15. TO HIS MOTHER (1)

MEUDON, 12th Sept: 1841.

MY BEST LITTLE MOTHER—It is my turn at length to be able to offer you an equally joyful and hearty congratulation on your birthday ! Please do not think I have ever forgotten you, even when I was silent and let nothing be heard of me. Ah, I believe I've told you once before, there have been times when I really avoided arousing your interest anew in my fortunes. Then I prayed God in silence to preserve your life and health, since I hoped in time to reap a reward from even my endeavour that should make it more gratifying to me to shew you my face again. Let those who don't know me say: "He should have acted so—he ought to have done this or that," as much as they like,—they all are wrong! So long as it comports with one's inner sense of right and wrong, every man who would attain to true inner and outer independence ought decidedly to strike the path his own more serious inclination and a certain irresistible inner impulse bid. Without needing to be particularly magnani mous, the world may very well forgive him the sufferings he thus draws down upon himself; only who would fain relieve those sufferings, has the right to tender him advice,—but whoever is unable to relieve them notwithstanding, must eke put up with seeing his advice not followed after all. I'm sure I am none of your headstrong, unbendable characters: on the contrary, I am rightly accused of too feminine an inner mobility; but I have quite enough staying power to keep me from abandoning a road once struck, before I have convinced myself of all its bearings. And that's what has happened to me with Paris:—

I have won the firm conviction that for at least as long as I can only wage the contest with my personal powers, it is absolutely impossible for me to prevail here. To those who predicted me pretty much the same, I reply that their mere forecast on hearsay could have carried no weight with me. When such a man as Meyerbeer, on the contrary, emboldened me to rush into the fray, hardly any one will be surprised that a young man like myself preferred trying—to turning tail without a stroke. And Meyerbeer was right; the qualifications I lacked—renown and money— might be very well made good to me by others, and he offered to lend a helping hand himself through his considerable influence. Meyerbeer's having been obliged to keep away precisely all this time from Paris, that was the misfortune in store for me; for operations at a distance count for nothing in Paris,—the personage is everything.

Consequently I had soon to see myself con strained to prosecute with my own powers a battle I had undertaken in reliance on the aid of others. And that attempt I had to venture also. Had I been one of those frivolous creatures of the present mode, had I any sort of flashy talent for the salon, it would doubtless have been possible to push my way into this or that coterie which perhaps would have given me a lift at length, even without intrinsic merit.—Well may I say Thank God I'm not cut out for that! I have been bound to despise whomever I have seen succeed in that way; such an indomitable disgust has seized me at these good-for-nothings, that I really account myself lucky not to have taken their taste at all.—So, what is left me with Paris, is to devote to my frugal subsistence the resources of an arduous métier I have opened for myself here with a music-publisher, and calmly thus abide the time when luck and chance shall help me whither I would go. Moreover, that is what I shall be compelled to fall back upon, provided the good- fortune now presenting itself to me from another quarter should not attain complete fulfilment.—

That good-fortune is the definitive acceptance of my opera for Dresden. In my last letter I made you all acquainted with the position of my Dresden affairs, at the same time informing you of the steps I had taken toward the success of my enterprise. Those steps, my dear Mother, it heartily rejoices me to be able to tell you,—have completely succeeded. As early as the beginning of July I received LÜTTICHAU 's letter, announcing to me in the most flattering terms that, after mature examination of its text and score, my opera "Rienzi" had been accepted for representa tion in Dresden, and would be produced the beginning of next year at latest.— 

Even in this announcement, best Mother, I have to recognise an extraordinary piece of great good luck. If one reflects that I still am without any name as composer, and considers of what a genre my opera is, one will understand what I mean: a point I've already dwelt on in my last letter. Winkler has assured me they would do everything with my opera to shew off the new theatre in all its glory ; so, if they meet my requirements, they'll have enormous expenses; since the first production of an opera like this, which I strictly had reckoned for Paris, must be attended with all possible luxury. But nowhere— not even at Berlin or Vienna—could I find a more excellent cast, than in Dresden, for the leading rôles of my Rienzi :—the DEVRIENT and TICHATSCHEK—I surely need say no more.—In short, if God disposes all things happily, this may prove the lucky turning in my life.— 

I have made up my mind to start for Dresden about a fortnight before the performance; so I shall see you again, my good motherkin, at last— at last !—You may imagine the delight this thought, this certainty affords me !—Heaven will grant me to find you quite safe and sound; and if a down right fine success is reserved for me at Dresden in addition,—I fancy such wishes may form my best congratulation to you even to-day.—How many, many years have I waited, fought and struggled. to be able to rejoice you with a piece of news like this. It gives me a positive shudder, to think that, at my next glimpse of you, almost six years will have flown since I parted from you last: great God, who would ever have thought it! I shall find you all again—except dear Rosalie!! Ah, it had always been so fond a thought to me to make precisely her, who had watched the throes of my development at such close quarters and often with such painful feelings, a witness also of the happier issues of my frantic efforts,— —and now I must approach her grave !— —God, God but keep my darling Mother in good health, and grant her still the strength to revel in her children's prospering!

We shall not come to harm! Even Albert won't, shan't, and cannot! Let Fortune only smile on one of us,—the good luck of one is the other's also. Perhaps Heaven may even make my self the channel, and prepare me an engagement in which I can push Albert's best wishes !—I don't want to look ridiculous through speaking out what I am thinking, what I hope,—for what are thoughts and hopes ?—but things must mend, and he is worthiest to taste good luck, who comes home from out the storm with all the teachings of misfortune I— —

Best love to each and all! We soon shall meet again, and let things around us figure as they may, —our hearts will have remained the old ones, and — —everything's bound to come right! Preserve thee, dear Motherkin, for Thy faithful son

RICHARD.


( 1) Address : "To Mother"; an enclosure to another letter.