"My own dearest father," he wrote, "... how gladfy long ago would I have opened my heart to you! But 1 was deterred by the reproaches I dreaded from even thinking of such a thing at so unseasonable a time, although merely thinking can never be unseasonable. My endeavours are directed at present to securing a small but certain income, which, together with what chance may put in my way, may enable me to live - and to marry. You are alarmed at this idea; but I entreat you, my dearest father, to listen to me. ... I cannot live as many other young men do. . . . My disposition has always inclined me more to domestic life than to excitement; I have never from my .youth upward been in the habit of looking after my linen or clothes, etc., and I think nothing is more desirable for me than a wife. . . .
" But now, who is the object of my love ? . . . Not one of the Webers, surely ? Yes, one of the Webers - not Josepha, not Sophie, but the third daughter, Constanze ... the kindest-hearted, the cleverest, and, in short, the best of them all. . . . She is not plain, but at the same time far from being handsome; her whole beauty consists of a pair of bright black eyes and a pretty figure. . . . Her dress is always neat and nice, however simple, and she can herself make most of the things requisite for a young lady. She dresses her own hair, understands housekeeping, and has the best heart in the world. I love her with my whole soul, as she does me. Tell me if I could wish for a better wife. . . ."
Leopold's comments were distinctly caustic. He gave Wolfgang to understand that, in his opinion, a worse choice would have been impossible. But perhaps the old man was justified. Rumour had been very busy, and had attributed to Constanze doings which reflected very little credit on her character. But there was another matter which troubled the father. Had his son really been so foolish as to sign a marriage contract ?
Yes, replied Wolfgang, he had signed such a contract. What else could he have done ? Constanze's guardian had insisted. "But," he added, "what did the angelic girl do when her guardian was gone ? She desired her mother to give her the written paper, saying to me, ' Dear Mozart, I require no written contract from you. I rely on your promise.' She tore up the paper. This trait endeared Constanze still more to me."
But it did not endear her more- to the father. He continued to rage and fume relentlessly, with the result that Madame Weber, roused by this astonishing activity, deemed it incumbent upon her to play the role of the traditional mother-in-law. And she played the part admirably. Suddenly, and quite without reason, she began to oppose every wish the lovers ventured to express, and to do all she could to make their lives a burden to them.
Then the inevitable happened. They quarrelled among themselves. The reason was slight, but the quarrel serious. Indeed, so serious that the letter in which Wolfgang pleaded for a reconciliation began as follows : " My dear beloved Friend, - You still, I hope, allow me to give you this name ? Surely you do not hate me so much that I may no longer be your friend, nor you mine ? " "
Poor Mozart! So far as he was concerned, anxiety robbed the situation of its humour. He was in deadly earnest. ' I am not," the letter continued, "so passionate, so rash, or so reckless as to accept your refusal. I love you too dearly for such a step. I beg you then once more to weigh well and calmly the cause of our quarrel. ..."
Owing to the intervention of a certain Baroness Waldstadten, however, a lady, incidentally, of whom Wolfgang disapproved intensely, peace was soon restored. And the Baroness, moved to compassion, decided permanently to smooth away the lovers' troubles. Accordingly she invited Constanze to stay with her. Constanze accepted. And it was only after she had gone that Madame Weber realised what was happening. Then she ordered her daughter to return. The girl refused. The mother then sent the police to fetch her. The baroness sent for a priest. And the priest arrived first. On August 4th, therefore, in the year 1782, the wedding ceremony was duly but quietly performed.
The result justified the means a thousand times. Not merely was the marriage a brilliant triumph; it will also stand for ever as an example of what marriage can be, and what marriage should be. All those disturbing elements which, so the cynics say, turn married happiness to misery, the Mozarts knew, sickness and sorrow, trouble and poverty - dire poverty, poverty in all its most awful aspects, but still their devotion never wavered, and, until death separated them, they lived rather as lovers than as man and wife. Even old Leopold ultimately confessed that his judgment had been wrong.
"And Mozart was not an easy man to live with, not a good husband. He was bad-tempered, eccentric, even fickle, but Constanze understood him perfectly; she saw that licence must be given to his genius, and never blamed him. " One had to forgive him," she said, " one had to be good to him, since he was himself so good."
Surely the reward was worth the sacrifice. This the smallest example will serve to prove. On one occasion it was necessary for Mozart to leave home very early in the morning. His wife was still asleep. Wishing, however, neither to disturb nor to alarm her, he wrote a note and placed it on the pillow, so that she would see it as soon as she awoke. It is a charming letter :
"Good morning, my darling wife! I hope that you slept well, that you were undisturbed, that you will not rise too early, that you will not catch cold, nor stoop too much, nor overstrain yourself, nor scold the servants, nor stumble over the threshold of the adjoining room. Spare yourself all household worries till I come back. May no evil befall you ! I shall be home at - o'clock punctually."
During his later years, however, Mozart, just as was the case with Schumann, fell a victim to morbid thoughts. The presentiment of death was ever with him. It was uncanny. " I have," he said, "the taste of death on my tongue; I smell the grave." The thought preyed upon his mind. Finally it killed him, and when he died he was but thirty-five years old.