An Incident of Schumann’s Last Days
[Carmen Sylva, the Queen of Roumania, in her “Souvenirs” tells of her relations with Mme. Clara Schumann, and gives a pen picture of the last meeting between husband and wife, the details of which are not commonly known.]
Mme. Schumann gave me an account of her husband’s abortive attempt at suicide in the Rhine, and told of her struggle to provide for herself and children while Schumann was ill and confined to the asylum. “My father did not write to me at all, fearing I should ask him for money.”
For more than two years she did not see her husband. Finally, one day, just as she was seating herself to play at a concert in London, the news was brought to her that her husband was nearing death, and that she should hasten her return to Germany. She left immediately, but when she arrived at Endenich, where Schumann was confined to an asylum for the insane, the officials refused to allow her to see her husband. She protested most vigorously.
“Since his death is certain, my presence in his room will not be injurious. I want to be near him.” The closing details of the incident are given in Mme. Schumann’s own words:
“When I entered I hardly knew him, so much had he changed. His eyes alone recalled him to me. He turned suddenly toward me, and his glance brightened strangely. ‘Ah! my well beloved one,’ he cried, and he clasped me in his arms. He was unwilling to take nourishment on account of his delusion that some one was seeking to poison him. He consented, however, to take some food from my hand. While I remained in the room he followed every movement of mine with his eyes. I felt myself almost happy in spite of my affliction to have had again a token of his great affection and love.”
A short time passed and he was gone.