his idol should know that she had no unworthy lover.
He would give a concert, and Miss Smithson should
be present by hook or by crook. He went to Cherubini
and asked permission to use the great hall of the
Conservatoire, but was churlishly refused. Berlioz
however, managed to secure the concession over the
head of Cherubini, and advertised his concert.
He went to large expense in copyists, orchestra, solo-singers,
and chorus, and, when the night came, was almost fevered
with expectation. But the concert was a failure,
and the adored one was not there; she had not even
heard of it! The disappointment nearly laid the
young composer on a bed of sickness; but, if he oscillated
between deliriums of hope and despair, his powerful
will was also full of elasticity, and not for long
did he even rave in the utter ebb of disappointment.
Throughout the whole of his life, Berlioz displayed
this swiftness of recoil; one moment crazed with grief
and depression, the next he would bend to his labor
with a cool, steady fixedness of purpose, which would
sweep all interferences aside like cobwebs. But
still, night after night, he would haunt the Odeon,
and drink in the sights and sounds of the magic world
of Shakespeare, getting fresh inspiration nightly
for his genius and love. If he paid dearly for
this rich intellectual acquaintance by his passion
for La Belle Smithson, he yet gained impulses and
suggestions for his imagination, ravenous of new impressions,
which wrought deeply and permanently. Had Berlioz
known the outcome, he would not have bartered for
immunity by losing the jewels and ingots of the Shakespeare
The year 1830 was for Berlioz one of alternate exaltation
and misery; of struggle, privation, disappointment;
of all manner of torments inseparable from such a
volcanic temperament and restless brain. But he
had one consolation which gratified his vanity.
He gained the Prix de Rome by his cantata of “Sardanapalus.”
This honor had a practical value also. It secured
him an annuity of three thousand francs for a period
of five years, and two years’ residence in Italy.
Berlioz would never let “well enough”
alone, however. He insisted on adding an orchestral
part to the completed score, describing the grand
conflagration of the palace of Sardanapalus.
When the work was produced, it was received with a
howl of sarcastic derision, owing to the latest whim
of the composer. So Berlioz started for Italy,
smarting with rage and pain, as if the Furies were
lashing him with their scorpion whips.
The pensioners of the Conservatoire lived at Rome
in the Villa Medici, and the illustrious painter,
Horace Vernet, was the director, though he exercised
but little supervision over the studies of the young
men under his nominal charge. Berlioz did very
much as he pleased—studied little or much
as the whim seized him, visited the churches, studios,
and picture-galleries, and spent no little of his