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From the Saturday Review.
THE lives of musicians form a remark- two years which were by far the least able contrast, in their wealth of interest eventful. These four hundred and thirtyand anecdote, to the tamer lives of poets six pages tell us only that Beethoven was and men of letters, but musicians have born, was educated, or rather taught hardly been more fortunate in their biog-music, suffered at the hands of his father, raphers than the poets and men of letters. was made court organist at Bonn, went to There seem to be only two ways of writ- Vienna and met Mozart, returned to Bonn ing the life of a great composer. The and gave lessons to support his family, one is to give a classified catalogue of his and then went back again to Vienna. works, the other to describe them by That is the sum and substance of the inmeans of rhapsodies. The man himself cidents of the book; none of them require retires with becoming modesty into the length or fullness of statement, and we background that the lives of his operas, should have thought forty pages a fair aloratorios, or symphonies may be told in lowance of space for them. But Herr the fullest detail. A quotation of a few Nohl has woven them in with undigested bars to give an idea of a sonata, or a masses of extraneous material, part of dithyramb about Poland to describe a which only has a faint bearing on the life piece of Chopin, is, perhaps, an equally of Beethoven. His birth at Bonn serves fatal symptom of musical biography. Or, to introduce a long description of the it sometimes happens that the life falls in- character of Rhinelanders and Westphato the hands of a man who knows nothing lians. His specifisches Deutschthum, a about music, and then, instead of having quality common to all German heroes, the music without the composer, we have brings in an account of the German charthe composer without the music. A good acter. A slight hint that Beethoven example of this kind of writing was fur- took an interest in politics justifies a chapnished by a catch-penny French Life of ter on the ancien régime, and another on Rossini, in which we found that Rossini the Revolution; his journey to Vienna had not the feu céleste, because he went leads us to an account of music in Austo market and bargained for asparagus. tria; and thus with histories of the Herr Nohl, who has published the first Elector of Cologne during whose reign volume of a life of Beethoven, is an im- Beethoven was born, and of the elector provement on his predecessors, and none under whom he passed his youth, with of these remarks apply to him. We shall catalogues of the musicians and men of have fault enough to find with him pres- letters who preceded or flourished cotemently, but we have no wish to include poraneously with him, of the members of him in censures which he does not de- the orchestra and theater at Bonn, and of serve. He has some better idea of the the repertory of the theater-we find ourduty of a biographer; he attempts to tell selves rather confused and weary at the the life of Beethoven both as man and as end of three hundred and forty-seven musician, and sensibly relegates the anal- pages of text, with about ninety pages of ysis of his works to a supplementary vol- notes to follow. It is almost a question But what we have to object to him if these notes are not the most interesting is, that he is diffuse beyond measure. part of the book, as most of the anecdotes This first volume of four hundred and are contained in them; and Herr Nohl thirty-six pages takes us over twenty-two has followed to some extent the example years of Beethoven's life, and the twenty-set by Mathias in his Pursuits of Litera ture, in supplementing a thin text with
* Beethoven's Jugend. Von LUDWIG NOHL, Vi- bulky notes and illustrations. enna: Markgraf.
The actual thread of Beethoven on
which all these pearls of Herr Nohl's own composition are strung, and which deserves to be unraveled from among the dissertations to which we have referred, is much as follows. Ludwig von Beethoven was born on December 17th, 1770, at No. 515 (hinterhaus) Bonngasse, Bonn. Our countrymen who visit Bonn seldom fail to follow the direction of their guidebook, and stand before the house in the Rheingasse which bears a delusive tablet setting forth that Beethoven was born in it. Herr Nohl shows that it was not till some years after Beethoven's birth that his family moved into the Rheingasse. The street in which he was really born was at the time a musical colony. His grandfather, Capellmeister to the Elector of Cologne, lived opposite; his father, court tenor with a salary of nearly £30 a year, took up his quarters in the hinterhaus aforesaid on his marriage; and chamber musicians, singers, violinists, hornists, whose names are all given by Herr Nohl, lived in the adjoining houses. Beethoven, whose latter years were rendered miserable by a nephew, began life as a martyr to his father. The court tenor, with a salary of nearly £30 a year, was given to drink, had a family which he could scarcely maintain, and, finding that his son showed an early taste for music, insisted on making him an infant phenomenon. The boy was often seen sitting on a bench, crying over his task; all remonstrances of the neighbors were thrown away; the father dragged his son to the piano and kept him there by constant applications on the ear, which, as one of the seats of musical aptitude, was no doubt in want of such peculiar training. The future composer had that desire of idleness and play with others of his own age which is most natural to a boy, be he a genius or not; but the father's object was to create a musical prodigy, and the only play he allowed was the piano or the violin. At the same time, all other branches of education were neglected. Arithmetic, which is so closely akin to the scientific part of music, and in which Mozart especially excelled, never came home to Beethoven. In later years he used to make long accounts on his window-shutters, using lines of 2's some yards in length, to find out how much twice fifty made; and his calculations of how many florins went to one hundred ducats occupied several shutters in his home near Vienna. Some collector
has an autograph of Beethoven's, with corrections by a tradesman. Beethoven ordered his cook to buy a number of little things which he wrote down on a paper with the prices attached, and the total added up below; but the tradesman at whose shop the things were bought found mistakes in the summing up, and corrected them, not without some severe reflections, we may suppose, on the great composer's ignorance of what every school-boy knew. During his first stay at Vienna, in 1792, Beethoven noted down in his diary an elementary work on mercantile reckoning, apparently with a view of supplying this deficiency. But this was not his only weak point. He was so ignorant of Latin that, in composing masses, he always got some other hand to write down the literal translation of the words. Yet his progress in music made full amends to his father, and went on more rapidly as well as more agreeably when the task of education was transferred to teachers. The first public mention of Beethoven as a performer is in a musical report of 1783, when he was thirteen, though the report speaks of him as eleven. In the same year he published three sonatas which his father made him compose; they were advertised as an admirable composition of a young genius of eleven, and were dedicated to the Elector of Cologne in words of most astonishing bombast. Herr Nohl conjectures that the dedication was written for Beethoven by his then master, who was rather given to such flights of rhetoric. It does not seem to have produced the desired effect on the elector, as Beethoven applied next year for a place as court organist, and was unsuccessful.
However, the father had gained his end his son was a prodigy; and in 1785, after the accession of a new elector, the appointment of court organist was granted. This new elector was an active patron of all intellectual pursuits. Maximilian Francis, son of Maria Theresa and brother of the Emperor Joseph, succeeded to the bishopric of Cologne in 1784. His religious zeal was perhaps not very great, for it is recorded that he heard mass sitting in his hunting-tent before the door of the church; and opinions differed as to his capacity, for Joseph made fun of him, and Mozart wrote home that stupidity peeped out of the eyes of this archduke "stupidity" and "archduke”
which would publish his disgrace and de-
THE YOUTH OF BEETHOVEN.
being in cipher. Moreover, Herr Nohl,
"Beethoven was introduced to Mozart, and played something which Mozart praised in an indifferent way, thinking it a show piece got up by heart. Beethoven noticed this, and asked for a theme; and as he was accustomed to play well, and was stimulated by the presence of the great master, he performed in such a manner that Mozart's attention and interest grew, and at last he went softly to the friends sitting in the next room, and said with warmth, 'Keep your eye on that youth; he will make the world talk of him one of these days.'
It is noticed, however, that Mozart did
The last glimpse we have of Beethoven | empire." Beethoven wrote in his diary in this volume is on his way to Vienna for the second time, in November, 1792. As he passed up the Rhine, the German troops were retreating from the uneventful campaign in France, and his driver took him "with student-like renommage right through the motley army of the
Trinkgeld, because the fellow took us right through the Hessian army at the risk of being thrashed, and drove like a devil, one thaler." We leave him there, like the hero of a sensation novel at the end of a monthly installment.
From the British Quarterly.
* Her Majesty's Mails: an Historical and Descriptive Account of the British Post-office. By WILLIAM LEWINS. London: Sampson Low, Son & Marston.
THIS Volume is the first of a contemplat-eral other gentlemen connected with the great London establishment.
ed series designed to furnish an account of the working of the revenue departments of the country. It is intended to do for what the author in barbarous English calls "the governmental industries," what Mr. Smiles has done for civil engineering and other cognate subjects. Few attempts have been hitherto made to trace the history of that great and useful national institution, the London post-office. A short summary indeed of the history of the establishment is prefixed to the postmaster-general's first report, and since that period the last edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica has supplied a more extended notice; but if we except these, and a paper in Fraser's Magazine for September, 1862, by Mr. Matthew Davenport Hill, a commissioner of bankruptcy at Bristol, and brother to Sir Rowland Hill, recently secretary to the post-office, there is nothing that we are aware of written on the English post-office, with the exception of the present volume, parts of which have appeared in several serial publications, and notably in Chambers's Journal, and Chambers's Book of Days. Though the volume before us is not an authorized publication, yet we believe it to be an authentic one, for we have heard that Mr. Lewins is not only employed in the post-office, but has received valuable information from Mr. J. Bowker and sev
Mr. Lewins, in his introductory chapter, certainly begins at the beginning. He tells us Queen Jezebel is the first letter-writer on record, and that she used her pen (by the way, there were no pens in those days) for purposes of deception. From Jezebel he proceeds to the Book of Esther, from which we learn that Ahasuerus, King of Persia, being displeased at the disobedience of his wife, Vashti, sent letters into every province of his vast empire intimating to his subjects that it was his imperial will that every man should bear rule in his own house. The first recorded riding-post was, according to Xenophon, established in the Persian empire by Cyrus, who, in order to have news expeditiously when engaged in his Scythian expedition, caused it to be tried how far a horse could go in a day without baiting, and at that distance appointed stages and men whose business it was to have horses always in readiness. Herodotus tells us there were eleven postal stages, a day's journey distant from one another, between Susa and the Egean Sea. But these were not for the carriage and expedition of private correspondence; they were mere state messengers or government couriers, neither receiving nor delivering private letters. In the highest eras of their civilization neither the Greeks nor the Romans had a public letter-post, much a matter of necessity and convethough the conveyance of letters is as nience as the conveyance of persons and merchandise. There were Stationes and
mounted messengers, called Tabellarii, | horses and messengers. By this arrangewho went in charge of the public dis- ment dispatches were conveyed to the patches, but these official messengers were king with marvelous expedition, his strictly forbidden to convey letters for couriers riding at the rate of seventy private persons. That nations so civilized miles a day, While it must be admitted and intellectual as these should have been that Henry VIII. was the first monarch without a public letter-post does indeed to keep the posts in England in a state of appear marvelous. efficiency in peace as in war, yet it is remarkable that they were kept up purely and exclusively for the service and convenience of the government. From Camden's Annals we learn that Henry VIII. instituted the office of Master of the Postes, an office first filled by one Brian Tuke, afterward created Sir Brian. Postmasters at this time were often remiss, and the dispatches tardy, which is not wonderful, seeing "that the constables many times be fayne to take horses oute of plowes and cartes, wherein can be no extreme diligence."* Down to the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth no further improvements are observable, though her council took steps to make the service more efficient by reforming the abuses which had crept in during the reign of Mary. Antecedent to Elizabeth's death. the expenses of the post were reduced to rather less than £5000 per annum. The sum charged for conveying her majesty's dispatches was enormous.
Posts somewhat similar to those in Greece and Rome existed in China from the earliest times. Marco Polo, who traveled in that country in the fourteenth century, describes the government post as like to that in use in Persia under Cyrus. At distances of twenty-five miles there were posts called jambs, where the imperial envoy was received, and here there were sometimes as many as three or four hundred horses waiting. The Venetian traveler further states that there were ten thousand stations of this kind in China, some of them affording admirable accommodation for travelers. But, notwithstanding that these institutions existed for centuries, it is only within the last few years that a letter-post has been introduced into China.
Soon after the arrival of the Flemings in this country, they established a postoffice of their own between London and the continent, appointing, by the sufferance and favor of the reigning sovereign, one of themselves as postmaster. In 1558 it was settled, in consequence of disputes between the English and the foreign posts, that the "Master of the Postes" should have the charge both of the English and foreign offices, and that the title of this functionary should be changed to Chief Postmaster. Thomas Randolph was the first chief postmaster of England.
From modern history we learn that a postal service was planned in 807 by the Emperor Charlemagne, a service which did not survive him. The honor of establishing the first letter-post, we believe, belongs to those centers of trade and civilization, the Hanse Towns. So early as the thirteenth century this federation of republics required constant communication with each other, and it became almost a necessity of their existence that some letter-post should be originated. A line of letter posts connecting Austria with Lombardy was established in the reign of the Emperor Maximilian. This was organized by the Prince of Tour and Taxis, the hereditary postmaster of the empire, one of whose descendants established a line of posts from Vienna to Brussels, thus connecting the most distant parts of the dominions of Charles V. It was not till the fifteenth century that the system of Charlemagne was revived in France. Louis XI. established a body of two hundred and thirty couriers, not for the transport of letters, but only for the service of the state. In England the riding-post, as contradistinguished from the general post, owes its origin to Edward IV. In 1481, when this monarch was engaged in war with Scotland, he ordered a continuous system of posts, consisting of relays of Thomas Cromwell.
The Reformation had at this period considerably civilized, as well as Christianized, the people; and other causes, too numerous to dwell on here, were at work, which contributed to encourage habits of locomotion and the spread of intelligence. But general intelligence, nevertheless, traveled slowly. Among the common people few ever saw a letter. Public and private couriers riding post were sometimes surrounded by persons
* Letter from the Master of the Postes to