A short excerpt from Giovanni Battista Viotti’s letter to his first patron, Prince della Cisterna from Torino, written in Schonfeldz on 30 June 1798, during his forced exile from England.
In this intense passages we can find all the emotional distress of his last years. The letter was translated (from French to English) by Warwick Lister, and is included in the appendix of his really interesting book Amico (Oxford University Press, 2009). […]
[…] O my Prince, would that you had granted me your protection to be a good peasant, instead of to acquire a skill! My gratitude and your benevolence would have been the same, and my suffering so much less that I would have been spared the heartbreak. The time we pass on this earth is not worth the effort, and to eat the cabbages that one has planted oneself, to lead a simple and modest life amidst one’s children, is worth infinitely more, I believe, than the vain hope for fame and fortune, by which I have let myself be carried away […].
Your Excellence will see from the date of this letter that I am lodged in the country, nine miles from Hamburg, at the home of a rich English merchant, a good, faithful friend. We lead the life of two good farmers; he busies himself with the fields,
I work in the gardens. The city rarely sees me. Excepting those days when my wine business (which thank heaven for the care taken by my partner in London proceeds just as if I were there) obliges me to go there, I am never tempted to set foot there. The people we receive here are all good and worthy merchants. I almost never concern myself with music because it has caused me too much pain, and thus the bitter days pass, that end only very slowly […].