By Friedrich Kerst
Mozart’s love for his father made him dependent on the latter to the end of his days. He was a model son and must have loved his wife devotedly, since, for her sake, he once in his life disobeyed his father. The majority of his letters which have been preserved are addressed to his father, to whom he reported all his happenings and whose advice he is forever seeking. Similar were his relations with his sister Marianne (Nannerl), whom he loved with great tenderness. The letters to his wife are unique; all of them, even the last, seem to be the letters of a lover. They were a pair of turtle-doves.
Mozart was an ideal friend, ready to sacrifice to the uttermost on the altar of friendship. It was this trait of character which made him throw himself with enthusiasm into Freemasonry, whose affiliations he sought to widen by drafting the constitution of a community which he called “The Grotto.” He probably hated only one man in the world,--the Archbishop of Salzburg, his tormentor.
185. “The moment you do not trust me I shall distrust myself. The time is past, it is true, when I used to stand on the settle, sing oragna fiagata fa and kiss the tip end of your nose; but have I therefore shown laxity in respect, love and obedience? I say no more.”
(Mannheim, February 19, 1779, to his father, who was vexed because Mozart was showing a disposition to stay in Mannheim, because of a love affair, instead of going to Paris. “Off with you to Paris, and soon!” wrote the father. The Italian words are meaningless and but a bit of child’s play, the nature of which can be gathered from Mozart’s remark.)
186. “Pray do not let your mind often harbor the thought that I shall ever forget you! It is intolerable to me. My chief aim in life has been, is, and will be to strive so that we may soon be reunited and happy....Reflect that you have a son who will never consciously forget his filial duty toward you, and who will labor ever to grow more worthy of so good a father.”
(Mannheim, February 28, 1778, to his father.)
187. “The first thing I did after reading your letter was to go on my knees, and, out of a full heart, thank my dear God for this mercy. Now I am again at peace, since I know that I need no longer be concerned about the two persons who are the dearest things on earth to me.”
(Paris, July 31, 1778, to his father, who had written that he and Nannerl had comforted each other on the death of his mother.)
188. “Dearest, best of fathers! I wish you all conceivable good; whatever can be wished, that I wish you,--but no, I wish you nothing, but myself everything. For myself, then, I wish that you remain well and live innumerable years to my great happiness and pleasure; I wish that everything that I undertake may agree with your desire and liking,--or, rather, that I may undertake nothing which might not turn out to your joy. This also I hope, for whatever adds to the happiness of your son must naturally be agreeable also to you.”
(Vienna, November 16, 1781, to his father, congratulating him on his name-day. On March 17, 1778, Mozart had written from Mannheim: “Your accuracy extends to all things. ‘Papa comes directly after God’ was my maxim as a child and I shall stick to it.”)
189. “Our little cousin is pretty, sensible, amiable, clever and merry, all because she has been in society; she visited Munich for a while. You are right, we suit each other admirably, for she, too, is a bit naughty. We play great pranks on the people hereabouts.”
(Augsburg, October 17, 1777, to his father. The “little cousin” was two years younger than Mozart. Her father was a master bookbinder in Augsburg. The maiden seems later to have had serious designs on the composer.)
190. “I shall be right glad when I meet a place in which there is a court. I tell you that if I did not have so fine a Mr. Cousin and Miss Cousin and so dear a little cousin, my regrets that I am in Augsburg would be as numerous as the hairs of my head.”
(Augsburg, October 17, 1777, to his father, whose birthplace he was visiting on a concert tour. Mozart was vexed at the insolence of the patricians.)
191. “In the case of Frau Lange I was a fool,--that’s certain; but what is a fellow not when he’s in love? I did really love her, and am not indifferent toward her even now. It’s lucky for me that her husband is a jealous fool and never permits her to go anywhere, so that I seldom see her.”
(Vienna, May 12, 1781, to his father, at the time when he was being outrageously treated by the Archbishop. Frau Lange was Aloysia Weber, sister of Constanze, to whom Mozart transferred his love and whom he made his wife. Aloysia married an actor at the Court Theatre, Josef Lange, with whom she lived unhappily.)
192. “I will not say that when at the house of the Mademoiselle to whom I seem already to have been married off, I am morose and silent; but neither am I in love. I jest with her and amuse her when I have time (which is only evenings when I sup at home, for in the forenoons I write in my room and in the afternoons I am seldom at home); only that and nothing more. If I were obliged to marry all the girls with whom I have jested I should have at least 200 wives.”
(Vienna, July 25, 1781, to his father, who had heard all manner of tales concerning the relations of Mozart and Constanze Weber.)
193. “My good, dear Constanze is the martyr, and, perhaps for that very reason, the best hearted, cleverest, and (in a word) the best of them all. She assumes all the cares of the house, and yet does not seem able to accomplish anything. O, best of fathers, I could write pages if I were to tell you all the scenes that have taken place in this house because of us two....Constanze is not ugly, but anything but beautiful; all her beauty consists of two little black eyes and a handsome figure. She is not witty but has enough common sense to be able to perform her duties as wife and mother. She is not inclined to finery,--that is utterly false; on the contrary, she is generally ill clad, for the little that the mother was able to do for her children was done for the other two—nothing for her. True she likes to be neatly and cleanly, though not extravagantly, dressed, and she can herself make most of the clothes that a woman needs; she also dresses her own hair every day, understands housekeeping, has the best heart in the world,--tell me, could I wish a better wife?”
(Vienna, December 15, 1781, to his father. Constanze seems to have been made for Mozart; they went through the years of their brief wedded life like two children.)
194. “Dearest, best of friends!”
“Surely you will let me call you that? You can not hate me so greatly as not to permit me to be your friend, and yourself to become mine? And even if you do not want to be my friend longer, you can not forbid me to think kindly of you as I have been in the habit of doing. Consider well what you said to me today. Despite my entreaties you gave me the mitten three times and told me to my face that you would have nothing further to do with me. I, to whom it is not such a matter of indifference as it is to you to lose a sweetheart, am not so hot tempered, inconsiderate or unwise as to accept that mitten. I love you too dearly for that. I therefore beg you to ponder on the cause of your indignation. A little confession of your thoughtless conduct would have made all well,--if you do not take it ill, dear friend, may still make all well. From this you see how much I love you. I do not flare up as you do; I think, I consider, and I feel. If you have any feeling I am sure that I will be able to say to myself before night: Constanze is the virtuous, honor-loving, sensible and faithful sweetheart of just and well-meaning Mozart.”
(Vienna, April 29, 1782, to his fiancee, Constanze Weber. She had played at a game of forfeits such as was looked upon lightly by the frivolous society of the period in Vienna. Mozart rebuked her and she broke off the engagement. The letter followed and soon thereafter a reconciliation. Mozart had said to her: “No girl who is jealous of her honor would do such a thing.”)
195. “She is an honest, good girl of decent parents;--I am able to provide her with bread;--we love each other and want each other!...It is better to put one’s things to rights and be an honest fellow!--God will give the reward! I do not want to have anything to reproach myself with.”
(Vienna, July 31, 1782, to his father, who had given his consent, hesitatingly and unwillingly, to the marriage of his son who was twenty-six years old. On August 7 Mozart wrote to him: “I kiss your hands and thank you with all the tenderness which a son should feel for his father, for your kind permission and paternal blessing.”)
196. “If I were to tell you all the things that I do with your portrait, you would laugh heartily. For instance when I take it out of its prison house I say ‘God bless you, Stanzerl! God bless you, you little rascal,--Krallerballer—Sharpnose—little Bagatelle!’ And when I put it back I let it slip down slowly and gradually and say ‘Nu,--Nu,--Nu,--Nu;’ but with the emphasis which this highly significant word demands, and at the last, quickly: ‘Good-night, little Mouse, sleep well!’ Now, I suppose, I have written down a lot of nonsense (at least so the world would think); but for us, who love each other so tenderly, it isn’t altogether silly.”
(Dresden, April 13, 1789, to his wife in Vienna.)
197. “Dear little wife, I have a multitude of requests;
1mo, I beg of you not to be sad.
“2do, that you take care of your health and not trust the spring air.
“3tio, that you refrain from walking out alone, or, better, do not walk out at all.
“4to, that you rest assured of my love. Not a letter have I written to you but that your portrait was placed in front of mine.
“5to, I beg of you to consider not only my honor and yours in your conduct but also in appearances. Do not get angry because of this request. You ought to love me all the more because I make so much of honor.”
(Dresden, April 16, 1789, to his wife, in Vienna, who was fond of life’s pleasures.)
198. “You can not imagine how slowly time goes when you are not with me! I can’t describe the feeling; there is a sort of sense of emptiness, which hurts—a certain longing which can not be satisfied, and hence never ends, but grows day by day. When I remember how childishly merry we were in Baden, and what mournful, tedious hours I pass here, my work gives me no pleasure, because it is not possible as was my wont, to chat a few words with you when stopping for a moment. If I go to the Clavier and sing something from the opera (Die Zauberflote) I must stop at once because of my emotions.—Basta!”
(Vienna, July 7, 1791, to his wife, who was taking the waters at Baden.)
199. “I call only him or her a friend who is a friend under all circumstances, who thinks day or night of nothing else than to promote the welfare of a friend, who urges all well-to-do friends and works himself to make the other person happy.”
(Kaisersheim, December 18, 1778, to his father. Mozart was making the journey from Mannheim to Munich in the carriage of a prelate. The parting with his Mannheim friends, especially with Frau Cannabich, his motherly friend, was hard. “For me, who never made a more painful parting than this, the journey was only half pleasant—it would even have been a bore, if from childhood I had not been accustomed to leave people, countries and cities.”)
200. “Permit me to beg for a continuance of your precious friendship, and to ask you to accept mine for now and forever; with an honest heart I vow it to you everlastingly. True it will be of little use to you; but it will be the more durable and honest for that reason. You know that the best and truest friends are the poor. Rich people know nothing of friendship!--especially those who are born rich and those who have become rich fortuitously,--they are too often wrapped up completely in their own luck! But there is nothing to fear from a man who has been placed in advantageous circumstances, not through blind, but deserved good fortune, through merit,--a man who did not lose courage because of his first failures,--who remained true to his religion and trust in God, was a good Christian and an honest man and cherished and valued his true friend,--in a word,--a man who has deserved better fortune—from such a man, there is nothing to fear.”
(Paris, August 7, 1778, to his friend Bullinger, in Salzburg, to whom he felt beholden for the gentle and considerate way in which he had broken the news of his mother’s death to the family.)
201. “My friend, had I but the money which many a man who does not deserve it wastes so miserably,--if I only had it! O, with what joy would I not help you!--But, alas! those who can will not, and those who would like to can not!”
(Paris, July 29, 1778, to Fridolin Weber, father of Constanze.
The letter was found but recently among some Goethe autographs.)