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The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 2 By Rupert Hughes Characters: 68905

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

Surely, one would say, if love were ever to be the woof of any life, it must interweave the life of this man Wagner; for he gave to every whim and fervour of the passion an expression so nearly absolute that we are driven almost to say: Old as music is, and ancient as love songs are, music never truly gave full voice to desire in all its throbs until Richard Wagner created a new orchestra, a new libretto, a new music, a new harmony, and a new fabric of melody.

"Tristan and Isolde" seems to be so nearly the last word in dramatised love that it seems also to be nearly the first word. From the Vorspiel's opening measures, gaunt and hungry with despair and longing, to the last measures of the Liebestod, sublime with resignation and divinely sad with the apotheosis of adoration, this opera sounds every note of the emotion of man for woman, and woman for man.

Surely, you would say, the creator of this masterwork must have had a heart thrilled with mighty passion for womankind; surely he must have lived a life of strange devotion.

But how often, how often we must warn ourselves against judging the creator from his creations, the artist from his art. In his letter to Liszt, announcing his intention to write this very opera, Wagner said:

"As I have never in life felt the real bliss of love, I must erect a monument to the most beautiful of my dreams, in which, from beginning to end that love shall be thoroughly satiated. I have in my head 'Tristan and Isolde,' the simplest, but fullest, musical conception. With 'the black flag,' which waves at the end, I shall then cover myself-to die."

The truth was that Wagner, as so many another creative genius, spent his love chiefly upon the beings that he begot within his own heart. Every genius is more or less a Pygmalion, and his own imagination is the Aphrodite that gives life to the Galateas that he carves. I have shown by this time that certain musicians have been most excellent lovers, and there would be documents enough to prove Wagner another, but we know it for a fact that his one great passion was for his art. There is not recorded anywhere, I think, another such idolater of ideals as Richard Wagner. To his theory of the perfect marriage of music and poetry, he sacrificed everything,-his heart's blood, his sensitiveness to criticisms, his extraordinary fondness for luxuries, his sense of pride, and to these he added human sacrifice,-his wife, his friends, and any one who stood in his way. He made himself a pauper, and begged and borrowed every penny he could scrape from every friend who could be hypnotised into supporting his creeds. As a result, after years of humiliation such as few men ever did, or ever cared to, endure, after a battle against the highest and the lowest intellects, he attained a point of glory which hardly another artist in the world's history ever reached. He reached such a pinnacle that critics were not lacking who said that he often threatened to give Art a more important place in the State than Religion.

Nothing but the most complete success, and nothing but the most beneficial revolution could justify such a creed or such a life as Wagner's. Both were eminently justified. He reaped a superb reward, but he earned every mite of it. When his days of power and of glory came, however, he spent them with another woman than the one who had gone through all his struggles with him; had suffered all that he suffered, without any aid from hope, without any belief in his personality or his creeds, supported only on the courage and the dog-like fidelity of a German Hausfrau to her Mann.

Wagner was as plainly destined for war as any Richard the Third, born with hair and teeth. For he was born in the midst of the Napoleonic wars at Leipzig, in 1813, and the dead bodies on the battle-field were so many that they raised a pestilence, which carried off Wagner's father when the child was six months old; and also threatened the life of his elder brother and of the babe himself. His life was one long truceless war. He once said to Edouard Schuré: "The only time I ever went to sea, I barely escaped shipwreck. Should I go to America, I am sure the Atlantic would receive me with a cyclone."

Wagner's first love was his mother. In fact, Praeger, his Boswell, said: "I verily believe that he never loved any one else so deeply as his liebes Mütterchen." She must have been a woman of winning manners, for, though she had seven children, the oldest fourteen, she got another husband before her first one was a year in his grave; the second was an actor. Wagner was so fond of his mother that through his life he never could see a Christmas tree alight without tears.

There were other loves that busied his heart. He was remarkably fond of animals, particularly of dogs. He suffered keenly when his parrot Papo died; he wrote his friend Uhlig: "Ah, if I could say to you what has died for me in this devoted creature! It matters nothing to me whether I am laughed at for this." His dog Peps died in his arms, and he wrote Praeger: "I cried incessantly, and since then have felt bitter pain and sorrow for the dear friend of the past thirteen years, who has walked and worked with me." One of Wagner's last plans was to write a book to be called "A History of My Dogs." Anecdotes galore there are of his humanity to dogs and cats and other members of our larger family.

Wagner had also a famous passion for gorgeous colours; his music shows this. He liked fine stuffs peculiarly, and even in his pauperdom wore silk next to his skin. When fortune found him, he made a veritable rainbow of himself with his dressing-gowns, and even with many-coloured trousers. His stomach was not so fond of luxury, and he was not addicted to wine or beer, and for long periods drank neither at all. He injured his health by eating too fast, though this was not, as in H?ndel's case, from gluttony, but from absent-minded interest in his work. Yet there is something strangely human and captivating in the story that, when he was eight years old, he traded off a volume of Schiller's poems for a cream puff.

Wagner's career shows a curious growth away from his early ideas. He was at first an artistic disciple of Meyerbeer, and not only drew operatic inspirations from him, but was saved from starving by Meyerbeer's money and by his letters of introduction; later he came to abhor Meyerbeer's operas, and to despise the man himself and his ways. Wagner earned himself numberless powerful enemies by his fierce hatred for the Jewish race, and by his ferocious attack in an article called "Judaism in Music." Yet his first flirtation was with a Jewess, and it was not his fault that he did not marry her. She lived in Leipzig, and was a friend of his sister. She had the highly racial name of Leah David, and was a personification of Jewish beauty, with her eyes and hair of jet and her Oriental features. It has been remarked that all of Wagner's heroes and heroines fall in love at first sight.

He began it. His first view of Leah plunged him into a frenzy. "Love me, love my dog," was an easy task for Wagner, and he was glad of the privilege of caressing Leah's poodle, and of mauling her piano. He never could fondle a piano without making it howl. Now Leah had a cousin, a Dutchman and a pianist. Wagner criticised his execution, and was invited to do better. The man hardly lived who played the piano worse than Wagner, and the result of the duel was a foregone defeat. The last chapter of this romance may be quoted from Praeger:

"Wagner lost his temper. Stung in his tenderest feelings before the Hebrew maiden, with the headlong impetuosity of an unthinking youth, he replied in such violent, rude language, that a dead silence fell upon the guests. Then Wagner rushed out of the room, sought his cap, took leave of Iago, and vowed vengeance. He waited two days, upon which, having received no communication, he returned to the scene of the quarrel. To his indignation, he was refused admittance. The next morning he received a note in the handwriting of the young Jewess. He opened it feverishly. It was a death-blow. Fraulein Leah was shortly going to be married to the hated young Dutchman, Herr Meyers, and henceforth she and Richard were to be strangers. 'It was my first love sorrow, and I thought I should never forget it, but after all,' said Wagner, with his wonted audacity, 'I think I cared more for the dog than for the Jewess.'"

Wagner entered the university at Leipzig and for a time went the pace of student dissipations; he has described them in his "Lebenserinnerungen." He took an early disgust, however, for these forms of amusement and was thereafter a man, whose chief vices were working and dreaming.

One of his early creeds was free love; and though he gave up this theory, his works as a whole are by no means an argument for domesticity. In fact they are so devout a pleading for the superiority of passion over all other inspirations, that it is astounding to hear Wagnerians occasionally complain of modern Italian operas as immoral-as if any librettos could be immoral in comparison with the Nibelungen Cycle.

Wagner's first libretto, "The Wedding" (Die Hochzeit), horrified his sister so, that he destroyed it at her request. His third, "Das Liebesverbot," was based on Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure," with the slight distinction that where Shakespeare's play is a preachment for virtue, Wagner himself said that his libretto was "the bold glorification of unchecked sensuality." Years afterward, admirers of his put the work in rehearsal, but gave it up as too licentious. This apostle of unrestrained amours found himself most prosaically married and involved in the most commonplace struggle for daily bread, when he was only twenty-three.

In 1833, at the age of twenty, Wagner had taken up music professionally, and got a position as chorus-master. In 1834, he became musical director at the theatre in Magdeburg. The company, made up principally of young enthusiasts, who worked day and night, rehearsed Wagner's opera, "Das Liebesverbot." The first night there was a crowded house, but the troupe went all to pieces. The next night was to be Wagner's benefit. Fifteen minutes before the curtain rose, he found the audience consisted of his landlady, her husband, and one Polish Jew. A free fight broke out behind the scenes; the prima donna's husband smote the second tenor, her lover, and every one joined in; even that small audience was dismissed. In this company die erste Liebhaberin was Wilhelmine Planer, one of twelve children of a poor spindle-maker. When the Magdeburg company went to pieces, Wagner went to Leipzig and offered the opera to a manager, whose daughter was the chief singer. The manager said that he could not permit his daughter to appear in such a work. Eventually, Wagner drifted to K?nigsberg, where he became director of the theatre, and where Wilhelmine had found a position. The two had become engaged in Magdeburg, and they were married at K?nigsberg, on November 24, 1836.

The theatre soon followed the example of that at Magdeburg and went into bankruptcy. During the honeymoon year, Wagner had composed only one work, an overture, based on "Rule Britannia." At that time "The Old Oaken Bucket" had not been written. He then drifted to Riga, where he became music-director and his wife a singer. Now his relentless ambition seized him and he determined to consecrate the rest of his life to glory. His wife found herself consecrated to poverty and the fanatic ideals of a husband, to whom starvation was only a detail in the scheme of his life,-a scheme and a life for which she had neither inclination nor understanding.

Wilhelmine, or Minna, as she was called, is described as pretty by some and as of a "pleasing appearance," by others. The painter Pecht called her very pretty, but blamed her for a sober, unimaginative soul. Richard Pohl calls her a prosaic domestic woman, who never understood her husband, and who might have been an impediment to his far-reaching ideas, if Richard Wagner could have been impeded in his career by anything. Wagner himself seems to have been genuinely fond of her, though never, perhaps, deeply in love with her. He called her an "excellent housewife," who lovingly and faithfully shared much sorrow and little joy with him.

The young couple lived at Riga in an expensive suburb, whence it was said they could reach the theatre only by means of a cab, though Glasenapp denies this story. Minna brought to her husband not a penny of dowry, and he brought to her a number of debts, and a hopeless lack of economy. The first year he tried to get an advance of salary, and offered to do anything, "except bootblacking and water-carrying, which latter my chest could not endure at present." Then he decided that fame and fortune awaited him, as they usually do, just over the horizon. The only trouble with the horizon, as with to-morrow and the will-o'-the-wisp, is that it is always just ahead.

When the Wagners applied for a passport, to leave Riga, they did so in the face of certain suits for debt. They were told that they could have the passport as soon as they showed receipts for their bills. That was too ridiculous a condition to consider, so Minna disguised as a peasant woman, and a friendly lumberman took her across the border as his wife. The friends of Wagner took up a purse for him, and by elaborate manoeuvres got him across the Russian border in disguise. He reached the seaport of Pillau, found his wife and his dog there, and set sail in a small boat.

Thus he embarked for the future, "with a wife, an opera and a half, a small purse, and a terribly large and terribly voracious Newfoundland dog." The composer, his wife, and the dog were all three outrageously seasick. They arrived finally after violent storms in London, where the chief event was the loss of the dog. When he came back, the three decided that Paris offered a better chance, so thither they went. Meyerbeer befriended them with letters of introduction and much encouragement, on the receipt of which the cautious couple diluted their few remaining pence in champagne.

Wagner began to write songs, which he offered to sell for prices ranging from $2.50 to $4.00; he asked the publisher obligingly to grant him the latter sum, "as life in Paris is enormously expensive"!

Wagner was so poor that about the only thing he could afford to keep was a diary. Here he wrote down alternate accounts of his abject poverty and of his abnormal hopes. In Villon's time, the wolves used to come into the streets of Paris at night. They were not all dead by 1840, it would seem, for one of them made his home on Wagner's door-step. He wrote in his diary that he had invited a sick and starving German workman to breakfast, and his wife informed him that there was to be no breakfast, as the last pennies were gone.

In one of his moments of desperation, he brought himself to the depth of asking Minna to pawn some of her jewelry. She told him that she had long ago pawned it all. She faced their distress like a heroine. Wagner used to weep when he told of her self-denial, and the cheerfulness with which she, the pretty actress of former days, cooked what meals there were to cook, and scrubbed what clothes there were to scrub. For diversion, when they had no money for theatres and the opera, the genius and his wife and the dog could always take a walk on the boulevard.

Wagner could not play any instrument, not even a piano, and so he tried for a position in the chorus of a cheap theatre; but his voice was not found good enough for even that. His long sea voyage had given him an idea for an opera, "The Flying Dutchman." He was driven to sell his libretto for a hundred dollars to another composer.

It would not do to follow Wagner's artistic progress in this place; that is an epic in itself. Finally, however, he managed to get his "Rienzi" written and accepted in Dresden. He scraped up money enough to go back to his Fatherland, and to take his wife to the baths at Teplitz, her health having broken under the strain of poverty. It is at this period that he closed an autobiographic sketch, with these words: "In Paris I had no prospects for years to come, so in the spring of 1842 I left there. For the first time, with tears in my eyes, I saw the Rhine; poor artist that I was, I swore eternal allegiance to my German Fatherland."

But his German Fatherland seems to have sworn everything except allegiance at him. From this moment he emerged into fame, or rather into notoriety; he thrust his head through the curtain of obscurity, as if he were a negro at a country fair, and with remarkable enthusiasm the whole critical fraternity proceeded to hurl every conceivable missile at him. It was well for him that his skull was hard.

"Rienzi" made an immediate success. But he was in his thirtieth year before even this unwelcome success was achieved. It is typical of the indomitable greatness of the man that even thus late in life, and after all his trials, he could put away from him success of such a sort, and turn back into the wilderness of exile and ignominy for years, until he could find the milk and honey land of art, which only his own magnificent fanaticism and the unsurpassed friendship of one man, Liszt, inspired him with the hope of reaching.

To the woman, Minna Planer, who had cooked his meals, washed his clothes, and darned his socks, this refusal of prosperity was a final blow of disenchantment. She had understood him little enough before, but now she lost track of him altogether. Her feelings were those of Psyche, when she found that her lover was a god with wings and a mania for flight. So far as concerned the further marriage of their minds, he now disappeared for her into the blue empyrean; when she sought to embrace his soul, she clasped thin air.

As for Wagner's heroism for his art, has there ever been anything like it? Some of his operas he did not see performed for years and years. He saw hardly the hope of winning his crusade this side the grave of martyrdom. That he believed in presentiments will be understood in his powerful feeling throughout the composition of "Tannh?user," that sudden death would prevent his finishing it. The world knows the value of these presentiments. Mendelssohn, too, in his letters tells of receiving on one occasion a letter which he feared to open, so strong was his feeling that it contained disastrous news. When at length he found courage to rip the envelope, the news was of the best. If, by chance, either of these presentiments had proved true, who would have been satisfied with the explanation of mere coincidence? The value, however, of Wagner's presentiment lies in the fact that, in spite of his despairful misgivings, he persevered in his ideals, and, if there has been never so great a triumph granted a musician, it is perhaps largely because no other musician so relentlessly worshipped his artistic ideals or sacrificed to them with such Druidic ruthlessness.

Carl Maria von Weber paid great heed to his wife's artistic advice, and called her his "gallery." But there are wives and wives, and however deeply our humanity may sympathise with poor Minna Planer, our love for evolution can only rejoice that she was not permitted to tie her husband down to the narrow-souled ideals of the good-hearted, stupid little housewife she was. Wagner understood her far better than she understood him. He sympathised with her even in her resistance to his career. To the last it made him indignant to hear her spoken of slightingly.

Wagner's appeals for money to his friends, who supported him in his moneyless art, are constantly mingled with tender allusions to Minna. When he would borrow Liszt's last penny, he usually wanted a large part of it for Minna. I do not find him convicted of ever using rough language to her. She was not so patient. Wagner's friend, Roeckel, wrote to Praeger in reference to the agony Wagner suffered from the gibes of criticism:

"I keep it always from him; Minna is not capable of withholding either praise or blame from him, although I have tried hard to prove to her that it deeply affects her husband, whose health is none of the strongest."

When he was implicated in the revolution of 1849, and was forced to flee for his life, he escaped in the disguise of a coachman, and finally, with Liszt's ever-ready aid, reached Zurich. As soon as he found himself there, he borrowed further money from Liszt, to send for Minna, who had remained behind and "suffered a thousand disagreeable things."

Wagner had been supporting her parents, and he borrowed sixty-two thalers more to help them. When Minna did not come immediately, Wagner wrote an anxious letter of inquiry to a friend.

Surely, there can be nothing tenderer than his allusion to her in another letter to Liszt:

"As soon as I have my wife I shall go to work again joyfully. Restore me to my art! You shall see that I am attached to no home, but I cling to this poor, good, faithful woman, for whom I have provided little but grief, who is serious, solicitous, and without expectation, and who nevertheless feels eternally chained to this unruly devil that I am. Restore her to me! Thus will you do me all the good that you could ever wish me; and see, for this I shall be grateful to you! yes, grateful!... See that she is made happy and can soon return to me! which, alas! in our sweet nineteenth-century language, means, send her as much money as you possibly can! Yes, that is the kind of a man I am! I can beg, I could steal, to make my wife happy, if only for a short time. You dear, good Liszt! do see what you can do! Help me! Help me, dear Liszt!"

At last she came, and he wrote Heine a letter of rejoicing. But once with him, she began again her opposition to his high-flying theories. She wanted him to write a popular French opera for Paris. She was humiliated at his borrowing for his self-support, and could not see much glory in his creed: "He who helps me only helps my art through me, and the sacred cause for which I am fighting." He seemed more than afraid of her opinion, and wrote to Uhlig:

"She is really somewhat hectoring in this matter, and I shall no doubt have a hard tussle with her practical sense if I tell her bluntly that I do not wish to write an opera for Paris. True, she would shake her head and accept that decision, too, were it not so closely related to our means of subsistence; there lies the critical knot, which it will be painful to cut. Already my wife is ashamed of our presence in Zurich, and thinks we ought to make everybody believe that we are in Paris."

At last, she nagged him into her theory, although he fairly loathed writing a pot-boiler, and considered it the purest dishonesty. He went to Paris, but returned, having been able to accomplish nothing. On his return, he wrote in his "A Communication to My Friends," that a new hope sprung up within him. His friend Liszt was then directing the opera at Weimar.

"At the close of my last Paris sojourn, when I was ill, unhappy, and in despair, my eye fell on the score of my 'Lohengrin,' which I had almost forgotten. A pitiful feeling overcame me that these tones would never resound from the deathly pale paper; two words I wrote to Liszt, the answer to which was nothing else than the information that, as far as the resources of the Weimar Opera permitted, the most elaborate preparations were being made for the production of 'Lohengrin.'"

It was in "Lohengrin" that he first put in play his theory of the marriage of poetry and music, his idea being their complete devotion, with poetry as the master of the situation. He believed in independent melodies no more than in strong-minded wives. He lived this artistic theory in his own domestic relations, and it was not his fault that Minna, his melody, found it impossible to live in the light upper air of his poetry. He was so discouraged, however, by this time, by finding no encouragement at home, and a frenzy of hostility from the critics,-a frenzy almost incredible at this late day, in spite of the monumental evidences of it,-that for six years, after the completion of "Lohengrin," he wrote no music at all.

He felt that he must first prepare the soil of battle with the critics in their own element-ink-slinging. On this fact Mr. Finck comments as follows:

"Five years,-nay, six years, six of the best years of his life, immediately following the completion of 'Lohengrin,'-the greatest dramatic composer the world has ever seen did not write a note! Do you realise what that means? It means that the world lost two or three immortal operas, which he might have, and probably would have, written in these six years had not an unsympathetic world forced him into the role of an aggressive reformer and revolutionist."

He received some money, and more fame, and still more enemies as a result of his powerful literary tilts against Philistinism. Then he took up the Nibelungen idea, planning to devote three years to the work; "little dreaming that it would keep him with interruptions for the next twenty-three years." For the accomplishment of this vast monument he asked only a humble place to work. He wrote Uhlig:

"I want a small house, with meadow and a little garden! To work with zest and joy,-but not for the present generation.... Rest! rest! rest! Country! country! a cow, a goat, etc. Then-health-happiness-hope! Else, everything lost. I care no more."

He found all in Zürich, where he and his wife rowed about the lake, and accumulated friends. He found special sympathy in the friendship of Frau Elise Wille, a novelist. Perhaps she was more than a friend, for one of his letters to her is superscribed "Precious."

But all the while he suffered much from erysipelas and dyspepsia, and was occasionally moved with violent despair to the edge of suicide, for he was exiled from his Fatherland, and he was an outlaw from the world of music, which he longed to enlarge and beautify. He compared himself to Beethoven:

"Strange that my fate should be like Beethoven's! he could not hear his music because he was deaf.... I cannot hear mine because I am more than deaf, because I do not live in my time at all, because I move among you as one who is dead.... Oh, that I should not arise from my bed to-morrow, awake no more to this loathsome life!"

Financial troubles and the discouragement of his wife were still among the most faithful torments. His letters to Liszt are abundant with alternations of artistic ecstasy and material misery. It is worth recording that, "my wife has not scolded me once, although yesterday I had the spleen badly enough." To add to his misery, Minna became addicted to opium. In 1858 he wrote Liszt:

"My wife will return in a fortnight, after having finished her cure, which will have lasted three months. My anxiety about her was terrible, and for two months I had to expect the news of her death from day to day. Her health was ruined, especially by the immoderate use of opium, taken nominally as a remedy for sleeplessness. Latterly the cure she uses has proved highly beneficial; the great weakness and want of appetite have disappeared, and the recovery of the chief functions (she used to perspire continually) and a certain abatement of her incessant excitement, have become noticeable. The great enlargement of her heart will be bearable to her if only she keeps perfectly calm and avoids all excitement to her dying day. A thing of this kind can never be got rid of entirely. Thus I have to undertake new duties, over which I must try to forget my own sufferings."

The young pianist, Tausig, visits him, and he thinks of him as his son, saying, "My childless marriage is suddenly blest with an interesting phenomenon." But the young Tausig gives him unlimited cares, and "devours my biscuits, which my wife doles out grudgingly even to me." His allusions to Minna are always full of tender solicitude, though it is evident that she wears upon him. His temper, peculiarly violent at the slightest opposition, must have been a serious problem under her open disbelief in his genius and his creeds; and yet he thought he could not prosper without her.

In 1860 he is again borrowing money for her, and writing to Liszt:

"According to a letter; just received, D. thinks it necessary to refuse me the thousand francs I had asked for, and offers me thirty louis d'or instead. This puts me in an awkward position. On the one hand I am, as usual, greatly in want of money, and shall decidedly not be able to send my wife to Loden for a cure, unless I receive the subvention I had hoped for."

These letters to Liszt make a remarkable literature. The two men were bound together by such artistic sympathy, and Liszt was so much a soldier for Wagner's crusade, and so ready with financial help, that he was more than friend or brother. It was, in Wagner's own phrase, "the gigantic perseverance of his friendship," that endeared him beyond words to the struggler. Even Minna seems to have been extremely fond of Liszt-what woman was not? It was to Liszt that she was indebted for rescue from downright starvation. More than this, Minna's parents were supported via Liszt, and it somewhat beautifies the otherwise unbeautiful spectacle of Wagner's splendid mendicancy that, when he borrowed, it was as much for his wife and her parents as for himself.

Liszt was not the only friend in need. There was Frau Julie Ritter, who sent him money from Dresden for several years.

This brings us to a time of stress when Minna began to suffer from the fickleness of some one nearer to her than fortune. Wagner began to cast meaning glances over the garden wall. As Mr. Henderson says: "He was as inconstant as the wind, a rover, and a faithless husband. His misdoings amounted to more than peccadilloes."

It was in Zürich that Wagner gave Minna some other causes for uneasiness than his habit of being late at meals. Hans Bélart, in his "Wagner in Zürich," refers to Wagner's flirtation with Emilie Heim, the wife of a conductor, who lived so near the Wagners that their kitchen-gardens adjoined. Emilie was a beautiful blonde with a beautiful voice, and she and Wagner were wont to sing duets together, as he wrote them; and she was the soloist in a concert he gave. How much cause Minna may have had for jealousy, we can hardly know, but it seems certain that she felt she had a sufficiency, and that she made so much ado about it that Wagner found it advisable to move. In later years he and Emilie met again. Wagner gave her the pet name of "Sieglinde," and told her that she should illumine his Walhalla as Freia, the eternal, blue-eyed, gold-haired goddess of spring. According to Belart, Minna was the inspiration for Wotan's virtuous but nagging wife Fricka!

Frau Wille was another torment to Minna, but Frau Wesendonck was more. Belart even implies that Minna grew so jealous of the Wesendonck that she poured out her woes to a dancing-master named Riese, who revered Meyerbeer. When Minna, who was at least, says Mr. Finck, as well advanced as the eminent critics of the time, failed to understand the music of "The Walküre," when indeed she called it "immoral amorous asininity,"-an opinion for which perhaps the duets with Frau Heim were partly responsible,-Wagner used to slam on his hat and go for a walk, while Minna would seek Herr Riese.

The affair with the Frau Wesendonck is something of mystery, that is, if Wagner's word is good for anything. She died in 1902, and at her death Mr. Huneker summed up her affair with Wagner as follows:

"Mathilde Wesendonck is dead. Who was she? Well, she was Isolde when Wagner was Tristan down on the beautiful shores of Zurich in the years of 1858 and 1859. When he was in sore straits and had not where to lay his head, he went to Zürich, and Mr. Wesendonck rented to him for next to nothing a little chalet. There he dreamed out the second and third acts of 'Tristan und Isolde,' and succeeded in deeply interesting Mrs. Wesendonck in them. There had already been trouble between him and his patient first wife, Minna, because of his attentions to this woman, and in 1856 the Wagners were on the point of a separation. Richard wrote to his friend Praeger in London: 'The devil is loose. I shall leave Zürich at once and come to you in Paris,' But this time the trouble was smoothed over.

"In the summer of 1859 the attachment of Wagner and Mrs. Wesendonck had reached such a stage that Wesendonck practically kicked the great composer out of his paradise. In later years, when questioned about it, Wesendonck admitted that he had forced Wagner to go. In 1865 Wagner wrote to the injured husband:

"'The incident that separated me from you about six years ago should be evaded; it has upset me and my life enough that you recognise me no longer and that I esteem myself less and less. All this suffering should have earned your forgiveness, and it would have been beautiful and noble to have forgiven me; but it is useless to demand the impossible, and I was in the wrong.'

"It is thoroughly characteristic of Wagner to regard his sufferings as so much more important than those of the husband whom he wronged. Wagner always thought well of himself. But poor Isolde is dead at last. She must have been very old and very sorry for the past. Let the orchestra play the 'Liebestod.'"

Judging from external evidences, there is reason enough to accept such a theory of the relations of Wagner and this sympathetic, beautiful woman. In fact, it stretches credulity to the bursting point to accept any other opinion. And yet, it is only fair to say that Wagner put a very different construction upon the friendship, and to confess that stranger things have happened in real life than the purely artistic wedlock, which Wagner claimed for the intimacy of the two. Mathilde was a poet, and Wagner set to music some of her verses, notably his beautiful "Traume." Besides, she was the inspiration of his Isolde, and she gave him the sympathy Minna denied.

According to a recently published article in a German review, Wagner wrote a long letter to his sister Clara, explaining why Minna had left him, and making himself out to be as

thoroughly misunderstood domestically as he had always been musically. It is a long letter, but quoteworthy, the italics being mine:

"MY DEAR CLARA:-I promised you further information regarding the causes of the decisive step which you now see me taking. I communicate, therefore, what is necessary to enable you to contradict various pieces of gossip, to which indeed I am indifferent.

"What for six years has kept and comforted me, and especially has strengthened me in remaining by Minna's side, in spite of the enormous differences in our characters and natures, is the love of that young lady who, at first and for a long time, timid, doubting, hesitating, and bashful, finally more determinately and surely grew closer to me. As there never could be any talk of a union between us, our profound affection took the sadly melancholy character which keeps aloof all that is common and base, and recognises its fount of happiness only in the welfare of the other. From the period of our first acquaintance she had displayed the most unwearied and most delicate care for me, and in the most courageous way had obtained from her husband everything that could lighten my life.

"He could not, in presence of the undisguised frankness of his wife, do anything but soon fall into increasing jealousy. Her nobleness now consisted in this, that she kept her husband informed of the state of her heart and gradually led him to perfect renunciation of her. By what sacrifices and struggles this was attained can be easily guessed; what rendered her success possible, could only be the depth and sublimity of her affection, devoid of every selfish thought, which gave her the power to show it to her husband in such a light that he, when she finally threatened him with her death, had to abstain from her and had to prove his unshakable love for her only by supporting her in her cares for me. Finally, he had to retain the mother of his children, and for their sake-who invincibly separated us-he assumed his position of renunciation. Thus, while he was devoured by jealousy she again interested him for me so far that-as you know-he often supported me. Lastly, when it came to providing me with what I wanted-a house and garden-it was she who by the most unheard-of struggles induced him to buy a pretty little property near his own.

"The most wonderful thing is, that I never had a suspicion of these struggles; her husband, out of love for her, had always to show himself friendly and unconcerned toward me. Not a dark look must he cast on me, not a hair ruffled; the heavens must arch over me, clear and cloudless, soft and smooth must be the path I trod. Such was the unheard-of result of the glorious love of the purest, noblest woman, and this love, which always remained unspoken between us, was compelled finally to reveal itself when I composed and gave her 'Tristan,' Then, for the first time her self-control failed, and she declared to me that now she must die.

"Think, dear sister, what this love must have been to me after a life of toil and suffering, of excitement and sacrifice, such as mine had been. Yet we at once recognised that a union between us must never be thought of, so we resigned ourselves, renounced every selfish wish, suffered and endured-but loved each other.

"My wife with true woman's instinct seemed to understand what was going on. She behaved indeed often in a jealous, scornful, contemptuous manner, yet she tolerated our mode of life, which otherwise was no injury to morality, but looked only to the possibility of knowing each other at the present moment. Consequently I assumed that Minna would be sensible and understand that she had nothing to fear really, that a union between us could not even be thought of, and that therefore forbearance on her side was the most desirable and the best. Now, however, I learn that I have perhaps deceived myself on this point; bits of gossip came to my ear; and she at last so far lost her senses that she intercepted a letter from me and-opened it. This letter, if she had been in a position to understand it, would really have soothed her in the most desirable way, for our resignation was its theme.

"She dwelt only on the confidential expressions and lost the sense. In a rage she came to me and compelled me therefore to declare quietly and decisively how matters stood; namely, that she had brought trouble on herself by opening such a letter, and that if she could not restrain herself, we must part. On this point we agreed; I calm, she passionate. Another day I was sorry for her. I went to her and said: 'Minna, you are very sick. Compose yourself and let us once more talk about the matter.' We concluded with the idea of a Cure for her; she seemed to quiet herself, and the day of her departure for the Cure was approaching; previously, however, she would speak to Frau Wesendonck I firmly forbade her to do so. All my efforts were to make Minna gradually acquainted with the character of my relations to Frau Wesendonck, in order to convince her that she had no need to fear about the continuance of our marriage, and that, therefore, she should behave herself sensibly, thoughtfully, and generously; reject any foolish revenge and every kind of spying. Ultimately she promised this. Yet she could not be quiet. She went behind my back and-without comprehending it herself-insulted the gentle lady most grossly. She said to her: 'Were I like ordinary women, I would go with this letter to your husband!' And thus Frau Wesendonck, who was conscious of never having any secrets from her husband-a thing which a woman like Minna could not understand-had nothing to do but at once to inform her husband of this scene and its cause.

"Here, then, was an attack, in a rough and vulgar manner, an attack on the delicacy and purity of our relations, and in many ways a change was necessary. I succeeded only after some time in making it clear to Frau Wesendonck that, for a nature like that of my wife, relations of such elevation and unselfishness as those existing between us could never be made intelligible, for I was struck by her serious, deep reproach that I had omitted this, while she had always made her husband her confidant. Whoever can comprehend what I have suffered since (it was then the middle of April) must also comprehend in what state of mind I am at last, since I must acknowledge that the uninterrupted endeavours to continue our disturbed relations were absolutely fruitless. I tended Minna at the Cure for three months with the utmost care, and in order to quiet her, I, during this period, broke off all intercourse with our neighbours; in my anxiety for her health I tried everything in my power to bring her to reason and to hold views befitting herself and her age. All in vain! She persisted in the most trivial remarks, she said she was an injured woman, and she had scarcely been quieted, before the old rage broke out again. Since Minna returned a month ago, some conclusion had finally to be reached. The close proximity of the two women was for the future impossible, for Frau Wesendonck could not forget that her highest sacrifices and tenderest consideration for me had been met on my side, through my wife, so rudely and insultingly. People, too, had begun to talk. Enough; the most unheard-of scenes and tormentings of me never ceased, and out of regard for the one and the other, I was forced finally to decide to give up the charming asylum which such tender love had prepared for me.

"Now I needed quiet and perfect composure, for what I have to surmount is great. Minna is unable to understand what an unhappy married life we have led; she imagines the past to have been quite different from what it was, and if I found consolation, distraction, and forgetfulness in my art, she verily believes I had no need of them. Enough. I have come to this resolution with myself: I can no longer bear this everlasting squabbling and distrustful temper if I have to fulfil my life's task courageously. Whoever has observed me sufficiently must wonder at my patience, kindness, even weakness, and if I am condemned by superficial judges I am quite indifferent to them. But never had Minna such an opportunity to show herself more worthy of the dignity (würde) of being my wife, than now, when it is necessary for me to keep what is highest and dearest. It lay in her hands to show whether she really loved me. But what such genuine love is, she never once conceived, and her temper carried her away beyond everything.

"Yet I excused her on account of her sickness, although this sickness would have taken another and milder character if she herself were other and milder. The many disagreeable blows of fortune which she experienced with me-which my inner genius (which unfortunately I could not impart) easily raised me above, rendered me full of regard for her; I wished to give her as little pain as possible, for I am very sorry for her. Only I feel myself constantly incapable of enduring it by her side; moreover, I can do her no good thereby. I shall become always unintelligible to her and an object of her suspicion. So-separation! But in all kindness and love, I do not desire her disgrace. I only wished that she herself in time would see that it is better if we do not see so much of each other. For the present I hold out to her the prospect of returning to Germany as soon as the amnesty is proclaimed; for this reason she will take with her all the furniture and things. I purpose to make no slips of the tongue and to let everything depend on my future resolutions. Do you therefore stick to it that it is only a temporary separation. What ever you can do to make her quiet and reasonable I beg you not to omit. For-as said above-she is unfortunate; with a smaller man she would have been happier. Join with me in pitying her. I will thank you from my heart for so doing, dear sister!

"I shall wait here a bit in Geneva till I can go to Italy, where I think of passing the winter, presumably in Venice. Already I feel quickened by being alone and removed from all tormenting surroundings. It was no use talking of work. As soon as I feel myself in a temper to go on composing 'Tristan,' I shall regard myself as saved. In fact, I must do the best for myself; I ask nothing from the world but that it leave me in quiet for the works which one day will belong to it. So let it judge me gently! The contents of this letter, dear Clara, you can confidently use to give any explanations where they may be necessary. On the whole, however, naturally I would not like to have much said of the matter. Only very few people will understand what this is about, so one must know well the persons introduced here.

"Now, farewell, dear sister. I thank you again from my heart for the secret question which, as you can see, I answer confidentially. Treat Minna with forbearance, but make her gradually understand how she now stands with me.

"Your brother,


This is Wagner's side of the affair, only recently made public. The translation is from the Musical Courier. Whatever is discarded, there remains enough to disprove Bélart's statement that Otto Wesendonck only learned of the affair from informants outside, and, finding Wagner and Mathilde together, compelled Wagner to leave Zurich immediately. Besides, even Bélart admits that Wesendonck and his wife continued to live together for the sake of the children, and that years after, when he had learned to understand, he renewed his acquaintance with Wagner.

Amazing as this story is, both with regard to the strange things it asks us to believe of the man and the woman and the husband, it is certain that there was a pretty how-d'ye-do in Zurich. Minna became so jealous that she drove Wagner, usually so tender in his allusions to her, to use the expression of the ungallant Haydn, saying that, "she was making a hell out of the home." Her outbursts of temper were so violent, and her addiction to opium had become so great, that he began to fear for her death by heart disease, and finally for her sanity. He wrote of her to his friend Frau Ritter:

"Her condition of mind became such a torment to herself and her surroundings, that a radical change of the situation had to be made, unless we were all willing to wear ourselves out unreasonably.... The state of her education, and her intellectual capacities, make it impossible for her to find in me and my endowments the consolation which she needed so much by way of compensation for the disagreeableness of our material situation. If this is the source of great anguish to me, it nevertheless makes me pity her with all my heart, and it is my most cordial wish that I may some day be able to afford her lasting consolation in her own way."

In 1856 she had left him for a time, ostensibly to take a cure. In 1859 there had been a short reunion, of which Wagner wrote again to Frau Ritter:

"This period I have also chosen for a reunion with my poor wife. May Heaven grant that I shall always feel able to carry out patiently my firm and cordial determination of treating her in the most considerate manner. I confess that my relation to this poor woman, who had so many trials, and is now suffering so much, has always spurred me on to preserve and develop my moral powers. In all my relations to her I am guided only by the deepest pity with her condition, and I hope confidently that it will always arm me with the persistent patience with which I feel called upon not only to endure the consequences of her illness, but personally to allay them."

Then he had gone to Venice to continue work on "Tristan," dreaming there in loneliness of his Isolde, the Wesendonck, whose husband has been well likened to King Mark. But Venice being within the sphere of Saxon influence, he was afraid to remain long, for fear of arrest. In 1860 he was granted a partial amnesty, and went to Frankfort to meet his wife, who had been taking treatment near Wiesbaden. Minna went with him to Paris, and was there at the time of the violent riots, which put an end to "Tannh?user," and doubtless to Minna's hopes of settling in the Paris she was so fond of. She began again to vent her indignation that he would not write for the gallery, and the storm grew fiercer and fiercer. Wagner had written Liszt in 1861 with renewed hope and renewed tenderness:

"For the present I spend all the good humour I can command on my wife. I flatter her and take care of her as if she were a bride in her honeymoon. My reward is that I see her thrive; her bad illness is visibly getting better. She is recovering and will, I hope, become a little rational in her old age. Just after I had received your 'Dante,' I wrote to her that we had now got out of Hell; I hope Purgatory will agree with her; in which case, we shall perhaps, after all, enjoy a little Paradise."

But the hope was vain, and a friend of the family who wrote under the name of the "Idealistin" describes the-

"almost daily trouble in the intercourse, increased by the fact that the absence of children deprived them of the last element of reconciliation. Nevertheless, Frau Wagner was a good woman, and in the eyes of the world decidedly the better half and the chief sufferer. I judged otherwise, and felt the deepest pity for Wagner, for whom love should have built the bridge by which he might have reached others, whereas now it was only making the bitter cup of his life bitterer. I was on good terms with Frau Wagner, who often poured her complaints into my ears, and I tried to console her, but of course in vain."

And now Minna, whose housewifely meekness had endured the Wesendonck tempest and all the other multitudes of trials Wagner went through, found herself unable to endure his fidelity to his artistic ideals. The quarrels grew fiercer and fiercer, until finally she left Wagner for ever, and went back to her people in Dresden, where she spent the rest of her life.

Wagner's immortal hope was not even yet dead; as late as 1863 he wrote to Praeger from St. Petersburg:

"I would Minna were here with me; we might, in the excitement that now moves fast around me, grow again the quiescent pair of yore. The whole thing is annoying. I am not in good spirits: I move about freely, and see a number of people, but my misery is bitter."

Minna herself seems to have toyed with the idea of reconciliation, for she wrote to Praeger, who told Wagner, and received the following bitter complaint:

"And so she has written to you? Whose fault was it? How could she have expected I was to be shackled and fettered as any ordinary cold common mortal? My inspirations carried me into a sphere where she could not follow, and then the exuberance of my heated enthusiasm was met by a cold douche. But still there was no reason for the extreme step; everything might have been arranged between us, and it would have been better had it been so. Now there is a dark void, and my misery is deep."

A year later, Wagner's regret is not yet dead, and he writes to Frau Wille:

"Between me and my wife all might have turned out well! I had simply spoiled her dreadfully, and yielded to her in everything. She did not feel that I am a man who cannot live with wings tied down. What did she know of the divine right of passion, which I announce in the flame-death of the Walküre who has fallen from the grace of the gods? With the death-sacrifice of love the Dusk of the Gods (G?tterdammerung) sets in."

And again he bewails his loneliness to Praeger:

"The commonest domestic details must now be done by me; the purchasing of kitchen utensils and such kindred matters am I driven to. Ah! poor Beethoven! now is it forcibly brought home to me what his discomforts were with his washing-book and engaging of housekeepers, etc., etc. I who have praised woman more than Frauenlob, have not one for my companion. The truth is, I have spoiled Minna; too much did I indulge her, too much did I yield to her; but it were better not to talk upon a subject which never ceases to vex me."

Yet he was destined to know wedded happiness some years later. And he showed that he could make happy a woman who could understand him. As Mr. Finck comments:

"The world is apt to side with the woman in a case like this, especially if her partner is of the irritabile genus, a man of genius. No doubt, Minna had much to endure, and deserves all our pity; but that her husband is not to blame in this matter, is shown by the extremely happy and contented life he led with his second wife, Cosima, the daughter of Liszt, who did love and understand him."

It is a proverb that the woman who marries a genius marries misery, but I think there are instances enough in this book to show that genius has nothing to do with the case. Wedded happiness is a result of the lucky meeting of two natures, one or both of which may be accidentally so constituted as to be happy in the other's society without undue restlessness. It would be just as easy to prove, by a multitude of instances, that plumbers or bookkeepers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, or thieves make poor husbands as to prove the same of musicians, artists, poets, architects, or geniuses of any kind.

The truth of the matter is always overlooked: the geniuses are revealed to the public in an intimacy non-historical characters are not subjected to. But if you will turn from reading the pages of history, biography, or memoirs, and take up any newspaper of the day, you will doubtless be astounded to find how small a percentage of the divorces, the murders, and other domestic scandals are to be blamed to the possession of genius, unless, as one might well, you recognise a special and separate genius for trouble.

Patience conquers all things, if one lives long enough, and at length even Wagner's innumerable woes were solved by the appearance of a veritable deus ex machina let down from heaven. But Wagner was over fifty when the tardy god arrived. It was in 1864 that he became the idol and the pet of the young king, Ludwig II. of Bavaria, who sent a courier ransacking Europe almost in vain for the fugitive, and, at last finding him, dumbfounded him with fairy promises, presented him with a villa, and treated him to a splendour few musicians have ever known, except perhaps Lully, and Farinelli, who became the vocal prime minister of the truly good king Ferdinand VI. of Spain. Wagner's relations with Ludwig were of a sort which Mr. Finck euphemises as "Grecian." This was seemingly not the only instance in his career; but it brought him furious enmity as soon as he had found friendship.

Poor Minna never shared with Wagner his period of luxury. But it was of such magnificence that his envious foes accused him of aiming to dethrone religion from its throne, and substitute art as the Pope! Among the attacks made on Wagner at this time was the charge that, while he was lolling on a silken couch which had cost him $12,000, his neglected wife was starving to death in Dresden. Minna was honourable enough to answer this attack with an open letter to those German newspapers which, in 1866, outjaundiced that yellow journalism for the invention of which New America has been blamed.

Minna wrote as follows:

"The malicious rumours concerning my husband, which have been for some time published by Vienna and Munich newspapers, oblige me to declare that I have received from him up to this day an income amply sufficient for my maintenance. I take this opportunity with the more pleasure as it enables me to put an end to at least one of the numerous calumnies launched against my husband."

A few weeks later, on January 25, 1866, she died at Dresden of heart disease. She had suffered all the miseries that earn success, without ever tasting their sweets. To say whether or not she deserved to taste the sweets would demand a more ruthless and unforgiving verdict upon one of the two unfortunates than I have the heart to render. The marriage had been the wedding of a near-sighted woman and a man who could see hardly anything nearer than the Pleiades. Neither was more to blame than the other for the fault of eyesight. It was simply a case of connubial astigmatism.

While Wagner was living on terms of strange intimacy with the young king, he was accused of Oriental luxury. The selection of the rainbow furnishings of his house and of his own dressing-gowns, which made Joseph's coat mere negligée, was not altogether his own, but showed the unmistakable guiding hand of a woman. Frau Cosima von Bülow acted as a sort of secretary to Wagner. She was the daughter of Liszt; her mother was the Comtesse d'Agoult, who wrote under the name of "Daniel Stern," and with whom Liszt had lived for a few years. Cosima had married Hans von Bülow in 1857.

Von Bülow had in his earlier years been greatly befriended by Liszt and by Wagner. In 1850, when Von Bülow was about twenty years old, Wagner and Liszt both had written to his mother, who was then divorced, begging her to let her son take up music. Like Schumann's mother, she opposed music as a career, but Von Bülow persisted, and became Liszt's pupil. Wagner was to Von Bülow a god. It was a pitiful practical joke that Fate should have directed the god's favour toward the worshipper's wife. But those ugly old maids, the Fates, have never had a sense of good form.

As early as 1864 Wagner had written to Frau Wille, complaining of Von Bülow's misfortunes, and saying: "Add to this a tragic marriage; a young woman of extraordinary, quite unprecedented endowment, Liszt's wonderful image, but of superior intellect." Wagner persuaded the king to make Von Bülow court pianist, and later court conductor. There are very pretty accounts of the musical at-homes of the Von Bülows and Wagner.

Then Wagner's popularity with the king eventually raised such hostility that, at the king's request, he left the country to save his life. He was again an exile. Cosima, with her two children, went with him, and later Von Bülow came, but he soon had to go to Basle to earn his living as a piano teacher, and left his family at Lucerne. There exists a letter from Wagner's cook, telling a friend of how the king came incognito to visit Wagner, and how the house was upset by the descent of Cosima and her children. They had come to stay. At Triebschen, near Lucerne, Wagner lived with the Von Bülow family, and began to know contentment.

The relations of Wagner and Cosima rapidly grew intimate enough to torment even the idolatrous Von Bülow. Riemann says: "Domestic misunderstandings led, in 1869, to a separation, and Von Bülow left the city." One of the "domestic misunderstandings" was doubtless the birth of Siegfried Wagner, June 6, 1869. A speedy divorce and marriage were imperative. The chief difficulty in the securing of the much desired divorce was that Cosima must change her religion, or her "religious profession," to use the more accurate phrase of Mr. Finck, who says that Wagner in his life with her, had "followed the example of Liszt and Goethe and other European men of genius, an example the ethics of which this is not the place to discuss."

Von Bülow secured his divorce in the fall of 1869. He remarried, in 1882, the actress, Marie Schanzer. Wagner and Cosima were married August 25, 1870. This was the twenty-fifth birthday of King Ludwig, and Glasenapp comments glowingly upon the meaning of the marriage:

"To the artist, who in the first great rumblings of the war of 1870-71, greeted the dawn of a new era for his people, the same hour proved to be the beginning of a new chapter. On Thursday, the 25th of August, 1870, in the Protestant Church of Lucerne, in the presence of two witnesses, one, the lifelong friend of the Wagner family, Hans Richter, the other, Miss M.v.M., the wedding of Richard Wagner to Cosima, the divorced wife of Hans von Bülow, was celebrated.

"There is no other union which Germans ought to deem more holy. None have ever been entered into with less selfishness, with higher impersonal sentiments. It united the great homeless one, who had suffered so much and so long under the heartlessness and unappreciative neglect of his contemporaries, to a wife, who stood beside the friend of her father, the ideal of her husband, with cheerful encouragement (mit theilnahmvollster Sorge), until she as well as her husband realised that she was the one chosen to heal the wounds which the artist had suffered in his restless wanderings and through numberless disappointments. The time had arrived when the hand of love prepared the last and never-to-be-lost home.

"This knowledge gave the noble-minded woman the courage to sever the ties, which in early youth had tied her to one of our most eminent artists, and the best of men; to give up herself to her task, to consecrate her life to him, to be the helpmeet of the man to whom through friendship and the inner voice of her heart, and the knowledge of noble duty, she had already belonged. The world did not hesitate to malign this holiest act of fidelity. Only the small and the low are overlooked, the high and the great are ever the victims."

Just two months before the marriage, Wagner had written to Frau Wille, who had invited him and his wife-to-be to visit her, an account of his feelings in the matter, which is beautiful enough and sincere enough to quote at some length:

"Certainly we shall come, for you are to be the first to whom we shall present ourselves as man and wife. To get into this state, great patience was required; what has been for years inevitable was not to be brought about until all manner of suffering. Since last I saw you in Munich, I have not again left my asylum, which, in the meanwhile, has also become the refuge of her who was destined to prove that I could well be helped, and that the axiom of many of my friends that I 'could not be helped' was false! She knew that I could be helped, and she helped me: she has defied every disapprobation and taken upon herself every condemnation. She has borne to me a wonderfully beautiful and vigorous boy, whom I boldly call 'Siegfried': he is now growing, together with my work, and gives me a new, long life, which at last has attained a meaning. Thus we get along without the world from which we had retired entirely. But now listen: you will, I trust, approve of the sentiment which leads us to postpone our visit until I can introduce to you the mother of my son as my wedded wife. This will soon be the case, and before the leaves fall we hope to be in Mariafeld."

A pleasant view of the new domesticity that had come into Wagner's life is an elaborate surprise he planned for his wife. He composed with great secrecy the "Siegfried Idyll," that most royal musical welcome that ever baby had. Hans Richter collected a band of musical conspirators and rehearsed the work. On the morning of Cosima's birthday, the orchestra stealthily collected on the steps of the house, and with Wagner as conductor, and with Hans Richter as trumpeter, Cosima's thirtieth birthday was ushered in with benevolent auspices, the child being then a year old. The Idyll itself, as Mr. Finck says, "is not merely an orchestral cradle-song; it is the embodiment of love, paternal and conjugal."

A new reward for his long and stormy career was the realisation of the Bayreuth dream-the building with hands of a material castle in Spain. Besides this opera-house of his own, to be consecrated to his own works, Wagner was given a home. He and his wife left the villa at Triebschen, on the lake at Lucerne, with much regret. For there he had been able to work in perfect seclusion, under the protection and forethought of the devoted Cosima. His new villa at Bayreuth he called "Wahnfried," setting over the door a fresco of mythological figures, symbolising music and tragedy; in whom are portrayed Cosima Wagner, his final ideal, and Wilhelmine Schroeder-Devrient, who had been his first inspiration, and also figures of Wotan and Siegfried; the former being the portrait of Franz Betz, the singer of the r?le, and the latter being the child Siegfried Wagner. Beneath the frescoes he put the words: "Hier wo mein W?hnen Frieden fand, Wahnfried sei dieses Haus von mir benannt,"-which may be Englished: "Here, where my illusions respite found, 'Illusion-Respite' let this house by me be crowned."

In this home, plain in its exterior, but full of richness within, Wagner lived at ease with his wife and her four children. Von Bülow, the father of two of them, had found strength to be true to his first beliefs in Wagner's art crusade, and to continue his friendship with the man, though delicacy forbade his entering the home, to which he had regretfully but gracefully resigned his wife, like Ruskin, though not for the same reasons. Once he broke forth in his dilemma: "If he were only some one that I could kill, he would have been dead before this." But he could not interfere with "the great cause," and even Liszt, after some estrangement, was reconciled to Wagner.

Here Wagner's existence went tranquilly and busily on for twelve years, till he was at the threshold of his three-score and ten. And now the genius, whom we saw but lately juggling with starvation in the slums of Paris, we find a figure of world-wide fame, with an annual income of $25,000 and the ability to travel to Italy in a private car. But this luxury was his last, for his health was on the ebb. And though he took a suite of twenty-eight rooms in the Palazzo Vendramin, in Venice, with his wife, his own two children, Siegfried and Eva, aged twelve and fourteen years, Daniela and Isolde, Cosima's two children by her first husband, and two teachers, four servants, and many guests, this was but a splendid sarcophagus; for here Wagner had but less than half a year to live. Those who would know more of the daily comforts and suffering of this time, can read it in Perl's book, "Richard Wagner in Venedig." He suffered constantly more and more from heart trouble and other torments. One day his servant heard him calling, and, hastening to his side, found him on a divan writhing in agony; his last words were: "Call my wife and the doctor." Cosima flew to his aid, but could not hold back the inevitable. When the doctor came and told her that Wagner had finished his struggle with the arch-critic, Death, she screamed and fainted. For twenty-six hours she refused to leave his body or to take any food, and could be dragged away only when she had fainted from exhaustion.

And now, the erstwhile exile, living on the pittances he could wheedle from his few disciples, died in the fame of the world. Three kings sent wreaths to his funeral, and the city of Venice twice asked for the privilege of giving him a final pageant. But Cosima strangely would have no ceremony at all, and no music. "She feared it would rend her heart in twain," says Mr. Finck, "so the procession moved along the canal in solemn silence, broken only by the tolling of the distant bell."

The railroad station was guarded as for the funeral of a monarch. The express-train was not stopped at the border of the three countries through which it passed. When the coffin was taken to the grave in Bayreuth, it was followed by the two large dogs that had shared, as so many of their fellows, the goodness of his large heart.

As for the widow, she is still living as I write, and still unwearied in behalf of his glory. In her he had found that ideal of womankind which he had so much upheld: instant and dauntless obedience to the behest of the one great love. When he died he was even then at work upon a glorification of the sex, and the last sentence that ever flowed from his pen related to a legend of the Buddhists, granting women a right to the saintliness previously claimed by men alone.

Once he had written: "Women are the music of life," and of his "Brünnhilde" he had said: "Never has woman been so glorified as in this poem." For the reward of this trust in womankind, he had also had the privilege of saying, "In the hearts of women it has always gone well with my art."

And in his grave, where he lay, his head rested upon the long blonde tresses of Cosima, which he had so admired, and which, with final sacrifice, and as a last tribute, she had sacrificed to bury with him.

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