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observe it - they attribute it to the absent fits which I often have.
Many a time I can with difficulty distinguish the tones, but not the
words, of any person who speaks in a low voice; and yet, directly
any one begins to shout, it is unendurable to me. What is to be the
result of all this, the good God alone knows. Vering says that my
condition will certainly improve, though I may not be perfectly
restored. I have often already - cursed my existence. Plutarch has
led me to resignation. I am resolved, if possible, to defy my fate,
although there should be moments in my life when I shall be the most
unhappy of all God's creatures.

"I beg of you not to mention my state to any one, not even to
Lorchen;[17] I only confide it as a secret to you. I should like
much if you would correspond some day with Vering about it. Should
my affliction continue, I shall come next spring to you. You shall
hire a house for me in some lovely spot in the country, and there I
shall become a peasant for six months. Perhaps that might bring
about a change. Resignation! what a miserable refuge! and yet the
only one left to me!

"You must forgive me for adding the burden of these friendly cares
to your troubles, already gloomy enough. Steffen Breuning[18] is now
here, and we are almost every day together; it does me so much good
to call up the old feelings. He has become really a capital fellow,
who knows something, and has his heart pretty much in the right
place, like us all.

"I have very pleasant rooms now close to the Ramparts,[19] which is
doubly advantageous for my health. I think I shall be able to manage
so that Breuning may come to me.

"Your Antiochus[20] you shall have, together with plenty of music
from me, - that is, if you do not fear its costing you too much.
Honestly, your love of art rejoices me greatly. Only let me know how
to set about it, and I shall send you all my works, which now amount
to a pretty number, and are daily added to.

"Instead of the portrait of my grandfather (which I beg you to send
me as soon as possible with the mail), I send you that of his
grandson, your ever loving and affectionate Beethoven. It has been
brought out here by Artaria, who, as well as other publishers, has
often begged me for it. I shall write next to Stoffeln[21], and read
him a lecture about his peevish temper. I shall sound our old
friendship well in his ears, and get him to promise sacredly not to
annoy you again in your present sad position.

"Never have I forgotten one of you, my dear, good friends, although
I may not have written often to you; but writing, as you know, was
never my _forté_; even my best friends have not heard from me for
years. I live only in my music; and, no sooner is one thing
completed, than another is begun. In fact, as at present, I am often
engaged on three or four compositions at one time.

"Write me now frequently; I shall make a point of finding time to
write you occasionally. Give my kind regards to all, especially to
the good Frau Hofräthin[22], and tell her that even now I sometimes
have a 'raptus.'

"With regard to K - - , I am not at all surprised at the change.
Fortune rolls on like a ball; and naturally, therefore, does not
always stop at what is noblest and best. One word for Ries,[23] to
whom remember me cordially. With regard to his son,[24] I shall
write you more particularly, but I believe that Paris offers a
better field for his exertions than Vienna, which is so overstocked
that even people of the greatest merit find it a hard matter to
maintain themselves. By autumn or winter I shall see what I can do
for him, for then everybody will have returned to town.

"Farewell, my good, faithful Wegeler. Rest assured of the love and
friendship of your


_Vienna, November, 16th, 1801._

"MY DEAR WEGELER, - For this fresh proof of your solicitude about me,
I must thank you the more, that I deserve it so little. You want to
know how I am progressing, and what remedies I use; however
unwilling I am in general to refer to this subject, I do so with the
least reluctance to you.

"For several months past, Vering has ordered me to apply blisters
constantly to both arms, made of a certain kind of bark, which you
doubtless know. This is a most disagreeable remedy, inasmuch as
(without taking the pain into consideration) I am deprived of the
free use of my arms for a few days, until the blisters have drawn
sufficiently. It is true, and I cannot deny it, that the buzzing and
ringing are somewhat less than formerly, especially in the left ear,
that in which my malady first commenced - but my hearing is certainly
not a whit better. I dare not say positively that it has not rather
grown worse.

"My digestion is better, especially after using the tepid baths,
when I feel tolerably well for eight or ten days. Tonics I very
seldom take, but follow your advice now with regard to the
herb-plasters. Plunge baths Vering will not hear of. On the whole, I
am not at all pleased with him; he has far too little solicitude or
indulgence for a malady such as mine; if I did not go to him, and
this I cannot do without great difficulty, I should never see him.
What do you think of Schmidt?[25] I am unwilling to make a change,
but it seems to me that Vering is too much of a practitioner to gain
fresh ideas by reading. With regard to this, Schmidt appears a very
different sort of man, and might also, perhaps, not be quite so
negligent of my case.

"I hear wonders of galvanism - what say you to it? A medical man told
me that he had known a deaf and dumb child whose hearing was fully
restored by it (in Berlin), and also a man who, after having been
deaf for seven years, recovered his hearing. They tell me that your
friend Schmidt is making experiments on the subject.

"I lead a somewhat more agreeable life now that I mingle more with
other people. You can hardly realize what a miserable, desolate life
mine has been for the last two years. Like a ghost did my deafness
haunt me everywhere, till I fled society, and must have appeared a
misanthrope - yet this is so little my character.

"This change has been brought about by a lovely and fascinating
girl,[26] who loves me, and whom I love. After the lapse of two
years I have again enjoyed some blissful moments, and now for the
first time I feel that marriage can bestow happiness; but, alas! she
is not in the same rank of life as myself; and at present, certainly
I could not marry: I must first bestir myself actively. Were it not
for my deafness, I would long ago have travelled half round the
world, and I must do it yet. For me there is no greater pleasure
than to follow and promote my art. Do not believe that I could be
happy with you. What would there be, indeed, to make me happier?
Even your solicitude would pain me; every moment I should read
sympathy on your faces, and should find myself only the more

"Those lovely scenes of my Fatherland, what part had I in them?
Nothing but the hope of a better future, which would have been mine,
were it not for this affliction! Oh! once free from this, I would
span the world! My youth, I feel it, is only beginning; have I not
always been a sickly creature? For some time past my bodily strength
has been increasing more than ever, and my mental power as well.
Every day I approach nearer the goal which I feel, but cannot
describe. Only in this can your Beethoven live. No rest for me! I
know of none other than Sleep, and sorry enough I am to be obliged
to give up more time to it than formerly. Let me be only half
delivered from this malady, and then - a more perfect, mature man - I
shall come to you, and renew the old feelings of friendship.

"You shall see me as happy as I am destined to be here below, - not
unhappy. No, that I could not bear. I will grasp Fate by the throat,
it shall not utterly crush me. Oh! it is so glorious to live one's
life a thousand times! For a quiet life, I feel it, I am no longer

"Pray do write me as soon as possible. Persuade Steffen to decide
upon seeking an appointment somewhere from the Teutonic Order.[27]
His position here is too fatiguing for his health, and besides, he
leads such an isolated life, that I do not see how he is ever to get
on. You know how things are here. I will not positively say that
society would lessen his depression, but we cannot persuade him to
join in it at all. A short time ago I had some music in my house,
but our friend Steffen stayed away. Advise him to be more calm and
composed. I have already tried all my powers on him, - without this
he can never be either happy or in good health. Tell me in your next
letter if there is any objection to my sending you my music, even
though there should be a quantity of it. What you don't require, you
can sell, and thus get back what you paid for carriage, - and my
portrait into the bargain.

"Say all that is kind and obliging to Lorchen, as well as to her
mamma and Christoph. Have you still a little love for me? Be
convinced of the love as well as of the friendship of


The year 1800 found Beethoven already busy with his "Mount of Olives,"
which, however, was not produced till 1803. This, the master's first and
last attempt at oratorio writing, "is a striking instance of the
insufficiency of even the highest powers to accomplish that to which the
special call has not been given. It was impossible for Beethoven to feel
himself so inspired by his task as the composer of a time when the mind
of the people was almost exclusively occupied by religious convictions;
the man of the revolutionary period could not see or think out a Christ
like that of Bach and Handel before him. Even the pure spring, out of
which we Protestants of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries draw
our ideas of Christ - the Bible - flowed not for him; his Christ must
first be poetically made for him. And how? The poet had no other aim but
that of making verses for a composer; the latter no other motive than
the ordinary creative impulse prompting him to try his powers in a
different and important sphere. The result on both sides could not,
therefore, be other than _Phrases_, although the better of the two
proceeded from the composer, and that composer was Beethoven. To conceal
or palliate this would be derogatory to the reverence which we all owe
to Beethoven, - he stands too high to be in need of extenuation."

So far Marx; but in addition to the miserable libretto (which imparted
unreality, artificiality, to the whole work, and especially gave to the
part of the Saviour a theatrical air which Beethoven afterwards
deplored) many peculiarities of the oratorio - with all deference to the
able critic just quoted - may be traced to the period in which it was
composed. The very choice of subject reveals the convulsion that was
taking place in Beethoven's _volcanic_ nature. It is a question whether
Beethoven would ever have asserted his sovereignty in this branch of
composition; it may be, as Marx hints, that the peculiar tone of thought
and feeling necessary to the successful treatment of sacred subjects was
wanting in him; but there can be no doubt that had the master's
attention been devoted to the subject in happier days, when his
tempest-tossed natures had attained to some degree of peace and
serenity, the result would have been very different. Let him who would
see Beethoven as a _devotional_ writer, turn to his Gellert songs, which
breathe the very depths of true religious feeling.

The greater part of the oratorio, and also of "Fidelio," was composed at
Hetzendorf, a pretty little village near the imperial summer palace of
Schönbrunn. Here Beethoven passed several summers in the greatest
retirement - wandering all day long, from early dawn to nightfall, amid
the leafy glades of the park. His favourite seat was between two immense
boughs of an old oak, which branched out from the parent stem about two
feet from the ground. This memorable tree, endeared to Beethoven as the
birthplace of many a thought, was afterwards visited by him, in
Schindler's company, in 1823.

In 1802 a gleam of hope dawned upon the sufferer; his deafness was for a
time cured by the skilful treatment of Dr. Schmidt (to whom, out of
gratitude, he dedicated his Septet arranged as a Trio), by whose advice
he went for the summer to the village of Heiligenstadt, in the hope that
the calm, sweet influence of nature, to which he was at all times most
sensitive, might act beneficially upon his troubled mind.

This spot - this _consecrated town_ - must always be an object of
veneration to those who cherish the name of Beethoven, for here it was
that he wrote his remarkable will, or promemoria, a document which
excites our warmest sympathy, revealing, as it does, the depths of that
great heart.

"TO MY BROTHERS, CARL AND - - BEETHOVEN.[28] - O ye who consider or
represent me as unfriendly, morose, and misanthropical, how unjust are
you to me! you know not the secret cause of what appears thus to you.

"My heart and mind have been from childhood given up to the tender
feeling of benevolence, and I have ever been disposed to accomplish
something great. But only consider that for six years I have been
afflicted by a wretched calamity, which was aggravated by unskilful
physicians - deceived from year to year by the hope of amendment - now
forced, at length, to the contemplation of a _lingering disease_ (the
cure of which will, perhaps, last for years, if indeed it be not an

"Born with a passionate, lively temperament, keenly susceptible to the
pleasures of society, I was obliged at an early age to isolate myself,
and to pass my life in loneliness.

"When I at times endeavoured to surmount all this, oh, how rudely
was I thrust back again by the experience - the doubly painful
experience - of my defective hearing! and yet it was impossible for me
to say to people, Speak louder, shout; for I am deaf! Alas! how could
I proclaim the weakness of a sense which ought to have been with me in
a higher degree than with others - a sense which I once possessed in
the greatest perfection - and to an extent which few of my profession
enjoy, or ever have enjoyed! Oh, this I cannot do! Forgive me,
therefore, when you see me turn away where I would gladly mingle with
you. My misfortune is doubly painful to me, inasmuch as it causes me
to be misunderstood. For me there can be no relaxation in human
society, no refined conversations, no mutual outpourings of thought.
Like an exile must I live. Whenever I come near strangers, I am seized
with a feverish anxiety from my dread of being exposed to the risk of
betraying my condition.

"Thus it has been with me during these last six months which I have
spent in the country. The orders of my sensible physician, to spare my
hearing as much as possible, were quite in accordance with my present
disposition; although often, overcome by my longing for society, I
have been tempted into it. But what humiliation, when any one by my
side heard from afar a flute, and I heard _nothing_, or when any one
heard _the shepherd singing_, and I again heard _nothing_!

"Such occurrences brought me nigh to despair; but little was
wanting, and I should myself have put an end to my existence.
_Art_ - art alone - held me back! Ah! it seemed impossible for me to
quit the world before I had done all that I felt myself destined to
accomplish. And so I prolonged this miserable life; a life so truly
wretched that a sudden change is sufficient to throw me from the
happiest condition into the worst.

"_Patience!_ it would seem that I must now choose her for my guide! I
have done so. I trust that my resolve to persevere will remain firm,
until it shall please the inexorable Fates to cut the thread of life.
Perhaps I may get better; perhaps not. I am prepared. Compelled to be
a philosopher in my twenty-eighth year![29] This is not easy - for the
artist harder than for any one else. O God! Thou lookest down upon my
heart, Thou seest that love to man and beneficent feelings have their
abode in it!

"O ye who may one day read this, reflect that you did me injustice,
and let the unhappy be consoled by finding one like himself, who, in
defiance of all natural obstacles, has done all that lay in his power
to be received into the ranks of worthy artists and men.

"My brothers, Carl and - - , as soon as I am dead, if Professor Schmidt
be still alive, beg him in my name to describe my disease, and then
add these pages to the history of my malady, that at least, so far as
possible, the world may be reconciled to me after my death.

"I also hereby declare you both heirs of my little fortune (if so it
may be called). Divide it honestly, bear with and help one another.
What you did against me I have, as you know, long since forgiven. I
thank you in particular, brother Carl, for the attachment which you
have shown me of late. My wish is, that your life may be happier, and
more free from care, than mine has been. Recommend _Virtue_ to your
children; it is she alone, and not money, that can confer happiness. I
speak from experience; for it was Virtue who raised me when in
distress. I have to thank her, in addition to my art, that I did not
put an end to my life through suicide. Farewell, and love one another!
I thank all my friends, especially Prince Lichnowski and Professor
Schmidt. I should like the instruments of Prince L. to be preserved by
one of you; but let no dispute arise between you on this account. As
soon as you perceive that it will be more to your advantage, you have
only to sell them. How shall I rejoice, if even in the grave I can
serve you!

"Thus has it happened: - with joy I hasten to meet Death. Should he
come before I have had opportunity to develop all my artistic powers,
he will have come too soon, notwithstanding my hard fate, and I shall
wish that he had tarried a little longer; but even then I shall be
content, for he will set me free from a state of endless suffering.
Come when thou wilt - I go courageously to meet thee!

"Farewell, and do not quite forget me even in death. I have deserved
this of you, since in my life I often thought of you, and wished to
make you happy.

"So be it!


_Heiligenstadt, 6th October, 1802._"

"_Heiligenstadt, 10th October, 1802._

"Thus I bid farewell to thee, mournfully enough. Even the dearest hope
that I brought hither with me, the hope of being to a certain degree
restored, has utterly forsaken me. As the leaves of autumn fall and
wither, so has my hope faded. Almost as I came do I depart; even the
lofty courage which inspired me during the lovely days of summer has
vanished. Oh, Providence! vouchsafe to me one more day of pure
happiness! The responsive echo of pure joy has been so long a stranger
to my heart. When, when, O God! shall I again feel it in the temple of
nature and man? Never? Ah! that would be too hard!"

(On the outside.)

"For my brothers Carl and - - , to be read and fulfilled after my

Several writers have maintained that the consequences of Beethoven's
deafness are plainly discernible in his compositions; that he lost all
idea of harmonic relations, that his later works are mere incongruous,
erratic fancies, devoid of form and melody, and, in short, compared to
his former productions, what the second part of "Faust" is to the first.

Happily, such ideas - promulgated by theorists of the old school like
Fétis, and dilettanti of the Mozart-Italian school like
Oulibicheff - have now exploded, and the service rendered to Art by
Beethoven's latest works - especially his pianoforte sonatas - is fully
recognised. It is these which have brought the pianoforte to its
present eminence as the most intellectual and ideal of all instruments,
and which, by their depth of thought and loftiness of aim, have raised
an insuperable barrier between the dilettante who trifles with music for
amusement, and the artist who devotes his life to its cultivation as a
God-appointed means of developing the divine in man.

At the same time we come upon passages here and there which Beethoven
would, perhaps, have written otherwise, had his ear, as well as his
mind, been sensitive to their effect.

It is not posterity that has been the loser by Beethoven's deafness; we,
at least, ought to appreciate the "precious jewel" which his adversity
carried within it, and has handed down to us. His contemporaries,
however, had cause to lament, for in a few years it put a stop to all
improvising and playing in public. We read, indeed, of a plan for an
artistic tour with his pupil Ries, when the latter was to make all
arrangements for concert-giving, and to play the pianoforte Concertos
and other works, while Beethoven conducted and improvised - but the
project never came to maturity. It was, in fact, impossible. Beethoven
entirely lost the sensitiveness of touch which had once distinguished
his playing from that of all contemporaries; and, in his efforts to
extract some nourishment for his hungering ear, used to hammer the
pianoforte so unmercifully as generally to break several strings. Nor
could it be obviated by a special instrument constructed for himself,
nor by a sound-conductor invented for him by the ingenious Graff.

A curious feature of his deafness was the gradual manner in which the
auricular nerve decayed; he first lost the power of catching the higher
notes of singers or instruments, as we have seen, while deep, low sounds
were long audible to him; this may account for the prevalence of those
deep-lying tones in almost all his later works, especially the Second
Mass and the Ninth Symphony.

As a natural consequence of his affliction, he soon became unable to
conduct his own orchestral works. This, however, was no great loss, for
he had never possessed either the self-possession or the experience
necessary to wield the _bâton_ satisfactorily. Knowing thoroughly as he
did what every instrument had to say, he listened excitedly for each in
detail - without calmly attending to the effect of the whole; at each
_crescendo_ he would rise as if about to fly, gesticulating so rapidly
and energetically that the members of the orchestra (who had enough to
do to follow such new and peculiar music) were often more bewildered
than guided by his directions. At the same time be it distinctly
understood that, however low the performance might fall beneath his
"ideal," however vexatious the mistakes of individual performers might
be, he never lost his temper so far as to act in the manner related by
Ries in his Notices, of which the following is a specimen: -

"Beethoven was present at the first performance of his Fantasia for
pianoforte, orchestra, and chorus. The clarinettist, in a passage where
the beautiful subject of the finale has already entered, made by mistake
a repetition of eight bars. As very few instruments are heard at this
point, the error in the execution was torturing to the ear. Beethoven
rose furiously, turned round, and insulted the musicians in the grossest
manner, and so loudly that it was heard by the whole audience. Then,
resuming his seat, he exclaimed, "From the beginning!" The movement was
recommenced, and this time all went well, and the success was brilliant.
But when the concert was over, the artists recollected only too well the
honourable titles by which Beethoven had publicly addressed them; and,
as if the matter had but that moment occurred, became excessively angry,
and vowed never to play again when Beethoven was in the orchestra, &c.,

That the clarinettist did make a mistake is true, but that Beethoven
behaved in the outrageous way described was most positively denied by

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