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Life of Chopin
by Franz Liszt
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On one single subject he relinquished his premeditated silence, his cherished neutrality. In the cause of art he broke through his reserve, he never abdicated upon this topic the explicit enunciation of his opinions. He applied himself with great perseverance to extend the limits of his influence upon this subject. It was a tacit confession that he considered himself legitimately possessed of the authority of a great artist. In questions which he dignified by his competence, he never left any doubt with regard to the nature of his opinions. During several years his appeals were full of impassioned ardor, but later, the triumph of his opinions having diminished the interest of his role, he sought no further occasion to place himself as leader, as the bearer of any banner. In the only occurrence in which he took part in the conflict of parties, he gave proof of opinions, absolute, tenacious, and inflexible, as those which rarely come to the light usually are.

Shortly after his arrival in Paris, in 1832, a new school was formed both in literature and music, and youthful talent appeared, which shook off with eclat the yoke of ancient formulas. The scarcely lulled political effervescence of the first years of the revolution of July, passed into questions upon art and letters, which attracted the attention and interest of all minds. ROMANTICISM was the order of the day; they fought with obstinacy for and against it. What truce could there be between those who would not admit the possibility of writing in any other than the already established manner, and those who thought that the artist should be allowed to choose such forms as he deemed best suited for the expression of his ideas; that the rule of form should be found in the agreement of the chosen form with the sentiments to be expressed, every different shade of feeling requiring of course a different mode of expression? The former believed in the existence of a permanent form, whose perfection represented absolute Beauty. But in admitting that the great masters had attained the highest limits in art, had reached supreme perfection, they left to the artists who succeeded them no other glory than the hope of approaching these models, more or less closely, by imitation, thus frustrating all hope of ever equalling them, because the perfecting of any process can never rival the merit of its invention. The latter denied that the immaterial Beautiful could have a fixed and absolute form. The different forms which had appeared in the history of art, seemed to them like tents spread in the interminable route of the ideal; mere momentary halting places which genius attains from epoch to epoch, and beyond which the inheritors of the past should strive to advance. The former wished to restrict the creations of times and natures the most dissimilar, within the limits of the same symmetrical frame; the latter claimed for all writers the liberty of creating their own mode, accepting no other rules than those which result from the direct relation of sentiment and form, exacting only that the form should be adequate to the expression of the sentiment. However admirable the existing models might be, they did not appear to them to have exhausted all the range of sentiments upon which art might seize, or all the forms which it might advantageously use. Not contented with the mere excellence of form, they sought it so far only as its perfection is indispensable for the complete revelation of the idea, for they were not ignorant that the sentiment is maimed if the form remain imperfect, any imperfection in it, like an opaque veil, intercepting the raying of the pure idea. Thus they elevated what had otherwise been the mere work of the trade, into the sphere of poetic inspiration. They enjoined upon genius and patience the task of inventing a form which would satisfy the exactions of the inspiration. They reproached their adversaries with attempting to reduce inspiration to the bed of Procrustes, because they refused to admit that there are sentiments which cannot be expressed in forms which have been determined upon beforehand, and of thus robbing art, in advance even of their creation, of all works which might attempt the introduction of newly awakened ideas, newly clad in new forms; forms and ideas both naturally arising from the naturally progressive development of the human spirit, the improvement of the instruments, and the consequent increase of the material resources of art.

Those who saw the flames of Genius devour the old worm-eaten crumbling skeletons, attached themselves to the musical school of which the most gifted, the most brilliant, the most daring representative, was Berlioz. Chopin joined this school. He persisted most strenuously in freeing himself from the servile formulas of conventional style, while he earnestly repudiated the charlatanism which sought to replace the old abuses only by the introduction of new ones.

During the years which this campaign of Romanticism lasted, in which some of the trial blows were master-strokes, Chopin remained invariable in his predilections, as well as in his repulsions. He did not admit the least compromise with those who, in his opinion, did not sufficiently represent progress, and who, in their refusal to relinquish the desire of displaying art for the profit of the trade, in their pursuit of transitory effects, of success won only from the astonishment of the audience, gave no proof of sincere devotion to progress. He broke the ties which he had contracted with respect when he felt restricted by them, or bound too closely to the shore by cordage which he knew to be decayed. He obstinately refused, on the other hand, to form ties with the young artists whose success, which he deemed exaggerated, elevated a certain kind of merit too highly. He never gave the least praise to any thing which he did not believe to be a real conquest for art, or which did not evince a serious conception of the task of an artist. He did not wish to be lauded by any party, to be aided by the manoeuvres of any faction, or by the concessions made by any schools in the persons of their chiefs. In the midst of jealousies, encroachments, forfeitures, and invasions of the different branches of art, negotiations, treaties, and contracts have been introduced, like the means and appliances of diplomacy, with all the artifices inseparable from such a course. In refusing the support of any accessory aid for his productions, he proved that he confidently believed that their own beauty would ensure their appreciation, and that he did not struggle to facilitate their immediate reception.

He supported our struggles, at that time so full of uncertainty, when we met more sages shaking their heads, than glorious adversaries, with his calm and unalterable conviction. He aided us with opinions so fixed that neither weariness nor artifice could shake them, with a rare immutability of will, and that efficacious assistance which the creation of meritorious works always brings to a struggling cause, when it can claim them as its own. He mingled so many charms, so much moderation, so much knowledge with his daring innovations, that the prompt admiration he inspired fully justified the confidence he placed in his own genius. The solid studies which he had made, the reflective habits of his youth, the worship for classic models in which he had been educated, preserved him from losing his strength in blind gropings, in doubtful triumphs, as has happened to more than one partisan of the new ideas. His studious patience in the elaboration of his works sheltered him from the critics, who envenomed the dissensions by seizing upon those easy and insignificant victories due to omissions, and the negligence of inadvertence. Early trained to the exactions and restrictions of rules, having produced compositions filled with beauty when subjected to all their fetters, he never shook them off without an appropriate cause and after due reflection. In virtue of his principles he always progressed, but without being led into exaggeration or lured by compromise; he willingly relinquished theoretic formulas to pursue their results. Less occupied with the disputes of the schools and their terms, than in producing himself the best argument, a finished work, he was fortunate enough to avoid personal enmities and vexatious accommodations.

Chopin had that reverential worship for art which characterized the first masters of the middle ages, but in expression and bearing he was more simple, modern, and less ecstatic. As for them, so art was for him, a high and holy vocation. Like them he was proud of his election for it, and honored it with devout piety. This feeling was revealed at the hour of his death through an occurrence, the significance of which is more fully explained by a knowledge of the manners prevalent in Poland. By a custom which still exists, although it is now falling into disuse, the Poles often chose the garments in which they wished to be buried, and which were frequently prepared a long time in advance. [Footnote: General K——, the author of Julie and Adolphe, a romance imitated from the New Heloise which was much in vogue at the time of its publication, and who was still living in Volhynia at the date of our visit to Poland, though more than eighty years of age, in conformity with the custom spoken of above, had caused his coffin to be made, and for more than thirty years it had always stood at the door of his chamber.] Their dearest wishes were thus expressed for the last time, their inmost feelings were thus at the hour of death betrayed. Monastic robes were frequently chosen by worldly men, the costumes of official charges were selected or refused as the remembrances connected with them were glorious or painful. Chopin, who, although among the first of contemporary artists, had given the fewest concerts, wished, notwithstanding, to be borne to the grave in the clothes which he had worn on such occasions. A natural and profound feeling springing from the inexhaustible sources of art, without doubt dictated this dying request, when having scrupulously fulfilled the last duties of a Christian, he left all of earth which he could not bear with him to the skies. He had linked his love for art and his faith in it with immortality long before the approach of death, and as he robed himself for his long sleep in the grave, he gave, as was customary with him, by a mute symbol, the last touching proof of the conviction he had preserved intact during the whole course of his life. Faithful to himself, he died adoring art in its mystic greatness, its highest revelations.

In retiring from the turmoil of society, Chopin concentrated his cares and affections upon the circle of his own family and his early acquaintances. Without any interruption he preserved close relations with them; never ceasing to keep them up with the greatest care. His sister Louise was especially dear to him, a resemblance in the character of their minds, the bent of their feelings, bound them closely to each other. Louise frequently came from Warsaw to Paris to see him. She spent the last three months of his life with the brother she loved, watching over him with undying affection. Chopin kept up a regular correspondence with the members of his own family, but only with them. It was one of his peculiarities to write letters to no others; it might almost have been thought that he had made a vow to write to no strangers. It was curious enough to see him resort to all kinds of expedients to escape the necessity of tracing the most insignificant note. Many times he has traversed Paris from one end to the other, to decline an invitation to dinner, or to give some trivial information, rather than write a few lines which would have spared him all this trouble and loss of time. His handwriting was quite unknown to the greatest number of his friends. It is said he sometimes departed from this custom in favor of his beautiful countrywomen, some of whom possess several of his notes written in Polish. This infraction of what seemed to be a law with him, may be attributed to the pleasure he took in the use of this language. He always used it with the people of his own country, and loved to translate its most expressive phrases. He was a good French scholar, as the Sclaves generally are. In consequence of his French origin, the language had been taught him with peculiar care. But he did not like it, he did not think it sufficiently sonorous, and he deemed its genius cold. This opinion is very prevalent among the Poles, who, although speaking it with great facility, often better than their native tongue, and frequently using it in their intercourse with each other, yet complain to those who do not speak Polish of the impossibility of rendering the thousand ethereal and shifting modes of thought in any other idiom. In their opinion it is sometimes dignity, sometimes grace, sometimes passion, which is wanting in the French language. If they are asked the meaning of a word or a phrase which they may have cited in Polish, the reply invariably is: "Oh, that cannot be translated!" Then follow explanations, serving as comments to the exclamation, of all the subtleties, all the shades of meaning, all the delicacies contained in THE NOT TO BE TRANSLATED words. We have cited some examples which, joined to others, induce us to believe that this language has the advantage of making images of abstract nouns, and that in the course of its development, through the poetic genius of the nation, it has been enabled to establish striking and just relations between ideas by etymologies, derivations, and synonymes. Colored reflections of light and shade are thus thrown upon all expressions, so that they necessarily call into vibration through the mind the correspondent tone of a third, which modulates the thought into a major or minor mode. The richness of the language always permits the choice of the mode, but this very richness may become a difficulty. It is not impossible that the general use of foreign tongues in Poland may be attributed to indolence of mind or want of application; may be traced to a desire to escape the necessary labor of acquiring that mastery of diction indispensable in a language so full of sudden depths, of laconic energy, that it is very difficult, if not quite impossible, to support in it the commonplace. The vague agreements of badly defined ideas cannot be compressed in the nervous strength of its grammatical forms; the thought, if it be really low, cannot be elevated from its debasement or poverty; if it really soar above the commonplace, it requires a rare precision of terms not to appear uncouth or fantastic. In consequence of this, in proportion to the works published, the Polish literature should be able to show a greater number of chefs-d'oeuvre than can be done in any other language. He who ventures to use this tongue, must feel himself already master.

[Footnote: It cannot be reproached with a want of harmony or musical charm. The harshness of a language does not always and absolutely depend upon the number of consonants, but rather upon the manner of their association. We might even assert, that in consequence of the absence of well-determined and strongly marked sounds, some languages have a dull and cold coloring. It is the frequent repetition of certain consonants which gives shadow, rhythm, and vigor to a tongue; the vowels imparting only a kind of light clear hue, which requires to be brought out by deeper shades. It is the sharp, uncouth, or unharmonious clashing of heterogeneous consonants which strikes the ear painfully. It is true the Sclavic languages make use of many consonants, but their connection is generally sonorous, sometimes pleasant to the ear, and scarcely ever entirely discordant, even when the combinations are more striking than agreeable. The quality of the sounds is rich, full, and varied. They are not straitened and contracted as if produced in a narrow medium, but extending through a considerable register, range through a variety of intonations. The letter L, almost impossible for those to pronounce, who have not acquired the pronunciation in their infancy, has nothing harsh in its sound. The ear receives from it an impression similar to that which is made upon the fingers by the touch of a thick woolen velvet, rough, but at the same time, yielding. The union of jarring consonants being rare, and the assonances easily multiplied, the same comparison might be employed to the ensemble of the effect produced by these idioms upon foreigners. Many words occur in Polish which imitate the sound of the thing designated by them. The frequent repetition of CH, (h aspirated,) of SZ, (CH in French,) of RZ, of CZ, so frightful to a profane eye, have however nothing barbaric in their sounds, being pronounced nearly like GEAI, and TCHE, and greatly facilitate imitations of the sense by the sound. The word DZWIEK, (read DZWIINQUE,) meaning sound, offers a characteristic example of this; it would be difficult to find a word which would reproduce more accurately the sensation which a diapason makes upon the ear. Among the consonants accumulated in groups, producing very different sounds, sometimes metallic, sometimes buzzing, hissing or rumbling, many diphthongs and vowels are mingled, which sometimes become slightly nasal, the A and E being sounded as ON and IN, (in French,) when they are accompanied by a cedilla. In juxtaposition with the E, (TSE,) which is pronounced with great softness, sometimes C, (TSIE,) the accented S is almost warbled. The Z has three sounds: the Z, (JAIS,) the Z, (ZED,) and the Z, (ZIED). The Y forms a vowel of a muffled tone, which, as the L, cannot be represented by any equivalent sound in French, and which like it gives a variety of ineffable shades to the language. These fine and light elements enable the Polish women to assume a lingering and singing accent, which they usually transport into other tongues. When the subjects are serious or melancholy, after such recitatives or improvised lamentations, they have a sort of lisping infantile manner of speaking, which they vary by light silvery laughs, little interjectional cries, short musical pauses upon the higher notes, from which they descend by one knows not what chromatic scale of demi and quarter tones to rest upon some low note; and again pursue the varied, brusque and original modulations which astonish the ear not accustomed to such lovely warblings, to which they sometimes give that air of caressing irony, of cunning mockery, peculiar to the song of some birds. They love to ZINZILYLER, and charming changes, piquant intervals, unexpected cadences naturally find place in this fondling prattle, making the language far more sweet and caressing when spoken by the women, than it is in the mouths of the men. The men indeed pride themselves upon speaking it with elegance, impressing upon it a masculine sonorousness, which is peculiarly adapted to the energetic movements of manly eloquence, formerly so much cultivated in Poland. Poetry commands such a diversity of prosodies, of rhymes, of rhythms, such an abundance of assonances from these rich and varied materials, that it is almost possible to follow MUSICALLY the feelings and scenes which it depicts, not only in mere expressions in which the sound repeats the sense, but also in long declamations. The analogy between the Polish and Russian, has been compared to that which obtains between the Latin and Italian. The Russian language is indeed more mellifluous, more lingering, more caressing, fuller of sighs than the Polish. Its cadencing is peculiarly fitted for song. The finer poems, such as those of Zukowski and Pouchkin, seem to contain a melody already designated in the metre of the verses; for example, it would appear quite possible to detach an ARIOSO or a sweet CANTIABLE from some of the stanzas of LE CHALE NOIR, or the TALISMAN. The ancient Sclavonic, which is the language of the Eastern Church, possesses great majesty. More guttural than the idioms which have arisen from it, it is severe and monotonous yet of great dignity, like the Byzantine paintings preserved in the worship to which it is consecrated. It has throughout the characteristics of a sacred language which has only been used for the expression of one feeling and has never been modulated or fashioned by profane wants.]

Chopin mingled a charming grace with all the intercourse which he held with his relatives. Not satisfied with limiting his whole correspondence to them alone, he profited by his stay in Paris to procure for them the thousand agreeable surprises given by the novelties, the bagatelles, the little gifts which charm through their beauty, or attract as being the first seen of their kind. He sought for all that he had reason to believe would please his friends in Warsaw, adding constant presents to his many letters. It was his wish that his gifts should be preserved, that through the memories linked with them he might be often remembered by those to whom they were sent. He attached the greatest importance, on his side, to all the evidences of their affection for him. To receive news or some mark of their remembrance, was always a festival for him. He never shared this pleasure with any one, but it was plainly visible in his conduct. He took the greatest care of every thing that came from his distant friends, the least of their gifts was precious to him, he never allowed others to make use of them, indeed he was visibly uneasy if they touched them.

Material elegance was as natural to him as mental; this was evinced in the objects with which he surrounded himself, as well as in the aristocratic grace of his manners. He was passionately fond of flowers. Without aiming at the brilliant luxury with which, at that epoch, some of the celebrities in Paris decorated their apartments, he knew how to keep upon this point, as well as in his style of dress, the instinctive line of perfect propriety.

Not wishing the course of his life, his thoughts, his time, to be associated or shackled in any way by the pursuits of others, he preferred the society of ladies, as less apt to force him into subsequent relations. He willingly spent whole evenings in playing blind man's buff with the young people, telling them little stories to make them break into the silvery laughs of youth, sweeter than the song of the nightingale. He was fond of a life in the country, or the life of the chateau. He was ingenious in varying its amusements, in multiplying its enjoyments. He also loved to compose there. Many of his best works written in such moments, perhaps embalm and hallow the memories of his happiest days.



CHAPTER VI.

Birth and Early Life of Chopin—National Artists—Chopin embodies in himself the poetic sense of his whole nation—Opinion of Beethoven.



CHOPIN was born in 1810, at Zelazowa-Wola, near Warsaw. Unlike most other children, he could not, during his childhood, remember his own age, and the date of his birth was only fixed in his memory by a watch given him in 1820 by Madame Catalani, which bore the following inscription: "Madame Catalani to Frederic Chopin, aged ten years." Perhaps the presentiments of the artist gave to the child a foresight of his future! Nothing extraordinary marked the course of his boyhood; his internal development traversed but few phases, and gave but few manifestations. As he was fragile and sickly, the attention of his family was concentrated upon his health. Doubtless it was from this cause that he acquired his habits of affability, his patience under suffering, his endurance of every annoyance with a good grace; qualities which he early acquired from his wish to calm the constant anxiety that was felt with regard to him. No precocity of his faculties, no precursory sign of remarkable development, revealed, in his early years, his future superiority of soul, mind, or capacity. The little creature was seen suffering indeed, but always trying to smile, patient and apparently happy and his friends were so glad that he did not become moody or morose, that they were satisfied to cherish his good qualities, believing that he opened his heart to them without reserve, and gave to them all his secret thoughts.

But there are souls among us who resemble rich travelers thrown among simple herdsmen, loading them with gifts during their sojourn among them, truly not at all in proportion to their own wealth, yet which are quite sufficient to astonish the poor hosts, and to spread riches and happiness in the midst of such simple habits. It is true that such souls give as much affection, it may be more, than those who surround them; every body is pleased with them, they are supposed to have been generous, when the truth is that in comparison with their boundless wealth they have not been liberal, and have given but little of their store of internal treasure.

The habits in which Chopin grew up, in which he was rocked as in a form-strengthening cradle, were those peculiar to calm, occupied, and tranquil characters. These early examples of simplicity, piety, and integrity, always remained the nearest and dearest to him. Domestic virtues, religious habits, pious charities, and rigid modesty, surrounded him from his infancy with that pure atmosphere in which his rich imagination assumed the velvety tenderness characterizing the plants which have never been exposed to the dust of the beaten highways.

He commenced the study of music at an early age, being but nine years old when he began to learn it. Shortly after he was confided to a passionate disciple of Sebastian Bach, Ziwna, who directed his studies during many years in accordance with the most classic models. It is not to be supposed that when he embraced the career of a musician, any prestige of vain glory, any fantastic perspective, dazzled his eyes, or excited the hopes of his family. In order to become a skillful and able master, he studied seriously and conscientiously, without dreaming of the greater or less amount of fame he would be able to obtain as the fruit of his lessons and assiduous labors.

In consequence of the generous and discriminating protection always granted by Prince Antoine Radziwill to the arts, and to genius, which he had the power of recognizing both as a man of intellect and as a distinguished artist; Chopin was early placed in one of the first colleges in Warsaw. Prince Radziwill did not cultivate music only as a simple dilettante, he was also a remarkable composer. His beautiful rendering of Faust, published some years ago, and executed at fixed epochs by the Academy of Song at Berlin, appears to us far superior to any other attempts which have been made to transport it into the realm of music, by its close internal appropriateness to the peculiar genius of the poem. Assisting the limited means of the family of Chopin, the Prince made him the inestimable gift of a finished education, of which no part had been neglected. Through the person of a friend, M. Antoine Korzuchowski, whose own elevated mind enabled him to understand the requirements of an artistic career, the Prince always paid his pension from his first entrance into college, until the completion of his studies. From this time until the death of Chopin, M. Antoine Korzuchowski always held the closest relations of friendship with him.

In speaking of this period of his life, it gives us pleasure to quote the charming lines which may be applied to him more justly, than other pages in which his character is believed to have been traced, but in which we only find it distorted, and in such false proportions as are given in a profile drawn upon an elastic tissue, which has been pulled athwart, biased by contrary movements during the whole progress of the sketch. [Footnote: These extracts, with many that succeed them, in which the character of Chopin is described, are taken from Lucrezia Floriani, a novel by Madame Sand, in which the leading characters are said to be intended to represent Liszt, Chopin, and herself.—Note of the Translator.]



"Gentle, sensitive, and very lovely, at fifteen years of age he united the charms of adolescence with the gravity of a more mature age. He was delicate both in body and in mind. Through the want of muscular development he retained a peculiar beauty, an exceptional physiognomy, which had, if we may venture so to speak, neither age nor sex. It was not the bold and masculine air of a descendant of a race of Magnates, who knew nothing but drinking, hunting and making war; neither was it the effeminate loveliness of a cherub couleur de rose. It was more like the ideal creations with which the poetry of the middle ages adorned the Christian temples: a beautiful angel, with a form pure and slight as a young god of Olympus, with a face like that of a majestic woman filled with a divine sorrow, and as the crown of all, an expression at the same time tender and severe, chaste and impassioned.

"This expression revealed the depths of his being. Nothing could be purer, more exalted than his thoughts; nothing more tenacious, more exclusive, more intensely devoted, than his affections.... But he could only understand that which closely resembled himself.... Every thing else only existed for him as a kind of annoying dream, which he tried to shake off while living with the rest of the world. Always plunged in reveries, realities displeased him. As a child he could never touch a sharp instrument without injuring himself with it; as a man, he never found himself face to face with a being different from himself without being wounded by the living contradiction...

"He was preserved from constant antagonism by a voluntary and almost inveterate habit of never seeing or hearing any thing which was disagreeable to him, unless it touched upon his personal affections. The beings who did not think as he did, were only phantoms in his eyes. As his manners were polished and graceful, it was easy to mistake his cold disdain on insurmountable aversion for benevolent courtesy...

"He never spent an hour in open-hearted expansiveness, without compensating for it by a season of reserve. The moral causes which induced such reserve were too slight, too subtle, to be discovered by the naked eye. It was necessary to use the microscope to read his soul, into which so little of the light of the living ever penetrated....

"With such a character, it seems strange he should have had friends: yet he had them, not only the friends of his mother who esteemed him as the noble son of a noble mother, but friends of his own age, who loved him ardently, and who were loved by him in return.... He had formed a high ideal of friendship; in the age of early illusions he loved to think that his friends and himself, brought up nearly in the same manner, with the same principles, would never change their opinions, and that no formal disagreement could ever occur between them....

"He was externally so affectionate, his education had been so finished, and he possessed so much natural grace, that he had the gift of pleasing even where he was not personally known. His exceeding loveliness was immediately prepossessing, the delicacy of his constitution rendered him interesting in the eyes of women, the full yet graceful cultivation of his mind, the sweet and captivating originality of his conversation, gained for him the attention of the most enlightened men. Men less highly cultivated, liked him for his exquisite courtesy of manner. They were so much the more pleased with this, because, in their simplicity, they never imagined it was the graceful fulfillment of a duty into which no real sympathy entered.

"Could such people have divined the secrets of his mystic character, they would have said he was more amiable than loving—and with respect to them, this would have been true. But how could they have known that his real, though rare attachments, were so vivid, so profound, so undying?...

"Association with him in the details of life was delightful. He filled all the forms of friendship with an unaccustomed charm, and when he expressed his gratitude, it was with that deep emotion which recompenses kindness with usury. He willingly imagined that he felt himself every day dying; he accepted the cares of a friend, hiding from him, lest it should render him unhappy, the little time he expected to profit by them. He possessed great physical courage, and if he did not accept with the heroic recklessness of youth the idea of approaching death, at least he cherished the expectation of it with a kind of bitter pleasure."...

The attachment which he felt for a young lady, who never ceased to feel a reverential homage for him, may be traced back to his early youth. The tempest which in one of its sudden gusts tore Chopin from his native soil, like a bird dreamy and abstracted surprised by the storm upon the branches of a foreign tree, sundered the ties of this first love, and robbed the exile of a faithful and devoted wife, as well as disinherited him of a country. He never found the realization of that happiness of which he had once dreamed with her, though he won the glory of which perhaps he had never thought. Like the Madonnas of Luini whose looks are so full of earnest tenderness, this young girl was sweet and beautiful. She lived on calm, but sad. No doubt the sadness increased in that pure soul when she knew that no devotion tender as her own, ever came to sweeten the existence of one whom she had adored with that ingenuous submission, that exclusive devotion, that entire self-forgetfulness, naive and sublime, which transform the woman into the angel.

Those who are gifted by nature with the beautiful, yet fatal energies of genius, and who are consequently forbidden to sacrifice the care of their glory to the exactions of their love, are probably right in fixing limits to the abnegation of their own personality. But the divine emotions due to absolute devotion, may be regretted even in the presence of the most sparkling endowments of genius. The utter submission, the disinterestedness of love, in absorbing the existence, the will, the very name of the woman in that of the man she loves, can alone authorize him in believing that he has really shared his life with her, and that his honorable love for her has given her that which no chance lover, accidentally met, could have rendered her: peace of heart and the honor of his name.

This young Polish lady, unfortunately separated from Chopin, remained faithful to his memory, to all that was left of him. She devoted herself to his parents. The father of Chopin would never suffer the portrait which she had drawn of him in the days of hope, to be replaced by another, though from the hands of a far more skilful artist. We saw the pale cheeks of this melancholy woman, glow like alabaster when a light shines through its snow, many years afterwards, when in gazing upon this picture, she met the eyes of his father.

The amiable character of Chopin won for him while at college the love of his fellow collegiates, particularly that of Prince Czetwertynski and his brothers. He often spent the vacations and days of festival with them at the house of their mother, the Princess Louise Czetwertynska, who cultivated music with a true feeling for its beauties, and who soon discovered the poet in the musician. Perhaps she was the first who made Chopin feel the charm of being understood, as well as heard. The Princess was still beautiful, and possessed a sympathetic soul united to many high qualities. Her saloon was one of the most brilliant and RECHERCHE in Warsaw. Chopin often met there the most distinguished women of the city. He became acquainted there with those fascinating beauties who had acquired a European celebrity, when Warsaw was so famed for the brilliancy, elegance, and grace of its society. He was introduced by the Princess Czetwertynska to the Princess of Lowicz; by her he was presented to the Countess Zamoyska; to the Princess Radziwill; to the Princess Jablonowska; enchantresses, surrounded by many beauties little less illustrious.

While still very young, he has often cadenced their steps to the chords of his piano. In these meetings, which might almost be called assemblies of fairies, he may often have discovered, unveiled in the excitement of the dance, the secrets of enthusiastic and tender souls. He could easily read the hearts which were attracted to him by friendship and the grace of his youth, and thus was enabled early to learn of what a strange mixture of leaven and cream of roses, of gunpowder and tears of angels, the poetic Ideal of his nation is formed. When his wandering fingers ran over the keys, suddenly touching some moving chords, he could see how the furtive tears coursed down the cheeks of the loving girl, or the young neglected wife; how they moistened the eyes of the young men, enamored of, and eager for glory. Can we not fancy some young beauty asking him to play a simple prelude, then softened by the tones, leaning her rounded arm upon the instrument to support her dreaming head, while she suffered the young artist to divine in the dewy glitter of the lustrous eyes, the song sung by her youthful heart? Did not groups, like sportive nymphs, throng around him, and begging him for some waltz of giddying rapidity, smile upon him with such wildering joyousness, as to put him immediately in unison with the gay spirit of the dance? He saw there the chaste grace of his brilliant countrywomen displayed in the Mazourka, and the memories of their witching fascination, their winning reserve, were never effaced from his soul.

In an apparently careless manner, but with that involuntary and subdued emotion which accompanies the remembrance of our early delights, he would sometimes remark that he first understood the whole meaning of the feeling which is contained in the melodies and rhythms of national dances, upon the days in which he saw these exquisite fairies at some magic fete, adorned with that brilliant coquetry which sparkles like electric fire, and flashing from heart to heart, heightens love, blinds it, or robs it of all hope. And when the muslins of India, which the Greeks would have said were woven of air, were replaced by the heavier folds of Venetian velvet, and the perfumed roses and sculptured petals of the hot-house camellias gave way to the gorgeous bouquets of the jewel caskets; it often seemed to him that however good the orchestra might be, the dancers glided less rapidly over the floor, that their laugh was less sonorous, their eye less luminous, than upon those evenings in which the dance had been suddenly improvised, because he had succeeded in electrifying his audience through the magic of his performance. If he electrified them, it was because he repeated, truly in hieroglyphic tones, but yet easily understood by the initiated, the secret whispers which his delicate ear had caught from the reserved yet impassioned hearts, which indeed resemble the Fraxinella, that plant so full of burning and vivid life, that its flowers are always surrounded by a gas as subtle as inflammable. He had seen celestial visions glitter, and illusory phantoms fade in this sublimated air; he had divined the meaning of the swarms of passions which are forever buzzing in it; he knew how these hurtling emotions fluttered through the reckless human soul; how, notwithstanding their ceaseless agitation and excitement, they could intermingle, interweave, intercept each other, without once disturbing the exquisite proportions of external grace, the imposing and classic charm of manner. It was thus that he learned to prize so highly the noble and measured manners which preserve delicacy from insipidity; petty cares from wearisome trifling; conventionalism from tyranny; good taste from coldness; and which never permit the passions to resemble, as is often the case where such careful culture does not rule, those stony and calcareous vegetables whose hard and brittle growth takes a name of such sad contrast: flowers of iron (FLOS FERRI).

His early introduction into this society, in which regularity of form did not conceal petrifaction of heart, induced Chopin to think that the CONVENANCES and courtesies of manner, in place of being only a uniform mask, repressing the character of each individual under the symmetry of the same lines, rather serve to contain the passions without stifling them, coloring only that bald crudity of tone which is so injurious to their beauty, elevating that materialism which debases them, robbing them of that license which vulgarizes them, lowering that vehemence which vitiates them, pruning that exuberance which exhausts them, teaching the "lovers of the ideal" to unite the virtues which have sprung from a knowledge of evil, with those "which cause its very existence to be forgotten in speaking to those they love." As these visions of his youth deepened in the long perspective of memories, they gained in grace, in charm, in delight, in his eyes, fascinating him to such an extent that no reality could destroy their secret power over his imagination, rendering his repugnance more and more unconquerable to that license of allurement, that brutal tyranny of caprice, that eagerness to drink the cup of fantasy to the very dregs, that stormy pursuit of all the changes and incongruities of life, which rule in the strange mode of life known as LA BOHEME.

More than once in the history of art and literature, a poet has arisen, embodying in himself the poetic sense of a whole nation, an entire epoch, representing the types which his contemporaries pursue and strive to realize, in an absolute manner in his works: such a poet was Chopin for his country and for the epoch in which he was born. The poetic sentiments the most widely spread, yet the most intimate and inherent of his nation, were embodied and united in his imagination, and represented by his brilliant genius. Poland has given birth to many bards, some of whom rank among the first poets of the world.

Its writers are now making strenuous efforts to display in the strongest light, the most glorious and interesting facts of its history, the most peculiar and picturesque phases of its manners and customs. Chopin, differing from them in having formed no premeditated design, surpasses them all in originality. He did not determine upon, he did not seek such a result; he created no ideal a priori. Without having predetermined to transport himself into the past, he constantly remembered the glories of his country, he understood and sung the loves and tears of his contemporaries without having analyzed them in advance. He did not task himself, nor study to be a national musician. Like all truly national poets he sang spontaneously without premeditated design or preconceived choice all that inspiration dictated to him, as we hear it gushing forth in his songs without labor, almost without effort. He repeated in the most idealized form the emotions which had animated and embellished his youth; under the magic delicacy of his pen he displayed the Ideal, which is, if we may be permitted so to speak, the Real among his people; an Ideal really in existence among them, which every one in general and each one in particular approaches by the one or the other of its many sides. Without assuming to do so, he collected in luminous sheaves the impressions felt everywhere throughout his country—vaguely felt it is true, yet in fragments pervading all hearts. Is it not by this power of reproducing in a poetic formula, enchanting to the imagination of all nations, the indefinite shades of feeling widely scattered but frequently met among their compatriots, that the artists truly national are distinguished?

Not without reason has the task been undertaken of collecting the melodies indigenous to every country. It appears to us it would be of still deeper interest, to trace the influences forming the characteristic powers of the authors most deeply inspired by the genius of the nation to which they belong. Until the present epoch there have been very few distinctive compositions, which stand out from the two great divisions of the German and Italian schools of music. But with the immense development which this art seems destined to attain, perhaps renewing for us the glorious era of the Painters of the CINQUE CENTO, it is highly probable that composers will appear whose works will be marked by an originality drawn from differences of organization, of races, and of climates. It is to be presumed that we will be able to recognize the influences of the country in which they were born upon the great masters in music, as well as in the other arts; that we will be able to distinguish the peculiar and predominant traits of the national genius more completely developed, more poetically true, more interesting to study, in the pages of their compositions than in the crude, incorrect, uncertain, vague and tremulous sketches of the uncultured people.

Chopin must be ranked among the first musicians thus individualizing in themselves the poetic sense of an entire nation, not because he adopted the rhythm of POLONAISES, MAZOURKAS, and CRACOVIENNES, and called many of his works by such names, for in so doing he would have limited himself to the multiplication of such works alone, and would always have given us the same mode, the remembrance of the same thing; a reproduction which would soon have grown wearisome, serving but to multiply compositions of similar form, which must have soon grown more or less monotonous. It is because he filled these forms with the feelings peculiar to his country, because the expression of the national heart may be found under all the modes in which he has written, that he is entitled to be considered a poet essentially Polish. His PRELUDES, his NOCTURNES, his SCHERZOS, his CONCERTOS, his shortest as well as his longest compositions, are all filled with the national sensibility, expressed indeed in different degrees, modified and varied in a thousand ways, but always bearing the same character. An eminently subjective author, Chopin has given the same life to all his productions, animated all his works with his own spirit. All his writings are thus linked by a marked unity. Their beauties as well as their defects may be traced to the same order of emotions, to peculiar modes of feeling. The reproduction of the feelings of his people, idealized and elevated through his own subjective genius, is an essential requisite for the national poet who desires that the heart of his country should vibrate in unison with his own strains.

By the analogies of words and images, we should like to render it possible for our readers to comprehend the exquisite yet irritable sensibility peculiar to ardent yet susceptible hearts, to haughty yet deeply wounded souls. We cannot flatter ourselves that in the cold realm of words we have been able to give any idea of such ethereal odorous flames. In comparison with the vivid and delicious excitement produced by other arts, words always appear poor, cold, and arid, so that the assertion seems just: "that of all modes of expressing sentiments, words are the most insufficient." We cannot flatter ourselves with having attained in our descriptions the exceeding delicacy of touch, necessary to sketch that which Chopin has painted with hues so ethereal. All is subtle in his compositions, even the source of excitement, of passion; all open, frank, primitive impressions disappear in them; before they meet the eye, they have passed through the prism of an exacting, ingenious, and fertile imagination, and it has become difficult if not impossible to resolve them again into their primal elements. Acuteness of discernment is required to understand, delicacy to describe them. In seizing such refined impressions with the keenest discrimination, in embodying them with infinite art, Chopin has proved himself an artist of the highest order. It is only after long and patient study, after having pursued his sublimated ideas through their multiform ramifications, that we learn to admire sufficiently, to comprehend aright, the genius with which he has rendered his subtle thoughts visible and palpable, without once blunting their edge, or ever congealing their fiery flow.

He was so entirely filled with the sentiments whose most perfect types he believed he had known in his own youth, with the ideas which it alone pleased him to confide to art; he contemplated art so invariably from the same point of view, that his artistic preferences could not fail to be influenced by his early impressions. In the great models and CHEFS-D'OEUVRE, he only sought that which was in correspondence with his own soul. That which stood in relation to it pleased him; that which resembled it not, scarcely obtained justice from him. Uniting in himself the frequently incompatible qualities of passion and grace he possessed great accuracy of judgment, and preserved himself from all petty partiality, but he was but slightly attracted by the greatest beauties, the highest merits, when they wounded any of the phases of his poetic conceptions. Notwithstanding the high admiration which he entertained for the works of Beethoven, certain portions of them always seemed to him too rudely sculptured; their structure was too athletic to please him, their wrath seemed to him too tempestuous, their passion too overpowering, the lion-marrow which fills every member of his phases was matter too substantial for his tastes, and the Raphaelic and Seraphic profiles which are wrought into the midst of the nervous and powerful creations of this great genius, were to him almost painful from the force of the cutting contrast in which they are frequently set.

In spite of the charm which he acknowledged in some of the melodies of Schubert, he would not willingly listen to those in which the contours were too sharp for his ear, in which suffering lies naked, and we can almost feel the flesh palpitate, and hear the bones crack and crash under the rude embrace of sorrow. All savage wildness was repulsive to him. In music, in literature, in the conduct of life, all that approached the melodramatic was painful to him The frantic and despairing aspects of exaggerated romanticism were repellent to him, he could not endure the struggling for wonderful effects, for delicious excesses. "He loved Shakspeare only under many conditions. He thought his characters were drawn too closely to the life, and spoke a language too true; he preferred the epic and lyric syntheses which leave the poor details of humanity in the shade. For the same reason he spoke little and listened less, not wishing to give expression to his own thoughts, or to receive the thoughts of others, until after they had attained a certain degree of elevation."

A nature so completely master of itself, so full of delicate reserve, which loved to divine through glimpses, presentiments, suppositions, all that had been left untold (a species of divination always dear to poets who can so eloquently finish the interrupted words) must have felt annoyed, almost scandalized, by an audacity which leaves nothing unexpressed, nothing to be divined. If he had been called upon to express his own views upon this subject, we believe he would have confessed that in accordance with his taste, he was only permitted to give vent to his feelings on condition of suffering much to remain unrevealed, or only to be divined under the rich veils of broidery in which he wound his emotions. If that which they agree in calling classic in art appeared to him too full of methodical restrictions, if he refused to permit himself to be garroted in the manacles and frozen in the conventions of systems, if he did not like confinement although enclosed in the safe symmetry of a gilded cage, it was not because he preferred the license of disorder, the confusion of irregularity. It was rather that he might soar like the lark into the deep blue of the unclouded heavens. Like the Bird of Paradise, which it was once thought never slept but while resting upon extended wing, rocked only by the breath of unlimited space at the sublime height at which it reposed; he obstinately refused to descend to bury himself in the misty gloom of the forests, or to surround himself with the howlings and wailings with which it is filled. He would not leave the depths of azure for the wastes of the desert, or attempt to fix pathways over the treacherous waves of sand, which the winds, in exulting irony, delight to sweep over the traces of the rash mortal seeking to mark the line of his wandering through the drifting, blinding swells.

That style of Italian art which is so open, so glaring, so devoid of the attraction of mystery or of science, with all that which in German art bears the seal of vulgar, though powerful energy, was distasteful to him. Apropos of Schubert he once remarked: "that the sublime is desecrated when followed by the trivial or commonplace." Among the composers for the piano Hummel was one of the authors whom he reread with the most pleasure. Mozart was in his eyes the ideal type, the Poet par excellence, because he, less rarely than any other author, condescended to descend the steps leading from the beautiful to the commonplace. The father of Mozart after having been present at a representation of IDOMENEE made to his son the following reproach: "You have been wrong in putting in it nothing for the long ears." It was precisely for such omissions that Chopin admired him. The gayety of Papageno charmed him; the love of Tamino with its mysterious trials seemed to him worthy of having occupied Mozart; he understood the vengeance of Donna Anna because it cast but a deeper shade upon her mourning. Yet such was his Sybaritism of purity, his dread of the commonplace, that even in this immortal work he discovered some passages whose introduction we have heard him regret. His worship for Mozart was not diminished but only saddened by this. He could sometimes forget that which was repulsive to him, but to reconcile himself to it was impossible. He seemed to be governed in this by one of those implacable and irrational instincts, which no persuasion, no effort, can ever conquer sufficiently to obtain a state of mere indifference towards the objects of the antipathy; an aversion sometimes so insurmountable, that we can only account for it by supposing it to proceed from some innate and peculiar idiosyncrasy.

After he had finished his studies in harmony with Professor Joseph Elsner, who taught him the rarely known and difficult task of being exacting towards himself, and placing the just value upon the advantages which are only to be obtained by dint of patience and labor; and after he had finished his collegiate course, it was the desire of his parents that he should travel in order that he might become familiar with the finest works under the advantage of their perfect execution. For this purpose he visited many of the German cities. He had left Warsaw upon one of these short excursions, when the revolution of the 29th of November broke out in 1830.

Forced to remain in Vienna, he was heard there in some concerts, but the Viennese public, generally so cultivated, so prompt to seize the most delicate shades of execution, the finest subtleties of thought, during this winter were disturbed and abstracted. The young artist did not produce there the effect he had the right to anticipate. He left Vienna with the design of going to London, but he came first to Paris, where he intended to remain but a short time. Upon his passport drawn up for England, he had caused to be inserted: "passing through Paris." These words sealed his fate. Long years afterwards, when he seemed not only acclimated, but naturalized in France, he would smilingly say: I am "passing through Paris."

He gave several concerts after his arrival in Paris, where he was immediately received and admired in the circles of the elite, as well as welcomed by the young artists. We remember his first appearance in the saloons of Pleyel, where the most enthusiastic and redoubled applause seemed scarcely sufficient to express our enchantment for the genius which had revealed new phases of poetic feeling, and made such happy yet bold innovations in the form of musical art.

Unlike the greater part of young debutants, he was not intoxicated or dazzled for a moment by his triumph, but accepted it without pride or false modesty, evincing none of the puerile enjoyment of gratified vanity exhibited by the PARVENUS of success. His countrymen who were then in Paris gave him a most affectionate reception. He was intimate in the house of Prince Czartoryski, of the Countess Plater, of Madame de Komar, and in that of her daughters, the Princess de Beauveau and the Countess Delphine Potocka, whose beauty, together with her indescribable and spiritual grace, made her one of the most admired sovereigns of the society of Paris. He dedicated to her his second Concerto, which contains the Adagio we have already described. The ethereal beauty of the Countess, her enchanting voice enchained him by a fascination full of respectful admiration. Her voice was destined to be the last which should vibrate upon the musician's heart. Perhaps the sweetest sounds of earth accompanied the parting soul until they blended in his ear with the first chords of the angels' lyres.

He mingled much with the Polish circle in Paris; with Orda who seemed born to command the future, and who was however killed in Algiers at twenty years of age; with Counts Plater, Grzymala, Ostrowski, Szembeck, with Prince Lubomirski, etc. etc. As the Polish families who came afterwards to Paris were all anxious to form acquaintance with him, he continued to mingle principally with his own people. He remained through them not only AU COURANT of all that was passing in his own country, but even in a kind of musical correspondence with it. He liked those who visited Paris to show him the airs or new songs they had brought with them, and when the words of these airs pleased him, he frequently wrote a new melody for them, thus popularizing them rapidly in his country although the name of their author was often unknown. The number of these melodies, due to the inspiration of the heart alone, having become considerable, he often thought of collecting them for publication. But he thought of it too late, and they remain scattered and dispersed, like the perfume of the scented flowers blessing the wilderness and sweetening the "desert air" around some wandering traveller, whom chance may have led upon their secluded track. During our stay in Poland we heard some of the melodies which are attributed to him, and which are truly worthy of him; but who would now dare to make an uncertain selection between the inspirations of the national poet, and the dreams of his people?

Chopin kept for a long time aloof from the celebrities of Paris; their glittering train repelled him. As his character and habits had more true originality than apparent eccentricity, he inspired less curiosity than they did. Besides he had sharp repartees for those who imprudently wished to force him into a display of his musical abilities. Upon one occasion after he had just left the dining-room, an indiscreet host, who had had the simplicity to promise his guests some piece executed by him as a rare dessert, pointed to him an open piano. He should have remembered that in counting without the host, it is necessary to count twice. Chopin at first refused, but wearied at last by continued persecution, assuming, to sharpen the sting of his words, a stifled and languid tone of voice, he exclaimed: "Ah, sir, I have scarcely dined!"



CHAPTER VII.

Madame Sand—Lelia—Visit to Majorca—Exclusive Ideals.



In 1836 Madame Sand had not only published INDIANA, VALENTINE, and JACQUES, but also LELIA, that prose poem of which she afterwards said: "If I regret having written it, it is because I could not now write it. Were I in the same state of mind now as when it was written, it would indeed be a great consolation to me to be able to commence it." The mere painting of romances in cold water colors must have seemed, without doubt, dull to Madame Sand, after having handled the hammer and chisel of the sculptor so boldly, in modeling the grand lines of that semi-colossal statue, in cutting those sinewy muscles, which even in their statuesque immobility, are full of bewildering and seductive charm. Should we continue long to gaze upon it, it excites the most painful emotion. In strong contrast to the miracle of Pygmalion, Lelia seems a living Galatea, rich in feeling, full of love, whom the deeply enamored artist has tried to bury alive in his exquisitely sculptured marble, stifling the palpitating breath, and congealing the warm blood in the vain hope of elevating and immortalizing the beauty he adores. In the presence of this vivid nature petrified by art, we cannot feel that admiration is kindled into love, but, saddened and chilled, we are forced to acknowledge that love may be frozen into mere admiration.

Brown and olive-hued Lelia! Dark as Lara, despairing as Manfred, rebellious as Cain, thou hast ranged through the depths of solitude! But thou art more ferocious, more savage, more inconsolable than they, because thou hast never found a man's heart sufficiently feminine to love thee as they were loved, to pay the homage of a confiding and blind submission to thy virile charms, to offer thee a mute yet ardent devotion, to suffer its obedience to be protected by thy Amazonian force! Woman-hero! Like the Amazons, thou hast been valiant and eager for combats; like them thou hast not feared to expose the exquisite loveliness of thy face to the fierceness of the summer's sun, or the sharp blasts of winter! Thou hast hardened thy fragile limbs by the endurance of fatigue, thus robbing them of the subtle power of their weakness! Thou hast covered thy palpitating breast with a heavy cuirass, which has pressed and torn it, dyeing its snow in blood;—that gentle woman's bosom, charming as life, discreet as the grave, which is always adored by man when his heart is permitted to form its sole, its impenetrable buckler!

After having blunted her chisel in polishing this statue, which, by its majesty, its haughty disdain, its look of hopeless anguish, shadowed by the frowning of the pure brows and by the long loose locks shivering with electric life, reminds us of those antique cameos on which we still admire the perfect features, the beautiful yet fatal brow, the haughty smile of the Medusa, whose gaze paralyzed and stopped the pulses of the human heart;—Madame Sand in vain sought another form for the expression of the emotions which tortured her insatiate soul. After having draped this figure with the highest art, accumulating every species of masculine greatness upon it in order to compensate for the highest of all qualities which she repudiated for it, the grandeur of, "utter self-abnegation for love," which the many-sided poet has placed in the empyrean and called "the Eternal Feminine," (DAS EWIGWEIBLICHE,)—a greatness which is love existing before any of its joys, surviving all its sorrows;—after having caused Don Juan to be cursed, and a divine hymn to be chanted to Desire by Lelia, who, as well as Don Juan, had repulsed the only delight which crowns desire, the luxury of self-abnegation,—after having fully revenged Elvira by the creation of Stenio,—after having scorned man more than Don Juan had degraded woman,—Madame Sand, in her LETTRES D'UN VOYAGEUR, depicts the shivering palsy, the painful lethargy which seizes the artist, when, having incorporated the emotion which inspired him in his work, his imagination still remains under the domination of the insatiate idea without being able to find another form in which to incarnate it. Such poetic sufferings were well understood by Byron, when he makes Tasso shed his most bitter tears, not for his chains, not for his physical sufferings, not for the ignominy heaped upon him, but for his finished Epic, for the ideal world created by his thought and now about to close its doors upon him, and by thus expelling him from its enchanted realm, rendering him at last sensible of the gloomy realities around him:—

"But this is o'er—my pleasant task is done:— My long-sustaining friend of many years: If I do blot thy final page with tears, Know that my sorrows have wrung from me none. But thou, my young creation! my soul's child! Which ever playing round me came and smiled, And woo'd me from myself with thy sweet sight, Thou too art gone—and so is my delight."

LAMENT OF TASSO.—BYRON.

At this epoch, Madame Sand often heard a musician, one of the friends who had greeted Chopin with the most enthusiastic joy upon his arrival at Paris, speak of him. She heard him praise his poetic genius even more than his artistic talent. She was acquainted with his compositions, and admired their graceful tenderness. She was struck by the amount of emotion displayed in his poems, with the effusions of a heart so noble and dignified. Some of the countrymen of Chopin spoke to her of the women of their country, with the enthusiasm natural to them upon that subject, an enthusiasm then very much increased by a remembrance of the sublime sacrifices made by them during the last war. Through their recitals and the poetic inspiration of the Polish artist, she perceived an ideal of love which took the form of worship for woman. She thought that guaranteed from dependence, preserved from inferiority, her role might be like the fairy power of the Peri, that ethereal intelligence and friend of man. Perhaps she did not fully understand what innumerable links of suffering, of silence, of patience, of gentleness, of indulgence, of courageous perseverance, had been necessary for the formation of the worship for this imperious but resigned ideal, beautiful indeed, but sad to behold, like those plants with the rose-colored corollas, whose stems, intertwining and interlacing in a network of long and numerous branches, give life to ruins; destined ever to embellish decay, growing upon old walls and hiding only tottering stones! Beautiful veils woven by beneficent Nature, in her ingenious and inexhaustible richness, to cover the constant decay of human things!

As Madame Sand perceived that this artist, in place of giving body to his phantasy in porphyry and marble, or defining his thoughts by the creation of massive caryatides, rather effaced the contour of his works, and, had it been necessary, could have elevated his architecture itself from the soil, to suspend it, like the floating palaces of the Fata Morgana, in the fleecy clouds, through his aerial forms of almost impalpable buoyancy, she was more and more attracted by that mystic ideal which she perceived glowing within them. Though her arm was powerful enough to have sculptured the round shield, her hand was delicate enough to have traced those light relievos where the shadows of ineffaceable profiles have been thrown upon and trusted to a stone scarcely raised from its level plane. She was no stranger in the supernatural world, she to whom Nature, as to a favored child, had unloosed her girdle and unveiled all the caprices, the attractions, the delights, which she can lend to beauty. She was not ignorant of the lightest graces; she whose eye could embrace such vast proportions, had stooped to study the glowing illuminations painted upon the wings of the fragile butterfly. She had traced the symmetrical and marvellous network which the fern extends as a canopy over the wood strawberry; she had listened to the murmuring of streams through the long reeds and stems of the water-grass, where the hissing of the "amorous viper" may be heard; she had followed the wild leaps of the Will-with-a-wisp as it bounds over the surface of the meadows and marshes; she had pictured to herself the chimerical dwelling-places toward which it perfidiously attracts the benighted traveller; she had listened to the concerts given by the Cicada and their friends in the stubble of the fields; she had learned the names of the inhabitants of the winged republics of the woods which she could distinguish as well by their plumaged robes, as by their jeering roulades or plaintive cries. She knew the secret tenderness of the lily in the splendor of its tints; she had listened to the sighs of Genevieve, [Footnote: ANDRE] the maiden enamored of flowers.

She was visited in her dreams by those "unknown friends" who came to rejoin her "when she was seized with distress upon a desolate shore," brought by a "rapid stream... in large and full bark"... upon which she mounted to leave the unknown shores, "the country of chimeras which make real life appear like a dream half effaced to those, who enamored from their infancy of large shells of pearl, mount them to land in those isles where all are young and beautiful... where the men and women are crowned with flowers, with their long locks floating upon their shoulders... holding vases and harps of a strange form... having songs and voices not of this world... all loving each other equally with a divine love... where crystal fountains of perfumed waters play in basins of silver... where blue roses bloom in vases of alabaster... where the perspectives are all enchanted... where they walk with naked feet upon the thick green moss, soft as carpets of velvet... where all sing as they wander among the fragrant groves." [Footnote: LETTRES D'UN VOYAGEUR]

She knew these unknown friends so well that after having again seen them, "she could not dream of them without palpitations of the heart during the whole day." She was initiated into the Hoffmannic world—"she who had surprised such ineffable smiles upon the portraits of the dead;" [Footnote: SPIRIDSON] who had seen the rays of the sun falling through the stained glass of a Gothic window form a halo round loved heads, like the arm of God, luminous and impalpable, surrounded by a vortex of atoms;—she who had known such glorious apparitions, clothed with the purple and golden glories of the setting sun. The realm of fantasy had no myth with whose secret she was not familiar!

Thus she was naturally anxious to become acquainted with one who had with rapid wing flown "to those scenes which it is impossible to describe, but which must exist somewhere, either upon the earth, or in some of the planets, whose light we love to gaze upon in the forests when the moon has set." [Footnote: LETTRES D'UN VOYAGEUR] Such scenes she had prayed never to be forced to desert—never desiring to bring her heart and imagination back to this dreary world, too like the gloomy coasts of Finland, where the slime and miry slough can only be escaped by scaling the naked granite of the solitary rocks. Fatigued with the massive statue she had sculptured, the Amazonian Lelia; wearied with the grandeur of an Ideal which it is impossible to mould from the gross materials of this earth; she was desirous to form an acquaintance with the artist "the lover of an impossible so shadowy"—so near the starry regions. Alas! if these regions are exempt from the poisonous miasmas of our atmosphere, they are not free from its desolating melancholy! Perhaps those who are transported there may adore the shining of new suns—but there are others not less dear whose light they must see extinguished! Will not the most glorious among the beloved constellation of the Pleiades there disappear? Like drops of luminous dew the stars fall one by one into the nothingness of a yawning abyss, whose bottomless depths no plummet has ever sounded, while the soul, contemplating these fields of ether, this blue Sahara with its wandering and perishing oases,—is stricken by a grief so hopeless, so profound, that neither enthusiasm nor love can ever soothe it more. It ingulfs and absorbs all emotions, being no more agitated by them than the sleeping waters of some tranquil lake, reflecting the moving images thronging its banks from its polished surface, are by the varied motions and eager life of the many objects mirrored upon its glassy bosom. The drowsy waters cannot thus be wakened from their icy lethargy. This melancholy saddens even the highest joy. "Through the exhaustion always accompanying such tension, when the soul is strained above the region which it naturally inhabits... the insufficiency of speech is felt for the first time by those who have studied it so much, and used it so well—we are borne from all active, from all militant instincts—to travel through boundless space—to be lost in the immensity of adventurous courses far, far above the clouds... where we no longer see that the earth is beautiful, because our gaze is riveted upon the skies... where reality is no longer poetically draped, as has been so skilfully done by the author of Waverley, but where, in idealizing poetry itself, the infinite is peopled with the spirits belonging only to its mystic realm, as has been done by Byron in his Manfred."

Could Madame Sand have divined the incurable melancholy, the will which cannot blend with that of others, the imperious exclusiveness, which invariably seize upon imaginations delighting in the pursuit of dreams whose realities are nowhere to be found, or at least never in the matter-of-fact world in which the dreamers are constrained to dwell? Had she foreseen the form which devoted attachment assumes for such dreamers; had she measured the entire and absolute absorption which they will alone accept as the synonyme of tenderness? It is necessary to be in some degree shy, shrinking, and secretive as they themselves are, to be able to understand the hidden depths of characters so concentrated. Like those susceptible flowers which close their sensitive petals before the first breath of the North wind, they too veil their exacting souls in the shrouds of self concentration, unfolding themselves only under the warming rays of a propitious sun. Such natures have been called "rich by exclusiveness;" in opposition to those which are "rich by expansiveness." "If these differing temperaments should meet and approach each other, they can never mingle or melt the one into the other," (says the writer whom we have so often quoted) "but the one must consume the other, leaving nothing but ashes behind." Alas! it is the natures like that of the fragile musician whose days we commemorate, which, consuming themselves, perish; not wishing, not indeed being able, to live any life but one in conformity with their own exclusive Ideal.

Chopin seemed to dread Madame Sand more than any other woman, the modern Sibyl, who, like the Pythoness of old, had said so many things that others of her sex neither knew nor dared to say. He avoided and put off all introduction to her. Madame Sand was ignorant of this. In consequence of that captivating simplicity, which is one of her noblest charms, she did not divine his fear of the Delphic priestess. At last she was presented to him, and an acquaintance with her soon dissipated the prejudices which he had obstinately nourished against female authors.

In the fall of 1837, Chopin was attacked by an alarming illness, which left him almost without force to support life. Dangerous symptoms forced him to go South to avoid the rigor of winter. Madame Sand, always so watchful over those whom she loved, so full of compassion for their sufferings, would not permit him, when his health required so much care, to set out alone, and determined to accompany him. They selected the island of Majorca for their residence because the air of the sea, joined to the mild climate which prevails there, is especially salubrious for those who are suffering from affections of the lungs. Though he was so weak when he left Paris that we had no hope of his ever returning; though after his arrival in Majorca he was long and dangerously ill; yet so much was he benefited by the change that big health was improved during several years.

Was it the effect of the balmy climate alone which recalled him to health? Was it not rather because his life was full of bliss that he found strength to live? Did he not regain strength only because he now wished to live? Who can tell how far the influence of the will extends over the body? Who knows what internal subtle aroma it has the power of disengaging to preserve the sinking frame from decay; what vital force it can breathe into the debilitated organs? Who can say where the dominion of mind over matter ceases? Who knows how far our senses are under the dominion of the imagination, to what extent their powers may be increased, or their extinction accelerated, by its influence? It matters not how the imagination gains its strange extension of power, whether through long and bitter exercise, or, whether spontaneously collecting its forgotten strength, it concentrates its force in some new and decisive moment of destiny: as when the rays of the sun are able to kindle a flame of celestial origin when concentrated in the focus of the burning glass, brittle and fragile though the medium be.

All the long scattered rays of happiness were collected within this epoch of the life of Chopin; is it then surprising that they should have rekindled the flame of life, and that it should have burned at this time with the most vivid lustre? The solitude surrounded by the blue waves of the Mediterranean and shaded by groves of orange, seemed fitted in its exceeding loveliness for the ardent vows of youthful lovers, still believing in their naive and sweet illusions, sighing for happiness in "some desert isle." He breathed there that air for which natures unsuited for the world, and never feeling themselves happy in it, long with such a painful home-sickness; that air which may be found everywhere if we can find the sympathetic souls to breathe it with us, and which is to be met nowhere without them; that air of the land of our dreams; and which in spite of all obstacles, of the bitter real, is easily discovered when sought by two! It is the air of the country of the ideal to which we gladly entice the being we cherish, repeating with poor Mignon: DAHIN! DAHIN!... LASST UNS ZIEHN!

As long as his sickness lasted, Madame Sand never left the pillow of him who loved her even to death, with an attachment which in losing all its joys, did not lose its intensity, which remained faithful to her even after all its memories had turned to pain: "for it seemed as if this fragile being was absorbed and consumed by the strength of his affection.... Others seek happiness in their attachments; when they no longer find it, the attachment gently vanishes. In this they resemble the rest of the world. But he loved for the sake of loving. No amount of suffering was sufficient to discourage him. He could enter upon a new phase, that of woe; but the phase of coldness he could never arrive at. It would have been indeed a phase of physical agony—for his love was his life—and delicious or bitter, he had not the power of withdrawing himself a single moment from its domination." [Footnote: LUCRESIA FLORIANA] Madame Sand never ceased to be for Chopin that being of magic spells who had snatched him from the valley of the shadow of death, whose power had changed his physical agony into the delicious languor of love. To save him from death, to bring him back to life, she struggled courageously with his disease. She surrounded him with those divining and instinctive cares which are a thousand times more efficacious than the material remedies known to science. While engaged in nursing him, she felt no fatigue, no weariness, no discouragement. Neither her strength, nor her patience, yielded before the task. Like the mothers in robust health, who appear to communicate a part of their own strength to the sickly infant who, constantly requiring their care, have also their preference, she nursed the precious charge into new life. The disease yielded: "the funereal oppression which secretly undermined the spirit of Chopin, destroying and corroding all contentment, gradually vanished. He permitted the amiable character, the cheerful serenity of his friend to chase sad thoughts and mournful presentiments away, and to breathe new force into his intellectual being."

Happiness succeeded to gloomy fears, like the gradual progression of a beautiful day after a night full of obscurity and terror, when so dense and heavy is the vault of darkness which weighs upon us from above, that we are prepared for a sudden and fatal catastrophe, we do not even dare to dream of deliverance, when the despairing eye suddenly catches a bright spot where the mists clear, and the clouds open like flocks of heavy wool yielding, even while the edges thicken under the pressure of the hand which rends them. At this moment, the first ray of hope penetrates the soul. We breathe more freely like those who lost in the windings of a dark cavern at last think they see a light, though indeed its existence is still doubtful. This faint light is the day dawn, though so colorless are its rays, that it is more like the extinction of the dying twilight,—the fall of the night-shroud upon the earth. But it is indeed the dawn; we know it by the vivid and pure breath of the young zephyrs which it sends forth, like avant-coureurs, to bear us the assurance of morn and safety. The balm of flowers fills the air, like the thrilling of an encouraged hope. A stray bird accidentally commences his song earlier than usual, it soothes the heart like a distant consolation, and is accepted as a promise for the future. As the imperceptibly progressive but sure indications multiply, we are convinced that in this struggle of light and darkness it is the shadows of night which are to yield. Raising our eyes to the Dome of lead above us, we feel that it weighs less heavily upon us, that it has already lost its fatal stability.

Little by little the long gray lines of light increase, they stretch themselves along the horizon like fissures into a brighter world. They suddenly enlarge, they gain upon their dark boundaries, now they break through them, as the waters bounding the edge of a lake inundate in irregular pools the arid banks. Then a fierce opposition begins, banks and long dikes accumulate to arrest the progress. The clouds are oiled like ridges of sand, tossing and surging to present obstructions, but like the impetuous raging of irresistible waters, the light breaks through them, demolishes them, devours them, and as the rays ascend, the rolling waves of purple mist glow into crimson. At this moment the young dawn shines with a timid yet victorious grace, while the knee bends in admiration and gratitude before it, for the last terror has vanished, and we feel as if new born.

Fresh objects strike upon the view, as if just called from chaos. A veil of uniform rose-color covers them all, but as the light augments in intensity, the thin gauze drapes and folds in shades of pale carnation, while the advancing plains grow clear in white and dazzling splendor.

The brilliant sun delays no longer to invade the firmament, gaining new glory as he rises. The vapors surge and crowd together, rolling themselves from right to left, like the heavy drapery of a curtain moved by the wind. Then all breathes, moves, lives, hums, sings; the sounds mingle, cross, meet, and melt into each other. Inertia gives place to motion, it spreads, accelerates and circulates. The waves of the lake undulate and swell like a bosom touched by love. The tears of the dew, motionless as those of tenderness, grow more and more perceptible, one after another they are seen glittering on the humid herbs, diamonds waiting for the sun to paint with rainbow-tints their vivid scintillations. The gigantic fan of light in the East is ever opening larger and wider. Spangles of silver, borders of scarlet, violet fringes, bars of gold, cover it with fantastic broidery. Light bands of reddish brown feather its branches. The brightest scarlet at its centre has the glowing transparency of the ruby; shading into orange like a burning coal, it widens like a torch, spreads like a bouquet of flames, which glows and glows from fervor to fervor, ever more incandescent.

At last the god of day appears! His blazing front is adorned with luminous locks of long floating hair. Slowly he seems to rise—but scarcely has he fully unveiled himself, than he starts forward, disengages himself from all around him, and, leaving the earth far below him, takes instantaneous possession of the vaulted heavens....

The memory of the days passed in the lovely isle of Majorca, like the remembrance of an entrancing ecstasy, which fate grants but once in life even to the most favored of her children, remained always dear to the heart of Chopin. "He [Footnote: Lucrezia Fioriani] was no longer upon this earth, he was in an empyrean of golden clouds and perfumes, his imagination, so full of exquisite beauty, seemed engaged in a monologue with God himself; and if upon the radiant prism in whose contemplation he forgot all else, the magic-lantern of the outer world would even cast its disturbing shadow, he felt deeply pained, as if in the midst of a sublime concert, a shrieking old woman should blend her shrill yet broken tones, her vulgar musical motivo, with the divine thoughts of the great masters." He always spoke of this period with deep emotion, profound gratitude, as if its happiness had been sufficient for a life-time, without hoping that it would ever be possible again to find a felicity in which the fight of time was only marked by the tenderness of woman's love, and the brilliant flashes of true genius. Thus did the clock of Linnaeus mark the course of time, indicating the hours by the successive waking and sleeping of the flowers, marking each by a different perfume, and a display of ever varying beauties, as each variegated calyx opened in ever changing yet ever lovely form!

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