Haydn wrote The Seasons, as it were, under protest, and he always declared that it gave him the finishing touch. He composed little more, but arranged accompaniments for Scotch songs for one Mr. Whyte, of Edinburgh. His powers failed fast. The last time he conducted in public, The Seven Words—now with the words—was the piece. This was in 1807. He was now without a rival in Vienna. Gluck had been dead twenty years, and Mozart had died in 1791; Beethoven was regarded as a great eccentric genius who would not rightly apply his undoubted talents. The last time Haydn was seen in public at all was on November 27, 1808. He was far too weak to dream of conducting. He was carried to the hall, and great ladies disputed as to who should be allowed to throw their wraps over him to protect him against the cold. He was taken away after the first part. He still lingered on a while. Next year—1809—Vienna was bombarded by the French, who had done the same thing in 1805, and when the victorious army came in a French officer visited him and sang “In Native Worth.” On May 26 Haydn called in his servants and played the National Hymn three times; he was then carried to his bed, and on May 29, he died.
He was buried at Hundsthurm Churchyard with military honours, the French invaders helping, on June 15. Mozart’s Requiem was sung later, in memoriam. In 1820 Prince Esterhazy had the remains, or such of them as had not been stolen, transferred to Eisenstadt.
As small a proportion as possible of my space has been devoted to technical matters, and I have only used text-book terminology where no other served to explain what Haydn did in building up the symphony form. This spade-work of his Esterhazy period was of the greatest importance to himself, to Mozart and to Beethoven. He is the only composer of the first rank who did second-rate work of immense and immediate value to his successors, just as he is the only second-rate writer who ever in his age rose to be a composer of the first rank. Both as pioneer and perfecter and as great original composer I have sought roughly to place him. A few remarks about the man and his habits and characteristics may be added.
His methodical habits and neatness have already been mentioned. He must have been a first-rate companion, friend and master. His successive Princes loved him, his band adored him. He was generous; there is not a mean action to his discredit. His will was a wonder of good-feeling and discretion; and when old he was still glad to make money, that he might leave more to his poor relatives. He seems always to have been in love with one lady or another, and it was more by luck than anything else that he got into no serious scrapes. His method of working was as regular as his other habits. He sat at the piano extemporizing until he got his themes into