From Felix Mendelssohn: A Life in Letters, pages 126 – 129
To Lea Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Linz, August 11, 1830 –
“How the traveling musician bore his great day of bad luck in Salzburg.”
Fragment of an unwritten diary by Count F.M.B.**** (continued):
Just after I had sealed the letter to you the most unbelievable day of bad luck began to wash over me. I took my pencil in hand and ruined two of my favorite drawings from the Bavarian mountains so badly that I had to tear them out and throw them from the window. This annoyed me, and to relax a bit, I climbed up the Capuzinerberg. That I lost my way can of course be assumed; the moment I arrived at the summit it began to rain frightfully, and I had to run back down quickly, underneath my umbrella. Then I wanted to at least have a look at the cloisters below, and rang the bell – then it dawned on me that I didn’t have enough money for the monk who appeared; they take great offense at such things, and I made hastily away without even answering the doorkeeper. Then I sealed up my packet for Leipzig and took it to the post office; first it would have to be inspected at the customs house, I was told. I went to the customs house; they kept me waiting for an hour before producing a three-line certificate, and conducted themselves so insolently that I had to quarrel with them all over again. Hang Salzburg! I thought, and ordered horses to go to Ischl, where I hoped to recover from all the bad luck in that dump. “You can’t have any horses without permission from the police.” – So to the police. "You can’t have permission until your passport from the gate is here." Am I rambling too much?
After walking back and forth for things countless times, the long-awaited mail coach came, I ate, had my things packed, and was now thinking it was all behind me; bills and tips had been taken care of. Just as I walked up to the door, two elegant traveling carriages drove up in step, and the people in the inn all ran up to the gentlemen, who were walking toward them. I took no notice, however, and sat down in my carriage – at which point I saw that one of the coaches which had just arrived was pulling up right alongside mine, with a lady sitting inside. But what a lady! Just so that you won’t all think at once that I fell in love and that that was the crowning event of my bad luck, I shall begin with the fact that she was elderly; but she looked very charming, and friendly, and wore a black dress with a heavy gold chain, and handed the postilion his tip, smiling most dearly.
God knows why I continued to arrange my luggage and held the coach from leaving, I just kept looking over, and as unfamiliar as she seemed to me, she still made a strong impression on me, as if I really had to speak to her straight away; it may have been a product of my imagination, but I won’t let myself be talked out of the fact that she was also looking across at me, gazing at the boorish traveler in his student’s cap. But when she even climbed down on my side, hanging on to the door of my coach with an almost intimate air, then stopped for a while, resting her hand calmly on the coach’s door, I had to have recourse to my well-practiced traveler’s manners in order not to jump out and say: My dear lady, what is your name? But manners triumphed, and I called out politely: Onward, postilion! At this the lady quickly withdrew her hand and I went on. I was vexed by all this, reflected on it a bit, and fell asleep.
A coach with two men which rolled past us awakened me. The following conversation then ensued between the postilion and myself. I: They’re on their way from Ischl, I won’t be able to obtain any horses there. He: Oh, the two coaches which were stopped in Salzburg were also from there, so you’ll get your horses after all. I: So they were also from Ischl? He: T’be sure, they come here every year, and were here last year as well. I drove them – she is a baroness from Vienna. (Dear Lord! I thought.) And she’s frightfully rich, and has such beautiful daughters – I took both of them down to see the mines in Berchtesgaden; what a pretty sight they were in their miner’s garb, and the upstanding gentleman from Berlin who was always with them (could that be my Oppenfield, I thought?) – he was also a handsome gentleman. People said he was a Hebrew, but I shan’t believe it as long as I live, he was a nice man, just like other people. They have fortunes too (oh no, I groaned), but are very base with the likes of us. – Hold your tongue, I cry.