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August 15 1812: Beethoven to Bettina Von Arnim


On August 15 1812, Ludwig Beethoven writes to  Bettina Von Arnim, a German writer and novelist. The authenticity of this letter is not free from all doubt: 

To BETTINA VON ARNIM 
Teplitz 15, August 1812. 

Dearest, good Bettina! - Kings and princes can certainly create professors, privy councillors and titles, and hang on ribbons of various orders, but they cannot create great men, master-minds which tower above the rabble; this is beyond them. Such men must therefore be held in respect. When two such as I and Goethe meet together, these grand gentlemen are forced to note what greatness, in such as we are, means. Yesterday  on the way home we met the whole Imperial family. We saw them from afar approaching, and Goethe slipped away from me, and stood on one side. Say what I would, I could not induce him to advance another step, so I pushed my hat on my head, buttoned up my overcoat, and went, arms folded, into the thickest of the crowd — Princes and sycophants drew up in a line; Duke Rudolph took off my hat, after the Empress had first greeted me. Persons of rank know me. To my great amusement I saw the procession defile past Goethe. Hat in hand, he stood at the side, deeply bowing. 


Then I mercilessly reprimanded him, cast his sins in his teeth, especially those of which he was guilty towards you, dearest Bettina, of whom we had just been speaking. Good heavens! had I been in your company, as he has, I should have produced works of greater, far greater importance. A musician is also a poet, and the magic of a pair of eyes can suddenly cause him to feel transported into a more beautiful world, where great spirits make sport of him, and set him mighty tasks. I cannot tell what ideas came into my head when I made your acquaintance. In the little observatory during the splendid May rain, that was a fertile moment for me: the most beautiful themes then glided from your eyes into my heart, which one day will enchant the world when Beethoven has ceased to conduct. If God grant me yet a few years, then I must see you again, dear, dear Bettina; so calls the voice within me which never errs. Even minds can love one another. I shall always court yours; your approval is dearer to me than anything in the whole world. I gave my opinion to Goethe, that approval affects such men as ourselves, and that we wish to be listened to with the intellect by those who are our equals. Emotion is only for women (excuse this); the flame of music must burst forth from the mind of a man. Ah! my dearest child, we have now for a long time been in perfect agreement about everything!!! The only good thing is a beautiful, good soul, which is recognised in everything, and in presence of which there need be no concealment. One must be somebody if one wishes to appear so. The world is bound to recognise one; it is not always unjust. To me, however, that is a matter of no importance: for I have a higher aim. I hope when I get back to Vienna to receive a letter from you. Write soon, soon, and a very long one; in 8 days from now I shall be there ; the court goes to-morrow ; there will be one more performance to-day. The Empress rehearsed her part with him. His duke and he both wish me to play some of my music, but to both I made refusal. They are mad on Chinese porcelain, hence there is need for indulgence; for intellect has lost the whip-hand. I will not play to these silly folk, who never get over that mania, nor write at public cost any stupid stuff for princes. Adieu, Adieu, dearest; your last letter lay on my heart for a whole night, and comforted me. Everything is allowed to musicians. Great Heavens, how I love you ! Your sincerest friend and deaf brother, 

Beethoven. 

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