Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 7, May, 1858 by Various

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 7, May, 1858 pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

voice of the strong man, trembling. They paddled the boat to the shore,
and landed quite crestfallen, ashamed, it seemed. Then Bondo, having bid
the youngsters disperse, with a threat, if he ever saw them engaged in
the like business, walked away, without speaking to Gabriel, or even
looking at him.


Clarice was half annoyed at this interference; it seemed to suppose, she
thought, that she was unequal to the management of her own affairs.--But
_was_ she equal to it?

After Bondo had walked away, she called to Gabriel, who stood alone when
the other children had deserted him, and knew not what to do. He would
have run away, had he not been afraid of fisherman Emmins.

"Come here, my son," said Clarice. She did not speak very loud, nor in
the least sternly; but he heard her quite distinctly, and he hesitated.

"I'm not your son!" he concluded to answer.

A sword through the heart of Clarice would have killed her, but there
are pains which do not slay that are worse than the pains of death.
Clarice Briton's face was pale with anguish, when she arose and said,--

"Gabriel, come here!"

The child saw something awful in her eyes, and heard in her voice
something that made him tremble. He came, and sat down in the place to
which Clarice pointed. It was a hard moment for her. Other words bitter
as this, which disowned her love and care and defied her authority, the
child could not have spoken. She answered him as if he had not been a
child; and a truth which no words could have made him comprehend seemed
to break upon and overwhelm him, while she spoke.

"It is true," she said, "you are not my son. I have no right to call you
mine. Listen, Gabriel, while I tell you how it happens that you live
with me, and I take care of you, as if you were my child. I was down at
the Point one day,--that place where we go to watch the birds, you know,
my--Gabriel. While I sat there alone, I saw a plank that was dashed by
the waves up and down, as you see a boat carried when the wind blows
hard and sounds so terrible; but there was nobody to take care of that
plank except God,--and He, oh, He, is always able to take care! When
that plank was washed near to the shore, I stepped out on the rocks and
caught it, and then I saw that a little child was tied fast to it; so I
knew that some one must have thrown him into the water, hoping that he
would be picked up. I do not know what they who threw the little child
into the sea called him; but I, who found him, called him Gabriel, and I
carried him, all dripping with the salt sea-water, to my father's cabin.
I laid him on my bed, and my mother and I never stopped trying to waken
him, till he opened his eyes; for he lay just like one who never meant
to open his eyes or speak again. At last my mother said, 'Clarice, I
feel his heart beat!' and I said in my heart, 'If it please God to spare
his life, I will work for him, and take care of him, and be a mother to
him.' And I thought, 'He will surely love me always, because God has
sent him to me, and I have taken him, and have loved him.' But now he
has left me! He is mine no more! And oh, how I have loved him!"

Long before this story was ended, tears were running down Gabriel's
face, and he was drawing closer and closer to Clarice. When she ceased
speaking, he hid his face in her lap and cried aloud, according to the
boisterous privilege of childhood.

"Oh, mother, dear mother, I haven't gone away! I'm here! I do love you!
I am your little boy!"

"Gabriel! Gabriel! it was terrible! terrible!" burst from Clarice, with
a groan, and a flood of tears.

"Oh, don't, mother! Call me your boy! Don't say, Gabriel! Don't cry!"

So he found his way through the door of the heart that stood wide open
for him. Storm and darkness had swept in, if he had not.

The reconciliation was perfect; but the shadow that had obscured the
future deepened that obscurity after this day's experience. If her right
to the lad needed no vindication, was she capable of the attempted
guidance and care? Could she bear this blessed burden safely to the end?

Sometimes, for a moment, it may have seemed to Clarice that Bondo Emmins
could alone help her effectually out of her bewilderment and perplexity.
She had not now the missionary with whom to consult, in whose wisdom to
confide; and Bondo had a marvellous influence over the child.

He was disposed to take advantage of that influence, as he gave
evidence, not long after the exhibition of his control over the
boat-load of delinquents, by asking Clarice if she were never going
to reward his constancy. He seemed at this time desirous of bringing
himself before her as an object of compassion, if nothing better; but
she, having heard him patiently to the end of what he had to urge in his
own behalf and that of her parents, replied in words that were certainly
of the moment's inspiration, and almost beyond her will; for Clarice
had been of late so much troubled, no wonder if she should mistake
expediency for right.

"I am married already," she said. "You see this ring. Do you not know
what it has meant to me, Bondo, since I first put it on? Death, as you
call it, cannot part Luke Merlyn and me. 'Heart and hand,' he said.
Can I forget it? My hand is free,--but he holds it; and my heart is
his.--But I can serve you better than you ask for, Bondo Emmins. You
learned the name of the vessel that sailed from Havre and was lost. Take
a voyage. Go to France. See if Gabriel has any friends there who have a
right to him, and will serve him better than I can; and if he has such
friends, I myself will take Gabriel to them. Yes, I will do it.--You
will love a sailor's life, Bondo. You were born for that. Diver's Bay
is not the place for you. I have long seen it. The sea will serve you
better than I ever could. Go, and Clarice will thank you. Oh, Bondo, I
beg you!"

At these words the man so appealed to becaame scarlet. He seemed
to reflect on what Clarice had said,--seriously to ponder; but his
amazement at her words had almost taken away his power of speech.

"The Gabriel sailed from Havre," said he, slowly, "If I went out as a
deckhand in the next ship that sails"--


"To scour the country--I hope I shan't find what I look for; you
couldn't live without him.--Very likely you will think me a fool for my
pains. You will not give me yourself. You would have me take away the
lad from you."--He looked at Clarice as if his words passed his belief.

"Yes, only do as I say,--for I know it must be the best for us all.
There is nothing else to be done,--no other way to live."

"France is a pretty big country to hunt over for a man whose name you
don't know," said Emmins, after a little pause.

"You can find what passengers sailed in the Gabriel," answered Clarice,
eager to remove every difficulty, and ready to contend with any that
could possibly arise. "The vessel was a merchantman. Such vessels don't
take out many passengers.--Besides, you will see the world.--It is for
everybody's sake! Not for mine only,--no, truly,--no, indeed! May-be
if another person around here had found Gabriel, they would never have
thought of trying to find out who he belonged to."

"I guess so," replied Bondo, with a queer look. "Only now be honest,
Clarice; it's to get rid of me, isn't it? But you needn't take that
trouble. If you had only told me right out about Luke Merlyn"--

While Bondo Emmins spoke thus, his face had unconsciously the very
expression one sees on the face of the boy whose foot hovers a moment
above the worm he means to crush. The boy does not expect to see the
worm change to a butterfly just then and there, and mount up before his
very eyes toward the empyrean. Neither did Bondo Emmins anticipate her

"You knew about it all the while."

"Not the whole," said he,--"that you were married to Luke, as you say";
and the fisherman looked hastily around him, as if he had expected to
see the veritable Luke.

"It isn't to get rid of you, then, Bondo," Clarice explained; "but I
read in the Book you don't think much of, but it's everything to me, _If
ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give
you that which is your own?_ So you see, I am a little selfish in it
all; for I want peace of mind, and I never shall have peace till it is
settled about Gabriel; if I must give him up, I can."

Bondo Emmins looked at Clarice with a strange look, as she spoke these
words,--so faltering in speech, so resolute in soul.

"And if I'm faithful over another man's," said he, "better the chance of
getting my own, eh? But I wonder what my own is."

"Everything that you can earn and enjoy honestly," replied Clarice.

Emmins rose up quickly at these words. He walked off a few paces without
speaking. His face was gloomy and sullen as a sky full of tornadoes when
he turned his back on Clarice,--hardly less so when he again approached

"I am no fool," said he, as he drew near.--From his tone one could
hardly have guessed that his last impulse was to strike the woman to
whom he spoke.--"I know what you mean. You haven't sent me on a fool's
errand. Good bye. You won't see me again, Clarice--till I come back from
France. Time enough to talk about it then."

He did not offer to take her hand when he had so spoken, but was off
before Clarice could make any reply.

Clarice thought that she should see him again; but he went away without
speaking to any other person of his purpose; and when wonder on account
of his absence began to find expression in her father's house, and
elsewhere, it was she who must account for it. People thereat praised
him for his good heart, and made much of his generosity, and wondered if
this voyage were not to be rewarded by the prize for which he had sought
openly so long. Old Briton and his dame inclined to that opinion.

But in the week following that of his departure there was a great stir
and excitement among the people of the Bay. Little Gabriel was missing.
A search, that began in surprise when Clarice returned home from some
errand, was continued with increasing alarm all day, and night descended
amid the general conviction that the child was drowned. He had been seen
at play on the shore. No one could possibly furnish a more reasonable
explanation. Every one had something to say, of course, and Clarice
listened to all, turning to one speaker after another with increasing
despair. Not one of them could restore the child to life, if he was

There was a suspicion in her heart which she shared with none. It
flashed upon her, and there was no rest after, until she had satisfied
herself of its injustice. She went alone by night to town, and made her
way fearlessly down to the harbor to learn if any vessel had sailed
that day, and when the last ship sailed for Havre. The answers to the
inquiries she made convinced her that Bondo Emmins must have sailed for
France the day after his last conversation with her.

By daylight Clarice was again on the shore of Diver's Bay, there to
renew a search which for weeks was not abandoned. Gabriel had a place in
many a rough man's heart, and the women of the Bay knew well enough that
he was unlike all other children; and though it did not please them well
that Clarice should keep him so much to herself, they still admired
the result of such seclusion, and praised his beauty and wonderful
cleanliness, as though these tokens of her care were really beyond the
common range of things,--attainable, in spite of all she could say, by
no one but Clarice Briton, and for no one but Gabriel. These fishermen
and their wives did not speedily forget the wonderful boy; the boats
never went out but those who rowed them thought about the child; the
gatherers of sea-weed never went to their work but they looked for some
token of him; and for Clarice,--let us say nothing of her just here.
What woman needs to be told how that woman watched and waited and


Few events ever occurred to disturb the tranquillity of the people of
Diver's Bay. People wore out and dropped away, as the old fishing boats
did,--and new ones took their place.

Old Briton crumbled and fell to pieces, while he watched for the return
of Bondo Emmins. And Clarice buried her old mother. She was then left
alone in the cabin, with the reminiscences of a hard lot around her. The
worn-out garments, and many rude traces of rough toil, and the toys, few
and simple, which had belonged to Gabriel, constituted her treasures.
What was before her? A life of labor and of watching; and Clarice was
growing older every day.

Her hair turned gray ere she was old. The hopes that had specially
concerned her had failed her,--all of them. She surveyed her experience,
and said, weighing the result, the more need that she should strive to
avert from others the evils they might bring upon themselves, so that,
when the Lord should smite them, they, too, might be strong. The
missionary had long since left this field of labor and gone to another,
and his place at Diver's Bay was unfilled by a new preacher. The more
need, then, of her. Remembering her lost child, she taught the children
of others. She taught them to read and sew and knit, and, what was more
important, taught them obedience and thankfulness, and endeavored to
inspire in them some reverence and faith. The Church did not fall into
ruin there.

I wish that I might write here,--it were so easy, if it were but
true!--that Bondo Emmins came back to Diver's Bay in one of those long
years during which she was looking for him, and that he came scourged by
conscience to ask forgiveness of his diabolic vengeance.

I wish that I might write,--which were far easier, if it were but
fact,--that all the patience and courage of the Pure Heart of Diver's
Bay, all the constancy that sought to bring order and decency and
reverence into the cabins there, met at last with another external
reward than merely beholding, as the children grew up to their duties
and she drew near to death, the results of all her teaching; that those
results were attended by another, also an external reward; that the
youth, who came down like an angel to fill her place when she was gone,
had walked into her house one morning, and surprised her, as the Angel
Gabriel once surprised the world, by his glad tidings. I wish, that,
instead of kneeling down beside her grave in the sand, and vowing there,
"Oh, mother! I, who have found no mother but thee in all the world, am
here, in thy place, to strive as thou didst for the ignorant and
the helpless and unclean," he had thrown his arms around her living
presence, and vowed that vow in spite of Bondo Emmins, and all the world

But it seems that the gate is strait, and the path is ever narrow, and
the hill is difficult. And the kinds of victory are various, and the
badges of the conquerors are not all one. And the pure heart can wear
its pearl as purely, and more safely, in the heavens, where the
white array is spotless,--where the desolate heart shall be no more
forsaken,--where the BRIDEGROOM, who stands waiting the Bride, says,
"Come, for all things are now ready!"--where the SON makes glad. Pure
Pearl of Diver's Bay! not for the cheap sake of any mortal romance will
I grieve to write that He has plucked thee from the deep to reckon thee
among His pearls of price.

* * * * *


I bore my mystic chalice unto Earth
With vintage which no lips of hers might name;
Only, in token of its alien birth,
Love crowned it with his soft, immortal flame,
And, 'mid the world's wide sound,
Sacred reserves and silences breathed round,--
A spell to keep it pure from low acclaim.

With joy that dulled me to the touch of scorn,
I served;--not knowing that of all life's deeds
Service was first; nor that high powers are born
In humble uses. Fragrance-folding seeds
Must so through flowers expand,
Then die. God witness that I blessed the Hand
Which laid upon my heart such golden needs!

And yet I felt, through all the blind, sweet ways
Of life, for some clear shape its dreams to blend,--
Some thread of holy art, to knit the days
Each unto each, and all to some fair end,
Which, through unmarked removes,
Should draw me upward, even as it behooves
One whose deep spring-tides from His heart descend.

To swell some Vast refrain beyond the sun,
The very weed breathed music from its sod;
And night and day in ceaseless antiphon
Rolled off through windless arches in the broad
Abyss.--Thou saw'st I, too,
Would in my place have blent accord as true,
And justified this great enshrining, God!

Dreams!--Stain it on the bending amethyst,
That one who came with visions of the Prime
For guide somehow her radiant pathway missed,
And wandered in the darkest gulf of Time.
No deed divine thenceforth
Stood royal in its far-related worth;
No god, in truth, might heal the wounded chime

Oh, how? I darkly ask;--and if I dare
Take up a thought from this tumultuous street
To the forgotten Silence soaring there
Above the hiving roofs, its calm depths meet
My glance with no reply.
Might I go back and spell this mystery
In the new stillness at my mother's feet,--

I would recall with importunings long
That so sad soul, once pierced as with a knife,
And cry, Forgive! Oh, think Youth's tide was strong,
And the full torrent, shut from brain and life,
Plunged through the heart, until
It rocked to madness, and the o'erstrained will
Grew wild, then weak, in the despairing strife!

And ever I think, What warning voice should call,
Or show me bane from food, with tedious art,
When love--the perfect instinct, flower of all
Divinest potencies of choice, whose part
Was set 'mid stars and flame
To keep the inner place of God--became
A blind and ravening fever of the heart?

I laugh with scorn that men should think them praised
In women's love,--chance-flung in weary hours,
By sickly fire to bloated worship raised!--
O long-lost dream, so sweet of vernal flowers!
Wherein I stood, it seemed,
And gave a gift of queenly mark!--I _dreamed_
Of Passion's joy aglow in rounded powers.

I dreamed! The roar, the tramp, the burdened air
Pour round their sharp and subtle mockery.
Here go the eager-footed men; and there
The costly beggars of the world float by;--
Lilies, that toil nor spin,
How should they know so well the weft of sin,
And hide me from them with such sudden eye?

But all the roaming crowd begins to make
A whirl of humming shade;--for, since the day
Is done, and there's no lower step to take,
Life drops me here. Some rough, kind hand, I pray,
Thrust the sad wreck aside,
And shut the door on it!--a little pride,
That I may not offend who pass this way.

And this is all!--Oh, thou wilt yet give heed!
No soul but trusts some late redeeming care,--
But walks the narrow plank with bitter speed,
And, straining through the sweeping mist of air,
In the great tempest-call,
And greater silence deepening through it all,
Refuses still, refuses to despair!

Some further end, whence thou refitt'st with aim
Bewildered souls, perhaps?--Some breath in me,
By thee, the purest, found devoid of blame,
Fit for large teaching?--Look!--I cannot see,--
I can but feel!--Far off,
Life seethes and frets,--and from its shame and scoff
I take my broken crystal up to thee.

* * * * *




The most remarkable event of the "Hundred Days" was the celebrated
"Champ de Mai," where Napoleon met deputies from the Departments, and
distributed eagles to representatives of his forces. He intended it as
an assembly of the French people, which should sanction and legalize his
second accession to the throne, and pledge itself, by solemn adjuration,
to preserve the sovereignty of his family. It was a day of wholesale
swearing, and the deputies uttered any quantity of oaths of eternal
fidelity, which they barely kept three weeks. The distribution of the
eagles was the only real and interesting part of the performance, and
the deep sympathy between both parties was very evident. The Emperor
stood in the open field, on a raised platform, from which a broad flight
of steps descended; and pages of his household were continually running
up and down, communicating with the detachments from various branches of
the army, which passed in front of him, halting for a moment to receive
the eagles and give the oath to defend them.

I was present during the whole of this latter ceremony. Through the
forbearance of a portion of the Imperial Guard, into whose ranks I
obtruded myself, I had a very favorable position, and felt that in this
part of the day's work there was no sham.

I would here bear testimony to the character of those veterans known as
the "Old Guard." I frequently came in contact with individuals of them,
and liked so well to talk with them, that I never lost a chance of
making their acquaintance. One, who was partial to me because I was an
American, had served in this country with Rochambeau, had fought under
the eye of Washington, and was at the surrender of Cornwallis. He had
borne his share in the vicissitudes of the Republic, the Consulate, and
the Empire. He was scarred with wounds, and his breast was decorated
with the cross of the Legion of Honor, which he considered an ample
equivalent for all his services. My intercourse with these old soldiers
confirmed what has been said of them, that they were singularly mild
and courteous. There was a gentleness of manner about them that was
remarkable. They had seen too much service to boast of it, and they
left the bragging to younger men. Terrible as they were on the field of
battle, they seemed to have adopted as a rule of conduct, that

"In peace, there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility."

On this memorable day, I saw Napoleon more distinctly than at any other
time. I was frequently present when he was reviewing troops, but either
he or they were in motion, and I had to catch a glimpse of him as
opportunities offered. At this time, as he passed through the Champs
Elysees, I stood among my friends, the soldiers, who lined the way, and
who suffered me to remain where a man would not have been tolerated. He
was escorted by the Horse Grenadiers of the Guard. His four brothers
preceded him in one carriage, while he sat alone in a state coach, all
glass and gold, to which pages clung wherever they could find footing.
He was splendidly attired, and wore a Spanish hat with drooping
feathers. As he moved slowly through the crowd, he bowed to the right
and left, not in the hasty, abrupt way which is generally attributed to
him, but in a calm, dignified, though absent manner. His face was one
not to be forgotten. I saw it repeatedly; but whenever I bring it up, it
comes before me, not as it appeared from the window of the Tuileries, or
when riding among his troops, or when standing, with folded arms or his
hands behind him, as they defiled before him; but it rises on my vision
as it looked that morning, under the nodding plumes,--smooth, massive,
and so tranquil, that it seemed impossible a storm of passion could ever
ruffle it. The complexion was clear olive, without a particle of color,
and no trace was on it to indicate what agitated the man within. The
repose of that marble countenance told nothing of the past, nor of
anxiety for the deadly struggle that awaited him. The charring sounds
around him did not change it; they fell on an ear that heard them not.
His eye glanced on the multitudes; but it saw them not. There was more
machinery than soul in the recognition, as his head instinctively swayed
towards them. The idol of stone was there, joyless and impassive amidst
its worshippers, taking its lifeless part in this last pageant. But the
thinking, active man was elsewhere, and returned only when he found
himself in the presence of delegated France, and in the more congenial
occupation which succeeded.

Immediately after this event, all the available troops remaining in
Paris were sent toward the Belgian frontier, and in a few days were
followed by the Emperor. Then came an interval of anxious suspense,
which Rumor, with her thousand tongues, occupied to the best of her
ability. I was in the country when news of the first collision arrived,
and a printed sheet was sent to the chateau where I was visiting, with
an account of the defeat of the Prussians at Ligny and the retreat of
the British at Quatre Bras. Madame Ney was staying in the vicinity; and,
as the Marshal had taken an active part in the engagement, I was sent to
communicate to her the victory. She was ill, and I gave the message to
a lady, her connection, much pleased to be the bearer of such welcome
intelligence. I returned that day to Paris, and found my schoolmates in
the highest exhilaration. Every hour brought confirmation of a decisive
victory. It was thought that the great battle of the campaign had been
fought, and that the French had only to follow up their advantage.
Letters from officers were published, representing that the Allies were
thoroughly routed, and describing the conflict so minutely, that there
could be no doubt of the result. All was now joy and congratulation; and
conjectures were freely made as to the terms to be vouchsafed to the
conquered, and the boundary limits which should be assigned to the
territory of France.

A day or two after this, we made a customary visit to a swimming-school
on the Seine, and some of us entered into conversation with the
gendarme, or police soldier, placed there to preserve order. He was very
reserved and unwilling to say much; but, at last, when we dwelt on the
recent successes, he shook his head mournfully, and said he feared there
had been some great disaster; adding, "The Emperor is in Paris. I saw
him alight from his carriage this morning, when on duty; he had very few
attendants, and it was whispered that our army had been defeated." That
my companions did not seek relief at the bottom of the river can be
ascribed only to their entire disbelief of the gendarme's story. But, as
they returned home, discussing his words at every step, fears began to
steal over them when they reflected how seriously he talked and how
sorrowful he looked.

The gendarme spoke the truth. Napoleon was in Paris. His army no longer
existed, and his star had been blotted from the heavens. His plans,
wonderfully conceived, had been indifferently executed; a series of
blunders, beyond his control, interrupted his combinations, and delay in
important movements, added to the necessity of meeting two enemies at
the same moment, destroyed the centralization on which he had depended
for overthrowing both in succession. The orders he sent to his Marshals
were intercepted, and they were left to an uncertainty which prevented
any unity of action. The accusation of treason, sometimes brought
against them, is false and ungenerous; and the insinuations of Napoleon
himself were unworthy of him. They may have erred in judgment, but they
acted as they thought expedient, and they never showed more devotion to
their country and to their chief than on the fatal day of Waterloo.

I have been twice over that field, and have heard remarks of military
men, which have only convinced me that it is easier to criticize a
battle than to fight one. Had Grouchy, with his thirty thousand men,
joined the Emperor, the British would have been destroyed. But he
stopped at Wavre, to fight, as he supposed, the whole Prussian army,
thinking to do good service by keeping it from the main battle. Bluecher
outwitted him, and, leaving ten thousand men to deceive and keep him in
check, hurried on to turn the scale. The fate of both contending hosts
rested on the cloud of dust that arose on the eastern horizon, and the
eyes of Napoleon and Wellington watched its approach, knowing that it
brought victory or defeat. The one was still precipitating his impetuous
columns on the sometimes penetrated, but never broken, squares of
infantry, which seemed rooted to the earth, and which, though torn by
shot and shell, and harassed by incessant charges of cavalry, closed
their thinned ranks with an obstinacy and determination such as he had
never before encountered. The other stood amidst the growing grain,
seeing his army wasting away before those terrible assaults; and when
the officers around him saw inevitable ruin, unless the order for
retreat was given, he tore up the unripened corn, and, grinding it
between his hands, groaned out, in his agony,--"Oh, that Bluecher, or
night, would come!"

The last time I was at Waterloo, many years ago, the guide who
accompanied me told me, that, a short time before, a man, whose
appearance was that of a substantial farmer, and who was followed by
an attendant, called on him for his services. The guide went his usual
round, making his often-repeated remarks and commenting severely
on Grouchy. The stranger examined the ground attentively, and only
occasionally replied, saying, "Grouchy received no orders." At last, the
servant fell back, detaining the guide, and, in a low tone, said to him,
"Speak no more about Marshal Grouchy, for that is he." The man told me,
that, after that, he abstained from saying anything offensive; but that
he watched carefully the soldier's agitation, as the various positions
of the battle became apparent to him. He, doubtless, saw how little
would have turned the current of the fight, and knew that the means of
doing it had been in his own hands. The guide seemed much impressed with
the deep feeling of the Marshal, and said to me, "I will never speak ill
of him again."

The battle of Waterloo is often mentioned as the sole cause of
Napoleon's downfall; and it is said, that, had he gained that day, he
would have secured his throne. It seems to be forgotten that a complete
victory would have left him with weakened forces, and that he had
already exhausted the resources of France in his preparations for this
one campaign; that the masses of Austria and Russia were advancing
in hot haste, which, with the rallied remains of Prussia, and the
indomitable perseverance and uncompromising hostility of England,
quickened by a reverse of her arms, would have presented an array
against which he could have had no chance of success. The hour of utter
ruin would only have been procrastinated, involving still greater waste
of life, and augmenting the desolation which for so many years had been
the fate of Europe.

Yes, Napoleon was in Paris,--a general without soldiers, and a sovereign
without subjects. The prestige of his name was gone; and had the Chamber
of Deputies invested him with the Dictatorship, as was suggested, it
would have been "a barren sceptre in his gripe," and the utmost stretch
of power could not have collected materials to meet the impending
invasion. At no period did he show such irresolution as at this time. He
tendered his abdication, and it was accepted. He offered his services as
a soldier, and they were declined. He had ceased, for the moment, to
be anything to France. Yet he lingered for days about the capital, the
inhabitants of which were too intent in gazing at the storm, ready to
burst upon them, to be mindful of his existence. There was, however,
one exception. The _boys_ were still faithful to him, and were more
interested in his position than in that of the enemy at their gates.

There was a show of resistance. The fragments of the army of Belgium
gathered round Paris; the National Guard, or militia of the city,
was marched out; and the youth of the colleges were furnished with
field-pieces and artillery officers, who drilled them into very
effective cannoneers, and they took naturally to the business,
pronouncing it decidedly better fun than hard study. They were of an age
which Is full of animal courage, and their only fear was a peremptory
order from parents or guardians to leave college and return home. Some
of my school-fellows, anticipating such an injunction, joined the camp
outside the city, and saw service enough to talk about for the remainder
of their lives.

One morning, I was at the Lyceum, where all were prepared for an
immediate order to march, and each one was making his last arrangements.
No person could have supposed that these young men expected to be
engaged, within a few hours, in mortal combat. They were in the highest
spirits, and looked forward to the hoped-for battle as though it were to
be the most amusing thing imaginable. While I was there, a false
report came in that Napoleon had resumed the command of the army. The
excitement instantly rose to fever-heat, and the demonstration told what
hold he still had on these his steadfast friends. From our position the
rear of the army was but a short distance, while the advanced portions
of it were engaged. Versailles had been entered by the Allies, who were
attacked and driven out by the French under Vandamme. The cannonade was
at one time as continuous as the roll of a drum. Prisoners were guarded
through the streets, and wagons, conveying wounded men, were continually

Stragglers from the routed army of Waterloo were to be met in all
directions, many of them disabled by their pursuers, or the fatigues of
a harried retreat. Pride was forgotten in extreme misery, and they were
grateful for any attention or assistance. One of them was taken into
our institution as a servant. He had been in the army eighteen years,
fifteen of which he had served as drummer. He had been in some of the
severest battles, had gone through the Russian campaign, and was among
the few of his regiment who survived the carnage of Waterloo. And yet
this man, who had been familiar with death more than half his life, and
who at times talked as though he were a perfect tornado in the field,
was as arrant a poltroon as ever skulked.

After the Allied Troops entered Paris, and were divided among the
inhabitants, some Prussian cavalry soldiers were quartered on us.
Collisions occasionally took place between them and the scholars; and in
one instance, one of them entered a study-room in an insulting manner,
and in consequence thereof made a progress from the top of the stairs to
the bottom with a celerity that would have done credit to his regiment
in a charge. His comrades armed themselves to avenge the indignity, and
the students, eager for the fray, sallied out to meet them with pistols
and fencing-foils, the latter with buttons snapped off and points
sharpened. There was hopeful promise of a very respectable skirmish;
but it was nipped in the bud by the interposition of our peace-making
instructors, aided by the authority of a Prussian officer. When the
affair was over, some wonder was expressed why our fire-eating military
attendant had not given us his professional services; and, on search
being made, we found him snugly stowed away in a hole under the stairs,
where he had crept on the first announcement of hostilities. He
afterwards confessed to me that he was a coward, and that no one could
imagine what he had suffered in his agonies of fear during his various
campaigns. Yet he came very near being rewarded for extraordinary valor
and coolness. His regiment was advancing on the enemy, and as he was
mechanically beating the monotonous _pas de charge_, not knowing whether
he was on his head or his heels, a shot cut the band by which his drum
was suspended, and as it fell, he caught it, and without stopping, held
it in one hand while he continued to beat the charge with the other. An
officer of rank saw the action, and riding up, said, "Your name, brave
fellow? You shall have the cross of honor for that gallant deed." He
told me he really did not know what he was doing; he was too frightened
to think about anything. But he added, that it was a pity the general
was killed in that very battle, as it robbed him of the promised

I mention this incident as an evidence of what diversified materials an
army is composed, and that the instruments of military despotism are not
necessarily endowed with personal courage, the discipline of the mass
compensating for individual imperfection. It also gives evidence that
luck has much to do in the fortunes of this world, and that many a man
who "bears his blushing honors thick upon him" would as poorly stand a
scrutiny as to the means by which they were acquired, as our friend, the
drummer, had he been enabled to strut about, in piping times of peace,
with a strip of red ribbon at his button-hole.

While preparations were making for the defence of Paris, and the alarmed
citizens feared, what was at one time threatened, that the defenders
would be driven in, and the streets become a scene of warfare, involving
all conditions in the chances of indiscriminate massacre, the powers
that were saw the futility of resistance, and opening negotiations with
the enemy, closed the war by capitulation. Whatever relief this may have
been to the people generally, it was a sad blow to the martial ardor
of my schoolmates. Their opinion of the transaction was expressed in
language by no means complimentary to their temporary rulers. To lose
such an opportunity for a fight was a height of absurdity for which
treason and cowardice were inadequate terms. Their military visions
melted away, the field-pieces were wheeled off, the army officers bade
them farewell, they were required to deliver up their arms, and they
found themselves back again to their old bondage, reduced to the
inglorious necessity of attending prayers and learning lessons.

The Hundred Days were over. The Allies once more poured into France,
and in their train came back the poor, despised, antiquated Bourbons,
identifying themselves with the common enemy, and becoming a byword and
a reproach, which were to cling to them until they should be driven into
hopeless banishment. The King reentered Paris, accompanied by foreign
soldiers. I saw him pass the Boulevard, and I then hastened across the
Garden to await his arrival at the Tuileries, standing near the spot
where, three months before, I had seen Napoleon. The tricolor was no
longer there, but the white flag again floated over the place so full of
historical recollections. Louis XVIII soon reached this ancestral abode
of his family, and having mounted, with some difficulty and expenditure
of breath, to the second story, he waddled into the balcony which
overlooked the crowd silently waiting for the expected speech, and,
leaning ponderously on the railing, he kissed his hand, and said, in a
loud voice, "Good day, my children." This was the exordiam, body, and
peroration of his address, and it struck his audience so ludicrously,
that a laugh spread among them, until it became general, and all seemed
in the best possible humor. The King laughed, too, evidently regarding
his reception as highly flattering. The affair turned out well, for the
multitude parted in a merry mood, considering his Majesty rather a jolly
old gentleman, and making sundry comparisons between him and the late
tenant, illustrative of the difference between King Stork and King Log.

Paris was crowded with foreign soldiers. The streets swarmed with them;
their encampments filled the public gardens; they drilled in the open
squares and on the Boulevards; their sentinels stood everywhere. Their
presence was a perpetual commentary on the vanity of that glory which
is dependent on the sword. They gazed at triumphal monuments erected to
commemorate battles which had subjected their own countries to the iron
rule of conquest. They stood by columns on which the history of their
defeat was cast from their captured cannon, and by arches whose friezes
told a boastful tale of their subjugation. They passed over bridges
whose names reminded them of fields which had witnessed their headlong
rout. They strolled through galleries where the masterpieces of art hung
as memorials that their political existence had been dependent on the
will of a victorious foe. Attempts were made to destroy these trophies
of national degradation; but, in some instances, the skill of the
architect and the fidelity of the builder were an overmatch for the
hasty ire of an incensed soldiery, and withstood the attacks until
admiration for the work brought shame on their efforts to demolish it.

But for the Parisians there was a calamity in reserve, which sank
deeper into their souls than the fluttering of hostile banners in their
streets, or the clanging tread of an armed enemy on their door-stones.
It was decided that the Gallery of the Louvre should be despoiled, and
that the works of art, which had been collected from all nations, making
that receptacle the marvel of the age, should be restored to their
legitimate owners. A wail went up from the universal heart of France
at this sad judgment. It was felt that this great loss would be
irreparable. Time, the soother of all sorrow, might restore her
worn energies, recruit her wasted population, cover her fields with
abundance, and, turning the activity of an intelligent people into
industrial channels, clothe her with renewed wealth and power. But the
magnificence of that collection, once departed, could never come to
her again; and the lover of beauty, instead of finding under one roof
whatever genius had created for the worship of the ages, would have
to wander over all Europe, seeking in isolated and widely-separated
positions the riches which at the Louvre were strewed before him in
congregated prodigality. But lamentations were in vain. The miracles of
human inspiration were borne to the congenial climes which originated
them, to have, in all after time, the tale of their journeyings an
inseparable appendage to their history, and even their intrinsic merit
to derive additional lustre from the perpetual boast, that they had been
considered worthy a place in the Gallery of Napoleon.

In the general amnesty which formed an article in the capitulation of
Paris, there was no apprehension that revenge would demand an atonement.
But hardly had the Bourbons recommenced their reign, when, in utter
disregard of the faith of treaties, they sought satisfaction for their
late precipitate flight in assailing those who had been instrumental
in causing it. Many of their intended victims found safety in foreign
lands. Labedoyere, who joined the Emperor with his regiment, was tried
and executed. Lavalette was condemned, but escaped through the heroism
of his wife and the generous devotion of three Englishmen. Ney was
shot in Paris. I would dwell a moment on his fate, not only because
circumstances gave me a peculiar interest in it, but from the fact that
it had more effect in drawing a dividing line between the royal family
and the French people than any event that occurred during their reign.
It was treasured up with a hate that found no fit utterance until the
memorable Three Days of 1830; and when the insurgents stormed the
Tuileries, their cries bore evidence that fifteen years had not
diminished the bitter feeling engendered by that vindictive,
unnecessary, and most impolitic act.

During the Hundred Days, and shortly before the battle of Waterloo, I
was, one Sunday afternoon, in the Luxembourg Garden, where the fine
weather had brought out many of the inhabitants of that quarter. The
lady I was accompanying remarked, as we walked among the crowd, "There
is Marshal Ney." He had joined the promenaders, and his object seemed to
be, like that of the others, to enjoy an hour of recreation. Probably
the next time he crossed those walks was on the way to the place of his
execution, which was between the Garden and the Boulevard. At the time
of his confinement and trial at the Luxembourg Palace, the gardens were
closed. I usually passed through them twice a week, but was now obliged
to go round them. Early one morning, I stopped at the room of a medical
student, in the vicinity, and, while there, heard a discharge of
musketry. We wondered at it, but could not conjecture its cause; and
although we spoke of the trial of Marshal Ney, we had so little reason
to suppose that his life was in jeopardy, that neither of us imagined
that volley was his death-knell. As I continued on my way, I passed
round the Boulevard, and reaching the spot I have named, I saw a few
men and women, of the lowest class, standing together, while a sentinel
paced to and fro before a wall, which was covered with mortar, and which
formed one side of the place. I turned in to the spot and inquired what
was the matter. A man replied,--"Marshal Ney has been shot here, and his
body has just been removed." I looked at the soldier, but he was gravely
going through his monotonous duty, and I knew that military rule forbade
my addressing him. I looked down; the ground was wet with blood. I
turned to the wall, and seeing it marked by balls, I attempted, with my
knife, to dig out a memorial of that day's sad work, but the soldier
motioned me away. I afterwards revisited the place, but the wall had
been plastered over, and no indications remained where the death-shot
had penetrated.

The sensation produced by this event was profound and permanent. Many
a heart, inclined towards the Bourbons, was alienated by it forever.
Families which had rejoiced at the Restoration now cursed it in
their bitterness, and from that day dated a hostility which knew no
reconciliation. The army and the youth of France demanded, why a
soldier, whose whole life had been passed in her service, should be
sacrificed to appease a race that was a stranger to the country, and
for which it had no sympathy. A gloom spread like a funeral pall over
society, and even those who had blamed the Marshal for joining the
Emperor were now among his warmest defenders. The print-shops were
thronged with purchasers eager to possess his portrait and to hang it
in their homes, with a reverence like that attaching to the image of a
martyred saint. Had he died at Waterloo, as he led on the Imperial Guard
to their last charge, when five horses were shot under him, and his
uniform, riddled by balls, hung about him in tatters, he would not have
had such an apotheosis as was now given him, with one simultaneous
movement, by all classes of his countrymen.

The inveterate intention of the reigning family was to obliterate every
mark that bore the impress of Napoleon. Wherever the initial of his name
had been inserted on the public edifices, it was carefully erased; his
statues were broken or removed; prints of him could not be exposed for
sale; and it appeared to be their fixed determination to drive him
from men's memories. But he had left mementos which jealousy could not
conceal nor petty malice destroy. His Code was still the law of the
land; the monuments of his genius were thickly scattered wherever his
dominion had extended; his mighty name was on every tongue; and as time
mellowed the remembrance of him, the good he had done survived and the
evil was forgotten or extenuated.

Whoever would judge this man should consider the times which produced
him and the fearful authority he wielded. He came to take his place
among the rulers of the earth, while she was rocking with convulsions,
seeking regeneration through the baptism of blood. He came as a
connecting link between anarchy and order, an agent of destiny to act
his part in the great tragedy of revolution, the end of which is not
yet. His mission was to give a lesson to sovereigns and people,
to humble hereditary power, and to prove by his own career the
unsubstantial character of a government which deludes the popular will
that creates it. During his captivity, he understood the true causes of
his overthrow, and talked of them with an intelligence which misfortune
had saddened down into philosophy. He saw that the secret of his
reverses was not to be found in the banded confederacy of kings, but in
the forfeited sympathy of the great masses of men, who felt with him,
and moved with him, and bade him God-speed, until he abandoned the
distinctive principle which advanced him, and relinquished their
affection for royal affiances and the doubtful friendship of monarchs.
His better nature was laid aside, his common sense became merged in
court etiquette, he sacrificed his conscience to his ambition, and the
Man was forgotten in the Emperor.

It is creditable to the world, that his divorce did more, perhaps, than
anything else to alienate the respect and attachment of mankind; and
many who could find excuses for his gravest public misdeeds can never
forgive this impiety to the household gods.

I was most forcibly impressed with the relation between him and
Josephine, in a visit I made to Malmaison a short time subsequent to her
death, which occurred soon after his first abdication. It was the place
where they had lived together, before the imperial diadem had seared
his brain; and it was the chosen spot of her retreat, when he, "the
conqueror of kings, sank to the degradation of courting their alliance."
The house was as she left it. Not a thing had been moved, the servants
were still there, and the order and comfort of the establishment were
as though her return were momently expected. The plants she loved were
carefully tended, and her particular favorites were affectionately
pointed out. The old domestic who acted as my guide spoke low, as if
afraid of disturbing her repose, or as if the sanctity of death still
pervaded the apartments. He could not mention her without emotion; and
he told enough of her quiet, unobtrusive life, of her kindness to the
poor, of her gentleness to all about her, to account for the devotion of
her dependants. The evidences of her refined taste were everywhere,
and there were tokens that her love for her husband had survived his
injustice and desertion. After his second marriage, he occasionally
visited her, and she never allowed anything to be disturbed which
reminded her that he had been there. Books were lying open on the table
as he had left them; the chair on which he sat was still where he had
arisen from it; the flower he had plucked withered where he had dropped
it. Every article he had touched was sacred, and remained unprofaned
by other hands. Doubtless, long after he had returned to his brilliant
capital, and all remembrance of her was lost in the glittering court
assembled about the fair-haired daughter of Austria, that lone woman
wandered, in solitary sadness, through the places which had been
hallowed by his presence, and gazed on the senseless objects consecrated
by his passing attention.

After his last abdication, he retired once more to Malmaison, where he
passed the few days that remained, until he bade a final farewell to the
scenes which he had known at the dawn of his prosperity. No man can tell
his thoughts during those lonely hours. His wife was in the palace of
her ancestors, and his child was to know him no more. He could hear the
din of marching soldiers, and the roar of distant battle, but they were
nothing to him now. His wand was broken, the spell was over, the
spirits that ministered to him had vanished, and the enchanter was left
powerless and alone. But, in the still watches of the night, a familiar
form may have stood beside him, and a well-known voice again whispered
to him in the kindly tones of by-gone years. The crown, the sceptre, the
imperial purple, the long line of kings, for which he had renounced a
woman worth them all, must have faded from his memory in the swarming
recollections of his once happy home. He could not look around him
without seeing in every object an accusing angel; and if a human heart
throbbed in his bosom, retribution came before death.

Yet call him not up for judgment, without reflecting that his awful
elevation and the gigantic task he had assumed had perverted a heart
naturally kind and affectionate, and left him little leisure to devote
to the virtues which decorate domestic life. The numberless anecdotes
related of him, the charm with which he won to himself all whom he
attempted to conciliate, the warm attachment of those immediately about
him, tend to the belief that there was much of good in him. But his eye
was continually fixed on the star he saw blazing before him, and in his
efforts to follow its guidance, he heeded not the victims he crushed in
his onward progress. He considered men as mere instruments to extend his
dominion, and he used them with wasteful expenditure, to advance his
projects or to secure his conquests. But he was not cruel, nor was he
steeled to human misery. Had he been what he is sometimes represented,
he never could have retained the ascendency over the minds of his
followers, which, regardless of defeat and suffering and death, lived on
when even hope had gone.

Accusatory words are easily spoken, and there is often a disposition to
condemn, without calculating the compelling motives which govern human
actions, or the height of place which has given to surrounding objects a
coloring and figure not to be measured by the ordinary rules of ethics.
Many a man who cannot bear a little brief authority without abusing it,
who lords it over a few dependants with insolent and arbitrary rule,
whose temper makes everybody uncomfortable within the limited sphere
of his government and whose petty tyranny turns his own home into a
despotic empire, can pronounce a sweeping doom against one who was
clothed with irresponsible power, who seemed elevated above the
accidents of humanity, whose audience-chamber was thronged by princes,
whose words were as the breath of life, and who dealt out kingdoms to
his kindred like the portions of a family inheritance. Let censure,
then, be tempered with charity, nor be lightly bestowed on him who will
continue to fill a space in the annals of the world when the present
shall be merged in that shadowy realm where fact becomes mingled with
fable, and the reality, dimmed by distance, shall be so transfigured by
poetry and romance, that it may even be doubted whether he ever lived.

Seventeen years after the period which I have attempted to illustrate
by a few incidents, I stood by his grave at St. Helena. I was returning
from a long residence in the East, and, having doubled the stormy Cape
of Good Hope, looked forward with no little interest to a short repose
at the halting-place between India and Europe. But when I saw its blue
mass heaving from the ocean, the usual excitement attendant on the
cry of "Land!" was lost in the absorbing feeling, that there Napoleon
Bonaparte died and was buried. The lonely rock rose in solitary
barrenness, a bleak and mournful monument of some rude caprice of
Nature, which has thrown it out to stand in cheerless desolation amidst
the broad waters of the Atlantic. The day I passed there was devoted to
the place where the captive wore away the weary and troubled years of
his imprisonment, and to the little spot which he himself selected when
anticipating the denial of his last wish,--now fully answered,--"that
his ashes might repose on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of that
French people whom he had so much loved."

There was nothing in or about the house to remind one of its late
occupant. It was used as a granary. The apartments were filled with
straw; a machine for threshing or winnowing was in the parlor; and the
room where he died was now converted into a stable, a horse standing
where his bed had been. The position was naked and comfortless, being
on the summit of a hill, perpetually swept by the trade-winds, which
suffered no living thing to stand, except a few straggling, bare,
shadeless trees, which contributed to the disconsolate character of the
landscape. The grave was in a quiet little valley. It was covered by
three plain slabs of stone, closely surrounded by an iron railing; a
low wooden paling extended a small distance around; and the whole was
overhung by three decaying willows. The appearance of the place was
plain and appropriate. Nothing was wanting to its unadorned and
affecting simplicity. Ornament could not have increased its beauty, nor
inscription have added to its solemnity.

The mighty conqueror slept in the territory of his most inveterate foes;
but the path to his tomb was reverently trodden, and those who had stood
opposed to him in life forgot that there had been enmity between them.
Death had extinguished hostility; and the pilgrims who visited his
resting-place spoke kindly of his memory, and, hoarding some little
token, bore it to their distant homes to be prized by their posterity as
having been gathered at his grave.

The dome of the Invalides now rises over his remains; his statue again
caps the column that commemorates his exploits; and one of his name,
advanced by the sole magic of his glory, controls, with arbitrary will
and singular ability, the destinies, not of France only, but of Europe.

The nations which united for his overthrow now humbly bow before the
family they solemnly pledged themselves should never again taste power,
and, with ill-concealed distrust and anxiety, deprecate a resentment
that has not been weakened by years nor forgotten in alliances.

Not to them alone has Time hastened to bring that retributive justice
which falls alike on empires and individuals. The son of "The Man"
moulders in an Austrian tomb, leaving no trace that he has lived; while
the lineal descendant of the obscure Creole, of the deposed empress,
of the divorced wife, sits on the throne of Clovis and Charlemagne, of
Capet and Bonaparte. Within the brief space of one generation, within
the limit of one man's memory, vengeance has revolved full circle; and
while the sleepless Nemesis points with unresting finger to the barren
rock and the insulted captive, she turns with meaning smile to the
borders of the Seine, where mausoleum and palace stand in significant
proximity,--the one covering the dust of the first empire, the other the
home of the triumphant grandson of Josephine.

* * * * *


Said Fortune to a common spit,
"Your rust and grease I'll rid ye on,
And make ye in a twinkling fit
For Ireland's Sword of Gideon!"

In vain! what Nature meant for base
All chance for good refuses;
M. gave one gleam, then turned apace
To dirtiest kitchen uses.


(From Original Sources.)

There is upon record a remark of Mozart--probably the greatest musical
genius that ever lived--to this effect: that, if few had equalled him
in his art, few had studied it with such persevering labor and such
unremitting zeal. Every man who has attained high preeminence in
Science, Literature, or Art, would confess the same. At all events, the
greatest musical composers--Bach, Handel, Haydn, Gluck--are proofs that
no degree of genius and natural aptitude for their art is sufficient
without long-continued effort and exhaustive study of the best models of
composition. And this is the moral to be drawn from Beethoven's early

_"Voila Bonn! C'est une petite perle!"_ said the admiring Frenchwoman,
as the Cologne steamboat rounded the point below the town, and she
caught the first fair view of its bustling landing-places, its old wall,
its quaint gables, and its antique cathedral spires. A pearl among the
smaller German cities it is,--with most irregular streets, always
neat and cleanly, noble historic and literary associations, jovial
student-life, pleasant walks to the neighboring hills, delightful
excursions to the Siebengebirge and Ahrthal,--reposing peacefully upon
the left bank of the "green and rushing Rhine." Six hundred years ago,
the Archbishop-Electors of Cologne, defeated in their long quarrel with
the people of the city of perfumery, established their court at Bonn,
and made it thenceforth the political capital of the Electorate. Having
both the civil and ecclesiastical revenues at their command, the last
Electors were able to sustain courts which vied in splendor with those
of princes of far greater political power and pretensions. They could
say, with the Preacher of old, "We builded us houses; we made us gardens
and orchards, and planted trees in them of all manner of fruits"; for
the huge palace, now the seat of the Frederick-William University, and
Clemensruhe, now the College of Natural History, were erected by them
early in the last century. Like the Preacher, too, "they got them
men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as
musical instruments, and that of all sorts." Music they cherished with
especial care: it gave splendor to the celebration of high mass in
chapel or cathedral; it afforded an innocent and refined recreation, in
the theatre and concert-room, to the Electors and their guests.

In the list of singers and musicians in the employ of Clemens Augustus,
as printed in the Electoral Calendar for the years 1759-60, appears the
name, "Ludwig van Beethoven, Bassist." We know little of him, and it is
but a very probable conjecture that he was a native of Maestricht, in
Holland. That he was more than an ordinary singer is proved by the
position he held in the Chapel, and by the applause which he received
for his performances as _primo basso_ in certain of Mosigny's operas. He
was, moreover, a good musician; for he had produced operas of his own
composition, with fair success, and, upon the accession of Maximilian
Frederick to the Electorate in 1761, he was raised to the position of
Kapellmeister. He was already well advanced in life; for the same record
bears the name of his son Johann, a tenor singer. He died in 1773, and
was long afterward described by one who remembered him, as a short,
stout-built man, with exceedingly lively eyes, who used to walk with
great dignity to and from his dwelling in the Bonngasse, clad in the
fashionable red cloak of the time. Thus, too, he was quite magnificently
depicted by the court painter, Radoux, wearing a tasselled cap,
and holding a sheet of music-paper in his hand. His wife--the Frau
Kapellmeisterinn--born Josepha Poll--was not a helpmeet for him, being
addicted to strong drink, and therefore, during her last years, placed
in a convent in Cologne.

The Bonngasse, which runs Rhineward from the lower extremity of the
Marktplatz, is, as the epithet _gasse_ implies, not one of the principal
streets of Bonn. Nor is it one of great length, notwithstanding the
numbers upon its house-fronts range so high,--for the houses of the town
are numbered in a single series, and not street by street. In 1770,
the centre of the Bonngasse was also a central point for the music and
musicians of Bonn. Kapellmeister Beethoven dwelt in No. 386, and the
next house was the abode of the Ries family. The father was one of the
Elector's chamber musicians; and his son Franz, a youth of fifteen, was
already a member of the orchestra, and by his skill upon the violin gave
promise of his future excellence. Thirty years afterward, _his_ son
became the pupil of _the_ Beethoven in Vienna.

In No. 515, which is nearly opposite the house of Ries, lived the
Salomons. Two of the sisters were singers in the Court Theatre, and the
brother, Johann Peter, was a distinguished violinist. At a later period
he emigrated to London, gained great applause as a virtuoso, established
the concerts in which Haydn appeared as composer and director, and was
one of the founders of the celebrated London Philharmonic Society.

It is common in Bonn to build two houses, one behind the other, upon the
same piece of ground, leaving a small court between them,--access to
that in the rear being obtained through the one which fronts upon the
street. This was the case where the Salomons dwelt, and to the rear
house, in November, 1767, Johann van Beethoven brought his newly married
wife, Helena Keverich, of Coblentz, widow of Nicolas Laym, a former
valet of the Elector.

It is near the close of 1770. Helena has experienced "the pleasing
punishment that women bear," but "remembereth no more the anguish for
joy that a man is born into the world." Her joy is the greater, because
last year, in April, she buried, in less than a week after his birth,
her first-born, Ludwig Maria,--as the name still stands upon the
baptismal records of the parish of St. Remigius, with the names of
Kapellmeister Beethoven, and the next-door neighbor, Frau Loher, as
sponsors. This second-born is a strong, healthy child, and his baptism
is recorded in the same parish-book, Dec. 17, 1770,--the day of,
possibly the day after, his birth,--by the name of Ludwig. The
Kapellmeister is again godfather, but Frau Gertrude Mueller, _nee_ Baum,
next door on the other side, is the godmother. The Beethovens had
neither kith nor kin in Bonn; the families Ries and Salomon, their
intimate friends, were Israelites; hence the appearance of the
neighbors, Frauen Loher and Mueller, at the ceremony of baptism;--a
strong corroborative evidence, that No. 515, Bonngasse, was the actual
birth-place of Beethoven.

The child grew apace, and in manhood his earliest and proudest
recollections, save of his mother, were of the love and affection
lavished upon him, the only grandchild, by the Kapellmeister. He had
just completed his third year when the old man died, and the bright sun
which had shone upon his infancy, and left an ineffaceable impression
upon the child's memory, was obscured. Johann van Beethoven had
inherited his mother's failing, and its effects were soon visible in the
poverty of the family. He left the Bonngasse for quarters in that
house in the Rheingasse, near the upper steamboat-landing, which now
erroneously bears the inscription, _Ludwig van Beethovens Geburtshaus_.

His small inheritance was soon squandered; his salary as singer was
small, and at length even the portrait of his father went to the
pawnbroker. In the April succeeding the Kapellmeister's death, the
expenses of Johann's family were increased by the birth of another
son,--Caspar Anton Carl; and to this event Dr. Wegeler attributes the
unrelenting perseverance of the father in keeping little Ludwig from
this time to his daily lessons upon the piano-forte. Both Wegeler and
Burgomaster Windeck of Bonn, sixty years afterward, remembered how, as
boys, visiting a playmate in another house across the small court, they
often "saw little Louis, his labors and sorrows." Cecilia Fischer, too,
a playmate of Beethoven in his early childhood, and living in the same
house in her old age, "still saw the little boy standing upon a low
footstool and practising his father's lessons," in tears.

What indications, if any, the child had given of remarkable musical
genius, we do not know,--not one of the many anecdotes bearing upon this
point having any trustworthy foundation in fact. Probably the father
discovered in him that which awakened the hope of some time rivalling
the then recent career of Leopold Mozart with little Wolfgang, or at
least saw reason to expect as much success with his son as had rewarded
the efforts of his neighbor Ries with his Franz; at all events, we have
the testimony of Beethoven himself, that "already in his fourth year
music became his principal employment,"--and this it continued to be to
the end. Yet, as he grew older, his education in other respects was not
neglected. He passed through the usual course of boys of his time, not
destined for the universities, in the public schools of the city, even
to the acquiring of some knowledge of Latin. The French language was, as
it still is, a necessity to every person of the Rhine provinces above
the rank of peasant; and Beethoven became able to converge in it with
reasonable fluency, even after years of disuse and almost total loss of
hearing. It has also been stated that he knew enough of English to read
it; but this is more than doubtful. In fact, as a schoolboy, he made the
usual progress,--no more, no less.

In music it was otherwise. The child Mozart seems alone to have equalled
or surpassed the child Beethoven. Ludwig soon exhausted his father's
musical resources, and became the pupil of Pfeiffer, chorist in the
Electoral Orchestra, a genial and kind-hearted man, and so good a
musician as afterward to be appointed band-master to a Bavarian
regiment. Beethoven always held him in grateful and affectionate
remembrance, and in the days of his prosperity in Vienna sent him
pecuniary aid. His next teacher was Van der Eder, court organist,--a
proof that the boy's progress was very rapid, as this must have been the
highest school that Bonn could offer. With this master he studied the
organ. When Van der Eder retired from office, his successor, Christian
Gottlob Neefe, succeeded him also as instructor of his remarkable pupil.

Wegeler and, Schindler, writing several years after the great composer's
death, state, that, of these three instructors, he considered himself
most indebted to Pfeiffer, declaring that he had profited little or
nothing by his studies with Neefe, of whose severe criticisms upon his
boyish efforts in composition he complained. These statements have
hitherto been unquestioned. Without doubting the veracity of the two
authors, it may well be asked, whether the great master may not have
relied too much upon the impressions received in childhood, and thus
unwittingly have done injustice to Neefe. The appointment of that
musician as organist to the Electoral Court bears date February 15,
1781, when Ludwig had but just completed his tenth year, and the sixth
year of his musical studies. These six years had been divided between
three different instructors,--his father, Pfeiffer, and Van der Eder;
and during the last part of the time, music could have been but the
extra study of a schoolboy. That the two or three years, during which at
the most he was a pupil of Pfeiffer, and that, too, when he was but
six or eight years of age, were of more value to him in his artistic
development than the years from the age of ten onward, during which he
studied with Neefe, certainly seems an absurd idea. That the chorist may
have laid a foundation for his future remarkable execution, and have
fostered and developed his love for music, is very probable; but that
the great Beethoven's marvellous powers in higher spheres of the art
were in any great degree owing to him, we cannot credit. Happily, we
have some data for forming a judgment upon this point, unknown both to
Wegeler and Schindler, when they wrote.

Neefe was, if not a man of genius, of very respectable talents,
a learned and accomplished organist and composer, as a violinist
respectable, even in a corps which included Reicha, Romberg, Ries. He
had been reared in the severe Saxon school of the Bachs, and before
coming to Bonn had had much experience as music director of an operatic
company. He knew the value of the maxim, _Festina lente_, and was wise
enough to understand, that no lofty and enduring structure can be
reared, unless the foundations are broad and deep,--that sound and
exhaustive study of canon, fugue, and counterpoint is as necessary to
the highest development of musical genius as mathematics, philosophy,
and logic are to that of the scientific and literary man. He at once saw
and appreciated the marvellous powers of Johann van Beethoven's son, and
adopted a plan with him, whose aim was, not to make him a mere youthful
prodigy, but a great musician and composer in manhood. That, with this
end in view, he should have criticized the boy's crude compositions with
some severity was perfectly natural; equally so that the petted and
bepraised boy should have felt these criticisms keenly. But the
severity of the master was no more than a necessary counterpoise to the
injudicious praise of others. That Beethoven, however he may have spoken
of Neefe to Wegeler and Schindler, did at times have a due consciousness
of his obligations to his old master, is proved by a letter which he
wrote to him from Vienna, during the first transports of joy and delight
at finding himself the object of universal wonder and commendation
in the musical circles of the great capital. He thanks Neefe for the
counsels which had guided him in his studies, and adds, "Should I ever
become a great man, it will in part be owing to you."

The following passage from an account of the virtuosos in the service of
the Elector at Bonn, written in 1782, when Beethoven had been with Neefe
but little more than a year, and which we unhesitatingly, attribute to
the pen of Neefe himself, will give an idea of the course of instruction
adopted by the master, and his hopes and expectations for the future
of his pupil. It is, moreover, interesting, as being the first public
notice of him who for half a century has exercised more pens than any
other artist. The writer closes his list of musicians and singers

"Louis van Beethoven, son of the above-named tenorist, a boy of eleven
years, and of most promising talents. He plays the piano-forte with
great skill and power, reads exceedingly well at sight, and, to say all
in a word, plays nearly the whole of Sebastian Bach's 'Wohltemperirtes
Klavier,' placed in his hands by Herr Neefe. Whoever is acquainted with
this collection of preludes and fugues in every key (which one can
almost call the _non plus ultra_ of music) knows well what this implies.
Herr Neefe has also, so far as his other duties allowed, given him
some instruction in thorough-bass. At present he is exercising him
in composition, and for his encouragement has caused nine variations
composed by him for the piano-forte upon a march[A] to be engraved at
Mannheim. This young genius certainly deserves such assistance as will
enable him to travel. He will assuredly become a second Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart, should he continue as he has begun.

[Footnote A: The variations upon a march by Dressler.]

"'Wem er geneigt, dem sendet der Vater der
Menschen und Goetter
Seinen Adler herab, traegt ihn zu himmlischen
Hoeh'n und welches
Haupt ihm gefaellt um das flicht er mit
liebenden Haenden den Lorbeer.'

In the mere grammar of musical composition the pupil required little of
his master. We have Beethoven's own words to prove this, scrawled at the
end of the thorough-bass exercises, afterward performed, when studying
with Albrechtsberger. "Dear friends," he writes, "I have taken all this
trouble, simply to be able to figure, my basses correctly, and some
time, perhaps, to instruct others. As to errors, I hardly needed to
learn this for my own sake. From my childhood I have had so fine a
musical sense, that I wrote correctly without knowing that it _must_ be
so, or _could_ be otherwise."

Neefe's object, therefore,--as was Haydn's at a subsequent period,--was
to give his pupil that mastery of musical form and of his instrument,
which should enable him at once to perceive the value of a musical idea
and its most appropriate treatment. The result was, that the tones of
his piano-forte became to the youth a language in which his highest,
deepest, subtilest musical ideas were expressed by his fingers as
instantaneously and with as little thought of the mere style and manner
of their expression as are the intellectual ideas of the thoroughly
trained rhetorician in words.

The good effect of the course pursued by Neefe with his pupil is visible
in the next published production--save a song or two--of the boy;--the

"Three Sonatas for the Piano-forte, composed and dedicated to the most
Reverend Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, Maximilian Frederick, my
most gracious Lord, by LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, _Aged eleven years_."

We cannot resist the temptation to add the comically bombastic
Dedication of these Sonatas to the Elector, which may very possibly have
been written by Neefe, who loved to see himself in print.



"Already in my fourth year Music began to be the principal employment of
my youth. Thus early acquainted with the Lovely Muse, who tuned my soul
to pure harmonies, she won my love, and, as I oft have felt, gave me
hers in return. I have now completed my eleventh year; and my Muse, in
the hours consecrated to her, oft whispers to me, 'Try for once, and
write down the harmonies in thy soul!'--'Eleven years!' thought I,--'and
how should I carry the dignity of authorship? What would _men_ in the
art say?'--My timidity had nearly conquered. But my Muse willed it:--I
obeyed and wrote.

"And now dare I, Most Illustrious! venture to lay the first fruits of my
youthful labors at the steps of _Thy_ throne? And dare I hope that Thou
wilt deign to cast upon them the mild, paternal glance of Thy cheering
approbation? Oh, yes! for Science and Art have ever found in Thee a wise
patron and a magnanimous promoter, and germinating talent its prosperity
under Thy kind, paternal care.

"Filled with this animating trust, I venture to draw near to _Thee_
with these youthful efforts. Accept them as a pure offering of childish
reverence, and look down graciously, Most Exalted! upon them and their
young author,


"These Sonatas," says a most competent critic,[B] "for a boy's work,
are, indeed, remarkable. They are _bona fide_ compositions. There is no
vagueness about them.... He has ideas positive and well pronounced,
and he proceeds to develope them in a manner at once spontaneous and
logical.... Verily the boy possessed the vital secret of the Sonata
form; he had seized its organic principle."

[Footnote B: J.S. Dwight.]

Ludwig has become an author! His talents are known and appreciated
everywhere in Bonn. He is the pet of the musical circle in which he
moves,--in danger of being spoiled. Yet now, when the character is
forming, and those habits, feelings, tastes are becoming developed and
fixed, which are to go with him through life, he can look to his father
neither for example nor counsel. He idolizes his mother; but she is
oppressed with the cares of a family, suffering through the improvidence
and bad habits of its head, and though she had been otherwise situated,
the widow of Laym, the Elector's valet, could hardly be the proper
person to fit the young artist for future intercourse with the higher
ranks of society.

In the large, handsome brick house still standing opposite the minster
in Bonn, on the east side of the public square, where now stands the
statue of Beethoven, dwelt the widow and children of Hofrath von
Breuning. Easy in their circumstances, highly educated, of literary
habits, and familiar with polite life, the family was among the first in
the city. The four children were not far from Beethoven's age; Eleonore,
the daughter, and Lenz, the third son, were young enough to become
his pupils. In this family it was Ludwig's good fortune to become a
favorite, and "here," says Wegeler, who afterward married Eleonore, "he
made his first acquaintance with German literature, especially with the
poets, and here first had opportunity to gain the cultivation necessary
for social life."

He was soon treated by the Von Breunings as a son and brother, passing
not only most of his days, but many of his nights, at their house, and
sometimes spending his vacations with them at their country-seat in
Kerpen,--a small town on the great road from Cologne to Aix la Chapelle.
With them he felt free and unrestrained, and everything tended at the
same time to his happiness and his intellectual development. Nor was
music neglected. The members of the family were all musical, and
Stephen, the eldest son, sometimes played in the Electoral Orchestra.

No person possessed so strong an influence upon the oft-times stubborn
and wilful boy as the Frau von Breuning. She best knew how to bring him
back to the performance of his duty, when neglectful of his pupils; and
when she, with gentle force, had made him cross the square to the house
of the Austrian ambassador, Count Westfall, to give the promised lesson,
and saw him, after hesitating for a time at the door, suddenly fly
back, unable to overcome his dislike to lesson-giving, she would bear
patiently with him, merely shrugging her shoulders and remarking,
"To-day he has his _raptus_ again!" The poverty at home and his Jove for
his mother alone enabled him ever to master this aversion.

To the Breunings, then, we are indebted for that love of Plutarch,
Homer, Shakspeare, Goethe, and whatever gives us noble pictures of that
greatness of character which we term "heroic," that enabled the future
composer to stir up within us all the finest and noblest emotions,
as with the wand of a magician. The boy had an inborn love of the
beautiful, the tender, the majestic, the sublime, in nature, in art, and
in literature,--together with a strong sense of the humorous and even
comic. With the Breunings all these qualities were cultivated and in
the right direction. To them the musical world owes a vast debt of

Beethoven was no exception to the rule, that only a great man can be a
great artist. True, in his later years his correspondence shows at
times an ignorance of the rules of grammar and orthography; but it also
proves, what may be determined from a thousand other indications, that
he was a deep thinker, and that he had a mind of no small degree of
cultivation, as it certainly was one of great intellectual power. Had he
devoted his life to any other profession than music,--to law, theology,
science, or letters,--he would have attained high eminence, and
enrolled himself among the great.

But we have anticipated a little, and now turn back to an event which
occurred soon after he had completed his thirteenth year, and which
proved in its consequences of the highest moment to him,--the death
of the Elector, which took place on the 15th of April, 1784. He was
succeeded by Maximilian Francis, Bishop of Muenster, Grand Master of
the Teutonic Order, a son of the Emperor Francis and Maria Theresa of

A word upon this family of imperial musicians may, perhaps, be pardoned.
It was Charles VI., the father of Maria Theresa, a composer of canons
and music for the harpsichord, who, upon being complimented by his
Kapellmeister as being well able to officiate as a music-director, dryly
observed, "Upon the whole, however, I like my present position better!"
His daughter sang an air upon the stage of the Court Theatre in her
fifth year; and in 1739, just before her accession to the imperial
dignity, being in Florence, she sang a duet with Senesino--of Handelian
memory--with such grace and splendor of voice, that the tears rolled
down the old man's cheeks. In all her wars and amid all the cares of
state, Maria Theresa never ceased to cherish music. Her children were
put under the best instructors, and made thorough musicians;--Joseph,
whom Mozart so loved, though the victim of his shabby treatment; Maria
Antoinette, the patron of Gluck and the head of his party in Paris; Max
Franz, with whom we now have to do,--and so forth.

Upon learning the death of Max Frederick, his successor hastened to Bonn
to assume the Archiepiscopal and Electoral dignities, with which he
was formally invested in the spring of 1785. In the train of the new
Elector, who was still in the prime of life, was the Austrian Count
Waldstein, his favorite and constant companion. Waldstein, like his
master, was more than an amateur,--he was a fine practical musician. The
promising pupil of Neefe was soon brought to his notice, and his talents
and attainments excited in him an extraordinary interest. Coming from
Vienna, where Mozart and Haydn were in the full tide of their success,
where Gluck's operas were heard with rapture, and where in the second
rank of musicians and composers were such names as Salieri, Righini,
Anfossi, and Martini, Waldstein could well judge of the promise of the
boy. He foresaw at once his future greatness, and gave him his favor
and protection. He, in some degree, at least, relieved him from the dry
rules of Neefe, and taught him the art of varying a theme _extempore_
and carrying it out to its highest development. He had patience and
forbearance with the boy's failings and foibles, and, to relieve his
necessities, gave him money, sometimes as gifts of his own, sometimes as
gratifications from the Elector.

As soon as Maximilian was installed in his new dignity, Waldstein
procured for Ludwig the appointment of assistant court organist;--not
that Neefe needed him, but that he needed the small salary attached to
the place. From this time to the downfall of the Electorate, his name
follows that of Neefe in the annual Court Calendar.

Wegeler and others have preserved a variety of anecdotes which
illustrate the skill and peculiarities of the young organist at this
period, but we have not space for them;--moreover, our object is rather
to convey some distinct idea of the training which made him what every
lover of music knows he afterward became.

Maximilian Francis was as affable and generous as he was passionately
fond of music. A newspaper of the day records, that he used to walk
about the streets of Bonn like any other citizen, and early became very
popular with all classes. He often took part in the concerts at the
palace, as upon a certain occasion when "Duke Albert played violin, the
Elector viola, and Countess Belderbusch piano-forte," in a trio. He
enlarged his orchestra, and, through his relations with the courts at
Vienna, Paris, and other capitals, kept it well supplied with all the
new publications of the principal composers of the day,--Mozart, Haydn,
Gluck, Pleyel, and others.

No better school, therefore, for a young musician could there well have
been than that in which Beethoven was now placed. While Neefe took care
that he continued his study of the great classic models of organ
and piano-forte composition, he was constantly hearing the best
ecclesiastical, orchestral, and chamber music, forming his taste upon
the best models, and acquiring a knowledge of what the greatest masters
had accomplished in their several directions. But as time passed on, he
felt the necessity of a still larger field of observation, and, in the
autumn of 1786, Neefe's wish that his pupil might travel was fulfilled.
He obtained--mainly, it is probable, from the Elector, through the good
offices of Waldstein--the means of making the journey to Vienna,
then the musical capital of the world, to place himself under the
instructions of Mozart, then the master of all living masters. Few
records have fallen under our notice, which throw light upon this visit.
Seyfried, and Holmes, after him, relate the surprise of Mozart at
hearing the boy, now just sixteen years of age, treat an intricate fugue
theme, which he gave him, and his prophecy, that "that young man would
some day make himself heard of in the world!"

It is said that Beethoven in after life complained of never having heard
his master play. The complaint must have been, that Mozart never played
to him in private; for it is absurd to suppose that he attended none
of the splendid series of concerts which his master gave during that

The mysterious brevity of this first visit of Beethoven to Vienna we
find fully explained in a letter, of which we give a more literal than
elegant translation. It is the earliest specimen of the composer's
correspondence which has come under our notice, and was addressed to a
certain Dr. Schade, an advocate of Augsburg, where the young man seems
to have tarried some days upon his journey.

"Bonn, September 15, 1787.


"What you must think of me I can easily conceive; nor can I deny that
you have well-grounded reasons for looking upon me in an unfavorable
light; but I will not ask you to excuse me, until I have made known the
grounds upon which I dare hope my apologies will find acceptance. I must
confess, that, from the moment of leaving Augsburg, my happiness, and
with it my health, began to leave me; the nearer I drew toward my native
city, the more numerous were the letters of my father, which met me,
urging me onward, as the condition of my mother's health was critical.
I hastened forward, therefore, with all possible expedition, for I was
myself much indisposed; but the longing I felt to see my sick mother
once more made all hindrances of little account, and aided me in
overcoming all obstacles.

"I found her still alive, but in a most pitiable condition. She was in
a consumption, and finally, about seven weeks since, after enduring the
extremes of pain and suffering, died. She was to me such a good and
loving mother,--my best of friends!

"Oh, who would be so happy as I, could I still speak the sweet name,
'Mother,' and have her hear it! And to whom _can_ I now speak? To the
dumb, but lifelike pictures which my imagination calls up.

"During the whole time since I reached home, few have been my hours of
enjoyment. All this time I have been afflicted with asthma, and the fear
is forced upon me that it may end in consumption. Moreover, the state
of melancholy in which I now am is almost as great a misfortune as my
sickness itself.

"Imagine yourself in my position for a moment, and I doubt not that I
shall receive your forgiveness for my long silence. As to the three
Carolins which you had the extraordinary kindness and friendship to lend
me in Augsburg, I must beg your indulgence still for a time. My journey
has cost me a good deal, and I have no compensation--not even the
slightest--to hope in return. Fortune is not propitious to me here in

"You will forgive me for detaining you so long with my babble; it is all
necessary to my apology. I pray you not to refuse me the continuance of
your valuable friendship, since there is nothing I so much desire as to
make myself in some degree worthy of it. I am, with all respect, your
most obedient servant and friend,


"Court Organist to the Elector of Cologne."

We know also from other sources the extreme poverty in which the
Beethoven family was at this period sunk. In its extremity, at the time
when the mother died, Franz Ries, the violinist, came to its assistance,
and his kindness was not forgotten by Ludwig. When Ferdinand, the son
of this Ries, reached Vienna in the autumn of 1800, and presented his
father's letter, Beethoven said,--"I cannot answer your father yet; but
write and tell him that I have not forgotten the death of my mother.
That will fully satisfy him."

Young Beethoven, therefore, had little time for illness. His father
barely supported himself, and the sustenance of his two little brothers,
respectively twelve and thirteen years of age, devolved upon him. He
was, however, equal to his situation. He played his organ still,--the
instrument which was then above all others to his taste; he entered
the Orchestra as player upon the viola; received the appointment of
chamber-musician--pianist--to the Elector; and besides all this,
engaged in the detested labor of teaching. It proves no small energy
of character, that the motherless youth of seventeen, "afflicted with
asthma," which he was "fearful might end in consumption," struggling
against a "state of melancholy, almost as great a misfortune as sickness
itself," succeeded in overcoming all, and securing the welfare of
himself, his father, and his brothers. When he left Bonn finally, five
years later, Carl, then eighteen, could support himself by teaching
music, and Johann was apprenticed to the court apothecary; while the
father appears to have had a comfortable subsistence provided for
him,--although no longer an active member of the Electoral Chapel,--for
the few weeks which, as it happened, remained of his life.

The scattered notices which are preserved of Beethoven, during this
period, are difficult to arrange in a chronological order. We read of a
joke played at the expense of Heller, the principal tenor singer of the
Chapel, in which that singer, who prided himself upon his firmness in
pitch, was completely bewildered by a skilful modulation of the boy
upon the piano-forte, and forced to stop;--of the music to a chivalrous
ballad, performed by the noblemen attached to the court, of which for a
long time Count Waldstein was the reputed author, but which in fact was
the work of his _protege;_--and there are other anecdotes, probably
familiar to most readers, showing the great skill and science which he
already exhibited in his performance of chamber music in the presence of
the Elector.

We see him intimate as ever in the Breuning family, mingling familiarly
with the best society of Bonn, which he met at their house,--and even
desperately in love! First it is with Frauelein Jeannette d'Honrath, of
Cologne, a beautiful and lively blonde, of pleasing manners, sweet and
gentle disposition, an ardent lover of music, and an agreeable singer,
who often came to Bonn and spent weeks with the Breunings. She seems to
have played the coquette a little, both with our young artist and his
friend Stephen. It is not difficult to imagine the effect upon the
sensitive and impulsive Ludwig, when the beautiful girl, nodding to him
in token of its application, sang in tender accents the then popular

"Mich heute noch von dir zu trennen,
Und dieses nicht verhindern koennen,
Ist zu empfindlich fuer mein Herz."

She saw fit, however, to marry an Austrian, Carl Greth, a future
commandant at Temeswar, and her youthful lover was left to console
himself by transferring his affections to another beauty, Frauelein W.

We behold him in the same select circle, cultivating his talent for
improvising upon the piano-forte, by depicting in music the characters
of friends and acquaintances, and generally in such a manner that the
company had no difficulty in guessing the person intended. On one
of these occasions, Franz Ries was persuaded to take his violin and
improvise an accompaniment to his friend's improvisation, which he did
so successfully, that, long afterwards, he more than once ventured to
attempt the same in public, with his son Ferdinand.

Professor Wurzer, of Marburg, who well knew Beethoven in his youth,
gives us a glimpse of him sitting at the organ. On a pleasant summer
afternoon, when the artist was about twenty years of age, he, with some
companions, strolled out to Godesberg. Here they met Wurzer, who, in the
course of the conversation, mentioned that the church of the convent of
Marienforst--behind the village of Godesberg--had been repaired, and
that a new organ had been procured, or perhaps that the old one had been
put in order and perfected. Beethoven must needs try it. The key was
procured from the prior, and the friends gave him themes to vary and
work out, which he did with such skill and beauty, that at length the
peasants engaged below in cleaning the church, one after another,
dropped their brooms and brushes, forgetting everything else in their
wonder and delight.

In 1790, an addition was made to the Orchestra, most important in its
influence upon the artistic progress of Beethoven, as he was thus
brought into daily intercourse with two young musicians, already
distinguished virtuosos upon their respective instruments. The Elector
made frequent visits to other cities of his diocese, often taking a part
or the whole of his Chapel with him. Upon his return that summer from
Muenster, he brought with him the two virtuosos in question. Andreas
Romberg, the violinist, and now celebrated composer, and his cousin
Bernhard, the greatest violoncellist of his age. With these two
young men Beethoven was often called to the palace for the private
entertainment of Maximilian. Very probably, upon one of these occasions,
was performed that trio not published until since the death of its
composer--"the second movement of which," says Schindler, "may be looked
upon as the embryo of all Beethoven's scherzos," while "the third is, in
idea and form, of the school of Mozart,--a proof how early he made that
master his idol." We know that it was composed at this period, and that
its author considered it his highest attempt then in free composition.

A few words must be given to the Electoral Orchestra, that school in
which Beethoven laid the foundation of his prodigious knowledge of
instrumental and orchestral effects, as in the chamber-music at the
palace he learned the unrivalled skill which distinguishes his efforts
in that branch of the art.

The Kapellmeister, in 1792, was Andrea Lucchesi, a native of Motta, in
the Venetian territory, a fertile and accomplished composer in most
styles. The concert-master was Joseph Reicha, a virtuoso upon the
violoncello, a very fine conductor, and no mean composer. The violins
were sixteen in number; among them were Franz Ries, Neefe,
Anton Reicha,--afterward the celebrated director of the Paris
Conservatoire,--and Andreas Romberg; violas four, among them Ludwig
van Beethoven; violoncellists three, among them Bernhard Romberg;
contrabandists also three. There were two oboes, two flutes,--one of
them played by another Anton Reicha,--two clarinets, two horns,--one by
Simrock, a celebrated player, and founder of the music-publishing house
of that name still existing in Bonn,--three bassoons, four trumpets, and
the usual tympani.

Fourteen of the forty-three musicians were soloists upon their several
instruments; some half a dozen of them were already known as composers.
Four years, at the least, of service in such an orchestra may well be
considered of all schools the best in which Beethoven could have been
placed. Let his works decide.

Our article shall close with some pictures photographed in the sunshine
which gilded the closing years of Beethoven's Bonn life. They illustrate
the character of the man and of the people with whom he lived and moved.

In 1791, in that beautiful season of the year in Central Europe, when
the heats of summer are past and the autumn rains not yet set in, the
Elector journeyed to Mergentheim, to hold, in his capacity of Grand
Master, a convocation of the Teutonic Order. The leading singers of
his Chapel, and some twenty members of the Orchestra, under Ries as
director, followed in two large barges. Before, starting upon the
expedition, the company assembled and elected a king. The dignity was
conferred upon Joseph Lux, the bass singer and comic actor, who, in
distributing the offices of his court, appointed Ludwig van Beethoven
and Bernhard Romberg scullions!

A glorious time and a merry they had of it, following slowly the
windings of the Rhino and the Main, now impelled by the wind, now drawn
by horses, against the swift current, in this loveliest time of the

In those days, when steamboats were not, such a voyage was slow, and not
seldom in a high degree tedious. With such a company the want of speed
was a consideration of no importance, and the memory of this journey was
in after years among Beethoven's brightest. Those who know the Rhine and
the Main can easily conceive that this should be so. The route embraced
the whole extent of the famous highlands of the former river, from
the Drachenfels and Rolandseek to the heights of the Niederwald above
Ruedesheim, and that lovely section of the latter which divides the hills
of the Odenwald from those of Spessart. The voyagers passed a thousand
points of local and historic interest. The old castles--among them
Stolzenfels and the Brothers--looked down upon them from their rocky
heights, as long afterwards upon the American, Paul Flemming, when he
journeyed, sick at heart, along the Rhine, toward ancient Heidelberg.
Quaint old cities--Andernach, with "the Christ," Coblentz, home of
Beethoven's mother, Boppard, Bacharach, Bingen--welcomed them; Mainz,
the Electoral city, and Frankfurt, seat of the Empire. And still beyond,
on the banks of the Main, Offenbach, Hanau, Aschaffenburg, and so onward
to Wertheim, where they left the Main and ascended the small river
Tauber to their place of destination.

Among the places at which they landed and made merry upon the journey
was the Niederwald. Here King Lux advanced Beethoven to a more honorable
position in his court, and gave him a diploma, dated from the heights
above Ruedesheim, attesting his appointment to the new dignity. To this
important document was attached, by threads ravelled from a boat-sail,
a huge seal of pitch, pressed into a small box-cover, which gave
the instrument a right imposing look,--like the Golden Bull in the
Roemer-Saal at Frankfurt. This diploma from His Comic Majesty Beethoven
carried with him to Vienna, where Wegeler saw it several years afterward
carefully preserved.

At Aschaffenburg, the summer residence of the Electors of Mainz, Ries,
Simrock, and the two Rombergs took Beethoven with them to call upon the
great pianist, Sterkel. The master received the young men kindly, and
gratified them with a specimen of his powers. His style was in the
highest degree graceful and pleasing,--as Father Ries described it to
Wegeler, "somewhat lady-like." While he played, Beethoven stood by,
listening with the most eager attention, doubtless silently comparing
the effects produced by the player with those belonging to his own
style, which was rather rough and hard, owing to his constant practice
upon the organ. It is said that this was his first opportunity of
hearing any distinguished virtuoso upon the piano-forte,--a mistake,
we think, for he must have heard Mozart in Vienna, as before remarked.
Still, the delicacy of Sterkel's style may well have been a new
revelation to him of the powers of the instrument. Upon leaving the
piano-forte, the master invited his young visitor to take his place.
Beethoven was naturally diffident, and was not to be prevailed with,
until Sterkel intimated a doubt whether he could play his own very
difficult variations upon the air, "Vieni, Amore," which had then just
been published. Thus touched in a tender spot, the young author sat down
and played such as he could remember,--no copy being at hand,--and
then improvised several others, equally, if not more difficult, to the
surprise both of Sterkel and his friends. "What raised our surprise to
real astonishment," said Ries, as he related the story, "was, that the
impromptu variations were in precisely that graceful, pleasing style
which he had just heard for the first time."

Upon reaching Mergentheim, music, and ever music, became the order of
the day for King Lux and his merry subjects. Most fortunately for the
admirers of Beethoven, we have a minute account of two days (October 11
and 12) spent there, by a competent and trustworthy musical critic of
that period,--a man not the less welcome to us for possessing something
of the flunkeyism of old Diarist Pepys and Corsica Boswell. We shall
quote somewhat at length from his letter, since it has hitherto come
under the notice of none of the biographers, and yet gives us so lively
a picture of young Beethoven and his friends.

"On the very first day," writes Junker, "I heard the small band which
plays at dinner, during the stay of the Elector at Mergentheim. The
instruments are two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns.
These eight performers may well be called masters in their art. One can
rarely hear music of the kind, distinguished by such perfect unity
of effect and such sympathy with each other in the performers, and
especially in which so high a degree of exactness and perfection of
style is reached. This band appeared to me to differ from all others
I have heard in this,--that it plays music of a higher order; on this
occasion, for instance, it gave an arrangement of Mozart's overture to
'Don Juan.'"

It would be interesting to know what, if any, of the works of Beethoven
for wind-instruments belong to this period of his life.

"Soon after the dinner-music," continues our writer, "the play began. It
was the opera, 'King Theodor,' music by Paisiello. The part of _Theodor_
was sung by Herr Nuedler, a powerful singer in tragic scenes, and a good
actor. _Achmet_ was given by Herr Spitzeder,--a good bass singer, but
with too little action, and not always quite true,--in short, too cold.
The inn-keeper was Herr Lux, a very good bass, and the best actor,--a
man created for the comic. The part of _Lizette_ was taken by Demoiselle
Willmann. She sings in excellent taste, has very great power of
expression, and a lively, captivating action. Herr Maendel, in
_Sandrino,_ proved himself also a very fine and pleasing singer. The
orchestra was surpassingly good,--especially in its _piano_ and _forte,_
and its careful _crescendo._ Herr Ries, that remarkable reader of
scores, that great player, directed with his violin. He is a man who may
well be placed beside Cannabich, and by his powerful and certain tones
he gave life and soul to the whole....

"The next morning, (October 12,) at ten o'clock, the rehearsal for the
concert began, which was to be given at court at six in the afternoon.
Herr Welsch (oboist) had the politeness to invite me to be present. I
was held at the lodgings of Herr Ries, who received me with a hearty
shake of the hand. Here I was an eye-witness of the gentlemanly bearing
of the members of the Chapel toward each other. One heart, one mind
rules them. 'We know nothing of the cabals and chicanery so common;
among us the most perfect unanimity prevails; we, as members of one
company, cherish for each other a fraternal affection,' said Simrock to

"Here also I was an eye-witness to the esteem and respect in which this
chapel stands with the Elector. Just as the rehearsal was to begin, Ries
was sent for by the prince, and upon his return brought a bag of gold.
'Gentlemen,' said he, 'this being the Elector's name-day, he sends you a
present of a thousand thalers.'

"And again I was eye-witness of this orchestra's surpassing excellence.
Herr Winneberger, Kapellmeister at Wallenstein, laid before it a
symphony of his own composition, which was by no means easy of
execution, especially for the wind instruments, which had several solos
_concertante_. It went finely, however, at the first trial, to the great
surprise of the composer.

"An hour after the dinner-music, the concert began. It was opened with
a symphony of Mozart; then followed a recitative and air, sung by
Simonetti; next a violincello concerto, played by Herr Romberger
(Bernhard Romberg); fourthly, a symphony, by Pleyel; fifthly, an air by
Righini, sung by Simonette; sixthly, a double concerto for violin and
violoncello, played by the two Rombergs; and the closing piece was the
symphony by Winneberger, which had very many brilliant passages. The
opinion already expressed as to the performance of this orchestra was
confirmed. It was not possible to attain a higher degree of exactness.
Such perfection in the _pianos, fortes, rinforzandos_,--such a swelling
and gradual increase of tone, and then such an almost imperceptible
dying away, from the most powerful to the lightest accents,--all this
was formerly to be heard only at Mannheim. It would be difficult to find
another orchestra in which the violins and basses are throughout in such
excellent hands."

We pass over Junker's enthusiastic description of the two Rombergs,
merely remarking, that every word in his account of them is fully
confirmed by the musical periodical press of Europe during the entire
periods of thirty and fifty years of their respective lives after the
date of the letter before us,--and that their playing was undoubtedly
the standard Beethoven had in view, when afterward writing passages for
bowed instruments, which so often proved stumbling-blocks to orchestras
of no small pretensions. What Junker himself saw of the harmony and
brotherly love which marked the social intercourse of the members of
the Chapel was confirmed to him by the statements of others. He adds,
respecting their personal bearing towards others,--"The demeanor of
these gentlemen is very fine and unexceptionable. They are all people of
great elegance of manner and of blameless lives. Greater discretion of
conduct can nowhere be found. At the concert, the ill-starred performers
were so crowded, so incommoded by the multitude of auditors, so
surrounded and pressed upon, as hardly to have room to move their arms,
and the sweat rolled down their faces in great drops. But they bore all
this calmly and with good-humor; not an ill-natured face was visible
among them. At the court of some little prince, we should have seen,
under the circumstances, folly heaped upon folly.

"The members of the Chapel, almost without exception, are in their best
years, glowing with health, men of culture and fine personal appearance.
They form truly a fine sight, when one adds the splendid uniform in
which the Elector has clothed them,--red, and richly trimmed with gold."

And now for the impression which Beethoven, just completing his
twenty-first year, made upon him.

"I heard also one of the greatest of pianists,--the dear, good
Beethoven, some compositions by whom appeared in the Spires 'Blumenlese'
in 1783, written in his eleventh year. True, he did not perform in
public, probably because the instrument here was not to his mind. It is
one of Spath's make, and at Bonn he plays upon one by Steiner. But, what
was infinitely preferable to me, I heard him extemporize in private;
yes, I was even invited to propose a theme for him to vary. The
greatness of this amiable, light-hearted man, as a virtuoso, may, in my
opinion, be safely estimated from his almost inexhaustible wealth of
ideas, the altogether characteristic style of expression in his playing,
and the great execution which he displays. I know, therefore, no one
thing which he lacks, that conduces to the greatness of an artist. I
have heard Vogler upon the piano-forte,--of his organ-playing I say
nothing, not having heard him upon that instrument,--have often heard
him, heard him by the hour together, and never failed to wonder at his
astonishing execution; but Beethoven, in addition to the execution, has
greater clearness and weight of idea, and more expression,--in short,
he is more for the heart,--equally great, therefore, as an adagio or
allegro player. Even the members of this remarkable orchestra are,
without exception, his admirers, and all ear whenever he plays. Yet
he is exceedingly modest and free from all pretension. He, however,
acknowledged to me, that, upon the journeys which the Elector had
enabled him to make, he had seldom found in the playing of the most
distinguished virtuosos that excellence which he supposed he had a right
to expect. His style of treating his instrument is so different from
that usually adopted, that it impresses one with the idea, that by a
path of his own discovery he has attained that height of excellence
whereon he now stands.

"Had I acceded to the pressing entreaties of my friend Beethoven, to
which Herr Winneberger added his own, and remained another day in
Mergentheim, I have no doubt he would have played to me hours; and the
day, thus spent in the society of these two great artists, would have
been transformed into a day of the highest bliss."

Doubtless, Herr Junker, judging from the enthusiasm with which you have
written, it would have been so; and for our sake, as well as your own,
we heartily wish you had remained!

Again in Bonn,--the young master's last year in his native city,--that
_petite perle_. It was a fortunate circumstance for the development of
a genius so powerful and original, that the place was not one of such
importance as to call thither any composer or pianist of very great
eminence,--such a one as would have ruled the musical sphere in which
he moved, and become an object of imitation to the young student.
Beethoven's instructors and the musical atmosphere in which he lived and
wrought were fully able to ground him firmly in the laws and rules of
the art, without restraining the natural bent of his genius. His taste
for orchestral music, even, was developed in no particular school,
formed upon no single model,--the Electoral band playing, with equal
care and spirit, music from the presses of Vienna, Berlin, Munich,
Mannheim, Paris, London. Mozart, however, was Beethoven's favorite,
and his influence is unmistakably impressed upon many of the early
compositions of his young admirer.

But the youthful genius was fast becoming so superior to all around him,
that a wider field was necessary for his full development. He needed the
opportunity to measure his powers with those of the men who stood,
by general consent, at the head of the art; he felt the necessity of
instruction by teachers of a different and higher character, if any
could be found. Mozart, it is true, had just passed away, but still
Vienna remained the great metropolis of music; and thither his hopes and
wishes turned. An interview with Haydn added strength to these hopes and
wishes. This was upon Haydn's return, in the spring of 1792, after his
first visit to London, where he had composed for and directed in the
concerts of that Johann Peter Salomon in whose house Beethoven first
saw the light. The veteran composer, on his way home, came to Bonn, and
there accepted an invitation from the Electoral Orchestra to a breakfast
in Godesberg. Here Beethoven was introduced to him, and placed before
him a cantata which he had offered for performance at Mergentheim,
the preceding autumn, but which had proved too difficult for the
wind-instruments in certain passages. Haydn examined it carefully, and
encouraged him to continue in the path of musical composition. Neefe
also hints to us that Haydn was greatly impressed by the skill of the
young man as a piano-forte virtuoso.

Happily, Beethoven was now, as we have seen, free from the burden of
supporting his young brothers, and needed but the means for his journey.

"In November of last year," writes Neefe, in 1793, "Ludwig van
Beethoven, second court organist, and indisputably one of the first of
living pianists, left Bonn for Vienna, to perfect himself in composition
under Haydn. Haydn intended to take him with him upon a second journey
to London, but nothing has come of it."

A few days or weeks, then, before completing his twenty-second year,
Beethoven entered Vienna a second time, to enjoy the example and
instructions of him who was now universally acknowledged the head of
the musical world; to measure his powers upon the piano-forte with the
greatest virtuosos then living; to start upon that career, in which,
by unwearied labor, indomitable perseverance, and never-tiring
effort,--alike under the smiles and the frowns of fortune, in sickness
and in health, and in spite of the saddest calamity which can befall
the true artist, he elevated himself to a position, which, by every
competent judge, is held to be the highest yet attained in perhaps the
grandest department of pure music.

Beethoven came to Vienna in the full vigor of youth just emerging into
manhood. The clouds which had settled over his childhood had all passed
away. All looked bright, joyous, and hopeful. Though, perhaps, wanting
in some of the graces and refinements of polite life, it is clear, from
his intimacy with the Breuning family, his consequent familiarity with
the best society at Bonn, the unchanging kindness of Count Waldstein,
the explicit testimony of Junker, that he was not, could not have been,
the young savage which some of his blind admirers have represented him.
The bare supposition is an insult to his memory. That his sense of
probity and honor was most acute, that he was far above any, the
slightest, meanness of thought or action, of a noble and magnanimous
order of mind, utterly destitute of any feeling of servility which
rendered it possible for him to cringe to the rich and the great, and
that he ever acted from a deep sense of moral obligation,--all this his
whole subsequent history proves. His merit, both as an artist and a man,
met at once full recognition.

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest