BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO TODAY: Sunday, August 31, 1823

Nephew Karl starts off Conversation Book 40 today by remarking that “people should write in German if they don’t know French.” The book has entries out of order, so we have followed the ordering established by the German and English editors.

Karl also does some practical multiplication and division with Uncle Ludwig, showing him how much each sheet of paper would cost if you pay 60 florins for 100 sheets. At that price, it comes to 36 kreuzer per sheet, which is very high; most paper costs around 24 kreuzer per sheet.

Karl has heard that Brother Johann was in Baden yesterday to use the baths, but he did not visit them. A young man was at Johann’s apartment in Vienna [next to Ludwig’s] who wanted to pay 130 ducats to Ludwig, but he insisted on paying in person and getting a receipt. Ludwig asks who he was, and Karl says, “From an embassy.”

Ludwig invited Dr. Staudenheim and his mistress to dinner, but they are unable to come as they have already invited someone to visit them. Perhaps they can make it next Sunday, September 7. Staudenheim has advised Karl to not only be a physician, but a surgeon. Staudenheim regrets not having pursued that specialty.

Karl is going through his luggage and showing Uncle Ludwig various things, including one of his short poetical essays.”It requires a great deal of time in order to write fairly fluently, though I already write as fast as a person can write with ordinary writing.” Karl explains his method of shorthand, which involves leaving out all the vowels and only writing the consonants to maximize speed.

Karl notes that the pope died August 20, and wonders whether Rudolph might be the next pope. [Pope Pius VII’s death was reported in the August 27 Wiener Zeitung. Although Archduke Rudolph was a cardinal and eligible to vote for the new pope, he did not attend the conclave, and Cardinal Annibale della Genga (1760-1829) became Pope Leo XII.]

Uncle Ludwig asks Karl to talk to the various embassies. He asks for clarification about what exactly it is that he is to ask. In particular, he needs to talk to Carl von Odelga, the representative in Vienna for both Tuscany and Nassau. [Presumably he will need to request the payment for the copies, which should be ready soon, if not already finished.]

The pair visit a wine dealer, who disdains the local adulterated wine. At his place, a mugful costs about 3 kreuzer.

As Karl prepares to run his uncle’s errands in Vienna at the embassies and copyists, he suggests it would be good for Uncle Ludwig to give him a calling card with his address so that he will be taken seriously. He also needs to buy good paper from Josepha Schlemmer, Wenzel’s widow, at 36 kreuzers per sheet. Karl shows his uncle some more multiplication using that price structure. That amounts to 198 florins for 330 sheets. Karl asks whether he should also get some ordinary or fine paper.

Conversation Book 40, 2r-9r.