Chopin journeys to Vienna by way of cracow and Ojcow.—Stays there for some weeks, playing twice in public.—Returns to Warsaw by way of Prague, Dresden, and Breslau.
It was about the middle of July, 1829, that Chopin, accompanied by his friends Celinski, Hube, and Francis Maciejowski, set out on his journey to Vienna. They made a week’s halt at the ancient capital of the Polish Republic, the many-towered Cracow, which rises picturesquely in a landscape of great loveliness. There they explored the town and its neighbourhood, both of which are rich in secular and ecclesiastical buildings, venerable by age and historical associations, not a few of them remarkable also as fine specimens of architecture. Although we have no detailed account of Chopin’s proceedings, we may be sure that our patriotic friend did not neglect to look for and contemplate the vestiges of his nation’s past power and greatness: the noble royal palace, degraded, alas, into barracks for the Austrian soldiery; the grand, impressive cathedral, in which the tombs of the kings present an epitome of Polish history; the town-hall, a building of the 14th century; the turreted St. Florian’s gate; and the monumental hillock, erected on the mountain Bronislawa in memory of Kosciuszko by the hands of his grateful countrymen, of which a Frenchman said:—“Void une eloquence touts nouvelle: un peuple qui ne peut s’exprimer par la parole ou par les livres, et qui parle par des montagnes.” On a Sunday afternoon, probably on the 24th of July, the friends left Cracow, and in a rustic vehicle drove briskly to Ojcow. They were going to put up not in the place itself, but at a house much patronised by tourists, lying some miles distant from it and the highway. This circumstance led to something like a romantic incident, for as the driver was unacquainted with the bye-roads, they got into a small brook, “as clear and silvery bright as brooks in fairytales,” and having walls of rock on the right and left, they were unable to extricate themselves “from this labyrinth.” Fortunately they met towards nine o’clock in the evening two peasants who conducted them to their destination, the inn of Mr. Indyk, in which also the Polish authoress Clementina Tanska, who has described this district in one of her works, had lodged—a fact duly reported by Chopin to his sister Isabella and friend Titus. Arriving not only tired but also wet to above the knees, his first business was to guard against taking a cold. He bought a Cracow double-woven woollen night-cap, which he cut in two pieces and wrapped round his feet. Then he sat down by the fire, drank a glass of red wine, and, after talking for a little while longer, betook himself to bed, and slept the sleep of the just. Thus ended the adventure of that day, and, to all appearance,