Leopold Mozart’s Advice to His Son Wolfgang Amadeus

Leopold Mozart“… I avoided all contact with others and in particular preferred not to become over-familiar with people of our own profession; remember I did the same in Italy. I made the acquaintance and sought out the friendship only of people of a higher social class– and among these only mature people, not young lads, not even if they were of the foremost rank. I never invited anyone to visit me regularly in my rooms in order to be able to maintain my freedom, and I always considered it more sensible to visit others at my convenience. If I don’t like a person or if I’m working or have business to attend to, I can then stay away. –Conversely, if people come to me and behave badly, I don’t know how to get rid of them, and even a person who is otherwise not unwelcome may prevent me from getting on with some important work. You’re a young man of 22; and so you don’t have the earnestness of old age that could deter a young lad of whatever social class, be he an adventurer, a joker or fraud and be he young or old, from seeking out your acquaintance and friendship and drawing you into his company and then gradually into his plans. One is drawn imperceptibly into this and cannot then escape. I shan’t even mention women, for here one needs the greatest restraint and reason, as nature herself is our enemy, and the man who does not apply his whole reason and show the necessary restrain will later do so in vain in his attempt to escape the labyrinth, a misfortune that mostly ends only in death.”

Leopold Mozart to his son, 5 February 1778, Salzburg
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, My Dearest Father, translated by Stewart Spencer, Penguin Books.