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Paris Match 1778-January 1779


THIRD PART
PARIS.
MARCH 1778 TO JANUARY 1779.



PART III.



100.

Paris, March 24, 1778.

YESTERDAY (Monday, the 23d), at four o'clock in the afternoon, we
arrived here, thank God! safely, having been nine days and a half
on our journey. We thought we really could not have gone through
with it; in my life I never was so wearied. You may easily
imagine what it was to leave Mannheim and so many dear kind
friends, and then to travel for ten days, not only without these
friends, but without any human being--without a single soul whom
we could associate with or even speak to. Now, thank Heaven! we
are at our destination, and I trust that, with the help of God,
all will go well. To-day we are to take a fiacre and go in quest
of Grimm and Wendling. Early to-morrow I intend to call on the
Minister of the Palatinate, Herr von Sickingen, (a great
connoisseur and passionate lover of music, and for whom I have
two letters from Herr von Gemmingen and M. Cannabich.) Before
leaving Mannheim I had the quartet transcribed that I wrote at
Lodi one evening in the inn there, and also the quintet and the
Fischer variations for Herr von Gemmingen [author of the
"Deutsche Hausvater"], on which he wrote me a most polite note,
expressing his pleasure at the souvenir I had left him, and
sending me a letter to his intimate friend Herr von Sickingen,
adding, "I feel sure that you will be a greater recommendation to
the letter than the letter can possibly be to you;" and, to repay
the expense of writing out the music, he sent me three louis-
d'or; he also assured me of his friendship, and requested mine in
return. I must say that all those who knew me, Hofrathe,
Kammerrathe, and other high-class people, as well as all the
court musicians, were very grieved and reluctant to see me go;
and really and truly so.

We left on Saturday, the 14th, and on the previous Thursday there
was an afternoon concert at Cannabich's, where my concerto for
three pianos was given. Madlle. Rose Cannabich played the first,
Madlle. Weber the second, and Madlle. Pierron Serrarius (our
"house-nymph") the third. We had three rehearsals of the
concerto, and it went off well. Madlle. Weber sang three arias of
mine, the "Aer tranquillo" from the "Re Pastore," [Footnote: A
festal opera that Mozart had composed in 1775, in honor of the
visit of the Archduke Maximilian Francis to Salzburg.] and the
new "Non so d' onde viene." With this last air my dear Madlle.
Weber gained very great honor both for herself and for me. All
present said that no aria had ever affected them like this one;
and, indeed, she sang it as it ought to be sung. The moment it
was finished, Cannabich exclaimed, "Bravo! bravissimo maestro!
veramente scritta da maestro!" It was given for the first time on
this occasion with instruments. I should like you to have heard
it also, exactly as it was executed and sung there, with such
precision in time and taste, and in the pianos and fortes. Who
knows? you may perhaps still hear her. I earnestly hope so. The
members of the orchestra never ceased praising the aria and
talking about it.

I have many kind friends at Mannheim (both highly esteemed and
rich) who wished very much to keep me there. Well! where I am
properly paid, I am content to be. Who can tell? it may still
come to pass. I wish it may; and thus it ever is with me--I live
always in hope. Herr Cannabich is an honorable, worthy man, and a
kind friend of mine. He has only one fault, which is, that
although no longer very young, he is rather careless and absent,
--if you are not constantly before his eyes, he is very apt to
forget all about you. But where the interests of a real friend
are in question, he works like a horse, and takes the deepest
interest in the matter; and this is of great use, for he has
influence. I cannot, however, say much in favor of his courtesy
or gratitude; the Webers (for whom I have not done half so much),
in spite of their poverty and obscurity, have shown themselves
far more grateful. Madame Cannabich and her daughter never
thanked me by one single word, much less thought of offering me
some little remembrance, however trifling, merely as a proof of
kindly feeling; but nothing of the sort, not even thanks, though
I lost so much time in teaching the daughter, and took such pains
with her. She can now perfectly well perform before any one; as a
girl only fourteen, and an amateur, she plays remarkably well,
and for this they have to thank me, which indeed is very well
known to all in Mannheim. She has now neatness, time, and good
fingering, as well as even shakes, which she had not formerly.
They will find that they miss me much three months hence, for I
fear she will again be spoiled, and spoil herself; unless she has
a master constantly beside her, and one who thoroughly
understands what he is about, she will do no good, for she is
still too childish and giddy to practise steadily and carefully
alone. [Footnote: Rosa Cannabich became, indeed, a remarkable
virtuoso. C L. Junker mentions her, even in his musical almanac
of 1783, among the most eminent living artists.]

Madlle. Weber paid me the compliment kindly to knit two pairs of
mits for me, as a remembrance and slight acknowledgment. M. Weber
wrote out whatever I required gratis, gave me the music-paper,
and also made me a present of Moliere's Comedies (as he knew that
I had never read them), with this inscription:--"Ricevi, amico,
le opere di Moliere, in segno di gratitudine, e qualche volta
ricordati di me." [Footnote: "Accept, my dear friend, Moliere's
works as a token of my gratitude; and sometimes think of me."]
And when alone with mamma he said, "Our best friend, our
benefactor, is about to leave us. There can be no doubt that your
son has done a great deal for my daughter, and interested himself
much about her, and she cannot be too thankful to him."
[Footnote: Aloysia Weber became afterwards Madame Lange. She had
great fame as a singer. We shall hear more of her in the Vienna
letters.] The day before I set off, they would insist on my
supping with them, but I managed to give them two hours before
supper instead. They never ceased thanking me, and saying they
only wished they were in a position to testify their gratitude,
and when I went away they all wept. Pray forgive me, but really
tears come to my eyes when I think of it. Weber came down-stairs
with me, and remained standing at the door till I turned the
corner and called out Adieu!

In Paris he at once plunged into work, so that his love-affair
was for a time driven into the background. Compositions for the
Concert Spirituel, for the theatre, and for dilettanti, as well
as teaching and visits to great people, occupied him. His mother
writes: "I cannot describe to you how much Wolfgang is beloved
and praised here. Herr Wendling had said much in his favor before
he came, and has presented him to all his friends. He can dine
daily, if he chooses, with Noverre [the famed ballet-master], and
also with Madame d'Epinay" [Grimm's celebrated friend]. The
mother herself scarcely saw him all day, for on account of their
small close apartment, he was obliged to compose at Director Le
Gros's house. She had (womanlike) written to the father about the
composition of a Miserere. Wolfgang continues the letter, more
fully explaining the matter.



101.

Paris, April 5, 1778.

I MUST now explain more, clearly what mamma alludes to, as she
has written rather obscurely. Capellmeister Holzbauer has sent a
Miserere here, but as the choruses at Mannheim are weak and poor,
whereas here they are strong and good, his choruses would make no
effect. M. Le Gros (Director of the Concert Spirituel) requested
me therefore to compose others; Holzbauer's introductory chorus
being retained. "Quoniam iniquitatem meam," an allegro, is the
first air by me. The second an adagio, "Ecce enim in
iniquitatibus." Then an allegro, "Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti"
to the "ossa humiliata." Then an andante for soprano, tenor, and
bass Soli; "Cor mundum," and "Redde mihi," allegro to "ad se
convertentur." I also composed a recitative for a bass air,
"Libera me de sanguinibus," because a bass air of Holzbauer's
follows. The "sacrificium Deo spiritus" being an aria andante for
Raaff, with a hautboy and a bassoon solo obligato. I have added a
short recitative with hautboy and bassoon, for here recitative is
much liked. "Benigne fac" to "muri Jerusalem" andante moderate.
Chorus. Then "Tunc acceptabis" to "super altare," allegro and
tenor solo (Le Gros) and chorus. Finis. [None of this music is
known.]

I must say that I am right glad to have done with this task, for
it is really detestable not to be able to write at home, and to
be hurried into the bargain; but now, God be praised! it is
finished, and I hope it will make some effect. M. Gussec, whom
you no doubt know, when he saw my first chorus, said to Le Gros
(I was not present) that it was charming, and could not fail to
be successful, that the words were so well arranged, and, above
all, admirably set to music. He is a kind friend of mine, but
very reserved. I am not merely to write an act for an opera, but
an entire one in two acts. The poet has already completed the
first act. Noverre [ballet-master], with whom I dine as often as
I please, managed this, and indeed suggested the idea. I think it
is to be called "Alexander and Roxana." Madame Jenome is also
here. I am about to compose a sinfonie concertante,--flute,
Wendling; oboe, Ramm; French horn, Punto; and bassoon, Ritter.
Punto plays splendidly. I have this moment returned from the
Concert Spirituel. Baron Grimm and I often give vent to our wrath
at the music here; N.B.--when tete-a-tete, for in public we call
out "Bravo! bravissimo!" and clap our hands till our fingers
tingle.



102.

Paris, May 1, 1778.

THE little violoncellist Zygmatofsky and his unprincipled father
are here. Perhaps I may already have written you this; I only
mention it cursorily, because I just remember that I met him at a
house which I must now tell you about. I mean that of the
Duchesse de Chabot. M. Grimm gave me a letter to her, so I drove
there, the purport of the letter being chiefly to recommend me to
the Duchesse de Bourbon, who when I was last here [during
Mozart's first visit to Paris] was in a convent, and to introduce
me afresh to her and recall me to her memory. A week elapsed
without the slightest notice of my visit, but as eight days
previously she had appointed me to call on her, I kept my
engagement and went. I waited half an hour in a large room
without any fire, and as cold as ice. At last the Duchess came
in, and was very polite, begging me to make allowances for her
piano, as none of her instruments were in good order, but I might
at least try it. I said that I would most gladly play something,
but at this moment it was impossible, as my fingers were quite
benumbed from the cold, so I asked her at all events to take me
to a room where there was a fire. "Oh! oui, Monsieur, vous avez
raison"--was her answer. She then seated herself, and drew for a
whole hour in company with several gentlemen, all sitting in a
circle round a large table, and during this time I had the honor
to wait. The windows and doors were open, so that not only my
hands, but my body and my feet were cold, and my head also began
to ache. Moreover, there was altum silentium, and I really did
not know what to do from cold, headache, and weariness. I again
and again thought to myself, that if it were not on M. Grimm's
account I would leave the house at once. At last, to cut matters
short, I played on the wretched, miserable piano. What however
vexed me most of all was, that the Duchess and all the gentlemen
did not cease drawing for a single moment, but coolly continued
their occupation; so I was left to play to the chairs and tables,
and the walls. My patience gave way under such unpropitious
circumstances. I therefore began the Fischer variations, and
after playing one half of them I rose. Then came eulogiums
without end. I, however, said all that could be said--which was,
that I could do myself no justice on such a piano, but I should
be very glad to fix some other day to play, when a better
instrument might be found. But the Duchess would not hear of my
going away; so I was obliged to wait till her husband came in,
who placed himself beside me and listened to me with great
attention, while, as for me, I became unconscious of all cold and
all headache, and, in spite of the wretched piano, played as I
CAN play when I am in the right mood. Give me the best piano in
Europe, and listeners who understand nothing, or don't wish to
understand, and who do not sympathize with me in what I am
playing, I no longer feel any pleasure. I afterwards told all
this to M. Grimm.

You write to me that I ought to pay a good many visits in order
to make new acquaintances, and to renew former ones. This is,
however, impossible, from the distances being so great, and it is
too muddy to go on foot, for really the mud in Paris is beyond
all description. To go in a carriage entails spending four or
five livres a day, and all for nothing; it is true the people say
all kinds of civil things, but there it ends, as they appoint me
to come on such and such a day, when I play, and hear them
exclaim, "Oh! c'est un prodige, c'est inconcevable, c'est
etonnant!" and then, Adieu! At first I spent money enough in
driving about, and to no purpose, from not finding the people at
home. Unless you lived here, you could not believe what an
annoyance this is. Besides, Paris is much changed; the French are
far from being as polite as they were fifteen years ago; their
manner now borders on rudeness, and they are odiously self-
sufficient.

I must proceed to give you an account of the Concert Spirituel.
By the by, I must first briefly tell you that my chorus-labors
were in a manner useless, for Holzbauer's Miserere was too long
in itself, and did not please, so they gave only two of my
choruses instead of four, and chose to leave out the best; but
this was of no great consequence, for many there were not aware
that any of the music was by me, and many knew nothing at all
about me. Still, at the rehearsal great approbation was
expressed, and I myself (for I place no great reliance on
Parisian praise) was very much satisfied with my choruses. With
regard to the sinfonie concertante there appears to be a hitch,
and I believe that some unseen mischief is at work. It seems that
I have enemies here also; where have I not had them? But this is
a good sign. I was obliged to write the symphony very hurriedly,
and worked very hard at it. The four performers were and are
perfectly enchanted with the piece. Le Gros had it for the last
four days to be copied, but I invariably saw it lying in the same
place. Two days ago I could not find it, though I searched
carefully among the music; and at last I discovered it hidden
away. I took no notice, but said to Le Gros, "A propos, have you
given my sinfonie to be copied?" "No; I forgot all about it." As,
of course, I have no power to compel him to have it transcribed
and performed, I said nothing; but I went to the concert on the
two days when the sinfonie was to have been performed, when Ramm
and Punto came to me in the greatest rage to ask me why my
sinfonie concertante was not to be given. "I don't know. This is
the first I hear of it. I cannot tell." Ramm was frantic, and
abused Le Gros in the music-room in French, saying how very
unhandsome it was on his part, etc. I alone was to be kept in
the dark! If he had even made an excuse--that the time was too
short, or something of the kind!--but he never said a syllable. I
believe the real cause to be Cambini, an Italian maestro; for at
our first meeting at Le Gros's, I unwittingly took the wind out
of his sails. He composes quintets, one of which I heard at
Mannheim; it was very pretty, so I praised it, and played the
beginning to him. Ritter, Ramm, and Punto were all present, and
gave me no peace till I agreed to continue, and to supply from my
own head what I could not remember. I therefore did so, and
Cambini was quite excited, and could not help saying, "Questa e
una gran testa!" Well, I suppose after all he did not quite
relish this, [The symphony in question has also entirely
disappeared.]

If this were a place where people had ears to hear or hearts to
feel, and understood just a little of music, and had some degree
of taste, these things would only make me laugh heartily, but as
it is (so far as music is concerned) I am surrounded by mere
brute beasts. But how can it be otherwise? for in all their
actions, inclinations, and passions, they are just the same.
There is no place in the world like Paris. You must not think
that I exaggerate when I speak in this way of the music here;
refer to whom you will, except to a Frenchman born, and (if
trustworthy) you will hear the same. But I am now here, and must
endure it for your sake. I shall be grateful to Providence if I
get away with my natural taste uninjured. I pray to God every day
to grant me grace to be firm and steadfast here, that I may do
honor to the whole German nation, which will all redound to His
greater honor and glory, and to enable me to prosper and make
plenty of money, that I may extricate you from your present
emergencies, and also to permit us to meet soon, and to live
together happily and contentedly; but "His will be done in earth
as it is in heaven." I entreat you, dearest father, in the
meantime, to take measures that I may see Italy, in order to
bring me to life again. Bestow this great happiness upon me, I
implore you! I do hope you will keep up your spirits; I shall cut
my way through here as I best can, and trust I shall get off
safely. Adieu!



103.

Paris, May 14, 1778.

I HAVE already so much to do that I don't know how I am to manage
when winter comes. I think I wrote to you in my last letter that
the Duc de Guines, whose daughter is my pupil in composition,
plays the flute inimitably, and she the harp magnificently; she
has a great deal of talent and genius, and, above all, a
wonderful memory, for she plays all her pieces, about 200 in
number, by heart. She, however, doubts much whether she has any
genius for composition, especially as regards ideas or invention;
but her father (who, entre nous, is rather too infatuated about
her) declares that she certainly has ideas, and that she is only
diffident and has too little self-reliance. Well, we shall see.
If she acquires no thoughts or ideas, (for hitherto she really
has none whatever,) it is all in vain, for God knows I can't give
her any! It is not the father's intention to make her a great
composer. He says, "I don't wish her to write operas, or arias,
or concertos, or symphonies, but grand sonatas for her instrument
and for mine." I gave her to-day her fourth lesson on the rules
of composition and harmony, and am pretty well satisfied with
her. She made a very good bass for the first minuet, of which I
had given her the melody, and she has already begun to write in
three parts; she can do it, but she quickly tires, and I cannot
get her on, for it is impossible to proceed further as yet; it is
too soon, even if she really had genius, but, alas! there appears
to be none; all must be done by rule; she has no ideas, and none
seem likely to come, for I have tried her in every possible way.
Among other things it occurred to me to write out a very simple
minuet, and to see if she could not make a variation on it. Well,
that utterly failed. Now, thought I, she has not a notion how or
what to do first. So I began to vary the first bar, and told her
to continue in the same manner, and to keep to the idea. At
length this went tolerably well. When it was finished, I told her
she must try to originate something herself--only the treble of a
melody. So she thought it over for a whole quarter of an hour,
AND NOTHING CAME. Then I wrote four bars of a minuet, saying to
her, "See what an ass I am! I have begun a minuet, and can't even
complete the first part; be so very good as to finish it for me."
She declared this was impossible. At last, with great difficulty,
SOMETHING CAME, and I was only too glad that ANYTHING AT ALL
CAME. I told her then to complete the minuet--that is, the treble
only. The task I set her for the next lesson was to change my
four bars, and replace them by something of her own, and to find
out another beginning, even if it were the same harmony, only
changing the melody. I shall see to-morrow what she has done.

I shall soon now, I think, receive the poetry for my two-act
opera, when I must first present it to the Director, M. de
Vismes, to see if he will accept it; but of this there can be no
doubt, as it is recommended by Noverre, to whom De Vismes is
indebted for his situation. Noverre, too, is soon to arrange a
new ballet, for which I am to write the music. Rudolf (who plays
the French horn) is in the royal service here, and a very kind
friend of mine; he understands composition thoroughly, and writes
well. He has offered me the place of organist at Versailles if I
choose to accept it: the salary is 2000 livres a year, but I must
live six months at Versailles and the remaining six in Paris, or
where I please. I don't, however, think that I shall close with
the offer; I must take the advice of good friends on the subject.
2000 livres is no such very great sum; in German money it may be
so, but not here. It amounts to 83 louis-d'or 8 livres a year--
that is, 915 florins 45 kreutzers of our money, (which is
certainly a considerable sum,) but only to 383 ecus 2 livres, and
that is not much, for it is frightful to see how quickly a dollar
goes here! I am not at all surprised that so little is thought of
a louis-d'or in Paris, for it does not go far. Four dollars, or a
louis-d'or, which are the same, are gone in no time. Adieu!



104.

Paris, May 29, 1778.

I AM pretty well, thank God! but still I am often puzzled to know
what to make of it all. I feel neither hot nor cold, and don't
take much pleasure in anything. What, however, cheers and
strengthens me most is the thought that you, dearest papa, and my
dear sister, are well; that I am an honest German, and though I
cannot SAY, I may at all events THINK what I please, and, after
all, that is the chief thing. Yesterday I was for the second time
at Count Sickingen's, ambassador from the Elector Palatine; (I
dined there once before with Wendling and Ramm.) I don't know
whether I told you what a charming man he is, and a great
connoisseur and devoted lover of music. I passed eight hours
quite alone with him. The whole forenoon, and afternoon too, till
ten o'clock at night, we were at the piano, playing all kind of
music, praising, admiring, analyzing, discussing, and
criticizing. He has nearly thirty scores of operas. I must not
forget to tell you that I had the satisfaction of seeing your
"School for the Violin" translated into French; I believe it is
about eight years since the translation appeared. I have just
returned from a music-shop where I went to buy a sonata of
Schobert's for one of my pupils, and I mean to go again soon to
examine the book more closely, that I may write to you about it
minutely, for to-day I have not time to do this.



105.

Paris, June 12, 1778.

I MUST now write something that concerns our Raaff. [Footnote:
Mozart wrote the part of Idomeneo for Raaff in the year 1781.]
You no doubt remember that I did not write much in his favor from
Mannheim, and was by no means satisfied with his singing--in
short, that he did not please me at all. The cause, however, was
that I can scarcely say I really heard him at Mannheim. The first
time was at the rehearsal of Holzbauer's "Gunther," when he was
in his every-day clothes, his hat on his head, and a stick in his
hand. When he was not singing, he stood looking like a sulky
child. When he began to sing the first recitative, it went
tolerably well, but every now and then he gave a kind of shriek,
which I could not bear. He sang the arias in a most indolent way,
and yet some of the notes with too much emphasis, which is not
what I like. This has been an invariable habit of his, which the
Bernacchi school probably entails; for he is a pupil of
Bernacchi's. At court, too, he used to sing all kinds of airs
which, in my opinion, by no means suited his voice; so he did not
at all please me. When at length he made his debut here in the
Concert Spirituel, he sang Bach's scena, "Non so d' onde viene"
which is, besides, my great favorite, and then for the first time
I really heard him sing, and he pleased me--that is, in this
class of music; but the style itself, the Bernacchi school, is
not to my taste. He is too apt to fall into the cantabile. I
admit that, when he was younger and in his prime, this must have
made a great impression and taken people by surprise; I could
like it also, but there is too much of it, and it often seems to
me positively ludicrous. What does please me in him is when he
sings short pieces--for instance, andantinos; and he has likewise
certain arias which he gives in a manner peculiar to himself. Let
each occupy his proper place. I fancy that bravura singing was
once his forte, which is even still perceptible in him, and so
far as age admits of it he has a good chest and a long breath;
and then his andantino! His voice is fine and very pleasing; if I
shut my eyes and listen to him, I think his singing very like
Meissner's, only Raaff's voice seems to me more agreeable. I speak
of the present time, for I never heard either in his best days. I
can therefore only refer to their style or method of singing, for
this a singer always retains. Meissner, as you know, had the bad
habit of purposely making his voice tremble at times,--entire
quavers and even crotchets, when marked sostenuto,--and this I
never could endure in him. Nothing can be more truly odious;
besides, it is a style of singing quite contrary to nature. The
human voice is naturally tremulous, but only so far as to be
beautiful; such is the nature of the voice, and it is imitated
not only on wind instruments, but on stringed instruments, and
even on the piano. But the moment the proper boundary is passed
it is no longer beautiful, because it becomes unnatural. It seems
to me then just like an organ when the bellows are panting. Now
Raaff never does this,--in fact, he cannot bear it. Still, so far
as a genuine cantabile goes, Meissner pleases me (though not
altogether, for he also exaggerates) better than Raaff. In
bravura passages and roulades, Raaff is indeed a perfect master,
and he has such a good and distinct articulation, which is a
great charm; and, as I already said, his andantinus and
canzonetti are delightful. He composed four German songs, which
are lovely. He likes me much, and we are very intimate; he comes
to us almost every day. I have dined at least six times with
Count von Sickingen, and always stay from one o'clock till ten.
Time, however, flies so quickly in his house that it passes quite
imperceptibly. He seems fond of me, and I like very much being
with him, for he is a most friendly, sensible person, possessing
excellent judgment and a true insight into music, I was there
again to-day with Raaff. I took some music with me, as the Count
(long since) asked me to do so. I brought my newly completed
symphony, with which, on Corpus Christi day, the Concert
Spirituel is to commence. The work pleased them both exceedingly,
and I am also well satisfied with it. Whether it will be popular
here, however, I cannot tell, and, to say the truth, I care very
little about it. For whom is it to please? I can answer for its
pleasing the few intelligent Frenchmen who may be there; as for
the numskulls--why, it would be no great misfortune if they were
dissatisfied. I have some hope, nevertheless, that even the
dunces among them may find something to admire. Besides, I have
been careful not to neglect le premier coup d'archet; and that is
sufficient. All the wiseacres here make such a fuss on that
point! Deuce take me if I can see any difference! Their orchestra
begins all at one stroke, just as in other places. It is too
laughable! Raaff told me a story of Abaco on this subject. He was
asked by a Frenchman, in Munich or elsewhere,--"Monsieur, vous
avez ete a Paris?" "Oui." "Est-ce que vous etiez au Concert
Spirituel?" "Oui." "Que dites-vous du premier coup d'archet?
avez-vous entendu le premier coup d'archet?" "Oui, j'ai entendu
le premier et le dernier." "Comment le dernier? que veut dire
cela?" "Mais oui, le premier et le dernier; et le dernier meme
m'a donne plus de plaisir." [Footnote: The imposing impression
produced by the first grand crash of a numerous orchestra,
commencing with precision, in tutti, gave rise to this
pleasantry.] A few days afterwards his kind mother was taken ill.
Even in her letters from Mannheim she often complained of various
ailments, and in Paris also she was still exposed to the
discomfort of cold dark lodgings, which she was obliged to submit
to for the sake of economy; so her illness soon assumed the worst
aspect, and Mozart experienced the first severe trial of his
life. The following letter is addressed to his beloved and
faithful friend, Abbe Bullinger, tutor in Count Lodron's family
in Salzburg.



(Private.) 106.

Paris, July 3, 1778.

MY VERY DEAR FRIEND,--

Mourn with me! This has been the most melancholy day of my life;
I am now writing at two o'clock in the morning. I must tell you
that my mother, my darling mother, is no more. God has called her
to Himself; I clearly see that it was His will to take her from
us, and I must learn to submit to the will of God. The Lord
giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Only think of all the distress,
anxiety, and care I have endured for the last fourteen days. She
died quite unconscious, and her life went out like a light. She
confessed three days before, took the sacrament, and received
extreme unction. The last three days, however, she was constantly
delirious, and to-day, at twenty minutes past five o'clock, her
features became distorted, and she lost all feeling and
perception. I pressed her hand, I spoke to her, but she did not
see me, she did not hear me, and all feeling was gone. She lay
thus till the moment of her death, five hours after, at twenty
minutes past ten at night. There was no one present but myself,
Herr Heiner, a kind friend whom my father knows, and the nurse.
It is quite impossible for me to describe the whole course of the
illness to-day. I am firmly convinced that she must have died,
and that God had so ordained it. All I would ask of you at
present is to act the part of a true friend, by preparing my
father by degrees for this sad intelligence. I have written to
him by this post, but only that she is seriously ill; and now I
shall wait for your answer and be guided by it. May God give him
strength and courage! My dear friend, I am consoled not only now,
but have been so for some time past. By the mercy of God I have
borne it all with firmness and composure. When the danger became
imminent, I prayed to God for only two things--a happy death for
my mother, and strength and courage for myself; and our gracious
God heard my prayer and conferred these two boons fully on me. I
entreat you, therefore, my best friend, to watch over my father
for me; try to inspire him with courage, that the blow may not be
too hard and heavy on him when he learns the worst. I also, from
my heart, implore you to comfort my sister. Pray go straight to
them, but do not tell them she is actually dead--only prepare
them for the truth. Do what you think best, say what you please;
only act so that my mind may be relieved, and that I may not have
to dread another misfortune. Support and comfort my dear father
and my dear sister. Answer me at once, I entreat. Adieu! Your
faithful

W. A. M.



107.

Paris, July 3, 1778.

MONSIEUR MON TRES-CHER PERE,--

I have very painful and sad news to give you, which has, in fact,
been the cause of my not having sooner replied to your letter of
the 11th. My dearest mother is very ill. She has been bled
according to her usual custom, which was indeed very necessary;
it did her much good, but a few days afterwards she complained of
shivering and feverishness; then diarrhoea came on and headache.
At first we only used our home remedies, antispasmodic powders;
we would gladly have had recourse to the black powder, but we had
none, and could not get it here. As she became every moment
worse, could hardly speak, and lost her hearing, so that we were
obliged to shout to her, Baron Grimm sent his doctor to see her.
She is very weak, and still feverish and delirious. They do give
me some hope, but I have not much. I hoped and feared alternately
day and night for long, but I am quite reconciled to the will of
God, and hope that you and my sister will be the same. What other
resource have we to make us calm? More calm, I ought to say; for
altogether so we cannot be. Whatever the result may be, I am
resigned, knowing that it comes from God, who wills all things
for our good, (however unaccountable they may seem to us;) and I
do firmly believe (and shall never think otherwise) that no
doctor, no man living, no misfortune, no casualty, can either
save or take away the life of any human being--none but God
alone. These are only the instruments that He usually employs,
but not always; we sometimes see people swoon, fall down, and be
dead in a moment. When our time does come, all means are vain,--
they rather hurry on death than retard it; this we saw in the
case of our friend Hefner. I do not mean to say by this that my
mother will or must die, or that all hope is at an end; she may
recover and be restored to health, but only if the Lord wills it
thus. After praying to God with all my strength for health and
life for my darling mother, I like to indulge in such consolatory
thoughts, and, after doing so, I feel more cheerful and more calm
and tranquil, and you may easily imagine how much I require
comfort. Now for another subject. Let us put aside these sad
thoughts, and still hope, but not too much; we must place our
trust in the Lord, and console ourselves by the thought that all
must go well if it be in accordance with the will of the
Almighty, as he knows best what is most profitable and beneficial
both for our temporal and spiritual welfare.

I have composed a symphony for the opening of the Concert
Spirituel, which was performed with great applause on Corpus
Christi day. I hear, too, that there is a notice of it in the
"Courrier de l'Europe," and that it has given the greatest
satisfaction. I was very nervous during the rehearsal, for in my
life I never heard anything go so badly. You can have no idea of
the way in which they scraped and scrambled through my symphony
twice over; I was really very uneasy, and would gladly have had
it rehearsed again, but so many things had been tried over that
there was no time left. I therefore went to bed with an aching
heart and in a discontented and angry spirit. Next day I resolved
not to go to the concert at all; but in the evening, the weather
being fine, I made up my mind at last to go, determined that if
it went as badly as at the rehearsal, I would go into the
orchestra, take the violin out of the hands of M. La Haussaye,
the first violin, and lead myself. I prayed to God that it might
go well, for all is to His greater honor and glory; and ecce, the
symphony began, Raaff was standing beside me, and just in the
middle of the allegro a passage occurred which I felt sure must
please, and there was a burst of applause; but as I knew at the
time I wrote it what effect it was sure to produce, I brought it
in once more at the close, and then rose shouts of "Da capo!" The
andante was also liked, but the last allegro still more so.
Having observed that all last as well as first allegros here
begin together with all the other instruments, and generally
unisono, mine commenced with only two violins, piano for the
first eight bars, followed instantly by a forte; the audience, as
I expected, called out "hush!" at the soft beginning, and the
instant the forte was heard began to clap their hands. The moment
the symphony was over I went off in my joy to the Palais Royal,
where I took a good ice, told over my beads, as I had vowed, and
went home, where I am always happiest, and always shall be
happiest, or in the company of some good, true, upright German,
who, so long as he is unmarried, lives a good Christian life, and
when he marries loves his wife, and brings up his children
properly.

I must give you a piece of intelligence that you perhaps already
know--namely, that the ungodly arch-villain Voltaire has died
miserably like a dog--just like a brute. This is his reward! You
must long since have remarked that I do not like being here, for
many reasons, which, however, do
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Jan 6, 2016
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