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dulge himself in that too common attendant upon superior talent, procrastination. The general rehearsal of this opera had taken place, and the evening before the first performance had arrived, but not a note of the overture was written.
At about eleven at night, Mozart came home, and desired his wife to make him some punch, and to stay with him to keep him awake. Accordingly, when he began to write, she began to tell him fairy tales and odd stories, which made him laugh, and by the very exertion, preserved him from sleep. The punch, however, made him so drowsy, that he could only write while his wife was talking, and dropped asleep as soon as she ceased.
He was at last so fatigued by these unnatural efforts, that he persuaded his wife to suffer him to sleep for an hour. He slept, however, for two hours, and at five o'clock in the morning, she awakened him. He had appointed his music copiers to come at seven, and when they arrived, the overture was finished. It was played without a rehearsal, and was justly applauded as a brilliant and grand composition. We ought at the same time to say, that some very sagacious critics have discovered the passages in the composition where Mozart dropt asleep, and those where he was suddenly awakened.
The bodily frame of Mozart was tender and exquisitely sensible; ill health soon overtook him, and brought with it a melancholy, approaching to despondency. A very short time before his death, which took place when he was only thirty-six, he composed that celebrated requiem, which, by an extraordinary presentiment of his approaching dissolution, he considered as written for his own funeral.
One day, when he was plunged in a profound reverie, he heard a carriage stop at his door. A stranger was announced, who requested to speak with him. A person was introduced, handsomely dressed, of dignified and impressive manners. “I have been commissioned, Sir,
by a man of considerable importance, to call upon you.”' " Who is he?" interrupted Mozart. " He does not wish to be known.”—“Well
, what does he want?”—“ He has just lost a person whom he tenderly loved, and whose memory will be eternally dear to him. He is desirous of annually commemorating this mournful event by a solemn service, for which he requests you to compose a requiem.”
Mozart was forcibly struck by this discourse, by the grave manner in which it was uttered, and by the air of mystery in which the whole was involved. He engaged to write the requiem. The stranger continued, " Employ all your genius on this work; it is destined for a connoisseur.' 166 So much the better.". 6. What time do you require ?”—“A month.”—“Very well; in a month's time I shall return--what price do you set on your work?" “ A hundred ducats.”—The stranger counted them on the table, and disappeared.
Mozart remained lost in thought for some time : he then suddenly called for pen, ink, and paper, and in spite of his wife's entreaties, began to write. This rage for composition continued several days; he wrote day and night, with an ardor which seemed continually to increase; but his constitution, already in a state of great debility, was unable to support this enthusiasm; one morning he fell senseless, and was obliged to suspend his work. Two or three days after, when his wife sought to divert his mind from the gloomy presages which occupied it, he said to her abruptly, “ It is certain that I am writing this requiem for myself; it will serve for my funeral service." "Nothing could remove this impression from his mind.
As he went on, he felt his strength diminish from day to day, and the score advancing slowly. The month which he had fixed being expired, the stranger again made his appearance. “I have found it impossible,” said Mozart, “ to keep my word.”
5 Do not give yourself any uneasiness,” replied the stranger ; " what fur
ther time do you require !"_" Another month : the work has interested me more than I expected, and I have extended it much beyond what I at first designed.”
“ In that case, it is but just to increase the premium ; here are fisty ducats more.”—“Sir," said Mozart, with increasing astonishment, " who then are you?”—“That is nothing to the purpose; in a month's time I shall return."
Mozart immediately called one of his servants, and ordered him to follow this extraordinary personage, and find out who he was; but the man failed from want of skill, and returned without being able to trace him.
Poor Mozart was then persuaded that he was no ordinary being; that he had a connection with the other world, and was sent to announce to him his approaching end.—He applied himself with the more ardor to his requiem, which he regarded as the most durable monument of his genius. While thus employed, he was seized with the most alarming fainting fits, but the work was at length completed before the expiration of the month. At the time appointed, the stranger returned, but Mozart
was no more.
His career was as brilliant as it was short. He died before he had completed his thirty-sixth year; but in this short space of time he had acquired a name which will never perish, so long as feeling hearts are to be found. It is to be regretted that we so often find men of genius neglecting, like Mozart, every means by which life and health are to be preserved, and thus, by their early and almost self-inflicted death, giving apparent countenance to the adage, that genius is naturally short-lived.
LXXI. INFLUENCE OF THE NATURAL LAWS
HAPPINESS OF INDIVIDUALS.-G. Combe. It happened in a remote period, that a slater slipped from the roof of a high building, in consequence of a
stone of the ridge having given way as he walked upright along it, he fell to the ground, had a leg broken, and was otherwise severely bruised. As he lay in bed suffering severe pain from his misfortune, he addressed Jupiter in these words : O Jupiter, thou art a cruel god, for thou hast made me so srail and imperfect a being, that I had not faculties to perceive my danger, nor power to arrest my fall, when its occurrence showed how horrible an evil awaited me. It were better for me that I had never been.' Jupiter, graciously bending his ear, heard the address, and answered: of what law of mine dost thou complain? Of the law of gravitation,' replied the slater, .by its operation, the slight slip which my foot made upon the stone, which, quite unknown to me, was loose, precipitated me to the earth, and crushed my organized frame, never calculated to resist such violence." I restore thee to thy station on the roof,' said Jupiter, “heal all thy bruises, and, to convince thee of my benevolence, I suspend the law of gravitation as to thy body and all that is related to it; art thou now content?'
The slater, in deep emotion, offered up gratitude and thanks, and expressed the profoundest reverence for so just and beneficent a deity. In the very act of doing so, he found himself in perfect health, erect upon the ridge of the roof, and, rejoicing, gazed around. His wonder, at so strange an event having at last abated, he endeavored to walk along the ridge to arrive at the spot which he intended to repair : but the law of gravitation was suspended, and his body did not press upon the roof. There being no pressure, there was no resistance, and his legs moved backwards and forwards in the air without his body making progress in space. Alarmed at this occurrence, he stooped, seized his trowel, lifted it full of mortar, and made the motion of throwing it on the slates ; but the mortar, freed from the trowel, hung in mid-air ; the law of gravitation was suspended as to it also. Nearly frantic with terror at such unexpected novelties of existence, he endeavored to descend to seek relief; but the law of
gravitation was suspended as to his body, and it hung poised at the level of the ridge, like a balloon in the air. He tried to fling himself headlong down, to get rid of the uneasy sensation, but his body floated erect, and would not move downwards.
In an agony of consternation, he called once more upon Jupiter. He, ever kind, and compassionate, heard his
cry and pitied his distress, and asked, What evil hath befallen thee now, that thou art not yet content; have I not suspended, at thy request, the law which made thee fall? Now thou art safe from bruises and from broken limbs ; why, then, dost thou still complain?'
The slater answered, 'In deep humiliation I acknowledge my ignorance and presumption; restore me to my couch of pain, but give me back the benefits of thy law of gravitation.'
Thy wish is granted, said Jupiter in reply. The slater, in a moment lay on his bed of sickness, endured the visitation of the organic law, was restored to health, and again mounted to the roof that caused his recent pain. He thanked Jupiter anew from the depths of his soul, for the law of gravitation, with its countless benefits; and applied his faculties to study and obey it during the remainder of his life. This study opened to him new and wonderful perceptions of the Creator's beneficence and wisdom, of which he had never even dreamed before; these views so excited and gratified his moral and intellectual powers, that he seemed to himself to have entered on a new existence. Ever after he observed the law of gravitation, and, in a good old age, when his organic frame was fairly worn out by natural decay, he transmitted his trade, his house, and much experience and wisdom, to his son, and died thanking and blessing Jupiter for having opened his eyes to the true theory of his scheme of creation.
The attention of Jupiter was next attracted by the loud groans and severe complaints of a husbandman, who addressed him thus: “O Jupiter, I lie here racked with pain,