Frédéric Chopin in Majorca


December 3rd, 1838, Majorca (to Jules Fontana)

I have not been able to send you the manuscripts since they are not ready. For the past three weeks I have been as sick as a dog, despite a heat of 18 degrees, despite the roses, orange trees, palms, and flowering fig-trees. I caught a bad cold. The three most celebrated doctors of the island met for a consultation. One peered at what I had expectorated, the second sounded the organs of expectoration, the third listened while I expectorated again. The first said that I would die, the second that I was dying, the third that I was already dead. And yet I live as I used to live in the past. I cannot pardon Jeannot for failing to give me any advice on the treatment of acute bronchitis from which he must have been perfectly aware that I suffered. I had great difficulty in escaping leeches, cuppings, and similar operations. Thank God I am now myself again. But my illness interfered with my Preludes, which you will receive God knows when.

After a few days I shall be living in the loveliest spot on earth: sea, mountains… all one could wish. We are going to live in an old, ruined, abandoned Carthusian monastery, from which Mendizábal seems to have expelled the monks especially for my sake. It is quite near Palma and nothing could be more charming: cells, a most poetic cemetery… in fact, I am convinced that I shall feel well there. The one thing I still lack is my piano. I have written to Pleyel. Ask him about it and say that I fell ill on the day after I arrived here, but that I am getting better. Say little, generally, about my manuscripts. Write to me. So far I haven’t had a single letter from you. Tell Leo that I haven’t yet sent the Preludes to Albrecht, but that I love them well and will write soon. Post the enclosed letter to my parents yourself, and write as soon as possible. Greetings to Jeannot. Tell nobody that I have been ill; it could only encourage gossip.

Your Chopin

The letter was a footnote in the 1956 Valledemosa Edition Mallorca of George Sand’s Winter in Majorca, translated and annotated by Robert Graves

Photograph by Louis-Auguste Bisson, 1849