previous next

[335] of earning a living by his pen, and seeing that Southern colleges were so poor as ‘to hold out absolutely no inducement in the way of support to a professor,’ he yielded in January, 1869, to his father's solicitation and betook himself to the study of law.

The work in the law office kept him very busy. He did indeed write a few humorous dialect poems, published in various local papers, but in general his resignation was that expressed in a letter to Paul Hamilton Hayne in 1870:

I've not put pen to paper, in the literary way, for a long time. How I thirst to do so, how I long to sing a thousand various songs that oppress me, unsung,—is inexpressible. Yet, the mere work that brings bread gives me no time. I know not, after all, if this is a sorrowful thing. Nobody likes my poems, except two or three friends,—who are themselves poets, and can supply themselves!

But music regained its ascendancy over him. Letters to his wife written in 1869, 1870, and 1871, on visits to New York, reveal the intensity of his pleasure in a violin solo, or the singing of Nilsson, or Theodore Thomas's orchestra, where he plunged into an amber sea of music and came away from what he felt might have been heaven.

The turning point of his life came in San Antonio, Texas, whither he went in the winter of 1872-3 for his health. He filled in part of his time there with literary projects, but the inspiration of his stay was found in a group of German musicians, who received ‘amid a storm of applause’ his flute-playing before the Maennerchor. In February, 1873, he played before ‘a very elegant-looking company of ladies and gentlemen.’ He reported:

I had not played three seconds before a profound silence reigned among the people. ... When I allowed the last note to die, a simultaneous cry of pleasure broke forth from men and women that almost amounted to a shout, and I stood and received the congratulations that thereupon came in, so wrought up by my own playing with (hidden) thoughts, that I could but smile mechanically, and make stereotyped returns to the pleasant sayings, what time my heart worked falteringly, like a mouth that is about to cry.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
San Antonio (Texas, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Theodore Thomas (1)
Christine Nilsson (1)
Paul Hamilton Hayne (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1870 AD (2)
February, 1873 AD (1)
1873 AD (1)
1872 AD (1)
1871 AD (1)
January, 1869 AD (1)
1869 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: