No wonder, that, when she appeared there, it was to be as the priestess of Beethoven. It takes something besides an academy to train artists up to Beethoven. Robert was forbidden to write to her; but the “Schwaermibriefe of Eusebius to Chiara,” utterly unintelligible to the general reader of the “Zeitschrift,” who, doubtless, fancied that its editor had gone mad, were quite clear to a certain little lady in Vienna, who consequently pined less than her father had anticipated.
“Amid all our musical soul-feasts,” he writes, “there always peeps out an angel-face, which more than resembles a certain Clara. Why art thou not with us? (Warum!) And how thou wilt have thought of us last night, from the ‘Meeresstille’ to the flaming close of the A major symphony! I also thought of thee then, Chiara, pure one, bright one, whose hands are stretched towards Italy, whither thy longing draws thee, but thy dreamy eye still turned to us.”
At length a sun-burst. In 1840 appeared the first number of Schumann’s “Myrthen,” whose dedication, Seiner geliebten Braut, breaks forth in the passionate and beautiful song,—“Thou my soul, O thou my heart!”
But this word Braut means Bride in the German sense of “affianced”; and although the joy of this relation passed over Schumann like the breath of a Tropic, bringing forth, amongst other gorgeous fruits, his glorious First Symphony, which some one has well called the Symphony of Bliss, yet, ere this bliss was more than an elusive vision, the two passed through fierce wildernesses, and drank together of bitter Marahs. “But of all this,” said Florestan, “you will know, if you have the right to know, from these,”—his “Voice from afar,” and his “Night-Pieces.”
Neither of us dared break the silence claimed by these exquisite pieces when they ceased; we shook hands and parted without a word.
But another mystery about the loved and lost master, which I longed to have revealed, would not let me leave the city. In the afternoon I sought Boehner, and asked him to walk with me. As soon as we had alluded to the one subject that bound us together, I requested him to tell me, what had not yet been given to the world, the details of Schumann’s insanity and death.
Then, as one who takes up a heavy burden to bear it, he proceeded:—
“The heart of Robert Schumann was a lyre so delicate, and with strings so sensitive, that the effect of his pains and his joys, both always in extremes, was as if you gave an AEolian harp to be swept now by a cold north-wind and now by a hot sirocco. His spirit wore on to the confines of his flesh, and was not warmly covered thereby, but only veiled. Under his grief he seemed stronger; but when his joy came, when Clara was his own, and went through Europe with him, giving expression to the voices within, which, to him, had been unutterable,—then we saw that the emotions which would have been safe, had they been suffered to well up gently from the first, could come forth now only as a fierce and perhaps devastating torrent.