03 April 2011

The lovely mighty waves will carry her away

Bettina as a young woman
Bettina was engaged to her S -- Konstantinos Dimitrios Schinas -- for ten years before they were finally able to marry.  She traveled by carriage with her family from Munich to Ancona, where S met them for the wedding.  This first letter, from Bettina and her brother Franz, to their aunt Meline Brentano von Guaita, is in Franz's handwriting:
* * * * *
My dear and precious little aunt,

We reached the aim of our journey . . . maybe you don’t know about dear Bettina’s desolate incertitude, staying without news . . . but it showed her character so much the greater!

We did not leave Munich until September 27, travelling to Verona in 5 days, not without some fears for father which turned into as many hold-ups: here we found a pile of letters: Schinas, having passed the quarantine in Ancona, expected us with utmost impatience; Bettina in extreme excitement could not be delayed any longer: father needed a day of rest; so I alone accompanied mother and sister the very next morning to the destination of tearful happiness.

. . . For 10 years my sister has lived only for him and loves him till death! - more I cannot say! He knows it, he feels it,  yes, surely: he responds to it - God will judge if all of us there were right to give our blessings in glad sacrifice. Father arrived two days later and so we could rejoice in the happy ending, after more than once doubting it  and suffering many a anxiety.

October 9 at 11 in the morning we saw our sister at the altar! a beautiful bridal crown on her head! O, what a sight!  It’s the obsequies of vestal life, of the child in the fold of the family, but also of 9 years of consuming heartache. Now she has peace, happy satisfaction, the good girl! . . . She has dropped out of our family, yet a few days and the lovely mighty waves which are washing ashore at our house will carry her away, all the way! We too will be traveling home, our group will be smaller, it will be very boring at home! we have had her such a long time.

The Greek celebration was extremely beautiful; we had gathered calmly in the Greek consul’s Dorutti house, an excellent man who had prepared an altar in a pretty friendly room. I will never forget the sight of them both standing there in front of the altar holding hands and each a burning candle in the other one and on their heads each a wonderful crown according to Greek orthodox custom; a very beautiful veil, attached to the crowns, fell down behind them as a joint cover: so they stood united as the priest made the sign of the cross three times holding the rings to fronts and chests of them and spoke the blessings over the bonded names! We cried very much, but no bitter tears.

You would not believe how easily she moves into wedlock, like she has been born to it. The tender love of both of them is our full joy, and the fate that was meant for her and us could not come true more untroubled and perfect. . .

Yours devotedly, Franz


Corfu, Oct. 24th 1834
Bettina and Konstantinos Schinas to Mr. and Ms. von Savigny,
(hand of Bettina)

Right now Schinas comes telling me a boat will leave for Triest in half an hour. I am using this opportunity to inform you in a hurry that we happily arrived here yesterday evening 8 o’clock. A long and detailed letter will be dispatched from here via Otranto in a few days.

All the people on the boat except the sailors, Count Lunzi an me were awfully sick so we were engaged in nursing. I was in such a mood I wanted to laugh all the time about everything going on around me. Be glad with me I was keeping up so robustly. I also wasn’t afraid for one moment, not even in the night during a thunderstorm. Christiane (her maid) wanted to die at my feet. Schinas was lying on his couch, Stephano (family servant) under it, both sick.
(hand of Schinas)
The Austrian cargo boat is leaving today (to be specific at 12) but we slept late and finished our toilets only at 11 -- a real shame -- neither Bettina nor her lazy husband can write much. For today it is enough to tell that we arrived yesterday evening at 8 at Corfu after a rather happy passage, were received very kindly and caringly by Mr. Faber (Greek consul) and will leave Sunday at 5 in the morning for Patras with the English steamer which we fortunately found here.

Bettina attracted the admiration of all passengers because of her vivacity and for being almost the only person who did not get sick once.

 * * * * * *

Constantinos and Bettina Schinas made their home in Nauplion for several months.

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