Deterioration of Chopin’s state of health.—Two letters.—Removes from the square D’ORLEANS to the rue Chaillot.—Pecuniary circumstances.—A curious story.—Reminiscences and letters connected with Chopin’s stay in the rue Chaillot.—Removes to no. 12, Place Vendome.—Last days, and death.—Funeral.—Last resting-place.—Monument and commemoration in 1850.
The physical condition in which we saw Chopin in the preceding chapter was not the outcome of a newly-contracted disease, but only an acuter phase of that old disease from which he had been suffering more or less for at least twelve years, and which in all probability he inherited from his father, who like himself died of a chest and heart complaint. [Footnote: My authority for this statement is Dr. Lyschinski, who must have got his information either from Chopin himself or his mother. That Chopin’s youngest sister, Emilia, died of consumption in early life cannot but be regarded as a significant fact.] Long before Chopin went in search of health to Majorca, ominous symptoms showed themselves; and when he returned from the south, he was only partly restored, not cured.
My attachment [writes George Sand in “Ma Vie”] could work this miracle of making him a little calm and happy, only because God had approved of it by preserving a little of his health. He declined, however, visibly, and I knew no longer what remedies to employ in order to combat the growing irritation of his nerves. The death of his friend Dr. Matuszynski, then that of his own father, [footnote: Nicholas Chopin died on May 3, 1844. About Matuszynski’s death see page 158.] were to him two terrible blows. The Catholic dogma throws on death horrible terrors. Chopin, instead of dreaming for these pure souls a better world, had only dreadful visions, and I was obliged to pass very many nights in a room adjoining his, always ready to rise a hundred times from my work in order to drive away the spectres of his sleep and wakefulness. The idea of his own death appeared to him accompanied with all the superstitious imaginings of Slavonic poetry. As a Pole he lived under the nightmare of legends. The phantoms called him, clasped him, and, instead of seeing his father and his friend smile at him in the ray of faith, he repelled their fleshless faces from his own and struggled under the grasp of their icy hands.
But a far more terrible blow than the deaths of his friend and his father was his desertion by George Sand, and we may be sure that it aggravated his disease a hundredfold. To be convinced of this we have only to remember his curse on Lucrezia (see the letter to Grzymala of November 17-18, 1848).