L. Mühlbach.

Andreas Hofer online

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He lifted both his hands toward heaven, and prayed in a low voice.
Then he rose slowly from his chair, and turned his head with smiling
greetings on all sides.

"Conrad," he said, gently, "I take leave of Nature to-day, for it
seems to me as if I never should see again my dear little garden,
the flowers and birds, the sun and the sky. Oh, farewell, then,
great and holy Nature! I have loved thee passionately all my life,
and glorified thee in my works to the best of the power which God
imparted to me. Farewell, Nature! farewell, sunshine and fragrant
flowers! Joseph Haydn takes leave of you, for his task is fulfilled,
and his soul is weary. Come, my old Conrad, conduct me back to the
house. I will return to my room. I am tired, ah, so exceedingly

He passed his arm around Conrad's neck, and, leaning his other hand
on his cane, walked slowly and pantingly up the narrow path. At this
moment the nightingale in the elder-bush recommenced its jubilant
song, and at the same time the parrot raised its shrill voice, and
began to whistle the sweet notes of the air from Haydn's "Creation."

Haydn stood still and listened. "Conrad," he said, in a low voice,
"we will now consult an oracle as to my life and death. If the
parrot pauses first, I shall die soon; if the nightingale pauses,
God will permit me to live a while longer."

He lifted his eyes devoutly to the sky, over whose azure plain white
cloudlets were scudding like silver swans, and his lips muttered a
low prayer.

The nightingale still sang its wonderful love-songs, and the parrot
tried to drown its notes with Haydn's beautiful melody.

Conrad smiled blissfully. "My Paperl has a long breath," he said,
"and the nightingale will be unable to cope with him; Rupert will
out-sing it."

But the nightingale, as if irritated by this rivalry, now seemed to
put forth its whole art and strength. The ringing trills were
followed by long, sweet, flute-notes, which filled the air like a
joyous hymn of tenderness, drowning the voices of all other birds,
and the sighing breeze, and seemed to arouse the flowers from their
sweet slumber, till they trembled with blissful transports, and
softly raised their flowery crowns toward the blooming elder, in
whose dark foliage was concealed the nightingale, Nature's great and
yet modest artiste.

Yes, all Nature seemed to listen with blissful attention to this
wonderful song of the nightingale, and even the parrot could no
longer resist the charm. Paperl hesitated, then commenced again,
hesitated a second time, and was silent.

Haydn dropped his clasped hands slowly, and turned his eyes from
heaven to earth. "I knew it full well," he murmured; "the oracle has
decided my fate, and Joseph Haydn's 'Creation' is silenced by God's
creation. Come into the house, Conrad; I am cold and tired. But
first give me a few of my fragrant friends, my dear flowers. They
shall speak to me in my room of the splendor and beauty of the

Conrad gathered hastily a full bouquet of roses, pinks, and elder-
flowers, dried the tears filling his eyes, and conducted his master
carefully back into the house.

He had just seated him in his easy-chair, and placed the embroidered
cushion under his feet, when the shrill street-bell resounded in the

"Go and see who is there," said Haydn, holding the bouquet in both
his hands, and contemplating it with loving eyes.

Conrad slipped out of the room and returned in a few minutes.

"There is a stranger from Berlin," he said, "who begged me urgently
to admit hint to Dr. Haydn, Mr. Schmid, the manager of the theatre,
is with him, and requests you to see the stranger, who, he says, is
a celebrated poet."

"If Schmid is with him, let them come in," said Haydn, mildly; "it
will doubtless be the last time I shall see my dear old-friend on

Conrad threw open the door, and beckoned the gentlemen, who were
standing outside, to come in. The two crossed the threshold softly
on tiptoe, and with faces expressive of profound reverence; as if
seized with compassion or pious awe, they stood still at the door,
and gazed with eyes full of tenderness upon Haydn, who, at this
moment, overcome perhaps by the spring air, had closed his eyes, and
not heard the entrance of the visitors.

"That is he," whispered one of the two, a man of a tall, erect form,
with a face radiant with understanding and sagacity. "That is he!"
he repeated, fixing his ardent eyes on the composer.

"Yes, that is Joseph Haydn," said the other, in a low voice, and an
expression of profound grief overspread his broad, good-natured
face. "But hush! he opens his eyes."

And he approached Haydn, who held out both his hands to him, and
greeted him with a gentle smile.

"Do you come to bid farewell to your old friend once more previous
to his death?" he asked, mildly. "Do you wish to take leave of me,
my dear friend Schmid?"

"No, I do not come to bid you farewell, but wish you good-day," said
Schmid, warmly, "and pray you to receive this gentleman here kindly.
It is Iffland, the celebrated actor and poet from Berlin. He had
come to Vienna before the French took the city, and after its
capture he could no longer get out: they detained him, and it was
not until now that, by dint of the most pressing solicitations, he
received permission to return to Berlin."

"But I could not leave Vienna without seeing the great Haydn,"
exclaimed Iffland, in his fine, sonorous voice. "What would the
people of Berlin think of me if I had not seen the most illustrious
genius of our time?"

"Sir," said Haydn, with a sigh, "look at me, and learn from my
weakness how fragile man is with all his glory."

"Man alone is fragile, but genius is immortal," exclaimed Iffland,
"and Joseph Haydn is a genius whose glory will never die."

"Let my footman tell you the glory of the nightingale and the
parrot," said Haydn, with a faint smile. "The works of man are
perishable, but the works of God last forever."

"But the works of man come likewise from God, for it was He who gave
him the strength to create them," replied Iffland, warmly. "Did not
the great and glorious creations of your genius come just as much
from God as the flowers which you hold in your hand, and the
perfumes of which delight you so visibly?"

"Yes, these flowers are beautiful," said Haydn, musingly.

"The bouquet is doubtless a gift from one of the many fair admirers
of our maestro?" asked Schmid, laughing.

Haydn looked up to him smilingly and shook his head gently. "No," he
said, "it is the last souvenir of Nature, to which I have bidden
farewell. I worshipped to-day in the open air, and this is the
rosary with which I will pray. Ah, I love Nature so passionately!"

"And you have taught those whose eyes and ears were closed against
the holy charms of Nature, how to see and hear," said Iffland. "Your
`Seasons' is the most glorious hymn on God's splendid world."

"Yes, the 'Seasons,'" cried Haydn, almost vehemently, "gave me the
death-blow. It was so difficult for me to derive enthusiasm from the
words of the text. The words said so little, really so very little!
Frequently a single passage caused me a great deal of trouble for
several days, and I did not succeed after all in expressing the idea
I wished to convey to the hearers. The words were a dead weight on
my music. Well, it is all over now. Yes, you see, it is all over
now. The `Seasons' is to blame for it, for it exhausted my last
strength. I have had to work hard all my lifetime; I had to suffer
hunger, thirst, and cold in my wretched attic, whence I had to
descend a hundred and thirty steps before reaching the street.
Privations, hard work, hunger, in short, all that I suffered in my
youth, are now exerting their effects on me and prostrating me. But
it is an honorable defeat - it is hard work to which I am succumbing.
However, God assisted me. I never felt it more strikingly than this
very day, and therefore I am so happy, oh! so happy, that I must
shed tears of blissful emotion. Do not laugh at me on this account.
I am a weak old man, and when any thing affects me profoundly, I
must weep. It was otherwise in former years. Ah, in former years!"
He turned his tearful eyes toward the window, and gazed into
vacancy. "In former years my mind was strong and vigorous," he
sighed, "and when I wrote my 'Creation,' a manly fire filled my

"Your enthusiasm is imprinted on your great work, and it will never
disappear from it," said Iffland. "Joseph Haydn's 'Creation' is
immortal and full of eternal youth. The Viennese proved it to you on
hearing your sublime music the other day."

"But I proved to them that I had become so feeble that I could no
longer bear listening to my own music. I had to leave the room long
before the performance was at an end."

"You ought not to have gone to the concert at all," said Schmid.
"The excitement might have been injurious to your health."

"It was injurious to me," said Haydn, "but considerations of health
had no right to prevent me from being present. It was not the first
time that homage had been rendered to Haydn, and I wished to show
that I was able to bear it this time too. Ah, it was a glorious
evening, and never did I hear a better performance of my

"It was the great composer's apotheosis which the musicians and
singers were celebrating," said Iffland, deeply moved. .

"It is true the Viennese have done a great deal for me. They are so
good, and they love me dearly."

"Oh, the Viennese are not ahead of the people of Berlin in this
respect," exclaimed Iffland. "In Berlin, too, every one knows and
loves the great Joseph Haydn, and his 'Creation' is likewise
recognized there as a masterpiece. It was performed in Berlin quite
recently at a charity concert, the receipts of which amounted to
over two thousand dollars - "

"Over two thousand dollars for the poor," said Joseph Haydn, with
beaming eyes; "oh, my work, then gave the poor a good day. That is
splendid, that is the most beautiful reward for a life of toils and
privations. But," he added, after a brief pause, "it is all over
now. I can no longer do any thing. I am a leafless tree, which will
break down to-day or to-morrow."

"The fall of this tree will move the whole of Germany as a great
calamity befalling every lover of his country."

"Yes, it is true, much love has been manifested for me, much homage
has been rendered to me," said Haydn, musingly.

"All nations and all princes have rendered homage to you," exclaimed
Iffland. "The laurel-wreath, for which we other poets and artists
arc struggling all our lifetime, and which is generally bestowed
upon us only after we are in the grave, was long since granted to
you in the most flattering and gratifying manner. Europe has
presented you, not with one, but with many laurel-wreaths, and you
may look back on your life like a victorious hero, for each of your
exploits was a triumph for which you received laurel-wreaths and

"Yes, I have many souvenirs of my past," said Haydn, smilingly. "I
will show. them to you. - Conrad, give me my treasures."

Conrad opened the drawer of the large writing-table which was
standing close to Haydn, and which contained a great many large and
small etuis, caskets and boxes.

"You shall see my treasures now," exclaimed Haydn, cheerfully. In
the first place, he showed them a beautiful casket made of ebony and
gold. It was a gift with which the young Princess Esterhazy had
presented the beloved and adored friend of her house only a few
weeks ago, and on whose lid was painted a splendid miniature
representing the scene at the last performance of "The Creation,"
when Haydn received the enthusiastic homage of the audience. He then
showed them the large gold medal sent him; in 1800, from Paris, by
the two hundred and fifty musicians who, on Christmas evening in
that year, had performed "The Creation," and thereby delighted all
Paris. Then followed many other medals from musical societies and
conservatories, and valuable diamond rings, snuff-boxes, and
breastpins from kings and emperors. Last, Haydn showed them, with
peculiar emotion, the diploma of citizenship which the city of
Vienna had conferred on him: It was contained in a silver case, and
its sight caused his eyes even now to flash with the most intense

He had placed on the table before him every piece, after showing it
to them and explaining its meaning; and now that all the treasures
were spread out before him, he contemplated them with a blissful
smile, and nodded to them as if to dear old friends.

"Do not laugh at me," he said, lifting his eyes to Iffland, almost
beseechingly. "I am fondly attached to these things, and hence it
delighted me to look at them from time to time with my friends. You
will say they are the playthings of an old man. But they are more
than that to me; on beholding them, I think of my past life, and my
recollections render me young again for a few moments. After my
death all these things will pass into dear hands, and I hope that,
when I am slumbering in my grave, my souvenirs will be carefully
preserved and honored if only for my sake." [Footnote: Haydn
bequeathed all his trinkets and manuscripts to the Esterhazy family,
who had honored him so highly during his whole life.]

"I hope the day is distant when Germany will have to lament the
death of her favorite, Joseph Haydn," exclaimed Iffland.

"That day is close at hand," said Haydn, calmly; "I feel to-day more
distinctly than ever before that my end is drawing nigh. My strength
is exhausted."

"Let us go," whispered Schmid, pointing to Haydn, who had feebly
sunk back into his easy-chair, and was leaning his pale head against
the cushions.

Iffland fixed his eyes for a long time with an expression of heart-
felt grief on the groaning, broken form reposing in the easy-chair.

"And that is all that is left of a great composer, of a genius who
delighted the whole world!" he sighed. "Ah, what a fragile shell our
body is, a miserable dwelling for the soul living in it! Come, my
friend, let us softly leave the room. Only I would like to take a
souvenir with me, a flower from the bouquet which Haydn held in his
hands. May I venture to take one?"

At this moment Haydn opened his eyes again, and fixed them with a
gentle expression on Iffland. "I heard all you said," he remarked;
"but I was too feeble to speak. You wish to get one of my flowers?
No, you shall have them all."

He took the bouquet, looked at it tenderly, and buried his whole
face for a moment in the flowers, and then handed it to Iffland with
a gentle smile.

"Farewell," he said; "remember me on looking at these flowers. I
would I had known you in happier days, when I should have been able
to enjoy your genius and admire your art. You must be a great actor,
for you have a wonderfully sonorous and pliable voice. I should like
to hear you declaim, even though you should recite but a few

"Permit me, then, to recite the lines in which Wieland celebrated
your 'Creation,'" said Iffland; and, advancing a few steps, holding
the bouquet in his hand, and fixing his gleaming eyes on Haydn, who
gazed at him with a gentle smile, Iffland recited in his full
sonorous voice Wieland's beautiful lines:

"Wie stroem't dein wogender Gesang
In uns're Herzen ein! Wir sehen
Der Schoepfung maecht'gen Gang,
Den Hauch des Herrn auf dem Gewaesser wehen;
Jetzt durch ein blitzend Wort das erste Licht entstehen,
Und die Gestirne sich durch ihre Bahnen drehen;
Wie Baum und Pflanze wird, wie sich der Berg erhebt,
Und froh des Lebens sich die jungen Thiere regen.
Der Donner rollet uns entgegen;
Der Regen saeuselt, jedes Wesen strebt
In's Dasein; und bestimmt, des Schoepfers Werk zu kroenen
Sehn wir das erste Paar, gefuehrt von Deinen Toenen.
Oh, jedes Hochgefuehl, das in dem Herzen schlief,
Ist wach! Wer rufet nicht: wie schoen ist diese Erde?
Und schoener, nun ihr Herr anch dich in's Dasein rief,
Auf dass sein Werk vollendet werde!"

"Thy wondrous song in melting strains
To our mute hearts swift entrance gains;
By magical yet unfelt force,
We see creation's mighty course:
The firmament appears in space -
God breathes upon the water's face.
One flashing word bids primal light appear,
Revolving stars begin their vast career;
Upheaving mountains now are seen,
Tall trees and tender herbage green;
Young animals to being rise,
And animate by living cries;
We hear the mighty thunder roar,
And rains in gushing torrents pour.
All creatures struggle into life; and stand
Before our eyes, fresh from their Maker's hand,
The first pair, led by thy sweet tones.
Now waked by inspiration's art,
Enthusiasm stirs our heart.
Who cries not, 'Earth is passing fair!'
Yet far more fair her Maker is,
How perfect every work of his!"

After concluding his recitation, Iffland approached the old man
quickly, knelt down before him and imprinted a kiss on his clasped
hands. Then, without adding another word, he rose, and, walking
backward as if before a king, approached the door, opened it softly,
and went out, followed by Schmid. [Footnote: The whole account of
this interview between Joseph Haydn and Iffland is in strict
accordance with Iffland's own report of it in his "Theatre-Almanac,"
pp. 181-207.]

"Farewell!" exclaimed Haydn, in a deeply-moved voice, and sank back
in the easy-chair. Profound silence now reigned around him; but all
at once this silence was broken by a thundering crash, which caused
the windows to rattle and shook the walls. The deafening noise was
repeated again and again, and rolled through the air like the angry
voice of God.

And now the door opened, and Conrad and Kate, the aged servant-
woman, rushed into the room. "Ah, master, master, it is all up now,
and we are all lost! The Austrians and the French are in force close
to Vienna, and the battle has already commenced."

"The battle has commenced!" exclaimed Joseph Haydn, rising from his
easy-chair, and lifting his hand to heaven. "The battle has
commenced! Good and great God in heaven, protect our fatherland, and
grant Austria a glorious victory over her arrogant foe! Do not allow
Austria and Germany to succumb; help us to defeat the proud enemy
who has humiliated and oppressed us so long! O Lord my God, shield
the honor of Germany and Austria! Protect the emperor!"

And Joseph Haydn walked through the room with the vigor and alacrity
of a youth, dropped his hands on the keys of the piano, and began to
play in full concords the melody of his imperial hymn, "Gott erhalte
Franz den Kaiser!" Conrad and Kate stood behind him, singing in a
low, tremulous tone; but outside, the booming of artillery continued
incessantly, and they heard also the cries of the people who were
hurrying in dismay through the streets, and the tolling of all the
church-bells, which called upon the Viennese to pray to God.

All at once Haydn paused in the middle of the tune; his hands
dropped from the. keys, a long sigh burst from his lips, and he sank
fainting into the arms of his faithful Conrad. His servants carried
him to his couch, and soon succeeded in restoring him to
consciousness. He opened his eyes slowly, and his first glance fell
upon Conrad, who stood weeping at his bedside.

"The nightingale was right; my end is drawing nigh," he said, with a
faint smile. "But I will not die before learning that the Austrians
have defeated the enemy, and that my emperor has gained a battle."

And in truth Joseph Haydn's strong will once more over-powered
death, which had already touched him with its finger. He raised
himself upon his couch; he would not die while Austria was
struggling on the reeking, gory field of battle for the regeneration
or her end.

Two days followed, two dreadful days of uncertainty and terror; they
heard incessantly the booming of artillery; but although the
Viennese gazed down from their church-steeples all day, they were
unable to discern any thing. Tremendous clouds of smoke covered the
country all around, and wrapped the villages of Aspern and Essling
and the island of Lobau in an impenetrable veil of mist.

Joseph Haydn passed these days, the 21st and 22d of May, in silent
grief and gentle resignation; he prayed often, and played his
imperial hymn three times a day.

Thus the morning of the 22d of May had come. Conrad had gone into
the street to ask for news, for the booming of artillery had ceased,
and the battle wars over. "Which side was victorious?" That was the
question which caused all to tremble, and which filled all hearts
with intense anxiety.

Haydn's heart, too, was full of grave anxiety, and, to overcome his
impatience till Conrad's return, he had caused Kate to conduct him
to his piano.

"I will play my imperial hymn," he said, hastily; "I have often
derived comfort and relief from it in the days of uneasiness and
anxiety; and when I play, it my heart is always so much at ease. Its
strength will not fail me to-day either." [Footnote: Haydn's own
words. - See "Zeitgonosson," vol. iv., third series, p. 36.]

He commenced playing; a blissful smile illuminated his features; he
lifted his radiant eyes to heaven, and his music grew louder and
fierier, and his fingers glided more powerfully over the keys of the
piano. Suddenly the door was thrown open, and Conrad rushed in,
panting from the rapid run, flushed with excitement, but with a
joyful face.

"Victory!" he shouted. "Victory!" And he sank down at Haydn's feet.

"Which side was victorious?" asked Haydn, anxiously.

"The Austrians were victorious," said Conrad, pantingly. "Our
Archduke Charles has defeated the Emperor Napoleon at Aspern; the
whole French army retreated to the island of Lobau, whence it can no
longer escape. Thousands of French corpses are floating down the
Danube, and proclaiming to the world that Austria has conquered the
French! Hurrah! hurrah! Our hero, the Archduke Charles, has defeated
the villainous Bonaparte! Hurrah!"

"Hurrah! hurrah!" repeated the parrot on its pole; and the cat
raised its head from the cushion on which it had lain, and gazed
with keen, searching eyes at the parrot, as if it had understood
Paperl's jubilant notes.

Joseph Haydn said nothing, but clasped his hands and looked
rapturously upward. After a pause he exclaimed, in a loud and joyous
voice: "Lord God, I thank Thee for not disappointing my firm trust,
but protecting Austria and helping her to vanquish her foe. I knew
full well that the just cause would triumph, and the just cause is
that of Austria; for France, hypocritical France alone provoked this
war, and Austria drew the sword only to defend her honor and her
frontiers. The just cause could not but triumph, and hence Austria
had to conquer, and France, had to succumb in this struggle. God
protect the Emperor Francis! I may lay down now and die. Austria is
victorious! That is the last joyful greeting which the world sends
to me. With this greeting I will die - ay, die! Death is already
drawing nigh. But Death wears a laurel-wreath on its head, and its
eye is radiant with triumphant joy. Glory to Austria! Glory to the
German fatherland!"

These were Joseph Haydn's last words. He fainted away. It is true
the physicians succeeded in restoring him to life, and he breathed
yet for six days; but his life resembled only the last feeble
flicker of the dying flame, and in the night of the 30th of May
death came to extinguish this flickering flame.



The unheard-of event, then, had taken place. Napoleon had been
defeated by the Austrians. The Archduke Charles had gained a
brilliant victory; Napoleon had transferred his whole army to the
island of Lobau; he himself passed his time in moody broodings at
the castle of Ebersberg, and the unexpected disaster which had
befallen him and which at the same time had brought about the death
of one of his favorites, Marshal Lannes, seemed to have suddenly
deprived the emperor of all his energy. He did not speak, he did not
eat; he sat for whole days in his cabinet, staring at the maps
spread out before him on his table, and yet forgetting to cover
them, as he used to do on conceiving the plans of his campaigns,
with the colored pins which represented the different armies.
Victory had no longer been able to soften this marble Caesarean
face, but defeat caused his features now to wear an expression of
profound anger and grief. Nevertheless, he did not complain, and
never did he confess even to his confidants that he was suffering.

Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 23 of 43)