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Chapter XIII The Year 1813—Beethoven's Journal—Death of Prince Kinsky—Beethoven's Earnings—Malzel and "Wellington's Victory"—The A major Symphony—The Concerts of December 8 and 12.
SHORT as Bettina's stay in Vienna was, it occurred at the very crisis of Beethoven's unlucky marriage project; and her society served a good purpose in distracting his thoughts; while her known relations to her future husband prevented the growth of any such feeling on his part as some have conjectured did really awaken. Next came the rather absurd affair with Fraulein Malfatti; but this was so little of an earnest nature1 as in turn to be quite forgotten, so soon as the rejected lover came fairly under the influence of the remarkable mental and personal charms of Amalie von Sebald, in whom he found all that his
'Thayer is writing from the point of view touching Beethoven's love-affairs which was justified by all the evidence that had been discovered up to the time of his writing and, in fact, up to the time of his death. He thought that the object of the love-letters, which he insisted in placing in 1806, was "in greatest probability" Countess Brunswick; he knew that Beethoven had proposed marriage to Therese Malfatti, but plainly thought the passion for her neither profound nor lasting; he was inclined to believe that the broken marriage engagement of 1810, was with the Countess Brunswick and that she dropped out of his life with the failure of his marriage project. The discovery of the letter of February, 1811, from Therese to her sister in which his letter to her about the portrait is quoted, shows Thayer to have been in error in this. In his revision of the chapter before us, Dr. Riemann proceeded from an entirely different point of view. In his belief the love-letters were written in 1812, and to Therese Brunswick. In place of the opening passages which the English Editor has thought proper to retain, he substituted the following: "The convincing reasons advanced in the preceding chapter for placing the loveletter of July 6-7 in the year 1812, give an entirely different light to the so-called 'Journal' in the Fischoff manuscript. If that day, in the beginning of July, 1812, which led to a mutual confession of love forms a climax in Beethoven's heart-history, which can scarcely be doubted, the entry in the journal makes it sure that the obstacles to a conjugal union which are intimated have not disappeared, but, on the contrary, have proved to be insuperable. The first entry is dated merely 1812, and in likelihood was written at the end of the year. Whether or not the initial which shows a flourish is really an A is a fair question. Those who see more than superficial playfulness in the relations between Beethoven and Amalie Sebald will of course see her name in the letter." It should be observed here that in the chapter devoted to the year 1812, Dr. Riemann interpolated an extended argument, following the lines of Dr. San-Galli's brochure, to show that the letters were written in 1812 from Teplitz—Dr. San-Galli says to Amalie Sebald, Dr. Riemann to Countess Brunswick.
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warmest wishes could desire. The renewal in the last summer of his acquaintance with her completely cured him of his recent unfortunate passions, but, there is too much reason to believe, at the cost of plunging him into a new one, not the less powerful because utterly hopeless, and so firmly rooted that in 1816 "it was still as on the first day."
The so-called journal (Tagebuch) of the Fischoff MS. begins thus: Submission, absolute submission to your fate, only this can give you the sacrifice ... to the servitude—O, hard struggle! Turn everything which remains to be done to planning the long journey—you must yourself find all that your most blessed wish can offer, you must force it to your will—keep always of the same mind. Thou mayest no longer be a man, not for thyself, only for others, for thee there is no longer happiness except in thyself, in thy art—O God, give me strength to conquer myself, nothing must chain me to life. Thus everything connected with A will go to destruction. The date given is simply 1812; but the month of September in Teplitz suggests itself instantly for the first two paragraphs, and the time when Beethoven was busy with the Eighth Symphony for the other. The next-following in the manuscript is dated:May 13, 1813. To forgo a great act which might have been and remain so—O, what a difference compared with an unstudied life which often rose in my fancy—O fearful conditions which do not suppress my feeling for domesticity, but whose execution O God, God look down upon the unhappy B., do not permit it to last thus much longer— Learn to keep silent, O friend! Speech is like silver, But to hold one's peace at the right moment is pure gold. It is obvious that the hated "servitude" is the instruction of the Archduke in music, and that the new feeling which he has to defy, and if possible conquer, lest everything go to destruction, is the absorbing affection for Amalie Sebald which he had unconsciously suffered to gain tyrannical sway over his mind and heart. The "great act" of the last citation is the "long journey" of the first—of which hereafter.1
Other causes also joined to render his case now truly pitiable. The result of his interference with his brother Johann, vexatious Misfortunes Of Karl Van Beethoven 241 In a letter to Rudolph written in January, Beethoven said bitterly: "neither word, nor honor, nor written agreement, seems binding."—The words relate to non-payments of the Kinsky and Lobkowitz subscriptions to his annuity. Kinsky, on the 2nd or 3rd of the preceding November, while riding at Weldus near Prague, was—by the breaking of his saddlegirth—thrown from his horse with such force as to crush his skull, and survived but ten hours. In settling his affairs, the question arose whether, under the Finanz-Patent, Beethoven was entitled to more than the subscription as computed by the scale: or, more correctly, there being no question under the law, Beethoven raised one, by claiming the full nominal sum (1800 fl.) in notes of redemption. The curators of the estates—as it was their sworn duty to do—refused to admit the claim until it should be established by competent judicial authority; and, pending the decision, withheld all payments. As to Lobkowitz, his profuse expenditures had brought him to a suspension of payments and had deprived him of the control of his vast estates. What has just been said of the Kinsky subscription for Beethoven applies, therefore, literally to his. Hence, nothing of the annuity was paid by the Kinsky curators from November 3rd, 1812, to March 31st, 1815; nor by those of Lobkowitz from September 1st, 1811, until after April 19th, 1815. From the abundant correspondence called out by these differences of opinion, as to whether law or equity should rule in the case, three letters to the widowed Princess Kinsky may be selected as explanatory of Beethoven's views. In the first of these letters, dated at Vienna, December 30th, 1812, Beethoven rehearses the story of the origin of the annuity contract, the disarrangement of the governmental finances, Archduke Rudolph's prompt compliance with the request that payments be made in notes of redemption instead of bank-notes, and thus reaches the visit of Varnhagen von Ense to Prince Kinsky at Prague. He quotes a letter written by Varnhagen as follows: Yesterday I had an exhaustive talk with Prince v. Kinsky. Accompanied by expressions of highest praise for Beethoven, he complied at once with his request and from now on will send him notes of redemption and will pay the arrears and the future sums in this currency. The cashier here will receive the necessary instructions and Beethoven can collect everything here when he passes through, or if he prefers in Vienna as soon as the Prince shall have returned. Prague, July 9, 1812.«
'Here is Dr. Riemann's interpretation: "That the reference is to the obstacles standing in the way of a marriage, can scarcely be controverted. Compare with this what Fanny Giannatasio del Rio says on September 16, 1816, in her journal: Five years before he had got acquainted with a person, union with whom would have been to him the greatest happiness of his life. 'It is still as on the first day, I have not been able to get it out of my mind.' The words 'got acquainted five years ago' apply rather to Amalie Sebald or Bettina von Arnim than to Therese Brunswick; but it should be borne in mind that the young woman is reporting a conversation overheard from some distance between Beethoven and her father."
and mortifying as it was, was of little moment in comparison with the anxiety and distress caused by the condition of his brother Karl. In 1809, Karl had been advanced to the position of Deputy Liquidator with 1000 fl. salary and 160 fl. rent money; but all salaries being then paid in bank-notes, the minor public officials, especially after the Finanz-Patent, were reduced to extreme poverty. Karl van Beethoven was already owner of the house in the Alservorstadt near the Herrnalser Linie, which contained lodgings for some ten or twelve small families, enclosed a courtgarden with fruit trees, etc., and was valued (1816) at 16400 fl.: so long as he remained in the Rauhensteingasse, the whole of this house was rented, and, after deducting interest and taxes, gave him a very desirable addition to his miserable salary. When Beethoven writes, that he had wholly to support "an unfortunate sick brother together with his family," it must be therefore understood cum grano; but that he had for some time been obliged very largely to aid them in obtaining even the necessaries of life is beyond question. Just now, when his own pecuniary prospects were so clouded, his anxieties were increased by Karl's wretched state of health, which partly disabled him for his official duties, and seems to have forced him to pay for occasional assistance. In March, he appeared rapidly to be sinking from consumption, and he became so hopeless of improvement in April as to induce him—in his wellfounded distrust of the virtue and prudence of his unhappy wife—to execute the following
Inasmuch as I am convinced of the frank and upright disposition of my brother Ludwig van Beethoven, I desire that after my death he undertake the guardianship of my son, Karl Beethoven, a minor. I therefore request the honorable court to appoint my brother mentioned to the guardianship after my death and beg my dear brother to accept the office and to aid my son with word and deed in all cases.1 Vienna, April 12, 1813. Happily for all parties concerned, Spring "brought healing on its wings." Karl's health improved; he was advanced to the position of Cashier of the "Universal-Staats-Schulden Kasse," with 40 fl. increase of rent money; and now, at last, the decree was issued for the payment of all salaries (of public officials) in silver. Twelve hundred florins in silver, used with reasonable economy, was amply sufficient to relieve Ludwig of this part of his troubles.
'This document is signed and sealed by Karl v. Beethoven, R. I. Cashier, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Baron Johann von Pasqualati, Peter von Leben and Fr. Oliva as witnesses.
'This date is obviously an error of the copyists. The letter was written to Oliva who, on January 27,1813, recalling it to Varnhagen's mind, copies it as "your letter of June 9, of last year." Moreover, Beethoven was in Prague several days before July 9, 181S.
Appeals To Prince Kinsky's Heirs 243
Continuing, Beethoven tells the Princess of his visit to Kinsky, who confirmed the statements in the letter and paid 60 ducats on account—as the equivalent of 600 florins, Vienna Standard. It was agreed that the arrears should be paid when the Prince should come to Vienna and instructions be given to his agents. Beethoven's illness kept him at Teplitz longer than he had expected. Nevertheless, through Oliva he reminded the Prince, then in Vienna, in December of his promises, who again confirmed them and added that he would arrange matters at his exchequer in a few days. After the departure of the Prince with his family he had made inquiries and learned to his astonishment that nothing had been done in the matter. In conclusion he expressed the conviction that the heirs of the noble Prince would act in the spirit of magnanimity which had inspired him and pay the arrears and give directions for the future payments in notes of redemption. In the second letter he repeats the request, having learned first from the Prince's representatives that nothing could be done in the matter until a guardian had been appointed, which office had been assumed by Her Highness. "You will easily see," he continues, how painful it is to be deprived so long of money which had been counted on, the more since I am obliged wholly to support an unfortunate sick brother and his family and have inconsiderately exhausted my resources, hoping by the collection of my salary to care for my own livelihood. The complete righteousness of my claims you may see in the fact that I faithfully reported the receipt of the 60 ducats which the Prince of blessed memory paid me on account in Prague, although the princely council told me that I might have concealed the fact, as the Prince had not told him, the councillor, or his cashier anything about it. The third letter, dated February 12, 1813, again urges the duty of the heirs to carry out the intentions of the Prince and formulates his petition as follows: Namely, I pray Your Serene Highness graciously to command that the salary in arrears from September 1, 1811, be computed in Vienna currency according to the scale of the day of contract, at 1088.42 florins, and paid, and to leave the question whether and to what extent this salary be payable to me in Vienna currency open until the affairs of the estate be brought in order and it becomes necessary to lay the subject before the authorities so that my just demands be realized by their approval and determination. The payment of the 60 ducats on account of the salary which by the Prince's consent was to be paid in notes of redemption is again advanced as evidence of the Prince's intentions, as is also the plea on the score of his necessities. The first and third letters