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HIS LIFE

53

the masquerades put the Opera to shame. Steffani was otherwise occupied with more serious business elsewhere. In the Treaty of Augsburg, Ernest Augustus of Hanover had taken sides with the Emperor. To recompense his fidelity the Emperor bestowed on him the dignity of Prince-Elect, but in the confusion of the Empire it was not easy to clear up the situation. It was necessary to send an Ambassador Extraordinary to the great German Courts. The choice of all fell on Steffani, who, being a Catholic Abbé, could more easily serve as intermediary between the Protestant Court of Hanover and the Catholic Courts;[1] his mission was so well accomplished that in 1697 the Duke of Hanover obtained for him the title of Elector. This astonishing diplomat had found the means of writing operas. After the death of Ernest Augustus in 1698 he gave up opera writing, but continued to occupy himself with politics. He became in 1703 the secret adviser to the Elector Palatine, the President of the Religious Council, who was created a noble. At the

pædists at the time of Rameau. His musical ideal was simple melody. "I have often remarked," says he, "that men of note have little esteem for things which are touching. Simplicity often makes more effect than elaborate ornaments" (letter to Henfling).

  1. The testimony of his contemporaries agrees in depicting him as a man of agreeable physique, small, of a debilious constitution, which the excess of study had aggravated, of a superior nature, but altogether lovable in his manners, full of wit and of gentleness, clear and calm in speech, possessing exquisite tact and perfect politeness, from which he never departed, an accomplished man of the court, and further very well informed, passionately interested in philosophy and mathematics. Leibnitz taught him German political law. We find in Fischer's Musik in Hannover a reproduction of a very rare portrait of Steffani in an episcopal costume.