The beauties of the countries through which the Poet and Musician travelled together, struck with more distinctness the imagination of the former. The loveliness of nature impressed Chopin in a manner less definite, though not less strong. His soul was touched, and immediately harmonized with the external enchantment, yet his intellect did not feel the necessity of analyzing or classifying it. His heart vibrated in unison with the exquisite scenery around him, although he was not able at the moment to assign the precise source of his blissful tranquillity. Like a true musician, he was satisfied to seize the sentiment of the scenes he visited, while he seemed to give but little attention to the plastic material, the picturesque frame, which did not assimilate with the form of his art, nor belong to his more spiritualized sphere. However, (a fact that has been often remarked in organizations such as his,) as he was removed in time and distance from the scenes in which emotion had obscured his senses, as the clouds from the burning incense envelope the censer, the more vividly the forms and beauties of such scenes stood out in his memory. In the succeeding years, he frequently spoke of them, as though the remembrance was full of pleasure to him. But when so entirely happy, he made no inventory of his bliss. He enjoyed it simply, as we all do in the sweet years of childhood, when we are deeply impressed by the scenery surrounding us without ever thinking of its details, yet finding, long after, the exact image of each object in our memory, though we are only able to describe its forms when we have ceased to behold them.
Besides, why should he have tasked himself to scrutinize the beautiful sites in Spain which formed the appropriate setting of his poetic happiness? Could he not always find them again through the descriptions of his inspired companion? As all objects, even the atmosphere itself, become flame-colored when seen through a glass dyed in crimson, so he might contemplate these delicious sites in the glowing hues cast around them by the impassioned genius of the woman he loved. The nurse of his sick-room—was she not also a great artist? Rare and beautiful union! If to the depths of tenderness and devotion, in which the true and irresistible empire of woman must commence, and deprived of which she is only an enigma without a possible solution, nature should unite the most brilliant gifts of genius,—the miraculous spectacle of the Greek firs would be renewed,—the glittering flames would again sport over the abysses of the ocean without being extinguished or submerged in the chilling depths, adding, as the living hues were thrown upon the surging waves, the glowing dyes of the purple fire to the celestial blue of the heaven-reflecting sea!
Has genius ever attained that utter self-abnegation, that sublime humility of heart which gives the power to make those strange sacrifices of the entire Past, of the whole Future; those immolations, as courageous as mysterious; those mystic and utter holocausts of self, not temporary and changing, but monotonous and constant,—through whose might alone tenderness may justly claim the higher name, devotion? Has not the force of genius its own exclusive and legitimate exactions, and does not the force of woman consist in the abdication of all exactions? Can the royal purple and burning flames of genius ever float upon the immaculate azure of woman's destiny?...
Disappointment—Ill Health—Visit to England—Devotion of Friends—Last Sacraments—Delphina Potocka—Louise—M. Gutman—Death.
FROM the date of 1840, the health of Chopin, affected by so many changes, visibly declined. During some years, his most tranquil hours were spent at Nohant, where he seemed to suffer less than elsewhere. He composed there, with pleasure, bringing with him every year to Paris several new compositions, but every winter caused him an increase of suffering. Motion became at first difficult, and soon almost impossible to him. From 1846 to 1847, he scarcely walked at all; he could not ascend the staircase without the most painful sensation of suffocation, and his life was only prolonged through continual care and the greatest precaution.
Towards the Spring of 1847, as his health grew more precarious from day to day, he was attacked by an illness from which it was thought he could never recover. He was saved for the last time; but this epoch was marked by an event so agonizing to his heart that he immediately called it mortal. Indeed, he did not long survive the rupture of his friendship with Madame Sand, which took place at this date. Madame de Stael, who, in spite of her generous and impassioned heart, her subtle and vivid intellect, fell sometimes into the fault of making her sentences heavy through a species of pedantry which robbed them of the grace of "abandon,"—remarked on one of those occasions when the strength of her feelings made her forget the solemnity of her Genevese stiffness: "In affection, there are only beginnings!"
This exclamation was based upon the bitter experience of the insufficiency of the human heart to accomplish the beautiful and blissful dreams of the imagination. Ah! if some blessed examples of human devotion did not sometimes occur to contradict the melancholy words of Madame de Stael, which so many illustrious as well as obscure facts seem to prove, our suspicions might lead us to be guilty of much ingratitude and want of trust; we might be led to doubt the sincerity of the hearts which surround us, and see but the allegorical symbols of human affections in the antique train of the beautiful Canephoroe, who carried the fragile and perfumed flowers to adorn some hapless victim for the altar!
Chopin spoke frequently and almost by preference of Madame Sand, without bitterness or recrimination. Tears always filled his eyes when he named her; but with a kind of bitter sweetness he gave himself up to the memories of past days, alas, now. He stripped of their manifold significance! In spite of the many subterfuges employed by his friends to entice him from dwelling upon remembrances which always brought dangerous excitement with them, he loved to return to them; as if through the same feelings which had once reanimated his life, he now wished to destroy it, sedulously stifling its powers through the vapor of this subtle poison. His last pleasure seemed to be the memory of the blasting of his last hope; he treasured the bitter knowledge that under this fatal spell his life was ebbing fast away. All attempts to fix his attention upon other objects were made in vain, he refused to be comforted and would constantly speak of the one engrossing subject. Even if he had ceased to speak of it, would he not always have thought of it? He seemed to inhale the poison rapidly and eagerly, that he might thus shorten the time in which he would be forced to breathe it!
Although the exceeding fragility of his physical constitution might not have allowed him, under any circumstances, to have lingered long on earth, yet at least he might have been spared the bitter sufferings which clouded his last hours! With a tender and ardent soul, though exacting through its fastidiousness and excessive delicacy, he could not live unless surrounded by the radiant phantoms he had himself evoked; he could not expel the profound sorrow which his heart cherished as the sole remaining fragment of the happy past. He was another great and illustrious victim to the transitory attachments occurring between persons of different character, who, experiencing a surprise full of delight in their first sudden meeting, mistake it for a durable feeling, and build hopes and illusions upon it which can never be realized. It is always the nature the most deeply moved, the most absolute in its hopes and attachments, for which all transplantation is impossible, which is destroyed and mined in the painful awakening from the absorbing dream! Terrible power exercised over man by the most exquisite gifts which he possesses! Like the coursers of the sun, when the hand of Phaeton, in place of guiding their beneficent career, permits them to wander at random, disordering the beautiful structure of the celestial spheres, they bring devastation and flames in their train! Chopin felt and often repeated that the sundering of this long friendship, the rupture of this strong tie, broke all the chords which bound him to life.
During this attack his life was despaired of for several days. M. Gutman, his most distinguished pupil, and during the last years of his life, his most intimate friend, lavished upon him every proof of tender attachment. His cares, his attentions, were the most agreeable to him. With the timidity natural to invalids, and with the tender delicacy peculiar to himself, he once asked the Princess Czartoryska, who visited him every day, often fearing that on the morrow he would no longer be among the living: "if Gutman was not very much fatigued? If she thought he would be able to continue his care of him;" adding, "that his presence was dearer to him than that of any other person." His convalescence was very slow and painful, leaving him indeed but the semblance of life. At this epoch he changed so much in appearance that he could scarcely be recognized The next summer brought him that deceptive decrease of suffering which it sometimes grants to those who are dying. He refused to quit Paris, and thus deprived himself of the pure air of the country, and the benefit of this vivifying element.
The winter of 1847 to 1848 was filled with a painful and continual succession of improvements and relapses. Notwithstanding this, he resolved in the spring to accomplish his old project of visiting London. When the revolution of February broke out, he was still confined to bed, but with a melancholy effort, he seemed to try to interest himself in the events of the day, and spoke of them more than usual. M. Gutman continued his most intimate and constant visitor. He accepted through preference his cares until the close of his life.
Feeling better in the month of April, he thought of realizing his contemplated journey, of visiting that country to which he had intended to go when youth and life opened in bright perspective before him. He set out for England, where his works had already found an intelligent public, and were generally known and admired.
[Footnote: The compositions of Chopin were, even at that time, known and very much liked in England. The most distinguished virtuosi frequently executed them. In a pamphlet published in London by Messrs. Wessel and Stappletou, under the title of AN ESSAY ON THE WORKS OF F. CHOPIN, we find some lines marked by just criticism. The epigraph of this little pamphlet is ingeniously chosen, and the two lines from Shelley could scarcely be better applied than to Chopin:
"He was a mighty poet—and A subtle-souled Psychologist."
The author of this pamphlet speaks with enthusiasm of the "originative genius untrammeled by conventionalities, unfettered by pedantry;... of the outpourings of an unworldly and tristful soul—those musical floods of tears, and gushes of pure joyfulness—those exquisite embodiments of fugitive thoughts—those infinitesimal delicacies, which give so much value to the lightest sketch of Chopin." The English author again says: "One thing is certain, viz.: to play with proper feeling and correct execution, the PRELUDES and STUDIES of Chopin, is to be neither more nor less than a finished pianist, and moreover to comprehend them thoroughly, to give a life and tongue to their infinite and most eloquent subtleties of expression, involves the necessity of being in no less a degree a poet than a pianist, a thinker than a musician. Commonplace is instinctively avoided in all the works of Chopin; a stale cadence or a trite progression, a humdrum subject or a hackneyed sequence, a vulgar twist of the melody or a worn- out passage, a meagre harmony or an unskillful counterpoint, may in vain be looked for throughout the entire range of his compositions; the prevailing characteristics of which, are, a feeling as uncommon as beautiful, a treatment as original as felicitous, a melody and a harmony as new, fresh, vigorous, and striking, as they are utterly unexpected and out of the common track. In taking up one of the works of Chopin, you are entering, as it were, a fairyland, untrodden by human footsteps, a path hitherto unfrequented but by the great composer himself; and a faith, a devotion, a desire to appreciate and a determination to understand are absolutely necessary, to do it any thing like adequate justice.... Chopin in his POLONAISES and in his MAZOURKAS has aimed at those characteristics, which distinguish the national music of his country so markedly from, that of all others, that quaint idiosyncrasy, that identical wildness and fantasticality, that delicious mingling of the sad and cheerful, which invariably and forcibly individualize the music of those Northern nations, whose language delights in combinations of consonants...."]
He left France in that mood of mind which the English call "low spirits." The transitory interest which he had endeavored to take in political changes, soon disappeared. He became more taciturn than ever. If through absence of mind, a few words would escape him. They were only exclamations of regret. His affection for the limited number of persons whom he continued to see, was filled with that heart-rending emotion which precedes eternal farewells! Art alone always retained its absolute power over him. Music absorbed him during the time, now constantly shortening, in which he was able to occupy himself with it, as completely as during the days when he was full of life and hope. Before he left Paris, he gave a concert in the saloon of M. Pleyel, one of the friends with whom his relations had been the most constant, the most frequent, and the most affectionate; who is now rendering a worthy homage to his memory, occupying himself with zeal and activity in the execution of a monument for his tomb. At this concert, his chosen and faithful audience heard him for the last time!
He was received in London with an eagerness which had some effect in aiding him to shake off his sadness, to dissipate his mournful depression. Perhaps he dreamed, by burying all his former habits in oblivion, he could succeed in dissipating, his melancholy! He neglected the prescriptions of his physicians, with all the precautions which reminded him of his wretched health. He played twice in public, and many times in private concerts. He mingled much in society, sat up late at night, and exposed himself to considerable fatigue, without permitting himself to be deterred by any consideration for his health. He was presented to the Queen by the Duchess of Sutherland, and the most distinguished society sought the pleasure of his acquaintance. He went to Edinburgh, where the climate was particularly injurious to him. He was much debilitated upon his return from Scotland; his physicians wished him to leave England immediately, but he delayed for some time his departure. Who can read the feelings which caused this delay!... He played again at a concert given for the Poles. It was the last mark of love sent to his beloved country—the last look—the last sigh—the last regret! He was feted, applauded, and surrounded by his own people. He bade them all adieu,—they did not know it was an eternal Farewell! What thoughts must have filled his sad soul as he crossed the sea to return to Paris! That Paris so different now for him from that which he had found without seeking in 1831!
He was met upon his arrival by a surprise as painful as unexpected. Dr. Molin, whose advice and intelligent prescriptions had saved his life in the winter of 1847, to whom alone he believed himself indebted for the prolongation of his life, was dead. He felt his loss painfully, nay, it brought a profound discouragement with it; at a time when the mind exercises so much influence over the progress of the disease, he persuaded himself that no one could replace the trusted physician, and he had no confidence in any other. Dissatisfied with them all, without any hope from their skill, he changed them constantly. A kind of superstitious depression seized him. No tie stronger than life, no more powerful as death, came now to struggle against this bitter apathy! From the winter of 1848, Chopin had been in no condition to labor continuously. From time to time he retouched some scattered leaves, without succeeding in arranging his thoughts in accordance with his designs. A respectful care of his fame dictated to him the wish that these sketches should be destroyed to prevent the possibility of their being mutilated, disfigured, and transformed into posthumous works unworthy of his hand.
He left no finished manuscripts, except a very short WALTZ, and a last NOCTURNE, as parting memories. In the later period of his life he thought of writing a method for the Piano, in which he intended to give his ideas upon the theory and technicality of his art, the results of his long and patient studies, his happy innovations, and his intelligent experience. The task was a difficult one, demanding redoubled application even from one who labored as assiduously as Chopin. Perhaps he wished to avoid the emotions of art, (affecting those who reproduce them in serenity of soul so differently from those who repeat in them their own desolation of heart,) by taking refuge in a region so barren. He sought in this employment only an absorbing and uniform occupation, he only asked from it what Manfred demanded in vain from the powers of magic: "forgetfulness!" Forgetfulness—granted neither by the gayety of amusement, nor the lethargy of torpor! On the contrary, with venomous guile, they always compensate in the renewed intensity of woe, for the time they may have succeeded in benumbing it. In the daily labor which "charms the storms of the soul," (DER SEELE STURM BESCHWORT,) he sought without doubt forgetfulness, which occupation, by rendering the memory torpid, may sometimes procure, though it cannot destroy the sense of pain. At the close of that fine elegy which he names "The Ideal," a poet, who was also the victim of an inconsolable melancholy, appeals to labor as a consolation when a prey to bitter regret; while expecting an early death, he invokes occupation as the last resource against the incessant anguish of life:
"And thou, so pleated, with her uniting, To charm the soul-storm into peace, Sweet toil, in toil itself delighting, That more it labored, less could cease, Though but by grains thou aidest the pile The vast eternity uprears, At least thou strikest from TIME the while Life's debt—the minutes—days—and years."
Bulwer's translation of SCHILLER'S "Ideal."
Beschoeftigung, die nie ermattet Die langsam schafft, doch nie zerstoert, Die zu dem Bau der Ewigkeiten Zwar Sandkorn nur, fuer Sandkorn reicht, Doch von der grossen Schuld der Zeiten Minute, Tage, Jahre streicht.
The strength of Chopin was not sufficient for the execution of his intention. The occupation was too abstract, too fatiguing. He contemplated the form of his project, he spoke of it at different times, but its execution had become impossible. He wrote but a few pages of it, which were destroyed with the rest.
At last the disease augmented so visibly, that the fears of his friends assumed the hue of despair. He scarcely ever left his bed, and spoke but rarely. His sister, upon receiving this intelligence, came from Warsaw to take her place at his pillow, which she left no more. He witnessed the anguish, the presentiments, the redoubled sadness around him, without showing what impression they made upon him. He thought of death with Christian calm and resignation, yet he did not cease to prepare for the morrow. The fancy he had for changing his residence was once more manifested, he took another lodging, disposed the furnishing of it anew, and occupied himself in its most minute details. As he had taken no measures to recall the orders he had given for its arrangement, they were transporting his furniture to the apartments he was destined never to inhabit, upon the very day of his death!
Did he fear that death would not fulfil his plighted promise! Did he dread, that after having touched him with his icy hand, he would still suffer him to linger upon earth? Did he feel that life would be almost unendurable with its fondest ties broken, its closest links dissevered? There is a double influence often felt by gifted temperaments when upon the eve of some event which is to decide their fate. The eager heart, urged on by a desire to unravel the mystic secrets of the unknown Future, contradicts the colder, the more timid intellect, which fears to plunge into the uncertain abyss of the coming fate! This want of harmony between the simultaneous previsions of the mind and heart, often causes the firmest spirits to make assertions which their actions seem to contradict; yet actions and assertions both flow from the differing sources of an equal conviction. Did Chopin suffer from this inevitable dissimilarity between the prophetic whispers of the heart, and the thronging doubts of the questioning mind?
From week to week, and soon from day to day, the cold shadow of death gained upon him. His end was rapidly approaching; his sufferings became more and more intense; his crises grew more frequent, and at each accelerated occurrence, resembled more and more a mortal agony. He retained his presence of mind, his vivid will upon their intermission, until the last; neither losing the precision of his ideas, nor the clear perception of his intentions. The wishes which he expressed in his short moments of respite, evinced the calm solemnity with which he contemplated the approach of death. He desired to be buried by the side of Bellini, with whom, during the time of Bellini's residence in Paris, he had been intimately acquainted. The grave of Bellini is in the cemetery of Pere LaChaise, next to that of Cherubini. The desire of forming an acquaintance with this great master whom he had been brought up to admire, was one of the motives which, when he left Vienna in 1831 to go to London, induced him, without foreseeing that his destiny would fix him there, to pass through Paris. Chopin now sleeps between Bellini and Cherubini, men of very dissimilar genius, and yet to both of whom he was in an equal degree allied, as he attached as much value to the respect he felt for the science of the one, as to the sympathy he acknowledged for the creations of the other. Like the author of NORMA, he was full of melodic feeling, yet he was ambitions of attaining the harmonic depth of the learned old master; desiring to unite, in a great and elevated style, the dreamy vagueness of spontaneous emotion with the erudition of the most consummate masters.
Continuing the reserve of his manners to the very last, he did not request to see any one for the last time; but he evinced the most touching gratitude to all who approached him. The first days of October left neither doubt nor hope. The fatal moment drew near. The next day, the next hour, could no longer be relied upon. M. Gutman and his sister were in constant attendance upon him, never for a single moment leaving him. The Countess Delphine Potocka, who was then absent from Paris, returned as soon as she was informed of his imminent danger. None of those who approached the dying artist, could tear themselves from the spectacle of this great and gifted soul in its hours of mortal anguish.
However violent or frivolous the passions may be which agitate our hearts, whatever strength or indifference may be displayed in meeting unforeseen or sudden accidents, which would seem necessarily overwhelming in their effects, it is impossible to escape the impression made by the imposing majesty of a lingering and beautiful death, which touches, softens, fascinates and elevates even the souls the least prepared for such holy and sublime emotions. The lingering and gradual departure of one among us for those unknown shores, the mysterious solemnity of his secret dreams, his commemoration of past facts and passing ideas when still breathing upon the narrow strait which separates time from eternity, affect us more deeply than any thing else in this world. Sudden catastrophes, the dreadful alternations forced upon the shuddering fragile ship, tossed like a toy by the wild breath of the tempest; the blood of the battle-field, with the gloomy smoke of artillery; the horrible charnel-house into which our own habitation is converted by a contagious plague; conflagrations which wrap whole cities in their glittering flames; fathomless abysses which open at our feet;—remove us less sensibly from all the fleeting attachments "which pass, which can be broken, which cease," than the prolonged view of a soul conscious of its own position, silently contemplating the multiform aspects of time and the mute door of eternity! The courage, the resignation, the elevation, the emotion, which reconcile it with that inevitable dissolution so repugnant to all our instincts, certainly impress the bystanders more profoundly than the most frightful catastrophes, which, in the confusion they create, rob the scene of its still anguish, its solemn meditation.
The parlor adjoining the chamber of Chopin was constantly occupied by some of his friends, who, one by one, in turn, approached him to receive a sign of recognition, a look of affection, when he was no longer able to address them in words. On Sunday, the 15th of October, his attacks were more violent and more frequent—lasting for several hours in succession. He endured them with patience and great strength of mind. The Countess Delphine Potocka, who was present, was much distressed; her tears were flowing fast when he observed her standing at the foot of his bed, tall, slight, draped in white, resembling the beautiful angels created by the imagination of the most devout among the painters. Without doubt, he supposed her to be a celestial apparition; and when the crisis left him a moment in repose, he requested her to sing; they deemed him at first seized with delirium, but he eagerly repeated his request. Who could have ventured—to oppose his wish? The piano was rolled from his parlor to the door of his chamber, while, with sobs in her voice, and tears streaming down her cheeks, his gifted countrywoman sang. Certainly, this delightful voice had never before attained an expression so full of profound pathos. He seemed to suffer less as he listened. She sang that famous Canticle to the Virgin, which, it is said, once saved the life of Stradella. "How beautiful it is!" he exclaimed. "My God, how very beautiful! Again—again!" Though overwhelmed with emotion, the Countess had the noble courage to comply with the last wish of a friend, a compatriot; she again took a seat at the piano, and sung a hymn from Marcello. Chopin again feeling worse, everybody was seized with fright—by a spontaneous impulse all who were present threw themselves upon their knees—no one ventured to speak; the sacred silence was only broken by the voice of the Countess, floating, like a melody from heaven, above the sighs and sobs which formed its heavy and mournful earth-accompaniment. It was the haunted hour of twilight; a dying light lent its mysterious shadows to this sad scene—the sister of Chopin prostrated near his bed, wept and prayed—and never quitted this attitude of supplication while the life of the brother she had so cherished lasted.
His condition altered for the worse during the night, but he felt more tranquil upon Monday morning, and as if he had known in advance the appointed and propitious moment, he asked to receive immediately the last sacraments. In the absence of the Abbe ——, with whom he had been very intimate since their common expatriation, he requested that the Abbe Jelowicki, one of the most distinguished men of the Polish emigration, should be sent for. When the holy Viaticum was administered to him, he received it, surrounded by those who loved him, with great devotion. He called his friends a short time afterwards, one by one, to his bedside, to give each of them his last earnest blessing; calling down the grace of God fervently upon themselves, their affections, and their hopes,—every knee bent—every head bowed—all eyes were heavy with tears—every heart was sad and oppressed—every soul elevated.
Attacks more and more painful, returned and continued during the day; from Monday night until Tuesday, he did not utter a single word. He did not seem able to distinguish the persons who were around him. About eleven o'clock on Tuesday evening, he appeared to revive a little. The Abbe Jelowicki had never left him. Hardly had he recovered the power of speech, than he requested him to recite with him the prayers and litanies for the dying. He was able to accompany the Abbe in an audible and intelligible voice. From this moment until his death, he held his head constantly supported upon the shoulder of M. Gutman, who, during the whole course of this sickness, had devoted his days and nights to him.
A convulsive sleep lasted until the 17th of October, 1849. The final agony commenced about two o'clock; a cold sweat ran profusely from his brow; after a short drowsiness, he asked, in a voice scarcely audible: "Who is near me?" Being answered, he bent his head to kiss the hand of M. Gutman, who still supported it—while giving this last tender proof of love and gratitude, the soul of the artist left its fragile clay. He died as he had lived—in loving.
When the doors of the parlor were opened, his friends threw themselves around the loved corpse, not able to suppress the gush of tears.
His love for flowers being well known, they were brought in such quantities the next day, that the bed in which they had placed them, and indeed the whole room, almost disappeared, hidden by their varied and brilliant hues. He seemed to repose in a garden of roses. His face regained its early beauty, its purity of expression, its long unwonted serenity. Calmly—with his youthful loveliness, so long dimmed by bitter suffering, restored by death, he slept among the flowers he loved, the last long and dreamless sleep!
M. Clesinger reproduced the delicate traits, to which death had rendered their early beauty, in a sketch which he immediately modeled, and which he afterwards executed in marble for his tomb.
The respectful admiration which Chopin felt for the genius of Mozart, had induced him to request that his Requiem should be performed at his obsequies; this wish was complied with. The funeral ceremonies took place in the Madeleine Church, the 30th of October, 1849. They had been delayed until this date, in order that the execution of this great work should be worthy of the master and his disciple. The principal artists in Paris were anxious to take part in it. The FUNERAL MARCH of Chopin, arranged for the instruments for this occasion by M. Reber, was introduced at the Introit. At the Offertory, M. Lefebure Vely executed his admirable PRELUDES in SI and MI MINOR upon the organ. The solos of the REQUIEM were claimed by Madame Viardot and Madame Castellan. Lablache, who had sung the TUBA MIRUM of this REQUIEM at the burial of Beethoven in 1827, again sung it upon this occasion. M. Meyerbeer, with Prince Adam Czartoryski, led the train of mourners. The pall was borne by M. Delacroix, M. Franchomme, M. Gutman, and Prince Alexander Czartorvski.—However insufficient these pages may be to speak of Chopin as we would have desired, we hope that the attraction which so justly surrounds his name, will compensate for much that may be wanting in them. If to these lines, consecrated to the commemoration of his works and to all that he held dear, which the sincere esteem, enthusiastic regard, and intense sorrow for his loss, can alone gift with persuasive and sympathetic power, it were necessary to add some of the thoughts awakened in every man when death robs him of the loved contemporaries of his youth, thus breaking the first ties linked by the confiding and deluded heart with so much the greater pain if they were strong enough to survive that bright period of young life, we would say that in the same—year we have lost the two dearest friends we have known on earth. One of them perished in the wild course of civil war. Unfortunate and valiant hero! He fell with his burning courage unsubdued, his intrepid calmness undisturbed, his chivalric temerity unabated, through the endurance of the horrible tortures of a fearful death. He was a Prince of rare intelligence, of great activity, of eminent faculties, through whose veins the young blood circulated with the glittering ardor of a subtle gas. By his own indefatigable energy he had just succeeded in removing the difficulties which obstructed his path, in creating an arena in which his faculties might hare displayed themselves with as much success in debates and the management of civil affairs, as they had already done in brilliant feats in arms. The other, Chopin, died slowly, consuming himself in the flames of his own genius. His life, unconnected with public events, was like some fact which has never been incorporated in a material body. The traces of his existence are only to be found in the works which he has left. He ended his days upon a foreign soil, which he never considered as his country, remaining faithful in the devotion of his affections to the eternal widowhood of his own. He was a Poet of a mournful soul, full of reserve and complicated mystery, and familiar with the stern face of sorrow.
The immediate interest which we felt in the movements of the parties to which the life of Prince Felix Lichnowsky was bound, was broken by his death: the death of Chopin has robbed us of all the consolations of an intelligent and comprehensive friendship. The affectionate sympathy with our feelings, with our manner of understanding art, of which this exclusive artist has given us so many proofs, would have softened the disappointment and weariness which yet await us, and have strengthened is in our earliest tendencies, confirmed us in our first essays.
Since it has fallen to our lot to survive them, we wish at least to express the sincere regret we feel for their loss. We deem ourselves bound to offer the homage of our deep and respectful sorrow upon the grave of the remarkable musician who has just passed from among us. Music is at present receiving such great and general development, that it reminds us of that which took place in painting in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Even the artists who limited the productions of their genius to the margins of parchments, painted their miniatures with an inspiration so happy, that having broken through the Byzantine stiffness, they left the most exquisite types, which the Francias, the Peruginos, and the Raphaels to come were to transport to their frescos, and introduce upon their canvas.
There have been people among whom, in order to preserve the memory of their great men or the signal events of their history, it was the custom to form pyramids composed of the stones which each passer-by was expected to bring to the pile, which gradually increased to an unlooked-for height from the anonymous contributions of all. Monuments are still in our days erected by an analogous proceeding, but in place of building only a rude and unformed hillock, in consequence of a fortunate combination the contribution of all concurs in the creation of some work of art, which is not only destined to perpetuate the mute remembrance which they wish to honor, but which may have the power to awaken in future ages the feelings which gave birth to such creation, the emotions of the contemporaries which called it into being. The subscriptions which are opened to raise statues and noble memorials to those who have rendered their epoch or country illustrious, originate in this design. Immediately after the death of Chopin, M. Camille Pleyel conceived a project of this kind. He commenced a subscription, (which conformably to the general expectation rapidly amounted to a considerable sum,) to have the monument modeled by M. Clesinger, executed in marble and placed in the Pere La-Chaise. In thinking over our long friendship with Chopin; on the exceptional admiration which we have always felt for him ever since his appearance in the musical world; remembering that, artist like himself, we have been the frequent interpreter of his inspirations, an interpreter, we may safely venture to say, loved and chosen by himself; that we have more frequently than others received from his own lips the spirit of his style; that we were in some degree identified with his creations in art, and with the feelings which he confided to it, through that long and constant assimilation which obtains between a writer and his translator;—we have fondly thought that these connective circumstances imposed upon us a higher and nearer duty than that of merely adding an unformed and anonymous stone to the growing pyramid of homage which his contemporaries are elevating to him. We believed that the claims of a tender friendship for our illustrious colleague, exacted from us a more particular expression of our profound regret, of our high admiration. It appeared to us that we would not be true to ourselves, did we not court the honor of inscribing our name, our deep affliction, upon his sepulchral stone! This should be granted to those who never hope to fill the void in their hearts left by an irreparable loss!...