Wieck, therefore, surely might have seen the folly of his purpose; he might have realised that there are limits even to a daughter's sense of duty. But he did not. He proceeded to tax her endurance still more heavily, and tried to replace the idol which he had stolen from her heart by an idol which was pleasing to himself. It was a fatal move, from his own point of view at any rate. It violated every law which governs woman's nature.

Carl Banck was a singer and ambitious. A great future seemed to lie before him. In Wieck's eyes, therefore, he was eminently eligible, and accordingly he requested Clara to bestow her hand upon him. It was a wicked, foolish wish.

Clara could not marry him. She disliked the man. And dislike turned to hatred when the would-be wooer sought to capture her affections by maligning Schumann.

This was dastardly, more even than her gentle spirit could tolerate. And her feelings, long pent up, burst forth in glorious revolt. Why, she asked herself, should she be loyal to a promise made solely to satisfy

Her father's vanity ? It was ridiculous. She would not. She told Schumann so. And henceforth letters flew between herself and him as often as trusty emissaries could be found to carry them.

At last even a meeting was arranged. It was a dangerous undertaking : Schumann was almost dumb with fear and joy; Clara nearly fainted. But it was a sweet thing to look back upon, this secret tryst. " The moon shone so beautifully on your face," Clara told her lover afterwards, "when you lifted your hat and passed your hand across your forehead; I had the sweetest feeling that I ever had; I had found my love again."

In September, 1837, Schumann again appealed to Wieck, and again without success. ' Nothing shall shake me," he declared. And so, indeed, it seemed. Schumann essayed every means within his power; he interviewed him; he wrote to him, but all in vain.- He was in despair.

" Ask her eyes," he implored, "whether I have told the truth. Eighteen months long have you tested me. If you have found me worthy, true, and manly, then seal this union; it lacks nothing of the higher bliss, except the paternal blessing."

The Obdurate Parent

But no - nothing could make Wieck yield. This appeal, however, brought forth a small concession. The lovers were allowed to meet from time to time in the presence of a chaperon, and occasionally to correspond when Clara was travelling. This was better than nothing. It spurred Schumann on to great endeavours, and he worked as he had never worked before. And even work was made sweet by dreams, for his thoughts were centred solely in the future. "We shall lead," he told Clara, " a life of poetry and blossoms, and we shall play and compose together like angels, and bring gladness to mankind."

Schumann's romance was now historical; it was the talk of Europe. Admirers offered him money, in order that he might marry and live in comfort. The secret messengers were numberless. Among them was a Russian prince. Chopin, too, Mendelssohn and Liszt, all were implicated. The lovers, however, decided to be patient. They would wait until Easter, 1840, and then, whatever might happen, they would marry.

But it was a terrible prospect, this waiting. "My sole wish," Clara wrote, " is - I wish it every morning - that I could sleep for two years; could oversleep all the thousand tears that shall yet flow. . . . Do you remember that two years ago on Christmas Eve you gave me white pearls and mother said then : ' Pearls mean tears ' ? She was right; they followed only too soon."

But not even now would Wieck allow his daughter any peace. He was perpetually tormenting her, until finally he drove Schumann to despair. He thought of eloping, but abandoned the idea. At last, however, in July, 1839, he instituted legal proceedings, and appealed to a court of law - he hated doing it - to compel the father to consent to Clara's marriage. It is a dismal tale, the story of this lawsuit. Wieck defended the* case relentlessly; he left no stone unturned which might conceal something he could use to blacken Schumann's character. For a whole long, weary year the proceedings were protracted. Indeed, it was not until August 12, 1840, that the court at last declared a verdict in the lover's favour.

Marriage At Last

On September 12 they were married at the little village of Schoenefeld. They had only gained one day, for on September 13 Clara came of age.

"A period of my existence has now closed," she recorded in her diary. "I have endured very many sorrows in my young years, but also many joys which I shall never forget. Now begins a new life, a beautiful life, that life which one loves more than anything, even than self; but heavy responsibilities also rest upon me, and Heaven grant me strength to fulfil them truly and as a good wife."

And as a good wife indeed she did fulfil them. Marriage did not mark the end of Clara Wieck's romance. It was but the beginning of it, for hers was an ideal union, a perfect marriage. "They lived for one another," a biographer has written, " and for their children. He created and wrote for his wife, and in accordance with their temperament; while she looked upon it as her highest privilege to give to the world the most perfect interpretation of his works . . . and to ward off all disturbing or injurious impressions from his sensitive soul."

The Penalty Of Genius

And it was from this sensitive soul that arose the only cloud which marred their married happiness. That cloud was the penalty of genius. Madness seized Schumann, madness in the form of melancholia. Even, however, at those times when his depression was most acute, his wife was still to him "a gift from above."

For her sake he fought against the disease, fought fiercely; but it was too strong for him; it mastered him.

In 1854, however, when the end came, death found him happy, supported in Clara's loving arms. It was a fitting ending to a gorgeous love.

Schumann was only forty-six years of age when he died. His wife survived him by many, many years, and, during those years she made the world appreciate, as she herself had done (for she was a wonderful pianist), the greatness of her lover's genius. She did not marry again. Henceforth- she devoted her life to Schumann's memory and to his children.

Love, Songs, Old And New No. 4. Love Has Eyes

Love, Songs, Old And New No. 4. Love Has Eyes

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