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Chapter VIII

Disappointment--Ill Health--Visit to England--Devotion of
Friends--Last Sacraments--Delphina Potocka--Louise--M. Gutman--
Death.



FROM the date of 1840, the health of Chopin, affected by so many
changes, visibly declined. During some years, his most tranquil
hours were spent at Nohant, where he seemed to suffer less than
elsewhere. He composed there, with pleasure, bringing with him
every year to Paris several new compositions, but every winter
caused him an increase of suffering. Motion became at first
difficult, and soon almost impossible to him. From 1846 to 1847,
he scarcely walked at all; he could not ascend the staircase
without the most painful sensation of suffocation, and his life
was only prolonged through continual care and the greatest
precaution.

Towards the Spring of 1847, as his health grew more precarious
from day to day, he was attacked by an illness from which it was
thought he could never recover. He was saved for the last time;
but this epoch was marked by an event so agonizing to his heart
that he immediately called it mortal. Indeed, he did not long
survive the rupture of his friendship with Madame Sand, which
took place at this date. Madame de Stael, who, in spite of her
generous and impassioned heart, her subtle and vivid intellect,
fell sometimes into the fault of making her sentences heavy
through a species of pedantry which robbed them of the grace of
"abandon,"--remarked on one of those occasions when the strength
of her feelings made her forget the solemnity of her Genevese
stiffness: "In affection, there are only beginnings!"

This exclamation was based upon the bitter experience of the
insufficiency of the human heart to accomplish the beautiful and
blissful dreams of the imagination. Ah! if some blessed examples
of human devotion did not sometimes occur to contradict the
melancholy words of Madame de Stael, which so many illustrious as
well as obscure facts seem to prove, our suspicions might lead us
to be guilty of much ingratitude and want of trust; we might be
led to doubt the sincerity of the hearts which surround us, and
see but the allegorical symbols of human affections in the
antique train of the beautiful Canephoroe, who carried the
fragile and perfumed flowers to adorn some hapless victim for the
altar!

Chopin spoke frequently and almost by preference of Madame Sand,
without bitterness or recrimination. Tears always filled his eyes
when he named her; but with a kind of bitter sweetness he gave
himself up to the memories of past days, alas, now. He stripped
of their manifold significance! In spite of the many subterfuges
employed by his friends to entice him from dwelling upon
remembrances which always brought dangerous excitement with them,
he loved to return to them; as if through the same feelings which
had once reanimated his life, he now wished to destroy it,
sedulously stifling its powers through the vapor of this subtle
poison. His last pleasure seemed to be the memory of the blasting
of his last hope; he treasured the bitter knowledge that under
this fatal spell his life was ebbing fast away. All attempts to
fix his attention upon other objects were made in vain, he
refused to be comforted and would constantly speak of the one
engrossing subject. Even if he had ceased to speak of it, would
he not always have thought of it? He seemed to inhale the poison
rapidly and eagerly, that he might thus shorten the time in which
he would be forced to breathe it!

Although the exceeding fragility of his physical constitution
might not have allowed him, under any circumstances, to have
lingered long on earth, yet at least he might have been spared
the bitter sufferings which clouded his last hours! With a tender
and ardent soul, though exacting through its fastidiousness and
excessive delicacy, he could not live unless surrounded by the
radiant phantoms he had himself evoked; he could not expel the
profound sorrow which his heart cherished as the sole remaining
fragment of the happy past. He was another great and illustrious
victim to the transitory attachments occurring between persons of
different character, who, experiencing a surprise full of delight
in their first sudden meeting, mistake it for a durable feeling,
and build hopes and illusions upon it which can never be
realized. It is always the nature the most deeply moved, the most
absolute in its hopes and attachments, for which all
transplantation is impossible, which is destroyed and mined in
the painful awakening from the absorbing dream! Terrible power
exercised over man by the most exquisite gifts which he
possesses! Like the coursers of the sun, when the hand of
Phaeton, in place of guiding their beneficent career, permits
them to wander at random, disordering the beautiful structure of
the celestial spheres, they bring devastation and flames in their
train! Chopin felt and often repeated that the sundering of this
long friendship, the rupture of this strong tie, broke all the
chords which bound him to life.

During this attack his life was despaired of for several days. M.
Gutman, his most distinguished pupil, and during the last years
of his life, his most intimate friend, lavished upon him every
proof of tender attachment. His cares, his attentions, were the
most agreeable to him. With the timidity natural to invalids, and
with the tender delicacy peculiar to himself, he once asked the
Princess Czartoryska, who visited him every day, often fearing
that on the morrow he would no longer be among the living: "if
Gutman was not very much fatigued? If she thought he would be
able to continue his care of him;" adding, "that his presence was
dearer to him than that of any other person." His convalescence
was very slow and painful, leaving him indeed but the semblance
of life. At this epoch he changed so much in appearance that he
could scarcely be recognized The next summer brought him that
deceptive decrease of suffering which it sometimes grants to
those who are dying. He refused to quit Paris, and thus deprived
himself of the pure air of the country, and the benefit of this
vivifying element.

The winter of 1847 to 1848 was filled with a painful and
continual succession of improvements and relapses.
Notwithstanding this, he resolved in the spring to accomplish his
old project of visiting London. When the revolution of February
broke out, he was still confined to bed, but with a melancholy
effort, he seemed to try to interest himself in the events of the
day, and spoke of them more than usual. M. Gutman continued his
most intimate and constant visitor. He accepted through
preference his cares until the close of his life.

Feeling better in the month of April, he thought of realizing his
contemplated journey, of visiting that country to which he had
intended to go when youth and life opened in bright perspective
before him. He set out for England, where his works had already
found an intelligent public, and were generally known and
admired.

[Footnote: The compositions of Chopin were, even at that time,
known and very much liked in England. The most distinguished
virtuosi frequently executed them. In a pamphlet published in
London by Messrs. Wessel and Stappletou, under the title of AN
ESSAY ON THE WORKS OF F.CHOPIN, we find some lines marked by just
criticism. The epigraph of this little pamphlet is ingeniously
chosen, and the two lines from Shelley could scarcely be better
applied than to Chopin:

"He was a mighty poet--and
A subtle-souled Psychologist."

The author of this pamphlet speaks with enthusiasm of the
"originative genius untrammeled by conventionalities, unfettered
by pedantry;...of the outpourings of an unworldly and tristful
soul--those musical floods of tears, and gushes of pure
joyfulness--those exquisite embodiments of fugitive thoughts--
those infinitesimal delicacies, which give so much value to the
lightest sketch of Chopin." The English author again says: "One
thing is certain, viz.: to play with proper feeling and correct
execution, the PRELUDES and STUDIES of Chopin, is to be neither
more nor less than a finished pianist, and moreover to comprehend
them thoroughly, to give a life and tongue to their infinite and
most eloquent subtleties of expression, involves the necessity of
being in no less a degree a poet than a pianist, a thinker than a
musician. Commonplace is instinctively avoided in all the works
of Chopin; a stale cadence or a trite progression, a humdrum
subject or a hackneyed sequence, a vulgar twist of the melody or
a worn-out passage, a meagre harmony or an unskillful
counterpoint, may in vain be looked for throughout the entire
range of his compositions; the prevailing characteristics of
which, are, a feeling as uncommon as beautiful, a treatment as
original as felicitous, a melody and a harmony as new, fresh,
vigorous, and striking, as they are utterly unexpected and out of
the common track. In taking up one of the works of Chopin, you
are entering, as it were, a fairyland, untrodden by human
footsteps, a path hitherto unfrequented but by the great composer
himself; and a faith, a devotion, a desire to appreciate and a
determination to understand are absolutely necessary, to do it
any thing like adequate justice.... Chopin in his POLONAISES and
in his MAZOURKAS has aimed at those characteristics, which
distinguish the national music of his country so markedly from,
that of all others, that quaint idiosyncrasy, that identical
wildness and fantasticality, that delicious mingling of the sad
and cheerful, which invariably and forcibly individualize the
music of those Northern nations, whose language delights in
combinations of consonants...."]

He left France in that mood of mind which the English call "low
spirits." The transitory interest which he had endeavored to take
in political changes, soon disappeared. He became more taciturn
than ever. If through absence of mind, a few words would escape
him. They were only exclamations of regret. His affection for the
limited number of persons whom he continued to see, was filled
with that heart-rending emotion which precedes eternal farewells!
Art alone always retained its absolute power over him. Music
absorbed him during the time, now constantly shortening, in which
he was able to occupy himself with it, as completely as during
the days when he was full of life and hope. Before he left Paris,
he gave a concert in the saloon of M. Pleyel, one of the friends
with whom his relations had been the most constant, the most
frequent, and the most affectionate; who is now rendering a
worthy homage to his memory, occupying himself with zeal and
activity in the execution of a monument for his tomb. At this
concert, his chosen and faithful audience heard him for the last
time!

He was received in London with an eagerness which had some effect
in aiding him to shake off his sadness, to dissipate his mournful
depression. Perhaps he dreamed, by burying all his former habits
in oblivion, he could succeed in dissipating, his melancholy! He
neglected the prescriptions of his physicians, with all the
precautions which reminded him of his wretched health. He played
twice in public, and many times in private concerts. He mingled
much in society, sat up late at night, and exposed himself to
considerable fatigue, without permitting himself to be deterred
by any consideration for his health. He was presented to the
Queen by the Duchess of Sutherland, and the most distinguished
society sought the pleasure of his acquaintance. He went to
Edinburgh, where the climate was particularly injurious to him.
He was much debilitated upon his return from Scotland; his
physicians wished him to leave England immediately, but he
delayed for some time his departure. Who can read the feelings
which caused this delay!...He played again at a concert given for
the Poles. It was the last mark of love sent to his beloved
country--the last look--the last sigh--the last regret! He was
feted, applauded, and surrounded by his own people. He bade them
all adieu,--they did not know it was an eternal Farewell! What
thoughts must have filled his sad soul as he crossed the sea to
return to Paris! That Paris so different now for him from that
which he had found without seeking in 1831!

He was met upon his arrival by a surprise as painful as
unexpected. Dr. Molin, whose advice and intelligent prescriptions
had saved his life in the winter of 1847, to whom alone he
believed himself indebted for the prolongation of his life, was
dead. He felt his loss painfully, nay, it brought a profound
discouragement with it; at a time when the mind exercises so much
influence over the progress of the disease, he persuaded himself
that no one could replace the trusted physician, and he had no
confidence in any other. Dissatisfied with them all, without any
hope from their skill, he changed them constantly. A kind of
superstitious depression seized him. No tie stronger than life,
no more powerful as death, came now to struggle against this
bitter apathy! From the winter of 1848, Chopin had been in no
condition to labor continuously. From time to time he retouched
some scattered leaves, without succeeding in arranging his
thoughts in accordance with his designs. A respectful care of his
fame dictated to him the wish that these sketches should be
destroyed to prevent the possibility of their being mutilated,
disfigured, and transformed into posthumous works unworthy of his
hand.

He left no finished manuscripts, except a very short WALTZ, and a
last NOCTURNE, as parting memories. In the later period of his
life he thought of writing a method for the Piano, in which he
intended to give his ideas upon the theory and technicality of
his art, the results of his long and patient studies, his happy
innovations, and his intelligent experience. The task was a
difficult one, demanding redoubled application even from one who
labored as assiduously as Chopin. Perhaps he wished to avoid the
emotions of art, (affecting those who reproduce them in serenity
of soul so differently from those who repeat in them their own
desolation of heart,) by taking refuge in a region so barren. He
sought in this employment only an absorbing and uniform
occupation, he only asked from it what Manfred demanded in vain
from the powers of magic: "forgetfulness!" Forgetfulness--granted
neither by the gayety of amusement, nor the lethargy of torpor!
On the contrary, with venomous guile, they always compensate in
the renewed intensity of woe, for the time they may have
succeeded in benumbing it. In the daily labor which "charms the
storms of the soul," (DER SEELE STURM BESCHWORT,) he sought
without doubt forgetfulness, which occupation, by rendering the
memory torpid, may sometimes procure, though it cannot destroy
the sense of pain. At the close of that fine elegy which he names
"The Ideal," a poet, who was also the victim of an inconsolable
melancholy, appeals to labor as a consolation when a prey to
bitter regret; while expecting an early death, he invokes
occupation as the last resource against the incessant anguish of
life:


"And thou, so pleated, with her uniting,
To charm the soul-storm into peace,
Sweet toil, in toil itself delighting,
That more it labored, less could cease,
Though but by grains thou aidest the pile
The vast eternity uprears,
At least thou strikest from TIME the while
Life's debt--the minutes--days--and years."

Bulwer's translation of SCHILLER'S "Ideal."

Beschoeftigung, die nie ermattet
Die langsam schafft, doch nie zerstoert,
Die zu dem Bau der Ewigkeiten
Zwar Sandkorn nur, fuer Sandkorn reicht,
Doch von der grossen Schuld der Zeiten
Minute, Tage, Jahre streicht.

Die Ideale--SHILLER.


The strength of Chopin was not sufficient for the execution of
his intention. The occupation was too abstract, too fatiguing. He
contemplated the form of his project, he spoke of it at different
times, but its execution had become impossible. He wrote but a
few pages of it, which were destroyed with the rest.

At last the disease augmented so visibly, that the fears of his
friends assumed the hue of despair. He scarcely ever left his
bed, and spoke but rarely. His sister, upon receiving this
intelligence, came from Warsaw to take her place at his pillow,
which she left no more. He witnessed the anguish, the
presentiments, the redoubled sadness around him, without showing
what impression they made upon him. He thought of death with
Christian calm and resignation, yet he did not cease to prepare
for the morrow. The fancy he had for changing his residence was
once more manifested, he took another lodging, disposed the
furnishing of it anew, and occupied himself in its most minute
details. As he had taken no measures to recall the orders he had
given for its arrangement, they were transporting his furniture
to the apartments he was destined never to inhabit, upon the very
day of his death!

Did he fear that death would not fulfil his plighted promise! Did
he dread, that after having touched him with his icy hand, he
would still suffer him to linger upon earth? Did he feel that
life would be almost unendurable with its fondest ties broken,
its closest links dissevered? There is a double influence often
felt by gifted temperaments when upon the eve of some event which
is to decide their fate. The eager heart, urged on by a desire to
unravel the mystic secrets of the unknown Future, contradicts the
colder, the more timid intellect, which fears to plunge into the
uncertain abyss of the coming fate! This want of harmony between
the simultaneous previsions of the mind and heart, often causes
the firmest spirits to make assertions which their actions seem
to contradict; yet actions and assertions both flow from the
differing sources of an equal conviction. Did Chopin suffer from
this inevitable dissimilarity between the prophetic whispers of
the heart, and the thronging doubts of the questioning mind?

From week to week, and soon from day to day, the cold shadow of
death gained upon him. His end was rapidly approaching; his
sufferings became more and more intense; his crises grew more
frequent, and at each accelerated occurrence, resembled more and
more a mortal agony. He retained his presence of mind, his vivid
will upon their intermission, until the last; neither losing the
precision of his ideas, nor the clear perception of his
intentions. The wishes which he expressed in his short moments of
respite, evinced the calm solemnity with which he contemplated
the approach of death. He desired to be buried by the side of
Bellini, with whom, during the time of Bellini's residence in
Paris, he had been intimately acquainted. The grave of Bellini is
in the cemetery of Pere LaChaise, next to that of Cherubini. The
desire of forming an acquaintance with this great master whom he
had been brought up to admire, was one of the motives which, when
he left Vienna in 1831 to go to London, induced him, without
foreseeing that his destiny would fix him there, to pass through
Paris. Chopin now sleeps between Bellini and Cherubini, men of
very dissimilar genius, and yet to both of whom he was in an
equal degree allied, as he attached as much value to the respect
he felt for the science of the one, as to the sympathy he
acknowledged for the creations of the other. Like the author of
NORMA, he was full of melodic feeling, yet he was ambitions of
attaining the harmonic depth of the learned old master; desiring
to unite, in a great and elevated style, the dreamy vagueness of
spontaneous emotion with the erudition of the most consummate
masters.

Continuing the reserve of his manners to the very last, he did
not request to see. any one for the last time; but he evinced the
most touching gratitude to all who approached him. The first days
of October left neither doubt nor hope. The fatal moment drew
near. The next day, the next hour, could no longer be relied
upon. M. Gutman and his sister were in constant attendance upon
him, never for a single moment leaving him. The Countess Delphine
Potocka, who was then absent from Paris, returned as soon as she
was informed of his imminent danger. None of those who approached
the dying artist, could tear themselves from the spectacle of
this great and gifted soul in its hours of mortal anguish.

However violent or frivolous the passions may be which agitate
our hearts, whatever strength or indifference may be displayed in
meeting unforeseen or sudden accidents, which would seem
necessarily overwhelming in their effects, it is impossible to
escape the impression made by the imposing majesty of a lingering
and beautiful death, which touches, softens, fascinates and
elevates even the souls the least prepared for such holy and
sublime emotions. The lingering and gradual departure of one

among us for those unknown shores, the mysterious solemnity of
his secret dreams, his commemoration of past facts and passing
ideas when still breathing upon the narrow strait which separates
time from eternity, affect us more deeply than any thing else in
this world. Sudden catastrophes, the dreadful alternations forced
upon the shuddering fragile ship, tossed like a toy by the wild
breath of the tempest; the blood of the battle-field, with the
gloomy smoke of artillery; the horrible charnel-house into which
our own habitation is converted by a contagious plague;
conflagrations which wrap whole cities in their glittering
flames; fathomless abysses which open at our feet;--remove us
less sensibly from all the fleeting attachments "which pass,
which can be broken, which cease," than the prolonged view of a
soul conscious of its own position, silently contemplating the
multiform aspects of time and the mute door of eternity! The
courage, the resignation, the elevation, the emotion, which
reconcile it with that inevitable dissolution so repugnant to all
our instincts, certainly impress the bystanders more profoundly
than the most frightful catastrophes, which, in the confusion
they create, rob the scene of its still anguish, its solemn
meditation.

The parlor adjoining the chamber of Chopin was constantly
occupied by some of his friends, who, one by one, in turn,
approached him to receive a sign of recognition, a look of
affection, when he was no longer able to address them in words.
On Sunday, the 15th of October, his attacks were more violent and
more frequent--lasting for several hours in succession. He
endured them with patience and great strength of mind. The
Countess Delphine Potocka, who was present, was much distressed;
her tears were flowing fast when he observed her standing at the
foot of his bed, tall, slight, draped in white, resembling the
beautiful angels created by the imagination of the most devout
among the painters. Without doubt, he supposed her to be a
celestial apparition; and when the crisis left him a moment in
repose, he requested her to sing; they deemed him at first seized
with delirium, but he eagerly repeated his request. Who could
have ventured--to oppose his wish? The piano was rolled from his
parlor to the door of his chamber, while, with sobs in her voice,
and tears streaming down her cheeks, his gifted countrywoman
sang. Certainly, this delightful voice had never before attained
an expression so full of profound pathos. He seemed to suffer
less as he listened. She sang that famous Canticle to the Virgin,
which, it is said, once saved the life of Stradella. "How
beautiful it is!" he exclaimed. "My God, how very beautiful!
Again--again!" Though overwhelmed with emotion, the Countess had
the noble courage to comply with the last wish of a friend, a
compatriot; she again took a seat at the piano, and sung a hymn
from Marcello. Chopin again feeling worse, everybody was seized
with fright--by a spontaneous impulse all who were present threw
themselves upon their knees--no one ventured to speak; the sacred
silence was only broken by the voice of the Countess, floating,
like a melody from heaven, above the sighs and sobs which formed
its heavy and mournful earth-accompaniment. It was the haunted
hour of twilight; a dying light lent its mysterious shadows to
this sad scene--the sister of Chopin prostrated near his bed,
wept and prayed--and never quitted this attitude of supplication
while the life of the brother she had so cherished lasted.

His condition altered for the worse during the night, but he felt
more tranquil upon Monday morning, and as if he had known in
advance the appointed and propitious moment, he asked to receive
immediately the last sacraments. In the absence of the Abbe * *
*, with whom he had been very intimate since their common
expatriation, he requested that the Abbe Jelowicki, one of the
most distinguished men of the Polish emigration, should be sent
for. When the holy Viaticum was administered to him, he received
it, surrounded by those who loved him, with great devotion. He
called his friends a short time afterwards, one by one, to his
bedside, to give each of them his last earnest blessing; calling
down the grace of God fervently upon themselves, their
affections, and their hopes,--every knee bent--every head bowed--
all eyes were heavy with tears--every heart was sad and
oppressed--every soul elevated.

Attacks more and more painful, returned and continued during the
day; from Monday night until Tuesday, he did not utter a single
word. He did not seem able to distinguish the persons who were
around him. About eleven o'clock on Tuesday evening, he appeared
to revive a little. The Abbe Jelowicki had never left him. Hardly
had he recovered the power of speech, than he requested him to
recite with him the prayers and litanies for the dying. He was
able to accompany the Abbe in an audible and intelligible voice.
From this moment until his death, he held his head constantly
supported upon the shoulder of M. Gutman, who, during the whole
course of this sickness, had devoted his days and nights to him.

A convulsive sleep lasted until the 17th of October, 1849. The
final agony commenced about two o'clock; a cold sweat ran
profusely from his brow; after a short drowsiness, he asked, in a
voice scarcely audible: "Who is near me?" Being answered, he bent
his head to kiss the hand of M. Gutman, who still supported it--
while giving this last tender proof of love and gratitude, the
soul of the artist left its fragile clay. He died as he had
lived--in loving.

When the doors of the parlor were opened, his friends threw
themselves around the loved corpse, not able to suppress the gush
of tears.

His love for flowers being well known, they were brought in such
quantities the next day, that the bed in which they had placed
them, and indeed the whole room, almost disappeared, hidden by
their varied and brilliant hues. He seemed to repose in a garden
of roses. His face regained its early beauty, its purity of
expression, its long unwonted serenity. Calmly--with his youthful
loveliness, so long dimmed by bitter suffering, restored by
death, he slept among the flowers he loved, the last long and
dreamless sleep!

M. Clesinger reproduced the delicate traits, to which death had
rendered their early beauty, in a sketch which he immediately
modeled, and which he afterwards executed in marble for his tomb.

The respectful admiration which Chopin felt for the genius of
Mozart, had induced him to request that his Requiem should be
performed at his obsequies; this wish was complied with. The
funeral ceremonies took place in the Madeleine Church, the 30th
of October, 1849. They had been delayed until this date, in order
that the execution of this great work should be worthy of the
master and his disciple. The principal artists in Paris were
anxious to take part in it. The FUNERAL MARCH of Chopin, arranged
for the instruments for this occasion by M. Reber, was introduced
at the Introit. At the Offertory, M. Lefebure Vely executed his
admirable PRELUDES in SI and MI MINOR upon the organ. The solos
of the REQUIEM were claimed by Madame Viardot and Madame
Castellan. Lablache, who had sung the TUBA MIRUM of this REQUIEM
at the burial of Beethoven in 1827, again sung it upon this
occasion. M. Meyerbeer, with Prince Adam Czartoryski, led the
train of mourners. The pall was borne by M. Delacroix, M.
Franchomme, M. Gutman, and Prince Alexander Czartorvski.--However
insufficient these pages may be to speak of Chopin as we would
have desired, we hope that the attraction which so justly
surrounds his name, will compensate for much that may be wanting
in them. If to these lines, consecrated to the commemoration of
his works and to all that he held dear, which the sincere esteem,
enthusiastic regard, and intense sorrow for his loss, can alone
gift with persuasive and sympathetic power, it were necessary to
add some of the thoughts awakened in every man when death robs
him of the loved contemporaries of his youth, thus breaking the
first ties linked by the confiding and deluded heart with so much
the greater pain if they were strong enough to survive that
bright period of young life, we would say that in the same--year
we have lost the two dearest friends we have known on earth. One
of them perished in the wild course of civil war. Unfortunate and
valiant hero! He fell with his burning courage unsubdued, his
intrepid calmness undisturbed, his chivalric temerity unabated,
through the endurance of the horrible tortures of a fearful
death. He was a Prince of rare intelligence, of great activity,
of eminent faculties, through whose veins the young blood
circulated with the glittering ardor of a subtle gas. By his own
indefatigable energy he had just succeeded in removing the
difficulties which obstructed his path, in creating an arena in
which his faculties might hare displayed themselves with as much
success in debates and the management of civil affairs, as they
had already done in brilliant feats in arms. The other, Chopin,
died slowly, consuming himself in the flames of his own genius.
His life, unconnected with public events, was like some fact
which has never been incorporated in a material body. The traces
of his existence are only to be found in the works which he has
left. He ended his days upon a foreign soil, which he never
considered as his country, remaining faithful in the devotion of
his affections to the eternal widowhood of his own. He was a Poet
of a mournful soul, full of reserve and complicated mystery, and
familiar with the stern face of sorrow.

The immediate interest which we felt in the movements of the
parties to which the life of Prince Felix Lichnowsky was bound,
was broken by his death: the death of Chopin has robbed us of all
the consolations of an intelligent and comprehensive friendship.
The affectionate sympathy with our feelings, with our manner of
understanding art, of which this exclusive artist has given us so
many proofs, would have softened the disappointment and weariness
which yet await us, and have strengthened is in our earliest
tendencies, confirmed us in our first essays.

Since it has fallen to our lot to survive them, we wish at least
to express the sincere regret we feel for their loss. We deem
ourselves bound to offer the homage of our deep and respectful
sorrow upon the grave of the remarkable musician who has just
passed from among us. Music is at present receiving such great
and general development, that it reminds us of that which took
place in painting in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Even
the artists who limited the productions of their genius to the
margins of parchments, painted their miniatures with an
inspiration so happy, that having broken through the Byzantine
stiffness, they left the most exquisite types, which the
Francias, the Peruginos, and the Raphaels to come were to
transport to their frescos, and introduce upon their canvas.

-------

There have been people among whom, in order to preserve the
memory of their great men or the signal events of their history,
it was the custom to form pyramids composed of the stones which
each passer-by was expected to bring to the pile, which gradually
increased to an unlooked-for height from the anonymous
contributions of all. Monuments are still in our days erected by
an analogous proceeding, but in place of building only a rude and
unformed hillock, in consequence of a fortunate combination the
contribution of all concurs in the creation of some work of art,
which is not only destined to perpetuate the mute remembrance
which they wish to honor, but which may have the power to awaken
in future ages the feelings which gave birth to such creation,
the emotions of the contemporaries which called it into being. The
subscriptions which are opened to raise statues and noble
memorials to those who have rendered their epoch or country
illustrious, originate in this design. Immediately after the
death of Chopin, M. Camille Pleyel conceived a project of this
kind. He commenced a subscription, (which conformably to the
general expectation rapidly amounted to a considerable sum,) to
have the monument modeled by M. Clesinger, executed in marble and
placed in the Pere La-Chaise. In thinking over our long
friendship with Chopin; on the exceptional admiration which we
have always felt for him ever since his appearance in the musical
world; remembering that, artist like himself, we have been the
frequent interpreter of his inspirations, an interpreter, we may
safely venture to say, loved and chosen by himself; that we have
more frequently than others received from his own lips the spirit
of his style; that we were in some degree identified with his
creations in art, and with the feelings which he confided to it,
through that long and constant assimilation which obtains between
a writer and his translator;--we have fondly thought that these
connective circumstances imposed upon us a higher and nearer duty
than that of merely adding an unformed and anonymous stone to the
growing pyramid of homage which his contemporaries are elevating
to him. We believed that the claims of a tender friendship for
our illustrious colleague, exacted from us a more particular
expression of our profound regret, of our high admiration. It
appeared to us that we would not be true to ourselves, did we not
court the honor of inscribing our name, our deep affliction, upon
his sepulchral stone! This should be granted to those who never
hope to fill the void in their hearts left by an irreparable
loss!...
Published:
Jan 6, 2016
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