Monday, 18 August 2014

Advice to those about to marry

Don’t. So said the magazine ‘Punch’ about a century ago. Here, in the not-very-good 1866 translation by Lady Wallace (she’s taken out all his scatology; it’s a wonder there’s anything left) is part of a letter from Mozart to his father:


Mannheim, Feb. 7, 1778.


HERR SCHIEDENHOFEN might have let me know long ago through you that his wedding was soon to take place, and I would have composed a new minuet for the occasion. I cordially wish him joy; but his is, after all, only one of those money matches, and nothing else! I hope never to marry in this way; I wish to make my wife happy, but not to become rich by her means; so I will let things alone, and enjoy my golden freedom till I am so well off that I can support both wife and children. Herr Schiedenhofen was forced to choose a rich wife; his title imposed this on him. The nobility must not marry for love or from inclination, but from interest, and all kinds of other considerations. It would not at all suit a grandee to love his wife after she had done her duty, and brought into the world an heir to the property. But we poor humble people are privileged not only to choose a wife who loves us, and whom we love, but we may, can, and do take such a one, because we are neither noble, nor highborn, nor rich, but, on the contrary, lowly, humble, and poor; we therefore need no wealthy wife, for our riches being in our heads, die with us, and these no man can deprive us of unless he cut them off, in which case we need nothing more. 

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