuzer,
and we had above eighty performers in the orchestra.

Then came all the tiresome minor arrangements about advertisements,
tickets, preliminary rehearsals, etc., and in addition to all this,
it was the week of the October festival. In Munich the days and
hours always glide past so very rapidly, that when they are gone,
it really seems as if they had never been, and this is more
peculiarly the case during this October festival. Every afternoon
about three o'clock you repair to the spacious, green "Theresien
Wiese," which is swarming with people, and it is impossible to get
away till the evening, for every one finds acquaintances without
end, and something to talk about, or to look at; a fat ox,
target-shooting, a race, or pretty girls in gold and silver caps,
etc. Any affair you are engaged in, can be concluded there, for the
whole town is congregated on the meadow, and not till the mists
begin to rise, does the crowd disperse, and return towards the
"Frauen Thürme." The people are in constant motion, running about
in all directions, while the snowy mountains in the distance look
clear and tranquil, each day giving promise of a bright morrow, and
fulfilling that promise; and, what after all is the chief thing,
none but careless happy faces to be seen, with the occasional
exception perhaps of a few Deputies, drinking coffee in the open
air, and discussing the lamentable condition of the people,--while
the people themselves are standing round them looking as happy as
possible. On the first day the King distributes the prizes himself,
taking off his hat to each winner of a prize, and giving his hand
to the peasants, or laying hold of their arms and shaking them; now
I think this all very proper, as here externally at least society
appears more blended, but whether it sinks deep into the heart, we
can discuss together at some future time. I adhere to my first
opinion; at all events it is so far well, that the absurd
restraints of etiquette should not be too strictly observed
outwardly, and so it is always something gained.

My first rehearsal took place early on Saturday. We had about
thirty-two violins, six double-basses, and double sets of wind
instruments, etc.: but, Heaven knows why, the rehearsal went badly;
I was forced to rehearse my symphony in C minor alone for two
hours. My concerto did not go at all satisfactorily. We had only
time to play over the "Midsummer Night's Dream" once, and even then
so hurriedly, that I wished to withdraw it from the bills; but
Bärmann would not hear of this, and assured me that they would do
it better next time. I therefore was forced to wait in considerable
anxiety for the next rehearsal: in the meantime there was happily a
great ball on Sunday evening, which was very enjoyable, so I
recovered my spirits, and arrived next morning at the general
rehearsal in high good humour, and with perfect confidence. I
started off at once with the overture; we played it over again and
again, till at last it went well, and we did the same with my
concerto, so that the whole rehearsal was quite satisfactory.

On my way to the concert at night, when I heard the rattling of the
carriages, I began to feel real pleasure in the whole affair. The
Court arrived at half-past six. I took up my little English
_bâton_, and conducted my symphony. The orchestra played
magnificently, and with a degree of fire and enthusiasm that I
never heard equalled under my direction; they all crashed in at the
_forte_, and the _scherzo_ was most light and delicate; it seemed
to please the audience exceedingly, and the King was always the
first to applaud. Then my fat friend, Breiting, sang the air in A
flat major from "Euryanthe," and the public shouted "Da capo!" and
were in good humour, and showed good taste. Breiting was delighted,
so he sang with spirit, and quite beautifully. Then came my
concerto; I was received with long and loud applause; the orchestra
accompanied me well, and the composition had also its merits, and
gave much satisfaction to the audience; they wished to recall me,
in order to give me another round of applause, according to the
prevailing fashion here, but I was modest, and would not appear.
Between the parts the King got hold of me, and praised me highly,
asking all sorts of questions, and whether I was related to the
Bartholdy in Rome, to whose house he was in the habit of going,
because it was the cradle of modern art, etc.[24]

  [24] _Vide_ the letter from Rome of the 1st of February, 1831.

The second part commenced with the "Midsummer Night's Dream," which
went admirably, and excited a great sensation; then Bärmann played,
and after that we had the finale in A major from Lodoiska. I
however did not hear either of these, as I was resting and cooling
in the anteroom. When I appeared to extemporize, I was again
enthusiastically received. The King had given me the theme of "Non
più andrai," on which I was to _improviser_. My former opinion is
now fully confirmed, that it is an absurdity to extemporize in
public. I have seldom felt so like a fool as when I took my place
at the piano, to present to the public the fruits of my
inspiration; but the audience were quite contented, and there was
no end of their applause. They called me forward again, and the
Queen said all that was courteous; but I was annoyed, for I was far
from being satisfied with myself, and I am resolved never again to
extemporize in public,--it is both an abuse and an absurdity.

So this is an account of my concert of the 17th, which is now among
the things of the past. There were eleven hundred people present,
so the poor may well be satisfied: but enough of all this.
Farewell! May every happiness attend you all!


     Paris, December 19th, 1831.

     Dear Father,

Receive my hearty thanks for your letter of the 7th. Though I do
not quite apprehend your meaning on some points, and also may
differ from you, still I have no doubt that this will come all
right when we talk things over together, especially if you permit
me, as you have always hitherto done, to express my opinion in a
straight-forward manner. I allude chiefly to your suggestion, that
I should procure a libretto for an opera from some French poet, and
then have it translated, and compose the music for the Munich

  [25] Felix Mendelssohn, during his stay in Munich, received a
  commission from the director of the theatre, to write an opera
  for Munich.

Above all, I must tell you how sincerely I regret that you have
only now made known to me your views on this subject. I went to
Düsseldorf, as you know, expressly to consult with Immermann on the
point. I found him ready, and willing; he accepted the proposal,
promising to send me the poem by the end of May at the latest, so I
do not myself see how it is possible for me now to draw back;
indeed I do not wish it, as I place entire confidence in him. I do
not in the least understand what you allude to in your last letter,
about Immermann, and his incapacity to write an opera. Although I
by no means agree with you in this opinion, still it would have
been my duty to have settled nothing without your express
sanction, and I could have arranged the affair by letter from here,
I believed however that I was acting quite to your satisfaction
when I made him my offer. In addition to this, some new poems that
he read to me, convinced me more than ever that he was a true poet,
and supposing that I had an equal choice in merit, I would always
decide rather in favour of a German than a French libretto; and
lastly, he has fixed on a subject which has been long in my
thoughts, and which, if I am not mistaken, my mother wished to see
made into an opera,--I mean Shakspeare's "Tempest". I was
therefore particularly pleased with this, so I shall doubly regret
if you do not approve of what I have done. In any event, however, I
entreat that you will neither be displeased with me, nor
distrustful with regard to the work, nor cease to take any interest
in it.

From what I know of Immermann, I feel assured I may expect a
first-rate libretto. What I alluded to about his solitary life,
merely referred to his inward feelings and perceptions; for in
other respects he is well acquainted with what is passing in the
world. He knows what people like, and what to give them; but above
all he is a genuine artist, which is the chief thing; but I am sure
I need not say that I will not compose music for any words I do not
consider really good, or which do not inspire me, and for this
purpose it is essential that I should have your approval. I intend
to reflect deeply on the poem before I begin the music. The
dramatic interest or (in the best sense) the theatrical portion, I
shall of course immediately communicate to you, and in short look
on the affair in the serious light it deserves. The first step
however is taken, and I cannot tell you how deeply I should regret
your not being pleased.

There is however one thing which consoles me, and it is that if I
were to rely on my own judgment, I would again act precisely as I
have now done, though I have had an opportunity of becoming
acquainted with a great deal of French poetry, and seeing it in the
most favourable light. Pray pardon me for saying exactly what I
think. To compose for the translation of a French libretto, seems
to me for various reasons impracticable, and I have an idea that
you are in favour of it more on account of the _success_ which it
is likely to enjoy than for its own _intrinsic merit_. Moreover I
well remember how much you disliked the subject of the "Muette de
Portici," a _Muette_ too who had gone astray, and of "Wilhelm
Tell," which the author seems almost purposely to have rendered

The success however these enjoy all over Germany does not assuredly
depend on the work itself being either good or dramatic, for "Tell"
is neither, but on their coming from Paris, and having pleased
there. Certainly there is _one_ sure road to fame in Germany,--that
by Paris and London; still it is not the only one; this is proved
not only by all Weber's works, but also by those of Spohr, whose
"Faust" is here considered classical music, and which is to be
given at the great Opera-house in London next season. Besides, I
could not possibly take that course, as my great opera has been
bespoken for Munich, and I have accepted the commission. I am
resolved therefore to make the attempt in Germany, and to remain
and work there so long as I can continue to do so, and yet maintain
myself, for this I consider my first duty. If I find that I cannot
do this, then I must leave it for London or Paris, where it is
easier to get on. I see indeed where I should be better remunerated
and more honoured, and live more gaily, and at my ease, than in
Germany, where a man must press forward, and toil, and take no
rest,--still, if I can succeed there, I prefer the latter.

None of the new libretti here, would in my opinion be attended with
any success whatever, if brought out for the first time on a German
stage. One of the distinctive characteristics of them all, is
precisely of a nature that I should resolutely oppose, although the
taste of the present day may demand it, and I quite admit that it
may in general be more prudent to go with the current than to
struggle against it. I allude to that of immorality. In "Robert le
Diable" the nuns come one after the other to allure the hero of the
piece, till at last the abbess succeeds in doing so: the same hero
is conveyed by magic into the apartment of her whom he loves, and
casts her from him in an attitude which the public here applauds,
and probably all Germany will do the same; she then implores his
mercy in a grand aria. In another opera a young girl divests
herself of her garments, and sings a song to the effect that next
day at this time she will be married; all this produces effect, but
I have no music for such things. I consider it ignoble, so if the
present epoch exacts this style, and considers it indispensable,
then I will write oratorios.

Another strong reason why it would prove impracticable is that no
French poet would undertake to furnish me with a poem. Indeed, it
is no easy matter to procure one from them for this stage, for all
the best authors are overwhelmed with commissions. At the same time
I think it quite possible that I might succeed in getting one;
still it never would occur to any of them to write a libretto for a
_German_ theatre. In the first place it would be much more feasible
to give the opera here, and infinitely more rational too; in the
second place, they would decline writing for any other stage than
the French; in fact they could not realize any other. Above all it
would be impossible to procure for them a sum equivalent to what
they receive here from the theatres, and what they draw as their
share from the _part d'auteur_.

I know you will forgive me for having told you my opinion without
reserve. You always allowed me to do so in conversation, so I hope
you will not put a wrong construction on what I have written, and I
beg you will amend my views by communicating your own.--Your


     Paris, December 20th, 1831.

     Dear Rebecca,

I went yesterday to the Chambre des Députés, and I must now tell
you about it; but what do you care about the Chambre des Députés?
It is a political song, and you would rather hear whether I have
composed any love songs, or bridal songs, or wedding songs; but it
is a sad pity, that no songs but political ones are composed here.
I believe I never in my life passed three such unmusical weeks as
these. I feel as if I never could again think of composing; this
all arises from the "juste milieu;" but it is still worse to be
with musicians, for they do not _wrangle_ about politics, but
_lament_ over them. One has lost his place, another his title, a
third his money, and they say this all proceeds from the "Milieu."

Yesterday I saw the "Milieu," in a light grey coat, and with a
noble air, in the first place on the Ministerial bench. He was
sharply attacked by M. Mauguin, who has a very long nose. Of course
you don't care for all this; but what of that? I must have a chat
with you. In Italy I was lazy, in Switzerland a wild student, in
Munich a consumer of cheese and beer, and so in Paris I must talk
politics. I intended to have composed various symphonies, and to
have written some songs for certain ladies in Frankfort,
Düsseldorf, and Berlin; but as yet not a chance of it. Paris
obtrudes herself, and as above all things I must now see Paris, so
I am busily engaged in seeing it, and am dumb.

Moreover I am freezing with cold--another drawback. I cannot
contrive to make my room warm, and I am not to get another and
warmer apartment, till New Year's Day. In a dark little hole on the
ground floor, overlooking a small damp garden, where my feet are
like ice, how can I possibly write music? It is bitterly cold, and
an Italian like myself is peculiarly susceptible. At this moment a
man outside my window is singing a political song to a guitar.

I live a reckless life--out morning, noon, and night: to-day at
Baillot's; to-morrow I go to some friends of the Bigots; the next
day, Valentin; Monday, Fould; Tuesday, Hiller; Wednesday, Gérard;
and the previous week it was just the same. In the forenoon I rush
off to the Louvre, and gaze at the Raphaels, and my favourite
Titian; a person might well wish for a dozen more eyes to look at
such a picture.

Yesterday I was in the Chamber of Peers, who were engaged in
pronouncing judgment on their own hereditary rights, and I saw M.
Pasquier's wig. The day before I paid two musical visits, to the
grumbling Cherubini, and the kind Herz. There is a large sign-board
before the house: "Manufacture de Pianos, par Henri Herz, Marchand
de Modes et de Nouveautés." I thought this formed one, not
observing that it was a notice of two different firms, so I went in
below, and found myself surrounded by gauze, and lace, and
trimmings: so, rather abashed, I asked where the pianos were. A
number of Herz's fair scholars with industrious faces, were
waiting upstairs. I sat down by the fire and read your interesting
account of our dear father's birthday, and so forth. Herz presently
arrived, and gave audience to his pupils. We were very loving,
recalled old times, and besprinkled each other mutually with great
praise. On his pianos is inscribed: "Médaille d'or. Exposition de
1827." This was very imposing.

From thence I went to Erard's, where I tried over his instruments,
and remarked written on them in large letters: "Médaille d'or.
Exposition de 1827." My respect seemed to diminish. When I went
home I opened my own instrument by Pleyel, and to be sure there
also I saw in large letters: "Médaille d'or. Exposition de
1827." The matter is like the title of "Hofrath," but it is
characteristic. It is alleged that the chambers are about to
discuss the following proposition: "Tous les Français du sexe
masculin ont dès leur naissance le droit de porter l'ordre de la
Légion d'Honneur," and the permission to appear without the order,
can only be obtained by special services. You really scarcely see a
man in the street without a bit of coloured ribbon, so it is no
longer a distinction.

_Apropos_, shall I be lithographed full length? Answer what you
will, I don't intend to do it. One afternoon in Berlin, when I was
standing _unter den Linden_ before Schenk's shop looking at H----'s
and W----'s lithographs, I made a solemn vow to myself, unheard by
man, that I would never allow myself to be hung up till I became a
great man. The temptation in Munich was strong; there they wished
to drape me with a Carbonaro cloak, a stormy sky in the background,
and my fac-simile underneath, but I happily got off by adhering to
my principles. Here again I am rather tempted, for the likenesses
are very striking, but I keep my vow; and if, after all, I never do
become a great man, though posterity will be deprived of a
portrait, it will have an absurdity the less.

It is now the 24th, and we had a very pleasant evening at Baillot's
yesterday. He plays beautifully, and had collected a very musical
society of attentive ladies and enthusiastic gentlemen, and I have
seldom been so well amused in any circle, or enjoyed such honours.
It was the greatest possible delight to me to hear my quartett in E
flat major (dedicated to B. P.) performed in Paris by Baillot's
quartett, and they executed it with fire and spirit. They commenced
with a quintett by Bocherini, an old-fashioned _perruque_, but a
very amiable old gentleman underneath it. The company then asked
for a sonata of Bach's; we selected the one in A major; old
familiar tones dawned once more on me, of the time when Baillot
played it with Madame Bigot.[26] We urged each other on, the affair
became animated, and so thoroughly amused both us and our audience,
that we immediately commenced the one in E major, and next time we
mean to introduce the four others.

  [26] The lady who instructed Mendelssohn in the piano in Paris,
  when the family resided there for a time in 1816.

Then my turn came to play a solo. I was in the vein to extemporize
successfully, and felt that I did so. The guests being now in a
graver mood, I took three themes from the previous sonatas, and
worked them up to my heart's content; it seemed to give immense
pleasure to those present, for they shouted and applauded like mad.
Then Baillot gave my quartett; his manner towards me has something
very kind, and I was doubly pleased, as he is rather cold at first
and seldom makes advances to any one. He appears a good deal
depressed by the loss of his situation. I saw a number of old
well-known faces, and they asked after you all, and recalled many
anecdotes of that former period.

When I was passing through Louvain two years ago with my
"Liederspiel" in my head, and my injured knee,[27] I seized the
brass handle of a pump to prevent myself from falling; and when I
returned this year in the same miserable diligence, driven by a
postilion exactly similar, with a big queue, the "Liederspiel," my
knee, and Italy, were all things of the past; and yet the handle of
the pump was still hanging there, as clean and brightly rubbed up
as ever, having survived 1830, and all the revolutionary storms,
and remaining quite unchanged. This is sentimental; my father must
not read it, for it is the old story of the past and the present,
which we discussed so eagerly one fine evening, and which recurs to
me among the crowd here at every step. I thought of it at the
Madeleine, and when I went to aunt J----'s, and at the Hôtel des
Princes, and at the gallery, which my father showed me fifteen
years ago, and when I saw the coloured signs, which at that time
impressed me exceedingly, and are now grown brown and shabby.

  [27] Mendelssohn had been thrown out of a cabriolet in London in
  1829, and his knee seriously injured.

Moreover this is Christmas Eve; but I feel little interest in it,
or in New Year's Night either. Please God, another year may wear a
very different aspect, and I will not then go to the theatre on
Christmas Eve, as I am about to do to-night, to hear Lablache and
Rossini for the first time. How little I care about it! I should
much prefer _Polichinelles_ and apples to-day, and I think it very
doubtful whether the orchestra will play as pretty a symphony as my
"Kinder-Sinfonie."[28] I must be satisfied with it however. I am
now modulating into the minor key, a fault with which the "École
Allemande" are often reproached, and as I profess not to belong to
the latter, the French say I am _cosmopolite_. Heaven defend me
from being anything of the kind!

  [28] A "Kinder-Sinfonie," composed by Mendelssohn in the year
  1829, for a Christmas family fête.

And now good-bye; a thousand compliments from Bertin de Vaux, Girod
de l'Ain, Dupont de l'Eure, Tracy, Sacy, Passy and other kind
friends. I had intended to have told you in this letter how
Salverte attacked the Ministers, and how during this time a little
_émeute_ took place on the Pont Neuf; how I sat in the Chambers
along with Franck, in the midst of St. Simoniens; how witty Dupin
was; but no more at present. May you all be well and happy this
evening, and thinking of me!


     Paris, December 28th, 1831.

     Dear Madam Fanny,

For three months past I have been thinking of writing you a musical
letter, but my procrastination has its revenge, for though I have
been a fortnight here, I don't know whether I shall still be able
to do so. I have appeared in every possible mood here; in that of
an inquiring, admiring traveller; a coxcomb; a Frenchman, and
yesterday actually as a Peer of France; but not yet as a musician.
Indeed there is little likelihood of the latter, for the aspect of
music here is miserable enough.

The concerts in the Conservatoire, which were my great object,
probably will not take place at all, because the Commission of the
Ministry wished to give a Commission to the Commission of the
society, to deprive a Commission of Professors of their share of
the profits; on which the Commission of the Conservatoire replied
to the Commission of the Ministry, that they might go and be hanged
(suspended), and then they would not consent to it. The newspapers
make some very severe comments on this, but you need not read them,
as these papers are prohibited in Berlin; but you don't lose much
by this. The Opéra Comique is bankrupt, and so it has had
_relâche_ since I came; at the Grand Opéra, they only give little
operas, which amuse me, though they neither provoke nor excite me.
"Armida" was the last great opera, but they gave it in three acts,
and this was two years ago. Choron's "Institut" is closed, the
"Chapelle Royale" is gone out like a light; not a single Mass is to
be heard on Sundays in all Paris, unless accompanied by serpents.
Malibran is to appear here next week for the last time. So much the
better, say you: retire within yourself, and write music for "Ach
Gott vom Himmel," or a symphony, or the new violin quartett which
you mentioned in your letter to me of the 28th, or any other
serious composition; but this is even more impossible, for what is
going on here is most deeply interesting, and entices you out,
suggesting matter for thought and memory and absorbing every moment
of time. Accordingly I was yesterday in the Chambre des Pairs, and
counted along with them the votes, destined to abolish a very
ancient privilege; immediately afterwards I hurried off to the
Théâtre Français, where Mars was to appear for the first time for a
year past; (she is fascinating beyond conception; a voice that we
shall never hear equalled, causing you to weep, and yet to feel
pleasure in doing so). To-day I must see Taglioni again, who along
with Mars constitutes two Graces (if I find a third in my travels,
I mean to marry her), and afterwards I mean to go to Gérard's
classical _salon_. I lately went to hear Lablache and Rubini, after
hearing Odillon Barrot quarrel with the Ministry. Having seen the
pictures in the Louvre in the morning, I went to Baillot's; so what
chance is there of living in retirement? The outer world is too

There are moments, however, when my thoughts turn inwards--such as
on that memorable evening, when Lablache sang so beautifully, or on
Christmas-day, when there were no bells and no festivities, or when
Paul's letter came from London, inviting me to visit him next
spring; the said spring to be passed in England. Then I feel that
all that now interests me is merely superficial: that I am neither
a politician, nor a dancer, nor an actor, nor a _bel esprit_, but a
_musician_--so I take courage, and am now writing a professional
letter to my dear sister.

My conscience smote me, especially when I read about your new music
that you so carefully conducted on my father's birthday, and I
reproached myself for not having said a single word to you about
your previous composition; but I cannot let you off that, my
colleague! What the deuce made you think of setting your G horns so
high? Did you ever hear a G horn take the high G without a squeak?
I only put this to yourself! and at the end of this introduction,
when wind instruments come in, does not the following note


stare you in the face, and do not these deep oboes growl away all
pastoral feeling, and all bloom? Do you not know that you ought to
take out a license to sanction your writing the low B for oboes,
and that it is only permitted on particular occasions, such as
witches, or some great grief? Has not the composer evidently, in
the A major air, overloaded the voice by too many other parts, so
that the delicate intention, and the lovely melody of this
otherwise charming piece, with all its beauties, is quite obscured
and eclipsed?

To speak seriously, however, this aria is very beautiful, and
particularly fascinating. But I have a remark to make about your
two choruses, which indeed applies rather to the text than to you.
These two choruses are not sufficiently original. This sounds
absurd; but my opinion is that it is the fault of the words, that
express nothing original; one single expression might have improved
the whole, but as they now stand, they would be equally suitable
for church music, a cantata, an offertorium, etc. Where, however,
they are not of such universal application, as for example, the
lament at the end, they seem to be sentimental and not natural. The
words of the last chorus are too material ("mit dem kraftlosen
Mund, und der sich regenden Zunge"). At the beginning of the aria
alone, are the words vigorous and spirited, and from them emanated
the whole of your lovely piece of music. The choruses are of course
fine, for they are written by you; but in the first place, it seems
to me that they might be by any other good master, and secondly, as
if they were not _necessarily_ what they are, indeed as if they
might have been _differently_ composed. This arises from the
poetry not imposing any particular music. I know that the latter is
often the case with my own compositions; but though I am fully
aware of the beam in my own eyes, I would fain extract the mote
from yours, to relieve you at once from its pressure.

My _résumé_ therefore is, that I would advise you to be more
cautious in the choice of your words, because, after all, it is not
everything in the Bible, even if it suits the theme, that is
suggestive of _music_; but you have probably obviated these
objections of mine in your new cantata, before being aware of them,
in which case, I might as well have said nothing. So much the
better if it be so, and then you can prosecute me for defamation!
So far as your music and composition are concerned, they quite suit
my taste; the young lady's cloven foot nowhere peeps forth, and if
I knew any _Kapellmeister_ capable of writing such music, I would
give him a place at my court. Fortunately I know no such person,
and there is no occasion to place you at my right hand at court, as
you are there already.[29]

  [29] A play upon Fanny Hensel's house, in a court--No. 3,
  Leipziger Strasse.

When do you mean to send me something new to cheer me? Pray do so
soon! As far as regards myself, shortly after my arrival here, I
had one of those attacks of musical spleen, when all music, and
more especially one's own, becomes actually hateful. I felt
thoroughly unmusical, and did nothing but eat and sleep, and that
revived me. F----, to whom I complained of my state, instantly
constructed a musical theory on the subject, proving that it could
not be otherwise; I however think exactly the reverse; but though
we are so entirely dissimilar, and have as many differences as a
Bushman and Caffre, still we like each other exceedingly.

With L----, too, I get on famously. He is very pleasing, and the
most _dilettante_ of all the _dilettanti_ I ever met. He knows
everything by heart, and plays wrong basses to them all; he is only
deficient in arrogance, for with all his undeniable talent, he is
very modest and retiring. I am much with him, because he is a
benevolent, kind-hearted man; we should thoroughly agree on all
points, if he would not consider me a _doctrinaire_, and persist in
talking politics (a subject that I wish to avoid for at least a
hundred and twenty reasons; and chiefly because I don't in the
least understand it); besides, he delights in hitting at Germany,
and in depreciating London in favour of Paris. Both these things
are prejudicial to my _constitution_, and whoever assails that, I
must defend it and dispute with him.

I was yesterday studying your new music, and enjoying it, when
Kalkbrenner came in, and played various new compositions. The man
is become quite romantic, purloins themes, ideas, and similar
trifles, from Hiller, writes pieces in F sharp minor, practises
every day for several hours, and is as he always was, a knowing
fellow. Every time I see him, he inquires after "my charming
sister, whom he likes so much, and who has such a fine talent for
playing and composing." My invariable reply is, that she has not
given up music, that she is very industrious, and that I love her
very much; which is all true. And now farewell, dear sister. May
you be well and happy, and may we meet at the New Year.



     Paris, January 11th, 1832.

You permitted me to give you occasional tidings of myself, and
since I came here, I have daily intended to do so; the excitement
here is however so great, that till to-day I have never been able
to write. When I contrast this constant whirl and commotion, and
the thousand distractions among a foreign people, with your house
in the garden, and your warm winter room, your wish to exchange
with me and to come here in my place, often recurs to me, and I
almost wish I had taken you at your word. You must indeed in that
case have remained all the same in your winter room, so that I
might come out to you through the snow, take my usual place in the
corner, and listen to the "Schwanritter;" for there is more life in
it than in all the tumult here.

In a word, I rejoice at the prospect of my return to Germany;
everything there is indeed on a small scale, and homely, if you
will, but _men_ live there; men who know what art really is, who
do not admire, nor praise, in fact who do not _criticize_, but
_create_. You do not admit this, but it is only because you are
yourself among the number.

I beg you will not however think that I am like one of those German
youths with long hair, lounging about listlessly, and pronouncing
the French superficial, and Paris frivolous. I only say all this
because I now thoroughly enjoy and admire Paris, and am becoming
better acquainted with it, and especially as I am writing to you in
Düsseldorf. I have, on the contrary, cast myself headlong into the
vortex, and do nothing the whole day but see new objects, the
Chambers of Peers and Deputies, pictures and theatres, dio- neo-
cosmo- and panoramas, constant parties, etc. Moreover, the
musicians here are as numerous as the sands on the sea-shore, all
hating each other; so each must be individually visited, and wary
diplomacy is advisable, for they are all gossips, and what one says
to another, the whole corps know next morning.

The days have thus flown past hitherto as if only half as long as
they were in reality, and as yet I have not been able to compose a
single bar; in a few days, however, this exotic life will cease. My
head is now dizzy from all I have seen and wondered at; but I then
intend to collect my thoughts, and set to work, when I shall feel
once more happy and domesticated.

My chief pleasure is going to the little theatres in the evening,
because there French life and the French people are truly mirrored;
the "Gymnase Dramatique" is my particular favourite, where nothing
is given but small _vaudevilles_. The extreme bitterness and deep
animosity which pervade all these little comedies, are most
remarkable, and although partially cloaked by the prettiest
phrases, and the most lively acting, become only the more
conspicuous. Politics everywhere play the chief part, which might
have sufficed to make me dislike these theatres, for we have enough
of them _elsewhere_; but the politics of the "Gymnase" are of a
light and ironical description,--referring to the occurrences of
the day, and to the newspapers, in order to excite laughter and
applause, and at last you can't help laughing and applauding with
the rest. Politics and sensuality are the two grand points of
interest, round which everything circles; and in the many pieces I
have seen, an attack on the Ministry, and a scene of seduction,
were never absent.

The whole style of the _vaudeville_, introducing certain
conventional music at the end of the scene in every piece, when the
actors partly sing and partly declaim some couplets with a witty
point, is thoroughly French; we could never learn this, nor in fact
wish to do so, for this mode of connecting the wit of the day with
an established _refrain_, does not exist in our conversation, nor
in our ideas. I cannot imagine anything more striking and
effective, nor yet more prosaic.

A great sensation has been recently caused here, by a new piece at
the Gymnase, "Le Luthier de Lisbonne," which forms the delight of
the public. A stranger is announced in the play-bills; scarcely
does he appear when all the audience begin to laugh and to applaud,
and you learn that the actor is a close imitation of Don Miguel, in
gestures, manner, and costume; he proceeds to announce that he is a
king, and the fortune of the piece is made. The more stupid,
uncivilized, and uncouth, the Unknown appears, the greater is the
enjoyment of the public, who allow none of his gestures or speeches
to pass unobserved. He takes refuge from a riot in the house of
this instrument maker, who is the most devoted of all royalists,
but unluckily the husband of a very pretty woman. One of Don
Miguel's favourites has forced her to grant him a rendezvous for
the ensuing night, and he begs the king--who arrives at this
moment--to give him his aid, by causing the husband to be beheaded.
Don Miguel replies, "Très volontiers," and while the Luthier
recognizes him, and falls at his feet, beside himself from joy, Don
Miguel signs his death-warrant, but also that of his favourite,
whom he means to replace with the pretty woman. At each enormity
that he commits, we laugh and applaud, and are immensely delighted
with this stupid stage Don Miguel. So ends the first act. In the
second, it is supposed to be midnight; the pretty wife alone and
agitated. Don Miguel jumps in at the window, and does all in his
power to gain her favour, making her dance and sing to him, but she
cannot endure him, and falls at his feet, imploring him to spare
her; on which he seizes her, and drags her repeatedly round the
stage, and if she did not make a snatch at a knife, and then a
sudden knocking ensue, she might have been in a bad plight; at the
close, the worthy Luthier rescues the king from the hands of the
French soldiery, who are just arrived, and of whose valour, and
love of liberty, he has a great horror. So the piece ends happily.

A little comedy followed, where the wife betrays her husband, and
has a lover; and another, where the man is faithless to his wife,
and is maintained by his mistress; this is succeeded by a satire on
the new constructions in the Tuileries, and on the Ministry, and so
it goes on.

I cannot say how it may be at the French Opera, for it is bankrupt,
so there has been no acting there since I came. In the Académie
Royale, however, Meyerbeer's "Robert le Diable" is played every
night with great success; the house is always crowded, and the
music has given general satisfaction. There is an expenditure of
all possible means of producing stage effect, that I never saw
equalled on any stage. All who can sing, dance, or act in Paris,
sing, dance, and act on this occasion.

The _sujet_ is romantic; that is, the devil appears in the
piece--(this is quite sufficient romance and imagination for the
Parisians). It is however very bad; and were it not for two
brilliant scenes of seduction it would produce no effect whatever.
The devil is a poor devil, and appears in armour, for the purpose
of leading astray his son Robert, a Norman knight, who loves a
Sicilian princess. He succeeds in inducing him to stake his money
and all his personal property (that is, his sword) at dice, and
then makes him commit sacrilege, giving him a magic branch, which
enables him to penetrate into the Princess's apartment, and renders
him irresistible. The son does all this with apparent willingness;
but when at the end he is to assign himself to his father, who
declares that he loves him, and cannot live without him, the devil,
or rather the poet Scribe, introduces a peasant girl, who has in
her possession the will of Robert's deceased mother, and reads him
the document, which makes him doubt the story he has been told; so
the devil is obliged to sink down through a trap-door at midnight,
with his purpose unfulfilled, on which Robert marries the Princess,
and the peasant girl, it seems, is intended to represent the
principle of good. The devil is called Bertram.

I cannot imagine how any music could be composed on such a cold,
formal _extravaganza_ as this, and so the opera does not satisfy
me. It is throughout frigid and heartless; and where this is the
case it produces no effect on me. The people extol the music, but
where warmth and truth are wanting, I have no test to apply.

Michael Beer set off to-day for Havre. It seems he intends to
compose poetry there; and I now remember that when I met you one
day at Schadow's, and maintained that he was no poet, your
rejoinder was, "That is a matter of taste." I seldom see Heine,
because he is entirely absorbed in liberal ideas and in politics.
He has recently published sixty "Frühlings Lieder." Very few of
them seem to me either genuine or truthful, but these few are
indeed inimitable. Have you read them? They appeared in the second
volume of the "Reisebilder." Börne intends to publish some new
volumes of letters: he and I are full of enthusiasm for Malibran
and Taglioni; all these gentlemen are abusing and reviling Germany
and all that is German, and yet they cannot speak even tolerable
French; I think this rather provoking.

Pray excuse my having sent you so much gossip, and for writing to
you on such a disreputable margin of paper; but it is long since we
met; and as for a time I could see you every day, it has become
quite a necessity to write to you; so you must not take it amiss.
You once promised to send me a few lines in reply: I don't know
whether I may venture to remind you of this, but I should really be
glad to hear how you pass your time, and what novelty a certain
cupboard in the corner contains; how you get on with "Merlin," and
my "Schwanritter," the sound of which still vibrates in my ears
like sweet music; and also whether you sometimes think of me, and
of next May, and "The Tempest." It is certainly expecting a good
deal to ask you for an early reply to my letter, but I fear that
you had enough of the first, and would rather not receive a second;
therefore I take courage, and beg for an answer to this one. But I
need not have asked this, for you usually guess my wishes before I
can utter them; and if you are as kindly disposed towards me now
as you were then, you will fulfil this desire of mine as you did
all the others.--Yours,


     Paris, January 14th, 1832.

I now first begin to feel at home here, and really to know Paris;
it is indeed the most singular and amusing place imaginable; but
for one who is no politician, it does not possess so much interest.
So I have become a _doctrinaire_. I read my newspaper every
morning, form my own opinion about peace and war, and, only among
friends, confess that I know nothing of the matter.

This is however not the case with F----, who is completely absorbed
in the vortex of dilettantism and dogmatism, and really believes
himself quite adapted to be a Minister. It is a sad pity, for
nothing good will ever come of it. He has sufficient sense to be
always occupied, but not enough to conduct any affair. He is a
_dilettante_ on all points, and has a clever knack of criticizing
others, but he produces nothing. We continue on the same intimate
terms, meeting every day, and liking each other's society, but
inwardly we remain strangers. I suspect that he writes for the
public papers; he is very much with Heine, and chatters abuse
against Germany like a magpie; all this I much dislike, and as I
really have a sincere regard for him, it worries me. I suppose I
must try to become accustomed to it, but it is really too sad to
know where a person is deficient, and yet to be unable to remedy
their defects. Moreover he grows visibly older; so this irregular,
unoccupied life is the less suitable for him.

A---- has left his parents' house, and gone to the Rue
Monsigny,[30] where body and soul are equally engrossed. I have in
my possession an appeal to mankind from P---- in which he makes his
confession of faith, and invites every one to surrender a share of
his property, however small, to the St. Simoniens; calling on all
artists to devote their genius in future to this religion; to
compose better music than Rossini or Beethoven; to build temples of
peace, and to paint like Raphael or David. I have twenty copies of
this pamphlet, which P---- desired me, dear Father, to send to you.
I rest satisfied by sending you _one_, which you will find quite
enough, and even that one, by some private hand of course.

  [30] At that time the residence of the St. Simoniens.

It is a bad sign of the state of the public mind here, that such a
monstrous doctrine, in such detestable prose, should ever have
existed, or impressed others; for it appears that the students of
the Polytechnic School take considerable interest in it. It is
difficult to say how far it may be carried, when there is
temptation offered on every side, promising honour to one, fame to
another; to me, an admiring public, and to the poor, money; while
by their cold estimate of talent, they check all effort, and all
progress. And then their ideas as to universal brotherhood, their
disbelief in hell, and the devil, and eternal perdition, and of the
annihilation of all egotism,--ideas, which in our country spring
from nature, and prevail in every part of Christendom, and without
which I should not wish to live, but which they however regard as a
new invention and discovery, constantly repeating that they mean to
transform the world, and to render mankind happy. A---- coolly
tells me that he does not require to improve himself, but others
only; because he is not at all imperfect, but on the contrary,
perfect. They not only praise and compliment each other, but all
those whom they wish to gain over; extolling any talent or
capability you may possess, and lamenting that such great powers
should be lost, by adhering to the old-fashioned notions of duty,
vocation, and action, as they were formerly interpreted. When I
listen to all this, it does seem to me a melancholy mystification.
I attended a meeting last Sunday, where all the Fathers sat in a
circle: then came the principal Father and demanded their reports,
praising and blaming them, addressing the assembly, and issuing his
commands; to me it was quite awful! A---- has completely renounced
his parents, and lives with the Fathers, his disciples, and is
endeavouring to procure a loan for their benefit; but enough of
this subject!

A Pole gives a concert next week, where I am to play in a
composition for six performers, along with Kalkbrenner, Hiller,
and Co.; do not be surprised therefore if you see my name
mutilated, as in the "Messager" lately, when the death of Professor
Flegel (Hegel) was announced from Berlin, and all the papers copied

I have set to work again, and live most agreeably. I have not yet
been able to write to you about the theatres, although they occupy
me very much. How plain are the symptoms of bitterness and
excitement even in the most insignificant farce; how invariably
everything bears a reference to politics; how completely what is
called the Romantic School has infected all the Parisians, for they
think of nothing on the stage now but the plague, the gallows, the
devil, etc., one striving to outstrip the other in horrors, and in
liberalism; in the midst of these _misères_ and fooleries, how
charming is a talent like that of Léontine Fay, who is the
perfection of grace and fascination, and remains unsullied by the
absurdities she is compelled to utter and to act. How strange all
these contrasts are! but this I reserve for future discussion.


     Paris, January 21st, 1832.

In every letter of yours I receive a little hit, because my answers
are not very punctual, and so I reply without delay to your
questions, dear Fanny, with regard to the new works that I am about
to publish.

It occurred to me that the octett and the quintett might make a
very good appearance among my works, being in fact better than many
compositions that already figure there. As the publication of these
pieces costs me nothing, but, on the contrary, I derive profit from
them, and not wishing to confuse their chronological order, my idea
is to publish the following pieces at Easter:--quintett and octett
(the latter also arranged as a duet), "Midsummer Night's Dream,"
seven songs without words, six songs with words; on my return to
Germany, six pieces of sacred music, and finally, if I can get any
one to print it, and to pay for it, the symphony in D minor. As
soon as I have performed "Meeresstille" at my concert in Berlin, it
will also appear. I cannot however bring out "The Hebrides" here,
because, as I wrote to you at the time, I do not consider it
finished; the middle movement forte in D major is very stupid, and
the whole modulations savour more of counterpoint, than of train
oil and seagulls and salt fish--and it ought to be exactly the
reverse. I like the piece too well to allow it to be performed in
an imperfect state, and I hope soon to be able to work at it, and
to have it ready for England, and the Michaelmas fair at Leipzig.

You inquire also why I do not compose the Italian symphony in A
major. Because I am composing the Saxon overture in A minor, which
is to precede the "Walpurgis Night," that the work may be played
with all due honour at the said Berlin concert, and elsewhere.

You wish me to remove to the Marais, and to write the whole day. My
dear child, that would never do; I have, at the most, only the
prospect of three months to see Paris, so I must throw myself into
the stream; indeed, this is why I came; everything here is too
bright, and too attractive to be neglected; it rounds off my
pleasant travelling reminiscences, and forms a fine colossal
key-stone, and so I consider that to see Paris is at this moment my
chief vocation. The publishers too are standing on each side of me
like veritable Satans, demanding music for the piano, and offering
to pay for it. By Heavens! I don't know whether I shall be able to
withstand this, or write some kind of trio; for I hope you believe
me to be superior to the temptation of a _pot-pourri_; but I should
like to compose a couple of good trios.

On Thursday the first rehearsal of my overture takes place, which
is to be performed in the second concert at the "Conservatoire." In
the third my symphony in D minor is to follow. Habeneck talks of
seven or eight rehearsals, which will be very welcome to me.
Moreover I am also to play something at Erard's concert; so I shall
play my Munich concerto, but I must first practise it well. Then, a
note is lying beside me, "Le Président du Conseil, Ministre de
l'Intérieur, et Madame Casimir Périer prient," etc., on Monday
evening to a ball; this evening there is to be music at Habeneck's;
to-morrow at Schlesinger's; Tuesday, the first public _soirée_ at
Baillot's; on Wednesday, Hiller plays his Concerto in the Hôtel de
Ville, and this always lasts till past midnight. Let those who like
it, lead a solitary life! these are all things that cannot be
refused. So when am I to compose? In the forenoon? Yesterday, first
Hiller came, then Kalkbrenner, then Habeneck. The day before that,
came Baillot, Eichthal, and Rodrigues. Perhaps very early in the
morning? Well, I do compose then--so you are confuted!

P---- was with me yesterday, talking St. Simonienism, and either
from a conviction of my stupidity, or my shrewdness, he made me
disclosures which shocked me so much, that I resolved never again
to go either to him or to his confederates. Early this morning
Hiller rushed in, and told me he had just witnessed the arrest of
the St. Simoniens. He wished to hear their orations; but the
Fathers did not come. All of a sudden soldiers made their way in,
and requested those present to disperse as quickly as possible,
inasmuch as M. Enfantin and the others had been arrested in the Rue
Monsigny. A party of National Guards are placed in the street, and
other soldiers marched up there; everything is sealed up, and now
the _procès_ will begin. My B minor quartett, which is lying in the
Rue Monsigny, is also sealed up. The adagio alone is in the style
of the "juste Milieu," all the other parts _mouvement_. I suppose I
shall eventually be obliged to play it before a jury.

I was lately standing beside the Abbé Bardin at a large party,
listening to the performance of my quartett in A minor. At the last
movement my neighbour pulled my coat, and said: "Il a cela dans
une de ses sinfonies." "Qui?" said I, rather embarrassed.
"Beethoven, l'auteur de ce quatuor," said he, with a consequential
air. This was a very doubtful compliment! but is it not famous that
my quartett should be played in the classes of the Conservatoire,
and that the pupils there are practising off their fingers to play
"Ist es wahr?"

I have just come from St. Sulpice, where the organist showed off
his organ to me; it sounded like a full chorus of old women's
voices; but they maintain that it is the finest organ in Europe if
it were only put into proper order, which would cost thirty
thousand francs. The effect of the _canto fermo_, accompanied by a
serpent, those who have not heard it could scarcely conceive, and
clumsy bells are ringing all the time.

The post is going, so I must conclude my gossip, or I might go on
in this manner till the day after to-morrow. I have not yet told
you that Bach's "Passion" is announced for performance in London,
at Easter, in the Italian Opera House.--Yours,


     Paris, February 4th, 1832.

You will, I am sure, excuse my writing you only a few words to-day:
it was but yesterday that I heard of my irreparable loss.[31] Many
hopes, and a pleasant bright period of my life have departed with
him, and I never again can feel so happy. I must now set about
forming new plans, and building fresh castles in the air; the
former ones are irrevocably gone, for he was interwoven with them
all. I shall never be able to think of my boyish days, nor of the
ensuing ones, without connecting him with them, and I had hoped,
till now, that it might be the same for the future. I must
endeavour to inure myself to this, but I can recall no one thing
without being reminded of him; I shall never hear music, or write
it, without thinking of him; all this makes the rending asunder of
such a tie doubly distressing. The former epoch has now wholly
passed away, but not only do I lose that, but also the man I so
sincerely loved. If I never had any especial reason for loving him,
or if I no longer had such reasons, I must have loved him all the
same, even without a reason. He loved me too, and the knowledge
that there was such a man in the world--one on whom you could
repose, and who lived to love you, and whose wishes and aims were
identical with your own--this is all over: it is the most severe
blow I have ever received, and never can I forget him.

  [31] The death of his friend Edward Ritz, the violin player.

This was the celebration of my birthday. When I was listening to
Baillot on Tuesday, and said to Hiller that I only knew one man who
could play the music I loved for me, L---- was standing beside me,
and knew what had happened, but did not give me the letter. He was
not aware indeed that yesterday was my birthday, but he broke it to
me by degrees yesterday morning, and then I recalled previous
anniversaries, and took a review of the past, as every one should
on his birthday; I remembered how invariably on this day he arrived
with some special gift which he had long thought of, and which was
always as pleasing and agreeable and welcome as himself. The day
was a melancholy one to me: I could neither do anything, nor think
of anything, but the one subject.

To-day I have compelled myself to work, and succeeded. My overture
in A minor is finished. I think of writing some pieces here, which
will be well remunerated.

I beg you will tell me every particular about him, and every
detail, no matter how trifling; it will be a comfort to me to hear
of him once more. The octett parts, so neatly copied by him, are
lying before me at this moment, and remind me of him. I hope
shortly to recover my usual equanimity, and to be able to write to
you in better spirits and more at length. A new chapter in my life
has begun, but as yet it has no title. Your


     Paris, February 13th, 1832.

I am now leading a quiet, pleasant life here; neither my present
frame of mind, nor the pleasures of society, tempt me to enter into
gaiety. Here, and indeed everywhere else, society is uninteresting,
and not improving, and owing to the late hours, monopolizing a
great deal of time. I do not refuse, however, when there is to be
good music. I will write all particulars to Zelter of the first
concert in the Conservatoire. The performers there play quite
admirably, and in so finished a style, that it is indeed a pleasure
to hear them; they delight in it themselves, and each takes the
greatest possible trouble; the leader is an energetic, experienced
musician, so they cannot fail to go well together.

To-morrow my A minor quartett is to be performed in public.
Cherubini says of Beethoven's later music, "Ça me fait éternuer,"
and so I think it probable that the whole public will sneeze
to-morrow. The performers are Baillot, Sauzay, Urhan, and
Norblin--the best here.

My overture in A minor is completed; it represents bad weather. A
few days ago I finished an introduction, where it thaws, and spring
arrives; I have counted the sheets of the "Walpurgis Night,"
revised the seven numbers a little, and then boldly written
underneath--Milan, July; Paris, February. I think it will please
you. I must now write an adagio for my quintett without delay; the
performers are calling loudly for one, and they are right.

I do wish you could hear a rehearsal of my "Midsummer Night's
Dream" at the Conservatoire, where they play it most beautifully.
It is not yet certain whether it will be ready by next Sunday;
there are to be two more rehearsals before then, but as yet it has
only been twice played over. I think however that it will do, and I
would rather it was given on Sunday than at the third concert,
because I am to play on behalf of the poor on the 26th (something
of Weber's), and on the 27th at Erard's concert (my Munich
Concerto), and at other places, and I should like my composition to
appear first at the "Conservatoire." I am also to play there, and
the members are anxious that I should give them a Sonata of
Beethoven's; it may seem bold, but I prefer his Concerto in G
major, which is quite unknown here.

I look forward with the utmost delight to the symphony in D minor,
which is to be rehearsed next week; I certainly never dreamt that I
should hear it in Paris for the first time.

I often visit the theatre, where I see a great display of wit and
talent, but a degree of immorality that almost exceeds belief. It
is supposed that no lady can go to the "Gymnase"--still they do go.
Depict me to yourself as reading "Notre Dame," dining with one or
other of my acquaintances every day, and taking advantage of the
lovely bright spring weather after three o'clock, to take a walk,
and to pay a few visits, and to look at the gaily-dressed ladies
and gentlemen in the splendid gardens of the Tuileries--then you
will have my day in Paris. Adieu.


     Paris, February 21st, 1832.

Almost every letter that I receive from you now announces some sad
loss. Yesterday I got the one in which you tell me about poor
U----, whom I shall no longer find with you; so this is not a time
for idle talk; I feel that I must work, and strive to make

I have composed a grand adagio as an intermezzo for the quintett.
It is called "Nachruf," and it occurred to me, as I had to compose
something for Baillot, who plays so beautifully, and is so kindly
disposed towards me, and who wishes to perform it in public; and
yet he is only a recent acquaintance. Two days ago my overture to
the "Midsummer Night's Dream" was given for the first time at a
concert in the Conservatoire. It caused me great pleasure, for it
went admirably, and seemed also to please the audience. It is to be
repeated at one of the ensuing concerts, and my symphony, which has
been rather delayed on this account, is to be rehearsed on Friday
or Saturday. In the fourth or fifth concert, I am to play
Beethoven's Concerto in G major.

The musicians are all amazement at the honours conferred on me by
the Conservatoire. They played my A minor quartett wonderfully last
Tuesday, with such fire and precision, that it was delightful to
listen to them, and as I can never again hear Ritz, I shall
probably never hear it better given. It appeared to make a great
impression on the audience, and at the scherzo they were quite

It is now high time, dear father, to write you a few words with
regard to my travelling plans, and on this occasion in a more
serious strain than usual, for many reasons. I must first, in
taking a general view of the past, refer to what you designed to be
the chief object of my journey; desiring me strictly to adhere to
it. I was closely to examine the various countries, and to fix on
the one where I wished to live and to work; I was further to make
known my name and capabilities, in order that the people, among
whom I resolved to settle, should receive me well, and not be
wholly ignorant of my career; and, finally, I was to take advantage
of my own good fortune, and your kindness, to press forward in my
subsequent efforts. It is a happy feeling to be able to say, that I
believe this has been the case.

Always excepting those mistakes which are not discovered till too
late, I think I have fulfilled the appointed object. People now
know that I exist, and that I have a purpose, and any talent that I
display, they are ready to approve and to accept. They have _made
advances_ to me here, and _proposed_ to take my music, which they
seldom do; as all the others, even Onslow, have been obliged to
_offer_ their compositions. The London Philharmonic have requested
me to perform something new of my own there on the 10th of March. I
also got the commission from Munich without taking any step
whatever to obtain it, and indeed not till _after_ my concert. It
is my intention to give a concert here (if possible) and certainly
in London in April, if the cholera does not prevent my going there;
and this on my own account, in order to make money; I hope,
therefore, I may say that I have also fulfilled this part of your
wish--that I should make myself known to the public before
returning to you.

Your injunction, too, to make choice of the country that I
preferred to live in, I have equally performed, at least in a
general point of view. That country is Germany. This is a point on
which I have now quite made up my mind. I cannot yet, however,
decide on the particular city, for the most important of all, which
for various reasons has so many attractions for me. I have not yet
thought of in this light--I allude to Berlin. On my return,
therefore, I must ascertain whether I can remain and establish
myself there, according to my views and wishes, after having seen
and enjoyed other places.

This is also why I do not endeavour to get the commission for an
opera here. If I compose really good music, which in these days is
indispensable, it will both be understood and valued in Germany.
(This has been the case with all the good operas there.) If I
compose indifferent music, it will be quickly forgotten in Germany,
but here it would be often performed and extolled, and sent to
Germany, and given there on the authority of Paris, as we daily
see. But I do not choose this; and if I am not capable of composing
good music, I have no wish to be praised for it. So I shall first
try Germany; and if things go so badly that I can no longer live
there, I can then have recourse to some foreign country. Besides,
few German theatres are so bad or in so dilapidated a condition as
the Opéra Comique here. One bankruptcy succeeds another. When
Cherubini is asked why he does not allow his operas to be given
there, he replies, "Je ne sais pas donner des opéras, sans choeur,
sans orchestre, sans chanteurs, et sans décorations." The Grand
Opéra has bespoken operas for years to come, so there is no chance
of anything being accepted by it for the next three or four years.

In the meantime therefore I intend to return to you to write my
"Tempest," and to see how it succeeds. The plan, therefore, dear
father, that I wish to lay before you is this--to remain here till
the end of March, or the beginning of April, (the invitation to the
Philharmonic for the 10th of March, I have of course declined, or
rather postponed,) then to go to London for a couple of months. If
the Rhenish musical festival takes place, to which I am summoned, I
shall go to Düsseldorf; and if not, return direct to you by the
shortest road, and be by your side in the garden soon after
Whitsunday. Farewell!


     Paris, March 15th, 1832.

     Dear Mother,


This is the 15th of March, 1832. May every happiness and good
attend you on this day. You prefer _receiving_ my letter on your
birthday, to its being written on the day itself; but forgive me
for saying that I cannot reconcile myself to this. My father said
that no one could tell what might occur subsequently, therefore the
letter ought to arrive on the anniversary of the day; but then I
have this feeling in _double_ measure, as I neither in that case
know what is to occur to _you_ on that day, nor to _myself_; but if
your birthday be actually arrived, then I almost feel as if I were
beside you, though you cannot hear my congratulations; but I can
then send them to you, without any other solicitude than that of
absence. This too will soon be over, please God. May He preserve
you, and all at home, happily to me!

I have now begun to throw myself in right earnest into a musical
life, and as I know this must be satisfactory to you, I will write
some details; for a letter and a sketch-book that I wished to send
you some days ago by Mortier's aide-de-camp, are still waiting,
like all Paris, for the departure of the Marshal, which does not
however take place. If the letter and the book do eventually reach
you through this man, pray give a kind reception to the whole
consignment, but especially to the man (Count Perthuis), for he is
one of the most friendly and amiable persons I ever met with.

I had told you in that letter, that I am to play Beethoven's
Concerto in G major two days hence, in the Conservatoire, and that
the whole Court are to be present for the first time at the
concert. K---- is ready to poison me from envy; he at first tried
by a thousand intrigues to prevent my playing altogether, and when
he heard that the Queen was actually coming, the did everything in
his power to get me out of the way. Happily all the other members
of the Conservatoire, the all-powerful Habeneck in particular, are
my faithful allies, and so he signally failed. He is the only
musician here who acts unkindly and hypocritically towards me; and
though I never placed much confidence in him, still it is always a
very painful sensation to know that you are in the society of a
person who hates you, but is careful not to show it.

     The 17th.

I could not finish this letter, because during the last few days
the incessant music I told you of, has been so overwhelming, that I
really scarcely knew which way to turn. A mere catalogue therefore
of all I have done, and have still to do, must suffice for to-day,
and at the same time plead my excuse.

I have just come back from a rehearsal at the Conservatoire. We
rehearsed steadily; twice yesterday, and to-day almost everything
repeated, but now all goes swimmingly. If the audience to-morrow
are only half as enchanted as the orchestra to-day, we shall do
well; for they shouted loudly for the adagio _da capo_, and
Habeneck made them a little speech, to point out to them that at
the close there was a solo bar, which they must be so good as to
wait for. You would be gratified to see all the little kindnesses
and courtesies the latter shows me. At the end of each movement of
the symphony, he asks me if there is anything I do not approve of,
so I have been able for the first time, to introduce into the
French orchestra some favourite _nuances_ of my own.

After the rehearsal Baillot played my octett in his class, and if
any man in the world can play it, he is the man. His performance
was finer than I ever heard it, and so was that of Urhan, Norblin,
and the others, who all attacked the piece with the most ardent
energy and spirit.

Besides all this, I must finish the arrangement of the overture and
the octett, and revise the quintett, as Simrock has bought it. I
must write out "Lieder," and enjoy the author's delight of working
up my B minor quartett, for it is to be brought out here by two
different publishers, who have requested me to make some
alterations before it is published. Finally, I have _soirées_ every
evening. To-night Bohrer's; to-morrow a fête, with all the violin
_gamins_ of the Conservatoire; next day, Rothschild; Tuesday, the
Société des Beaux-Arts; Wednesday my octett at the Abbé Bardin's;
Thursday my octett at Madame Kiéné's; Friday, a concert at Érard's;
Sunday, a concert at Léo's; and lastly, on Monday--laugh if you
choose--my octett is to be performed in a church, at a funeral Mass
in commemoration of Beethoven. This is the strangest thing the
world ever yet saw, but I could not refuse, and I in some degree
enjoy the thoughts of being present, when Low Mass is read during
the scherzo. I can scarcely imagine anything more absurd than a
priest at the altar and my scherzo going on. It is like travelling
_incognito_. Last of all Baillot gives a grand concert on the 7th
of April, and so I have promised him to remain here till then, and
to play a Concerto of Mozart's for him, and some other piece.

On the 8th I take my place in the diligence, and set off to London,
but before doing so I shall have heard my symphony in the
Conservatoire, and sold various pieces, and shall leave this,
rejoicing in the friendly reception I have met with from the
musicians here.--Farewell!


     Paris, March 31st, 1832.

Pray forgive my long silence, but I had nothing cheering to
communicate, and am always very unwilling to write gloomy letters.
Indeed, this being the case, I had better still have remained
silent, for I am in anything but a gay mood. But now that we have
the spectre here,[32] I mean to write to you regularly, that you
may know that I am well, and pursuing my work.

  [32] The cholera.

The sad news of Goethe's loss makes me feel poor indeed! What a
blow to the country! It is another of those mournful events
connected with my stay here, which will always recur to my mind at
the very name of Paris; and not all the kindness I have received,
nor the tumult and excitement, nor the life and gaiety here, can
ever efface this impression. May it please God to preserve me from
still worse tidings, and grant us all a happy meeting; this is the
chief thing!

Various circumstances have induced me to delay my departure from
here for at least a fortnight,--that is, till the middle of April;
and the idea of my concert has begun to revive in my mind; I mean
to accomplish it too, if the cholera does not deter people from
musical, or any other kind of réunions. We shall know this in the
course of a week, and in any case I must remain here till then. I
believe however that everything will go on in the usual regular
course, and "Figaro" prove to be in the right, who wrote an article
called "Enfoncé le choléra," in which he says that Paris is the
grave of all reputations, for no one there ever admired anything;
yawning at Paganini (he does not seem to please much this time),
and not even looking round in the street at an Emperor or a Dey; so
possibly this malady might also lose its formidable reputation

Count Perthuis has no doubt told you of my playing at the
Conservatoire. The French say that it was _un beau succès_, and the
audience were pleased. The Queen, too, sent me all sorts of fine
compliments on the subject. On Saturday I am again to play twice in
public. My octett, in church on Monday last, exceeded in absurdity
anything the world ever saw or heard of. While the priest was
officiating at the altar during the scherzo, it really sounded like
"Fliegenschnauz und Mückennas, verfluchte Dilettanten." The people
however considered it very fine sacred music.

I am indeed delighted, dear Father, that my quartett in B minor
pleases you; it is a favourite of mine, and I like to play it,
although the adagio is much too cloying; still, the scherzo that
follows has all the more effect. I can see that you seem rather
inclined to deride my A minor quartett, when you say that there is
a piece of instrumental music which has made you rack your brains
to discover the composer's thoughts; when, in fact, he probably had
no thoughts at all. I must defend the work, for I love it; but it
certainly depends very much on the way in which it is executed, and
one single musician who could perform it with zeal and sympathy, as
Taubert did, would make a vast difference.--Your



     London, April 27th, 1832.

I wish I could only describe how happy I feel to be here once more;
how much I like everything, and how gratified I am by the kindness
of old friends; but as it is all going on at this moment, I must be
brief for to-day.

I have also a number of people to seek out whom I have not yet
seen, whilst I have been living with Klingemann, Rosen, and
Moscheles, in as close intimacy as if we had never been parted.
They form the nucleus of my present sojourn; we see each other
every day; it is such a pleasure to me to be once more with good,
earnest men, and true friends, with whom I do not require to be on
my guard, nor to study them either. Moscheles and his wife show me
a degree of touching kindness, which I value the more as my regard
for them increases; and then the feeling of restored health, as if
I lived afresh, and had come anew into this world--all these are

  [33] Felix Mendelssohn had an attack of cholera during the last
  weeks of his stay in Paris.

     May 11th.

I cannot describe to you the happiness of these first weeks here.
As from time to time every evil seems to accumulate, as it did
during my winter in Paris, where I lost some of my most beloved
friends, and never felt at home, and at last became very ill; so
the reverse sometimes occurs, and thus it is in this charming
country, where I am once more amongst friends, and am well, and
among well-wishers, and enjoy in the fullest measure the sensation
of returning health. Moreover it is warm, the lilacs are in bloom,
and music is going on: only imagine how pleasant all this is!

I must really describe one happy morning last week: of all the
flattering demonstrations I have hitherto received, it is the one
which has most touched and affected me, and perhaps the only one
which I shall always recall with fresh pleasure. There was a
rehearsal last Saturday at the Philharmonic, where however nothing
of mine was given, my overture not being yet written out. After
"Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony," during which I was in a box, I
wished to go into the room to talk to some old friends; scarcely,
however, had I gone down below, when one of the orchestra called
out, "There is Mendelssohn!" on which they all began shouting, and
clapping their hands to such a degree, that for a time I really did
not know what to do; and when this was over, another called out
"Welcome to him!" on which the same uproar recommenced, and I was
obliged to cross the room, and to clamber into the orchestra and
return thanks.

Never can I forget it, for it was more precious to me than any
distinction, as it showed me that the _musicians_ loved me, and
rejoiced at my coming, and I cannot tell you what a glad feeling
this was.

     May 18th.

     Dear Father,

I have received your letter of the 9th; God grant that Zelter may
by this time be safe, and out of danger! You say indeed that he
already is so, but I shall anxiously expect your next letter, to
see the news of his recovery confirmed. I have dreaded this ever
since Goethe's death, but when it actually occurs, it is a very
different thing. May Heaven avert it!

Pray tell me also what your mean by saying "there is no doubt that
Zelter both wishes, and requires, to have you with him, because, at
all events for the present, it is quite impossible for him to carry
on the Academy, whence it is evident that if you do not undertake
it, another must." Has Zelter expressed this wish to you, or do you
only imagine that he entertains it? If the former were the case, I
would instantly, on receiving your reply, write to Zelter, and
offer him every service in my power, of every kind, and try to
relieve him from all his labours, for as long a period as he
desired; and this it certainly would be my duty to do.

I intended to have written to Lichtenstein before my return about
the proposal formerly made to me,[34] but of course I have given up
all thoughts of doing so at present; for on no account would I
assume that Zelter could not resume his duties, and even in that
event, I could not reconcile myself to discuss the matter with any
one but himself; every other mode of proceeding I should consider
unfair towards him. If however he requires my services, I am ready,
and shall rejoice if I can be of any use to him, but still more so,
if he does not want me, and is entirely recovered. I beg you will
write me a few words on this subject.

  [34] In reference to a situation in the Singacademie.

I must now inform you of my plans and engagements till I leave
this. Yesterday I finished the "Rondeau brillant," and I am to play
it this day week at Mori's evening concert. The day after I
rehearse my Munich Concerto at the Philharmonic, and play it on
Monday the 28th at their concert; on the 1st of June Moscheles'
concert, where, with him, I play a Concerto of Mozart's for two
pianos, and conduct my two overtures, "The Hebrides" and "The
Midsummer Night's Dream." Finally, the last Philharmonic is on the
11th, where I am to conduct some piece.

I must finish the arrangement for Cramer, and some "Lieder" for the
piano, also some songs with English words, besides some German ones
for myself, for after all it is spring, and the lilacs are in
bloom. Last Monday "The Hebrides" was given for the first time in
the Philharmonic; it went admirably, and sounded very quaint among
a variety of Rossini pieces. The audience received both me and my
work with extreme kindness. This evening is Mr. Vaughan's concert;
but I am sure you must be quite sick of hearing of so many
concerts, so I conclude.

     Norwood, Surrey, May 25th.

These are hard times, and many are laid low![35] May it please God
to preserve you all to me, and to grant us a joyful meeting! You
will receive this letter from the same villa whence I wrote to you
three years ago last November, just before my return.

  [35] He had received the news of Zelter's death.

I have now come out here for a few days to rest, and to collect my
thoughts, just as I did at that time, on account of my health. All
is unchanged here; my room is precisely the same; even the music in
the old cupboard stands exactly in the same spot; the people are
quite as considerate, and quiet, and attentive as formerly, and the
three years have passed over both them and their house, as
peacefully as if half the world had not been uprooted during that

It is pleasant to see; the only difference is, that we have now gay
spring, and apple-blossoms, and lilacs, and all kinds of flowers,
whereas at that time we had autumn, with its fogs and blazing
fires; but how much is now gone for ever, that we then still had;
this gives much food for thought. Just as at that time I wrote to
you saying little, save "farewell till we meet;" so must it be
to-day also. It will indeed be a graver meeting, and I bring no
"Liederspiel" with me composed in this room, as the former one was,
but God grant I may only find you all well.

You write, dear Fanny, that I ought especially to hasten my return,
in order if possible to secure the situation in the Academy; but
this I do not choose to do. I shall return as soon as I can,
because my father writes that he wishes me to do so; I therefore
intend to set off in about a fortnight, but solely for _that_
reason; the other motive would rather tend to detain me here,
indeed, if any motive could do so; for I will in no manner solicit
the situation.

When I reminded my father formerly of the proposal of the Director,
the reason which he then advanced against it, seemed to me
perfectly just; he said that he regarded this place rather as a
sinecure for more advanced years, "when the Academy might be
resorted to as a harbour of refuge." For the next few years I
aspire as little to _this_ as to any other situation; my purpose is
to live by the fruits of my labours, just as I do here, and my
resolve is to be independent. Considering the peculiar position of
the Academy, the small salary they give, and the great influence
they might exercise, the place of Director seems to me only an
honourable post, which I have no desire to _sue_ for. If they were
to offer it to me, I would accept it, because I promised formerly
to do so; but only for a settled time and on certain conditions;
and if they do not intend to offer it, then my presence can be of
no possible use. I do not certainly require to convince them of my
capability for the office, and I neither will, nor can, intrigue.
Besides, for the reasons I mentioned in a previous letter, I cannot
leave England till after the 11th, and the affair will no doubt be
decided before that time.

I beg that no step of any kind may be taken on my behalf, except
_that_ which my father mentioned concerning my immediate return;
but nothing in the smallest degree approaching to solicitation; and
when they do make their choice, I only hope that they may find a
man who will perform his duties with as much zeal as old Zelter.

I received the intelligence in the morning just as I was going to
write to him; then came a rehearsal of my new piece for the piano,
with its wild gaiety, and when the musicians were applauding and
complimenting me, I could not help feeling strongly, that I was
indeed in a foreign land. I then came here, where I found both men
and places unchanged; but Hauser unexpectedly arrived, and we fell
into each other's arms, and recalled the happy days we had enjoyed
together in South Germany the previous autumn, and all that has
passed away for ever, during the last six months. Your mournful
news was always present to me in its sad reality--so this is the
manner in which I have spent the last few days here. Forgive me for
not being able to write properly to-day. I go to town this evening
to play, and also to-morrow, Sunday, and Monday.

I have now a favour to ask of you, dear Father, in reference to the
cantatas of Sebastian Bach, which Zelter possessed. If you can
possibly prevent their being disposed of before my return, pray do
so, for I am most anxious at any price to see the entire collection
before it is dispersed.

I might have told you of many agreeable things that have occurred
to me during the last few weeks, for every day brings me fresh
proofs that the people like me, and are glad to associate with me;
which is gratifying, and makes my life here easy and pleasant; but
to-day I really cannot. Perhaps in my next letter my spirits may be
sufficiently restored, to return to my usual narrative style.

Many remembrances from the Moscheles; they are excellent people,
and after so long an interval, it is most cheering once more to
meet an artist, who is not a victim to envy, jealousy, or miserable
egotism. He makes continued and steady progress in his art.

The warm sun is shining out-of-doors, so I shall now go down into
the garden, to perform some gymnastics there, and to smell the
lilacs; this will show you that I am well.

     London, June 1st.

On the day that I received the news of Zelter's death, I thought
that I should have had a serious illness, and indeed during the
whole of the ensuing week I could not shake off this feeling. My
manifold engagements however have now diverted my thoughts, and
brought me to myself, or rather out of myself. I am well again, and
very busy.

First of all I must thank you, dear Father, for your kind letter.
It is in a great measure already answered by my previous one, but I
will now repeat why I decline sending any application to the

In the first place, I quite agree with your former opinion, that
this situation in the Academy is not desirable at the outset of my
career; indeed I could only accept it for a certain time, and under
particular conditions, and even then, solely to perform my
previous promise. If I solicit it, I am bound to accept the place,
as they choose to give it, and to comply with their conditions as
to salary, duties, etc., though I do not as yet even know what
these are.

In the second place, the reason they gave you why I should write,
seems to me neither a true nor a straightforward one. They say they
wish to be certain I will accept of it, and that on this account I
must enroll myself among the candidates; but they _offered_ it to
me three years ago, and Lichtenstein said they did so to ascertain
if I would take it, and begged me to give a distinct answer on this
point; at that time I said _yes_, that I was willing to carry it
on, along with Rungenhagen. I am not sure that I should think the
same now; but as I said so then, I can no longer draw back, and
must keep my word. It is not necessary to repeat my assent, for as
I once gave it, so it must remain; still less can I do so when I
should have to _offer_ myself to them for the post they once
_offered to me_. If they were disposed to adhere to their former
offer, they would not require me to take a step which they took
themselves three years ago; on the contrary, they would remember
the assent I then gave, for they must know that I am incapable of
breaking such a promise.

A confirmation of my former promise is therefore quite unnecessary,
and if they intend to appoint another to the situation, my letter
would not prevent their doing so. I must further refer to my letter
from Paris, in which I told you that I wished to return to Berlin
in the spring, as it was the only city in Germany with which I was
still unacquainted.

This is my well-weighed purpose; I do not know how I shall get on
in Berlin, or whether I shall be able to remain there,--that is,
whether I shall be able to enjoy the same facilities for work, and
progress, that are offered to me in other places. The only house
that I know in Berlin is our own, and I feel certain I shall be
quite happy there; but I must also be in a position to be actively
employed, and this I shall discover when I return. I hope that all
will come to pass as I wish, for of course the spot where _you_
live must be always dearest to me; but till I know this to a
certainty I do not wish to fetter myself by any situation.

I conclude, because I have a vast deal to do to enable me to set
off after the next Philharmonic. I must publish several pieces
before I go; I receive numbers of commissions on all sides, and
some so gratifying that I exceedingly regret not being able to set
to work at once.

Among others, I this morning got a note from a publisher, who
wishes me to give him the score of two grand pieces of sacred
music, for morning and evening service; you may imagine how much I
am pleased with this proposal, and immediately on my arrival in the
Leipziger Strasse I intend to begin them.

"The Hebrides" I mean to reserve for a time for myself, before
arranging it as a duet; but my new rondo is in hand, and I must
finish those everlasting "Lieder" for the piano, as well as
various other arrangements, and probably the Concerto. I played it
last Monday in the Philharmonic, and I think I never in my life had
such success. The audience were crazy with delight, and declared it
was my best work.

I am now going to Moscheles' concert, to conduct there, and to play
Mozart's Concerto, in which I have inserted two long cadences for
each of us.



*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy from Italy and Switzerland" ***

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