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harmonic Society had the honour of ministering to the necessities of his last illness. The generous eagerness with which they sent all that his friendly attendants asked, and offered more when. ever called for, was most grateful to Beethoven's heart, which had in those last days been frozen by such ingratitude. It roused nis sinking life to one last leap of flame; his latest days were passed in revolving a great work which he wished to compose for the society, and which those about him thought would, if finished, have surpassed all he had done before.
No doubt, if his situation had been known in Germany, his country would have claimed a similar feeling from him. For she was not to him a step-dame; and, though in his last days taken up with newer wonders, would not, had his name been spoken, have failed to listen and to answer.
Yet a few more interesting passages. He rose before daybreak both in winter and summer, and worked till two or three o'clock, rarely after. He would never correct, to him the hardest task, as, like all great geniuses, he was indefatigable in the use of the file, in the evening. Often in the midst of his work he would run out into the free air for half an hour or more, and return laden with new thoughts. When he felt this impulse he paid no regard to the weather.
Plato and Shakspeare were his favourite authors; especially he was fond of reading Plato's Republic. He read the Greek and Roman classics much, but in translations, for his education, out of his art, was limited. He also went almost daily to coffeehouses, where he read the newspapers, going in and out by the back door. If he found he excited observation, he changed his haunt.
“He tore without ceremony a composition submitted to him by the great Hummel, which he thought bad. Moscheles, dreading a similar fate for one of his which was to pass under his criticism, wrote at the bottom of the last page, “ Finis. With the help of God.' Beethoven wrote beneath, · Man, help thyself.'”
· Obviously a new edition of Hercules and the Wagoner.
“ He was the most open of men, and told unhesitatingly all he thought, unless the subject were art ard artists. On these subjects he was often inaccessible, and put off the inquirer with wit or satire.” “ On two subjects he would never talk, thorough bass and religion. He said they were both things complete within themselves, (in sich abgeschlossene dinge,) about which men should dispute no farther.”
" As to the productions of his genius, let not a man or a nation, if yet in an immature stage, seek to know them. They require a certain degree of ripeness in the inner man to be understood.
“From the depth of the mind arisen, she, (Poesie,) is only to the depth of the mind either useful or intelligible.”
I cannot conclude more forcibly than by quoting Beethoven's favourite maxim. It expresses what his life was, and what the life must be of those who would become worthy to do him honour.
“ The barriers are not yet erected which can say to aspiring talent and industry, thus far and no farther.”
Beethoven is the only one of these five artists whose life can be called unfortunate. They all found early the means to unfold their powers, and a theatre on which to display them. But Beethoven was, through a great part of his public career, deprived of the satisfaction of guiding or enjoying the representation of his thoughts. He was like a painter who could never see his pic. tures after they are finished. Probably, if he could himself have directed the orchestra, he would have been more pliable in making corrections with an eye to effect. Goethe says that no one can write a successful drama without familiarity with the stage, so as to know what can be expressed, what must be merely indicated. But in Beethoven's situation, there was not this reaction, so that he clung more perseveringly to the details of his work than great geniuses do, who live in more immediate contact with the outward world. Such an one will, indeed, always answer like Mozart to an ignorant criticism, “ There are just as many
notes as there should be.” But a habit of intercourse with the minds of men gives an instinctive tact as to meeting them, and Michel Angelo, about to build St. Peter's, takes into consideration, not only his own idea of a cathedral, but means, time, space, and prospects.
But the misfortune, which fettered the outward energies, deep. ened the thought of Beethoven. He travelled inward, downward, till downward was shown to be the same as upward, for the centre was passed.
Like all princes, he made many ingrates, and his powerful lion nature, was that most capable of suffering from the amazement of witnessing baseness. But the love, the pride, the faith, which survive such pangs are those which make our stair to heaven. Beethoven was not only a poet, but a victorious poet, for having drunk to its dregs the cup of bitterness, the fount of inward nobleness remained undefiled. Unbeloved, he could love ; deceived in other men, he yet knew himself too well to despise human nacure ; dying from ingratitude, he could still be grateful.
Schindler thinks his genius would have been far more productive, if he had had a tolerably happy home, if instead of the cold discomfort that surrounded him, he had been blessed, like Mozart, with a gentle wife, who would have made him a sanctuary in her unwearied love. It is, indeed, inexpressibly affecting to find the
vehement nature,” even in his thirty-first year, writing thus ; "At my age one sighs for an equality, a harmony of outward existence,” and to know that he never attained it. But the lofty ideal of the happiness which his life could not attain, shone forth not the less powerfully from his genius. The love of his choice was not " firm as the fortress of heaven,” but his heart remained the gaèe to that fortress. During all his latter years, he never complained, nor did Schindler ever hear him advert to past sor. rows, or the lost objects of affection. Perhaps we are best con. tented that earth should not have offered him a home; where is the woman who would have corresponded with what we wish from his love? Where is the lot in which he could have reposed with all that grandeur of aspect in which he now appears to us? Where Jupiter, the lustrous, lordeth, there may be a home for thee, Beethoven.
We will not shrink from the dark clouds which became to his overflowing light cinctures of pearl and opal ; we will not, even by a wish, seek to amend the destiny through which a divine thought glows so clearly. Were there no Edipuses there would be no Antigones.
Under no other circumstances could Beethoven have ministered to his fellows in the way he himself indicates.
“ The unhappy man, let him be comforted by finding one of his race who in defiance of all hinderances of nature, has done all possible to him to be received in the rank of worthy artists and men.”
In three respects these artists, all true artists, resemble one another. Clear decision. The intuitive faculty speaks clear in those devoted to the worship of Beauty. They are not subject to mental conflict, they ask not counsel of experience. They take what they want as simply as the bird goes in search of its proper food, so soon as its wings are grown.
Like nature they love to work for its own sake. The philosopher is ever seeking the thought through the symbol, but the artist is happy at the implication of the thought in his work. He does not reason about “religion or thorough bass.” His answer is Haydn's, “I thought it best so.” From each achievement grows up a still higher ideal, and when his work is finished, it is nothing to the artist who has made of it the step by which he ascended, but while he was engaged in it, it was all to him, and filled his soul with a parental joy.
They do not criticise, but affirm. They have no need to deny aught, much less one another. All excellence to them was ge. nial; imperfection only left room for new creative power to display itself. An everlasting yes breathes from the life, from the work of the artist. Nature echoes it, and leaves to society the work of saying no, if it will. But it will not, except for the mo. ment. It weans itself for the moment, and turns pettishly away from genius, but soon stumbling, groping, and lonely, cries aloud for its nurse. The age cries now, and what an answer is prophesied by such harbinger stars as these at which we have been gazing. We will engrave their names on the breastplate, and wear them as a talisman of hope.