Thoughts out of Season (Part One)
by Friedrich Nietzsche
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Every subsequent stage in Wagner's development may be distinguished thus, that the two fundamental powers of his nature drew ever more closely together: the aversion of the one to the other lessened, the higher self no longer condescended to serve its more violent and baser brother; it loved him and felt compelled to serve him. The tenderest and purest thing is ultimately—that is to say, at the highest stage of its evolution— always associated with the mightiest; the storming instincts pursue their course as before, but along different roads, in the direction of the higher self; and this in its turn descends to earth and finds its likeness in everything earthly. If it were possible, on this principle, to speak of the final aims and unravelments of that evolution, and to remain intelligible, it might also be possible to discover the graphic terms with which to describe the long interval preceding that last development; but I doubt whether the first achievement is possible at all, and do not therefore attempt the second. The limits of the interval separating the preceding and the subsequent ages will be described historically in two sentences: Wagner was the revolutionist of society; Wagner recognised the only artistic element that ever existed hitherto—the poetry of the people. The ruling idea which in a new form and mightier than it had ever been, obsessed Wagner, after he had overcome his share of despair and repentance, led him to both conclusions. Influence, the greatest possible amount of influence to be exercised by means of the stage! —but over whom? He shuddered when he thought of those whom he had, until then, sought to influence. His experience led him to realise the utterly ignoble position which art and the artist adorn; how a callous and hard-hearted community that calls itself the good, but which is really the evil, reckons art and the artist among its slavish retinue, and keeps them both in order to minister to its need of deception. Modern art is a luxury; he saw this, and understood that it must stand or fall with the luxurious society of which it forms but a part. This society had but one idea, to use its power as hard-heartedly and as craftily as possible in order to render the impotent—the people—ever more and more serviceable, base and unpopular, and to rear the modern workman out of them. It also robbed them of the greatest and purest things which their deepest needs led them to create, and through which they meekly expressed the genuine and unique art within their soul: their myths, songs, dances, and their discoveries in the department of language, in order to distil therefrom a voluptuous antidote against the fatigue and boredom of its existence— modern art. How this society came into being, how it learned to draw new strength for itself from the seemingly antagonistic spheres of power, and how, for instance, decaying Christianity allowed itself to be used, under the cover of half measures and subterfuges, as a shield against the masses and as a support of this society and its possessions, and finally how science and men of learning pliantly consented to become its drudges—all this Wagner traced through the ages, only to be convulsed with loathing at the end of his researches. Through his compassion for the people, he became a revolutionist. From that time forward he loved them and longed for them, as he longed for his art; for, alas! in them alone, in this fast disappearing, scarcely recognisable body, artificially held aloof, he now saw the only spectators and listeners worthy and fit for the power of his masterpieces, as he pictured them. Thus his thoughts concentrated themselves upon the question, How do the people come into being? How are they resuscitated?

He always found but one answer: if a large number of people were afflicted with the sorrow that afflicted him, that number would constitute the people, he said to himself. And where the same sorrow leads to the same impulses and desires, similar satisfaction would necessarily be sought, and the same pleasure found in this satisfaction. If he inquired into what it was that most consoled him and revived his spirits in his sorrow, what it was that succeeded best in counteracting his affliction, it was with joyful certainty that he discovered this force only in music and myth, the latter of which he had already recognised as the people's creation and their language of distress. It seemed to him that the origin of music must be similar, though perhaps more mysterious. In both of these elements he steeped and healed his soul; they constituted his most urgent need:—in this way he was able to ascertain how like his sorrow was to that of the people, when they came into being, and how they must arise anew if many Wagners are going to appear. What part did myth and music play in modern society, wherever they had not been actually sacrificed to it? They shared very much the same fate, a fact which only tends to prove their close relationship: myth had been sadly debased and usurped by idle tales and stories; completely divested of its earnest and sacred virility, it was transformed into the plaything and pleasing bauble of children and women of the afflicted people. Music had kept itself alive among the poor, the simple, and the isolated; the German musician had not succeeded in adapting himself to the luxurious traffic of the arts; he himself had become a fairy tale full Of monsters and mysteries, full of the most touching omens and auguries—a helpless questioner, something bewitched and in need of rescue. Here the artist distinctly heard the command that concerned him alone—to recast myth and make it virile, to break the spell lying over music and to make music speak: he felt his strength for drama liberated at one stroke, and the foundation of his sway established over the hitherto undiscovered province lying between myth and music. His new masterpiece, which included all the most powerful, effective, and entrancing forces that he knew, he now laid before men with this great and painfully cutting question: "Where are ye all who suffer and think as I do? Where is that number of souls that I wish to see become a people, that ye may share the same joys and comforts with me? In your joy ye will reveal your misery to me." These were his questions in Tannhauser and Lohengrin, in these operas he looked about him for his equals —the anchorite yearned for the number.

But what were his feelings withal? Nobody answered him. Nobody had understood his question. Not that everybody remained silent: on the contrary, answers were given to thousands of questions which he had never put; people gossipped about the new masterpieces as though they had only been composed for the express purpose of supplying subjects for conversation. The whole mania of aesthetic scribbling and small talk overtook the Germans like a pestilence, and ith that lack of modesty which characterises both German scholars and German journalists, people began measuring, and generally meddling with, these masterpieces, as well as with the person of the artist. Wagner tried to help the comprehension of his question by writing about it; but this only led to fresh confusion and more uproar, —for a musician who writes and thinks was, at that time, a thing unknown. The cry arose: "He is a theorist who wishes to remould art with his far-fetched notions—stone him!" Wagner was stunned: his question was not understood, his need not felt; his masterpieces seemed a message addressed only to the deaf and blind; his people— an hallucination. He staggered and vacillated. The feasibility of a complete upheaval of all things then suggested itself to him, and he no longer shrank from the thought: possibly, beyond this revolution and dissolution, there might be a chance of a new hope; on the other hand, there might not. But, in any case, would not complete annihilation be better than the wretched existing state of affairs? Not very long afterwards, he was a political exile in dire distress.

And then only, with this terrible change in his environment and in his soul, there begins that period of the great man's life over which as a golden reflection there is stretched the splendour of highest mastery. Now at last the genius of dithyrambic drama doffs its last disguise. He is isolated; the age seems empty to him; he ceases to hope; and his all-embracing glance descend once more into the deep, and finds the bottom, there he sees suffering in the nature of things, and henceforward, having become more impersonal, he accepts his portion of sorrow more calmly. The desire for great power which was but the inheritance of earlier conditions is now directed wholly into the channel of creative art; through his art he now speaks only to himself, and no longer to a public or to a people, and strives to lend this intimate conversation all the distinction and other qualities in keeping with such a mighty dialogue. During the preceding period things had been different with his art; then he had concerned himself, too, albeit with refinement and subtlety, with immediate effects: that artistic production was also meant as a question, and it ought to have called forth an immediate reply. And how often did Wagner not try to make his meaning clearer to those he questioned! In view of their inexperience in having questions put to them, he tried to meet them half way and to conform with older artistic notions and means of expression. When he feared that arguments couched in his own terms would only meet with failure, he had tried to persuade and to put his question in a language half strange to himself though familiar to his listeners. Now there was nothing to induce him to continue this indulgence: all he desired now was to come to terms with himself, to think of the nature of the world in dramatic actions, and to philosophise in music; what desires he still possessed turned in the direction of the latest philosophical views. He who is worthy of knowing what took place in him at that time or what questions were thrashed out in the darkest holy of holies in his soul—and not many are worthy of knowing all this—must hear, observe, and experience Tristan and Isolde, the real opus metaphysicum of all art, a work upon which rests the broken look of a dying man with his insatiable and sweet craving for the secrets of night and death, far away from life which throws a horribly spectral morning light, sharply, upon all that is evil, delusive, and sundering: moreover, a drama austere in the severity of its form, overpowering in its simple grandeur, and in harmony with the secret of which it treats—lying dead in the midst of life, being one in two. And yet there is something still more wonderful than this work, and that is the artist himself, the man who, shortly after he had accomplished it, was able to create a picture of life so full of clashing colours as the Meistersingers of Nurnberg, and who in both of these compositions seems merely to have refreshed and equipped himself for the task of completing at his ease that gigantic edifice in four parts which he had long ago planned and begun—the ultimate result of all his meditations and poetical flights for over twenty years, his Bayreuth masterpiece, the Ring of the Nibelung! He who marvels at the rapid succession of the two operas, Tristan and the Meistersingers, has failed to understand one important side of the life and nature of all great Germans: he does not know the peculiar soil out of which that essentially German gaiety, which characterised Luther, Beethoven, and Wagner, can grow, the gaiety which other nations quite fail to understand and which even seems to be missing in the Germans of to-day—that clear golden and thoroughly fermented mixture of simplicity, deeply discriminating love, observation, and roguishness which Wagner has dispensed, as the most precious of drinks, to all those who have suffered deeply through life, but who nevertheless return to it with the smile of convalescents. And, as he also turned upon the world the eyes of one reconciled, he was more filled with rage and disgust than with sorrow, and more prone to renounce the love of power than to shrink in awe from it. As he thus silently furthered his greatest work and gradually laid score upon score, something happened which caused him to stop and listen: friends were coming, a kind of subterranean movement of many souls approached with a message for him—it was still far from being the people that constituted this movement and which wished to bear him news, but it may have been the nucleus and first living source of a really human community which would reach perfection in some age still remote. For the present they only brought him the warrant that his great work could be entrusted to the care and charge of faithful men, men who would watch and be worthy to watch over this most magnificent of all legacies to posterity. In the love of friends his outlook began to glow with brighter colours; his noblest care—the care that his work should be accomplished and should find a refuge before the evening of his life—was not his only preoccupation. something occurred which he could only understand as a symbol: it was as much as a new comfort and a new token of happiness to him. A great German war caused him to open his eyes, and he observed that those very Germans whom he considered so thoroughly degenerate and so inferior to the high standard of real Teutonism, of which he had formed an ideal both from self-knowledge and the conscientious study of other great Germans in history; he observed that those very Germans were, in the midst of terrible circumstances, exhibiting two virtues of the highest order—simple bravery and prudence; and with his heart bounding with delight he conceived the hope that he might not be the last German, and that some day a greater power would perhaps stand by his works than that devoted yet meagre one consisting of his little band of friends—a power able to guard it during that long period preceding its future glory, as the masterpiece of this future. Perhaps it was not possible to steel this belief permanently against doubt, more particularly when it sought to rise to hopes of immediate results: suffice it that he derived a tremendous spur from his environment, which constantly reminded him of a lofty duty ever to be fulfilled.

His work would not have been complete had he handed it to the world only in the form of silent manuscript. He must make known to the world what it could not guess in regard to his productions, what was his alone to reveal—the new style for the execution and presentation of his works, so that he might set that example which nobody else could set, and thus establish a tradition of style, not on paper, not by means of signs, but through impressions made upon the very souls of men. This duty had become all the more pressing with him, seeing that precisely in regard to the style of their execution his other works had meanwhile succumbed to the most insufferable and absurd of fates: they were famous and admired, yet no one manifested the slightest sign of indignation when they were mishandled. For, strange to say, whereas he renounced ever more and more the hope of success among his contemporaries, owing to his all too thorough knowledge of them, and disclaimed all desire for power, both "success" and "power" came to him, or at least everybody told him so. It was in vain that he made repeated attempts to expose, with the utmost clearness, how worthless and humiliating such successes were to him: people were so unused to seeing an artist able to differentiate at all between the effects of his works that even his most solemn protests were never entirely trusted. Once he had perceived the relationship existing between our system of theatres and their success, and the men of his time, his soul ceased to be attracted by the stage at all. He had no further concern with aesthetic ecstasies and the exultation of excited crowds, and he must even have felt angry to see his art being gulped down indiscriminately by the yawning abyss of boredom and the insatiable love of distraction. How flat and pointless every effect proved under these circumstances— more especially as it was much more a case of having to minister to one quite insatiable than of cloying the hunger of a starving man— Wagner began to perceive from the following repeated experience: everybody, even the performers and promoters, regarded his art as nothing more nor less than any other kind of stage-music, and quite in keeping with the repulsive style of traditional opera; thanks to the efforts of cultivated conductors, his works were even cut and hacked about, until, after they had been bereft of all their spirit, they were held to be nearer the professional singer's plane. But when people tried to follow Wagner's instructions to the letter, they proceeded so clumsily and timidly that they were not incapable of representing the midnight riot in the second act of the Meistersingers by a group of ballet-dancers. They seemed to do all this, however, in perfectly good faith—without the smallest evil intention. Wagner's devoted efforts to show, by means of his own example, the correct and complete way of performing his works, and his attempts at training individual singers in the new style, were foiled time after time, owing only to the thoughtlessness and iron tradition that ruled all around him. Moreover, he was always induced to concern himself with that class of theatricals which he most thoroughly loathed. Had not even Goethe, m his time, once grown tired of attending the rehearsals of his Iphigenia? "I suffer unspeakably," he explained, "when I have to tumble about Wlth these spectres, which never seem to act as they should." Meanwhile Wagner's "success" in the kind of drama which he most disliked steadily increased; so much so, indeed, that the largest theatres began to subsist almost entirely upon the receipts which Wagner's art, in the guise of operas, brought into them. This growing passion on the part of the theatre-going public bewildered even some of Wagner's friends; but this man who had endured so much, had still to endure the bitterest pain of all—he had to see his friends intoxicated with his "successes" and "triumphs" everywhere where his highest ideal was openly belied and shattered. It seemed almost as though a people otherwise earnest and reflecting had decided to maintain an attitude of systematic levity only towards its most serious artist, and to make him the privileged recipient of all the vulgarity, thoughtlessness, clumsiness, and malice of which the German nature is capable. When, therefore, during the German War, a current of greater magnanimity and freedom seemed to run through every one, Wagner remembered the duty to which he had pledged himself, namely, to rescue his greatest work from those successes and affronts which were so largely due to misunderstandings, and to present it in his most personal rhythm as an example for all times. Thus he conceived the idea of Bayreuth. In the wake of that current of better feeling already referred to, he expected to notice an enhanced sense of duty even among those with whom he wished to entrust his most precious possession. Out of this two-fold duty, that event took shape which, like a glow of strange sunlight, will illumine the few years that lie behind and before us, and was designed to bless that distant and problematic future which to our time and to the men of our time can be little more than a riddle or a horror, but which to the fevv who are allowed to assist in its realisation is a foretaste of coming joy, a foretaste of love in a higher sphere, through which they know themselves to be blessed, blessing and fruitful, far beyond their span of years; and which to Wagner himself is but a cloud of distress, care, meditation, and grief, a fresh passionate outbreak of antagonistic elements, but all bathed in the starlight of selfless fidelity, and changed by this light into indescribable joy.

It scarcely need be said that it is the breath of tragedy that fills the lungs of the world. And every one whose innermost soul has a presentiment of this, every one unto whom the yoke of tragic deception concerning the aim of life, the distortion and shattering of intentions, renunciation and purification through love, are not unknown things, must be conscious of a vague reminiscence of Wagner's own heroic life, in the masterpieces with which the great man now presents us. We shall feel as though Siegfried from some place far away were relating his deeds to us: the most blissful of touching recollections are always draped in the deep mourning of waning summer, when all nature lies still in the sable twilight.

IX. All those to whom the thought of Wagner's development as a man may have caused pain will find it both restful and healing to reflect upon what he was as an artist, and to observe how his ability and daring attained to such a high degree of independence. If art mean only the faculty of communicating to others what one has oneself experienced, and if every work of art confutes itself which does not succeed in making itself understood, then Wagner's greatness as an artist would certainly lie in the almost demoniacal power of his nature to communicate with others, to express itself in all languages at once, and to make known its most intimate and personal experience with the greatest amount of distinctness possible. His appearance in the history of art resembles nothing so much as a volcanic eruption of the united artistic faculties of Nature herself, after mankind had grown to regard the practice of a special art as a necessary rule. It is therefore a somewhat moot point whether he ought to be classified as a poet, a painter, or a musician, even using each these words in its widest sense, or whether a new word ought not to be invented in order to describe him.

Wagner's poetic ability is shown by his thinking in visible and actual facts, and not in ideas; that is to say, he thinks mythically, as the people have always done. No particular thought lies at the bottom of a myth, as the children of an artificial ulture would have us believe; but it is in itself a thought: it conveys an idea of the world, but through the medium of a chain of events, actions, and pains. The Ring of the Nihelung is a huge system of thought without the usual abstractness of the latter. It were perhaps possible for a philosopher to present us with its exact equivalent in pure thought, and to purge it of all pictures drawn from life, and of all living actions, in which case we should be in possession of the same thing portrayed in two completely different forms—the one for the people, and the other for the very reverse of the people; that is to say, men of theory. But Wagner makes no appeal to this last class, for the man of theory can know as little of poetry or myth as the deaf man can know of music; both of them being conscious only of movements which seem meaningless to them. It is impossible to appreciate either one of these completely different forms from the standpoint of the other: as long as the poet's spell is upon one, one thinks with him just as though one were merely a feeling, seeing, and hearing creature; the conclusions thus reached are merely the result of the association of the phenomena one sees, and are therefore not logical but actual causalities.

If, therefore, the heroes and gods of mythical dramas, as understood by Wagner, were to express themselves plainly in words, there would be a danger (inasmuch as the language of words might tend to awaken the theoretical side in us) of our finding ourselves transported from the world of myth to the world of ideas, and the result would be not only that we should fail to understand with greater ease, but that we should probably not understand at all. Wagner thus forced language back to a more primeval stage in its development a stage at which it was almost free of the abstract element, and was still poetry, imagery, and feeling; the fearlessness with which Wagner undertook this formidable mission shows how imperatively he was led by the spirit of poetry, as one who must follow whithersoever his phantom leader may direct him. Every word in these dramas ought to allow of being sung, and gods and heroes should make them their own—that was the task which Wagner set his literary faculty. Any other person in like circumstances would have given up all hope; for our language seems almost too old and decrepit to allow of one's exacting what Wagner exacted from it; and yet, when he smote the rock, he brought forth an abundant flow. Precisely owing to the fact that he loved his language and exacted a great deal from it, Wagner suffered more than any other German through its decay and enfeeblement, from its manifold losses and mutilations of form, from its unwieldy particles and clumsy construction, and from its unmusical auxiliary verbs. All these are things which have entered the language through sin and depravity. On the other hand, he was exceedingly proud to record the number of primitive and vigorous factors still extant in the current speech; and in the tonic strength of its roots he recognised quite a wonderful affinity and relation to real music, a quality which distinguished it from the highly volved and artificially rhetorical Latin languages. Wagner's poetry is eloquent of his affection for the German language, and there is a heartiness and candour in his treatment of it which are scarcely to be met with in any other German writer, save perhaps Goethe. Forcibleness of diction, daring brevity, power and variety in rhythm, a remarkable wealth of strong and striking words, simplicity in construction, an almost unique inventive faculty in regard to fluctuations of feeling and presentiment, and therewithal a perfectly pure and overflowing stream of colloquialisms—these are the qualities that have to be enumerated, and even then the greatest and most wonderful of all is omitted. Whoever reads two such poems as Tristan and the Meistersingers consecutively will be just as astonished and doubtful in regard to the language as to the music; for he will wonder how it could have been possible for a creative spirit to dominate so perfectly two worlds as different in form, colour, and arrangement, as in soul. This is the most wonderful achievement of Wagner's talent; for the ability to give every work its own linguistic stamp and to find a fresh body and a new sound for every thought is a task which only the great master can successfully accomplish. Where this rarest of all powers manifests itself, adverse criticism can be but petty and fruitless which confines itself to attacks upon certain excesses and eccentricities in the treatment, or upon the more frequent obscurities of expression and ambiguity of thought. Moreover, what seemed to electrify and scandalise those who were most bitter in their criticism was not so much the language as the spirit of the Wagnerian operas—that is to say, his whole manner of feeling and suffering. It were well to wait until these very critics have acquired another spirit themselves; they will then also speak a different tongue, and, by that time, it seems to me things will go better with the German language than they do at present.

In the first place, however, no one who studies Wagner the poet and word-painter should forget that none of his dramas were meant to be read, and that it would therefore be unjust to judge them from the same standpoint as the spoken drama. The latter plays upon the feelings by means of words and ideas, and in this respect it is under the dominion of the laws of rhetoric. But in real life passion is seldom eloquent: in spoken drama it perforce must be, in order to be able to express itself at all. When, however, the language of a people is already in a state of decay and deterioration, the word-dramatist is tempted to impart an undue proportion of new colour and form both to his medium and to his thoughts; he would elevate the language in order to make it a vehicle capable of conveying lofty feelings, and by so doing he runs the risk of becoming abstruse. By means of sublime phrases and conceits he likewise tries to invest passion with some nobility, and thereby runs yet another risk, that of appearing false and artificial. For in real life passions do not speak in sentences, and the poetical element often draws suspicion upon their genuineness when it departs too palpably from reality. Now Wagner, who was the first to detect the essential feeling in spoken drama, presents every dramatic action threefold: in a word, in a gesture, and in a sound. For, as a matter of fact, music succeeds in conveying the deepest emotions of the dramatic performers direct to the spectators, and while these see the evidence of the actors' states of soul in their bearing and movements, a third though more feeble confirmation of these states, translated into conscious will, quickly follows in the form of the spoken word. All these effects fulfil their purpose simultaneously, without disturbing one another in the least, and urge the spectator to a completely new understanding and sympathy, just as if his senses had suddenly grown more spiritual and his spirit more sensual, and as if everything which seeks an outlet in him, and which makes him thirst for knowledge, were free and joyful in exultant perception. Because every essential factor in a Wagnerian drama is conveyed to the spectator with the utmost clearness, illumined and permeated throughout by music as by an internal flame, their author can dispense with the expedients usually employed by the writer of the spoken play in order to lend light and warmth to the action. The whole of the dramatist's stock in trade could be more simple, and the architect's sense of rhythm could once more dare to manifest itself in the general proportions of the edifice; for there was no more need of "the deliberate confusion and involved variety of tyles, whereby the ordinary playwright strove in the interests of his work to produce that feeling of wonder and thrilling suspense which he ultimately enhanced to one of delighted amazement. The impression of ideal distance and height was no more to be induced by means of tricks and artifices. Language withdrew itself from the length and breadth of rhetoric into the strong confines of the speech of the feelings, and although the actor spoke much less about all he did and felt in the performance, his innermost sentiments, which the ordinary playwright had hitherto ignored for fear of being undramatic, was now able to drive the spectators to passionate sympathy, while the accompanying language of gestures could be restricted to the most delicate modulations. Now, when passions are rendered in song, they require rather more time than when conveyed by speech; music prolongs, so to speak, the duration of the feeling, from which it follows, as a rule, that the actor who is also a singer must overcome the extremely unplastic animation from which spoken drama suffers. He feels himself incited all the more to a certain nobility of bearing, because music envelopes his feelings in a purer atmosphere, and thus brings them closer to beauty.

The extraordinary tasks which Wagner set his actors and singers will provoke rivalry between them for ages to come, in the personification of each of his heroes with the greatest possible amount of clearness, perfection, and fidelity, according to that perfect incorporation already typified by the music of drama. Following this leader, the eye of the plastic artist will ultimately behold the marvels of another visible world, which, previous to him, was seen for the first time only by the creator of such works as the Ring of the Nibelung —that creator of highest rank, who, like AEschylus, points the way to a coming art. Must not jealousy awaken the greatest talent, if the plastic artist ever compares the effect of his productions with that of Wagnerian music, in which there is so much pure and sunny happiness that he who hears it feels as though all previous music had been but an alien, faltering, and constrained language; as though in the past it had been but a thing to sport with in the presence of those who were not deserving of serious treatment, or a thing with which to train and instruct those who were not even deserving of play? In the case of this earlier kind of music, the joy we always experience while listening to Wagner's compositions is ours only for a short space of time, and it would then seem as though it were overtaken by certain rare moments of forgetfulness, during which it appears to be communing with its inner self and directing its eyes upwards, like Raphael's Cecilia, away from the listeners and from all those who demand distraction, happiness, or instruction from it.

In general it may be said of Wagner the Musician, that he endowed everything in nature which hitherto had had no wish to speak with the power of speech: he refuses to admit that anything must be dumb, and, resorting to the dawn, the forest, the mist, the cliffs, the hills, the thrill of night and the moonlight, he observes a desire common to them all—they too wish to sing their own melody. If the philosopher says it is will that struggles for existence in animate and inanimate nature, the musician adds: And this will wherever it manifests itself, yearns for a melodious existence.

Before Wagner's time, music for the most part moved in narrow limits: it concerned itself with the permanent states of man, or with what the Greeks call ethos. And only with Beethoven did it begin to find the language of pathos, of passionate will, and of the dramatic occurrences in the souls of men. Formerly, what people desired was to interpret a mood, a stolid, merry, reverential, or penitential state of mind, by means of music; the object was, by means of a certain striking uniformity of treatment and the prolonged duration of this uniformity, to compel the listener to grasp the meaning of the music and to impose its mood upon him. To all such interpretations of mood or atmosphere, distinct and particular forms of treatment were necessary: others were established by convention. The question of length was left to the discretion of the musician, whose aim was not only to put the listener into a certain mood, but also to avoid rendering that mood monotonous by unduly protracting it. A further stage was reached when the interpretations of contrasted moods were made to follow one upon the other, and the charm of light and shade was discovered; and yet another step was made when the same piece of music was allowed to contain a contrast of the ethos—for instance, the contest between a male and a female theme. All these, however, are crude and primitive stages in the development of music. The fear of passion suggested the first rule, and the fear of monotony the second; all depth of feeling and any excess thereof were regarded as "unethical." Once, however, the art of the ethos had repeatedly been made to ring all the changes on the moods and situations which convention had decreed as suitable, despite the most astounding resourcefulness on the part of its masters, its powers were exhausted. Beethoven was the first to make music speak a new language—till then forbidden—the language of passion; but as his art was based upon the laws and conventions of the ETHOS, and had to attempt to justify itself in regard to them, his artistic development was beset with peculiar difficulties and obscurities. An inner dramatic factor—and every passion pursues a dramatic course—struggled to obtain a new form, but the traditional scheme of "mood music" stood in its way, and protested—almost after the manner in which morality opposes innovations and immorality. It almost seemed, therefore, as if Beethoven had set himself the contradictory task of expressing pathos in the terms of the ethos. This view does not, however, apply to Beethoven's latest and greatest works; for he really did succeed in discovering a novel method of expressing the grand and vaulting arch of passion. He merely selected certain portions of its curve; imparted these with the utmost clearness to his listeners, and then left it to them to divine its whole span. Viewed superficially, the new form seemed rather like an aggregation of several musical compositions, of which every one appeared to represent a sustained situation, but was in reality but a momentary stage in the dramatic course of a passion. The listener might think that he was hearing the old "mood" music over again, except that he failed to grasp the relation of the various parts to one another, and these no longer conformed with the canon of the law. Even among minor musicians, there flourished a certain contempt for the rule which enjoined harmony in the general construction of a composition and the sequence of the parts in their works still remained arbitrary. Then, owing to a misunderstanding, the discovery of the majestic treatment of passion led back to the use of the single movement with an optional setting, and the tension between the parts thus ceased completely. That is why the symphony, as Beethoven understood it, is such a wonderfully obscure production, more especially when, here and there, it makes faltering attempts at rendering Beethoven's pathos. The means ill befit the intention, and the intention is, on the whole, not sufficiently clear to the listener, because it was never really clear, even in the mind of the composer. But the very injunction that something definite must be imparted, and that this must be done as distinctly as possible, becomes ever more and more essential, the higher, more difficult, and more exacting the class of work happens to be.

That is why all Wagner's efforts were concentrated upon the one object of discovering those means which best served the purpose of distinctness, and to this end it was above all necessary for him to emancipate himself from all the prejudices and claims of the old "mood" music, and to give his compositions—the musical interpretations of feelings and passion—a perfectly unequivocal mode of expression. If we now turn to what he has achieved, we see that his services to music are practically equal in rank to those which that sculptor-inventor rendered to sculpture who introduced "sculpture in the round." All previous music seems stiff and uncertain when compared with Wagner's, just as though it were ashamed and did not wish to be inspected from all sides. With the most consummate skill and precision, Wagner avails himself of every degree and colour in the realm of feeling; without the slightest hesitation or fear of its escaping him, he seizes upon the most delicate, rarest, and mildest emotion, and holds it fast, as though it had hardened at his touch, despite the fact that it may seem like the frailest butterfly to every one else. His music is never vague or dreamy; everything that is allowed to speak through it, whether it be of man or of nature, has a strictly individual passion; storm and fire acquire the ruling power of a personal will in his hands. Over all the clamouring characters and the clash of their passions, over the whole torrent of contrasts, an almighty and symphonic understanding hovers with perfect serenity, and continually produces concord out of war. Taken as a whole, Wagner's music is a reflex of the world as it was understood by the great Ephesian poet—that is to say, a harmony resulting from strife, as the union of justice and enmity. I admire the ability which could describe the grand line of universal passion out of a confusion of passions which all seem to be striking out in different directions: the fact that this was a possible achievement I find demonstrated in every individual act of a Wagnerian drama, which describes the individual history of various characters side by side with a general history of the whole company. Even at the very beginning we know we are watching a host of cross currents dominated by one great violent stream; and though at first this stream moves unsteadily over hidden reefs, and the torrent seems to be torn asunder as if it were travelling towards different points, gradually we perceive the central and general movement growing stronger and more rapid, the convulsive fury of the contending waters is converted into one broad, steady, and terrible flow in the direction of an unknown goal; and suddenly, at the end, the whole flood in all its breadth plunges into the depths, rejoicing demoniacally over the abyss and all its uproar. Wagner is never more himself than when he is overwhelmed with difficulties and can exercise power on a large scale with all the joy of a lawgiver. To bring restless and contending masses into simple rhythmic movement, and to exercise one will over a bewildering host of claims and desires—these are the tasks for which he feels he was born, and in the performance of which he finds freedom. And he never loses his breath withal, nor does he ever reach his goal panting. He strove just as persistently to impose the severest laws upon himself as to lighten the burden of others in this respect. Life and art weigh heavily upon him when he cannot play wit their most difficult questions. If one considers the relation between the melody of song and that of speech, one will perceive how he sought to adopt as his natural model the pitch, strength, and tempo of the passionate man's voice in order to transform it into art; and if one further considers the task of introducing this singing passion into the general symphonic order of music, one gets some idea of the stupendous difficulties he had to overcome. In this behalf, his inventiveness in small things as in great, his omniscience and industry are such, that at the sight of one of Wagner's scores one is almost led to believe that no real work or effort had ever existed before his time. It seems almost as if he too could have said, in regard to the hardships of art, that the real virtue of the dramatist lies in self-renunciation. But he would probably have added, There is but one kind of hardship— that of the artist who is not yet free: virtue and goodness are trivial accomplishments.

Viewing him generally as an artist, and calling to mind a more famous type, we see that Wagner is not at all unlike Demosthenes: in him also we have the terrible earnestness of purpose and that strong prehensile mind which always obtains a complete grasp of a thing; in him, too, we have the hand's quick clutch and the grip as of iron. Like Demosthenes, he conceals his art or compels one to forget it by the peremptory way he calls attention to the subject he treats; and yet, like his great predecessor, he is the last and greatest of a whole line of artist-minds, and therefore has more to conceal than his forerunners: his art acts like nature, like nature recovered and restored. Unlike all previous musicians, there is nothing bombastic about him; for the former did not mind playing at times with their art, and making an exhibition of their virtuosity. One associates Wagner's art neither with interest nor with diversion, nor with Wagner himself and art in general. All one is conscious of is of the great necessity of it all. No one will ever be able to appreciate what severity evenness of will, and self-control the artist required during his development, in order, at his zenith, to be able to do the necessary thing joyfully and freely. Let it suffice if we can appreciate how, in some respects, his music, with a certain cruelty towards itself, determines to subserve the course of the drama, which is as unrelenting as fate, whereas in reality his art was ever thirsting for a free ramble in the open and over the wilderness.

X. An artist who has this empire over himself subjugates all other artists, even though he may not particularly desire to do so. For him alone there lies no danger or stemming-force in those he has subjugated—his friends and his adherents; whereas the weaker natures who learn to rely on their friends pay for this reliance by forfeiting their independence. It is very wonderful to observe how carefully, throughout his life, Wagner avoided anything in the nature of heading a party, notwithstanding the fact that at the close of every phase in his career a circle of adherents formed, presumably with the view of holding him fast to his latest development He always succeeded, however, in wringing himself free from them, and never allowed himself to be bound; for not only was the ground he covered too vast for one alone to keep abreast of him with any ease, but his way was so exceptionally steep that the most devoted would have lost his breath. At almost every stage in Wagner's progress his friends would have liked to preach to him, and his enemies would fain have done so too—but for other reasons. Had the purity of his artist's nature been one degree less decided than it was, he would have attained much earlier than he actually did to the leading position in the artistic and musical world of his time. True, he has reached this now, but in a much higher sense, seeing that every performance to be witnessed in any department of art makes its obeisance, so to speak, before the judgment-stool of his genius and of his artistic temperament. He has overcome the most refractory of his contemporaries; there is not one gifted musician among them but in his innermost heart would willingly listen to him, and find Wagner's compositions more worth listening to than his own and all other musical productions taken together. Many who wish, by hook or by crook, to make their mark, even wrestle with Wagner's secret charm, and unconsciously throw in their lot with the older masters, preferring to ascribe their "independence" to Schubert or Handel rather than to Wagner. But in vain! Thanks to their very efforts in contending against the dictates of their own consciences, they become ever meaner and smaller artists; they ruin their own natures by forcing themselves to tolerate undesirable allies and friends And in spite of all these sacrifices, they still find perhaps in their dreams, that their ear turns attentively to Wagner. These adversaries are to be pitied: they imagine they lose a great deal when they lose themselves, but here they are mistaken.

Albeit it is obviously all one to Wagner whether musicians compose in his style, or whether they compose at all, he even does his utmost to dissipate the belief that a school of composers should now necessarily follow in his wake; though, in so far as he exercises a direct influence upon musicians, he does indeed try to instruct them concerning the art of grand execution. In his opinion, the evolution of art seems to have reached that stage when the honest endeavour to become an able and masterly exponent or interpreter is ever so much more worth talking about than the longing to be a creator at all costs. For, at the present stage of art, universal creating has this fatal result, that inasmuch as it encourages a much larger output, it tends to exhaust the means and artifices of genius by everyday use, and thus to reduce the real grandeur of its effect. Even that which is good in art is superfluous and detrimental when it proceeds from the imitation of what is best. Wagnerian ends and means are of one piece: to perceive this, all that is required is honesty in art matters, and it would be dishonest to adopt his means in order to apply them to other and less significant ends.

If, therefore, Wagner declines to live on amid a multitude of creative musicians, he is only the more desirous of imposing upon all men of talent the new duty of joining him in seeking the law of style for dramatic performances. He deeply feels the need of establishing a traditional style for his art, by means of which his work may continue to live from one age to another in a pure form, until it reaches that future which its creator ordained for it.

Wagner is impelled by an undaunted longing to make known everything relating to that foundation of a style, mentioned above, and, accordingly, everything relating to the continuance of his art. To make his work—as Schopenhauer would say— a sacred depository and the real fruit of his life, as well as the inheritance of mankind, and to store it for the benefit of a posterity better able to appreciate it,—these were the supreme objects of his life, and for these he bore that crown of thorns which, one day, will shoot forth leaves of bay. Like the insect which, in its last form, concentrates all its energies upon the one object of finding a safe depository for its eggs and of ensuring the future welfare of its posthumous brood,—then only to die content, so Wagner strove with equal determination to find a place of security for his works.

This subject, which took precedence of all others with him, constantly incited him to new discoveries; and these he sought ever more and more at the spring of his demoniacal gift of communicability, the more distinctly he saw himself in conflict with an age that was both perverse and unwilling to lend him its ear. Gradually however, even this same age began to mark his indefatigable efforts, to respond to his subtle advances, and to turn its ear to him. Whenever a small or a great opportunity arose, however far away, which suggested to Wagner a means wherewith to explain his thoughts, he availed himself of it: he thought his thoughts anew into every fresh set of circumstances, and would make them speak out of the most paltry bodily form. Whenever a soul only half capable of comprehending him opened itself to him, he never failed to implant his seed in it. He saw hope in things which caused the average dispassionate observer merely to shrug his shoulders; and he erred again and again, only so as to be able to carry his point against that same observer. Just as the sage, in reality, mixes with living men only for the purpose of increasing his store of knowledge, so the artist would almost seem to be unable to associate with his contemporaries at all, unless they be such as can help him towards making his work eternal. He cannot be loved otherwise than with the love of this eternity, and thus he is conscious only of one kind of hatred directed at him, the hatred which would demolish the bridges bearing his art into the future. The pupils Wagner educated for his own purpose, the individual musicians and actors whom he advised and whose ear he corrected and improved, the small and large orchestras he led, the towns which witnessed him earnestly fulfilling the duties of ws calling, the princes and ladies who half boastfully and half lovingly participated in the framing of his plans, the various European countries to which he temporarily belonged as the judge and evil conscience of their arts,—everything gradually became the echo of his thought and of his indefatigable efforts to attain to fruitfulness in the future. Although this echo often sounded so discordant as to confuse him, still the tremendous power of his voice repeatedly crying out into the world must in the end call forth reverberations, and it will soon be impossible to be deaf to him or to misunderstand him. It is this reflected sound which even now causes the art-institutions of modern men to shake: every time the breath of his spirit blew into these coverts, all that was overripe or withered fell to the ground; but the general increase of scepticism in all directions speaks more eloquently than all this trembling. Nobody any longer dares to predict where Wagner's influence may not unexpectedly break out. He is quite unable to divorce the salvation of art from any other salvation or damnation: wherever modern life conceals a danger, he, with the discriminating eye of mistrust, perceives a danger threatening art. In his imagination he pulls the edifice of modern civilisation to pieces, and allows nothing rotten, no unsound timber-work to escape: if in the process he should happen to encounter weather-tight walls or anything like solid foundations, he immediately casts about for means wherewith he can convert them into bulwarks and shelters for his art. He lives like a fugitive, whose will is not to preserve his own life, but to keep a secret— like an unhappy woman who does not wish to save her own soul, but that of the child lying in her lap: in short, he lives like Sieglinde, "for the sake of love."

For life must indeed be full of pain and shame to one who can find neither rest nor shelter in this world, and who must nevertheless appeal to it, exact things from it, contemn it, and still be unable to dispense with the thing contemned, —this really constitutes the wretchedness of the artist of the future, who, unlike the philosopher, cannot prosecute his work alone in the seclusion of a study, but who requires human souls as messengers to this future, public institutions as a guarantee of it, and, as it were, bridges between now and hereafter. His art may not, like the philosopher's, be put aboard the boat of written documents: art needs capable men, not letters and notes, to transmit it. Over whole periods in Wagner's life rings a murmur of distress—his distress at not being able to meet with these capable interpreters before whom he longed to execute examples of his work, instead of being confined to written symbols; before whom he yearned to practise his art, instead of showing a pallid reflection of it to those who read books, and who, generally speaking, therefore are not artists.

In Wagner the man of letters we see the struggle of a brave fighter, whose right hand has, as it were, been lopped off, and who has continued the contest with his left. In his writings he is always the sufferer, because a temporary and insuperable destiny deprives him of his own and the correct way of conveying his thoughts—that is to say, in the form of apocalyptic and triumphant examples. His writings contain nothing canonical or severe: the canons are to be found in his works as a whole. Their literary side represents his attempts to understand the instinct which urged him to create his works and to get a glimpse of himself through them. If he succeeded in transforming his instincts into terms of knowledge, it was always with the hope that the reverse process might take place in the souls of his readers—it was with this intention that he wrote. Should it ultimately be proved that, in so doing, Wagner attempted the impossible, he would still only share the lot of all those who have meditated deeply on art; and even so he would be ahead of most of them in this, namely, that the strongest instinct for all arts harboured in him. I know of no written aesthetics that give more light than those of Wagner; all that can possibly be learnt concerning the origin of a work of art is to be found in them. He is one of the very great, who appeared amongst us a witness, and who is continually improving his testimony and making it ever clearer and freer; even when he stumbles as a scientist, sparks rise from the ground. Such tracts as "Beethoven," "Concerning the Art of Conducting," "Concerning Actors and Singers," "State and Religion," silence all contradiction, and, like sacred reliquaries, impose upon all who approach them a calm, earnest, and reverential regard. Others, more particularly the earlier ones, including "Opera and Drama," excite and agitate one; their rhythm is so uneven that, as prose they are bewildering. Their dialectics is constantly interrupted, and their course is more retarded than accelerated by outbursts of feeling; a certain reluctance on the part of the writer seems to hang over them like a pall, just as though the artist were somewhat ashamed of speculative discussions. What the reader who is only imperfectly initiated will probably find most oppressive is the general tone of authoritative dignity which is peculiar to Wagner, and which is very difficult to describe: it always strikes me as though Wagner were continually addressing enemies; for the style of all these tracts more resembles that of the spoken than of the written language, hence they will seem much more intelligible if heard read aloud, in the presence of his enemies, with whom he cannot be on familiar terms, and towards whom he must therefore show some reserve and aloofness, The entrancing passion of his feelings, however, constantly pierces this intentional disguise, and then the stilted and heavy periods, swollen with accessary words, vanish, and his pen dashes off sentences, and even whole pages, which belong to the best in German prose. But even admitting that while he wrote such passages he was addressing friends, and that the shadow of his enemies had been removed for a while, all the friends and enemies that Wagner, as a man of letters, has, possess one factor in common, which differentiates them fundamentally from the "people" for whom he worked as an artist. Owing to the refining and fruitless nature of their education, they are quite devoid of the essential traits of the national character, and he who would appeal to them must speak in a way which is not of the people—that is to say, after the manner of our best prose-writers and Wagner himself; though that he did violence to himself in writing thus is evident. But the strength of that almost maternal instinct of prudence in him, which is ready to make any sacrifice, rather tends to reinstall him among the scholars and men of learning, to whom as a creator he always longed to bid farewell. He submits to the language of culture and all the laws governing its use, though he was the first to recognise its profound insufficiency as a means of communication.

For if there is anything that distinguishes his art from every other art of modern times, it is that it no longer speaks the language of any particular caste, and refuses to admit the distinctions "literate" and "illiterate." It thus stands as a contrast to every culture of the Renaissance, which to this day still bathes us modern men in its light and shade. Inasmuch as Wagner's art bears us, from time to time, beyond itself, we are enabled to get a general view of its uniform character: we see Goethe and Leopardi as the last great stragglers of the Italian philologist-poets, Faust as the incarnation of a most unpopular problem, in the form of a man of theory thirsting for life; even Goethe's song is an imitation of the song of the people rather than a standard set before them to which they are expected to attain, and the poet knew very well how truly he spoke when he seriously assured his adherents: "My compositions cannot become popular; he who hopes and strives to make them so is mistaken."

That an art could arise which would be so clear and warm as to flood the base and the poor in spirit with its light, as well as to melt the haughtiness of the learned—such a phenomenon had to be experienced though it could not be guessed. But even in the mind of him who experiences it to-day it must upset all preconceived notions concerning education and culture; to such an one the veil will seem to have been rent in twain that conceals a future in which no highest good or highest joys exist that are not the common property of all. The odium attaching to the word "common" will then be abolished.

If presentiment venture thus into the remote future, the discerning eye of all will recognise the dreadful social insanity of our present age, and will no longer blind itself to the dangers besetting an art which seems to have roots only in the remote and distant future, and which allows its burgeoning branches to spread before our gaze when it has not yet revealed the ground from which it draws its sap. How can we protect this homeless art through the ages until that remote future is reached? How can we so dam the flood of a revolution seemingly inevitable everywhere, that the blessed prospect and guarantee of a better future—of a freer human life—shall not also be washed away with all that is destined to perish and deserves to perish?

He who asks himself this question shares Wagner's care: he will feel himself impelled with Wagner to seek those established powers that have the goodwill to protect the noblest passions of man during the period of earthquakes and upheavals. In this sense alone Wagner questions the learned through his writings, whether they intend storing his legacy to them—the precious Ring of his art—among their other treasures. And even the wonderful confidence which he reposes in the German mind and the aims of German politics seems to me to arise from the fact that he grants the people of the Reformation that strength, mildness, and bravery which is necessary in order to divert "the torrent of revolution into the tranquil river-bed of a calmly flowing stream of humanity": and I could almost believe that this and only this is what he meant to express by means of the symbol of his Imperial march.

As a rule, though, the generous impulses of the creative artist and the extent of his philanthropy are too great for his gaze to be confined within the limits of a single nation. His thoughts, like those of every good and great German, are more than German, and the language of his art does not appeal to particular races but to mankind in general.

But to the men of the future.

This is the belief that is proper to him; this is his torment and his distinction. No artist, of what past soever, has yet received such a remarkable portion of genius; no one, save him, has ever been obliged to mix this bitterest of ingredients with the drink of nectar to which enthusiasm helped him. It is not as one might expect, the misunderstood and mishandled artist, the fugitive of his age, who adopted this faith in self-defence: success or failure at the hands of his contemporaries was unable either to create or to destroy it Whether it glorified or reviled him, he did not belong to this generation: that was the conclusion to which his instincts led him. And the possibility of any generation's ever belonging to him is something which he who disbelieves in Wagner can never be made to admit. But even this unbeliever may at least ask, what kind of generation it will be in which Wagner will recognise his "people," and in which he will see the type of all those who suffer a common distress, and who wish to escape from it by means of an art common to them all. Schiller was certainly more hopeful and sanguine; he did not ask what a future must be like if the instinct of the artist that predicts it prove true; his command to every artist was rather—

Soar aloft in daring flight Out of sight of thine own years! In thy mirror, gleaming bright, Glimpse of distant dawn appears.

XI. May blessed reason preserve us from ever thinking that mankind will at any time discover a final and ideal order of things, and that happiness will then and ever after beam down upon us uniformly, like the rays of the sun in the tropics. Wagner has nothing to do with such a hope; he is no Utopian. If he was unable to dispense with the belief in a future, it only meant that he observed certain properties in modern men which he did not hold to be essential to their nature, and which did not seem to him to form any necessary part of their constitution; in fact, which were changeable and transient; and that precisely owing to these properties art would find no home among them, and he himself had to be the precursor and prophet of another epoch. No golden age, no cloudless sky will fall to the portion of those future generations, which his instinct led him to expect, and whose approximate characteristics may be gleaned from the cryptic characters of his art, in so far as it is possible to draw conclusions concerning the nature of any pain from the kind of relief it seeks. Nor will superhuman goodness and justice stretch like an everlasting rainbow over this future land. Belike this coming generation will, on the whole, seem more evil than the present one—for in good as in evil it will be more straightforward. It is even possible, if its soul were ever able to speak out in full and unembarrassed tones, that it might convulse and terrify us, as though the voice of some hitherto concealed and evil spirit had suddenly cried out in our midst. Or how do the following propositions strike our ears?—That passion is better than stocism or hypocrisy; that straightforwardness, even in evil, is better than losing oneself in trying to observe traditional morality; that the free man is just as able to be good as evil, but that the unemancipated man is a disgrace to nature, and has no share in heavenly or earthly bliss; finally, that all who wish to be free must become so through themselves, and that freedom falls to nobody's lot as a gift from Heaven. However harsh and strange these propositions may sound, they are nevertheless reverberations from that future world, which is verily in need of art, and which expects genuine pleasure from its presence; they are the language of nature—reinstated even in mankind; they stand for what I have already termed correct feeling as opposed to the incorrect feeling that reigns to-day.

But real relief or salvation exists only for nature not for that which is contrary to nature or which arises out of incorrect feeling. When all that is unnatural becomes self-conscious, it desires but one thing—nonentity; the natural thing, on the other hand, yearns to be transfigured through love: the former would fain not be, the latter would fain be otherwise. Let him who has understood this recall, in the stillness of his soul, the simple themes of Wagner's art, in order to be able to ask himself whether it were nature or nature's opposite which sought by means of them to achieve the aims just described.

The desperate vagabond finds deliverance from his distress in the compassionate love of a woman who would rather die than be unfaithful to him: the theme of the Flying Dutchman. The sweet-heart, renouncing all personal happiness, owing to a divine transformation of Love into Charity, becomes a saint, and saves the soul of her loved one: the theme of Tannhauser. The sublimest and highest thing descends a suppliant among men, and will not be questioned whence it came; when, however, the fatal question is put, it sorrowfully returns to its higher life: the theme of Lohengrin. The loving soul of a wife, and the people besides, joyfully welcome the new benevolent genius, although the retainers of tradition and custom reject and revile him: the theme of the Meistersingers. Of two lovers, that do not know they are loved, who believe rather that they are deeply wounded and contemned, each demands of the other that he or she should drink a cup of deadly poison, to all intents and purposes as an expiation of the insult; in reality, however, as the result of an impulse which neither of them understands: through death they wish to escape all possibility of separation or deceit. The supposed approach of death loosens their fettered souls and allows them a short moment of thrilling happiness, just as though they had actually escaped from the present, from illusions and from life: the theme of Tristan and Isolde.

In the Ring of the Nibelung the tragic hero is a god whose heart yearns for power, and who, since he travels along all roads in search of it, finally binds himself to too many undertakings, loses his freedom, and is ultimately cursed by the curse inseparable from power. He becomes aware of his loss of freedom owing to the fact that he no longer has the means to take possession of the golden Ring—that symbol of all earthly power, and also of the greatest dangers to himself as long as it lies in the hands of his enemies. The fear of the end and the twilight of all gods overcomes him, as also the despair at being able only to await the end without opposing it. He is in need of the free and fearless man who, without his advice or assistance—even in a struggle against gods—can accomplish single-handed what is denied to the powers of a god. He fails to see him, and just as a new hope finds shape within him, he must obey the conditions to which he is bound: with his own hand he must murder the thing he most loves, and purest pity must be punished by his sorrow. Then he begins to loathe power, which bears evil and bondage in its lap; his will is broken, and he himself begins to hanker for the end that threatens him from afar off. At this juncture something happens which had long been the subject of his most ardent desire: the free and fearless man appears, he rises in opposition to everything accepted and established, his parents atone for having been united by a tie which was antagonistic to the order of nature and usage; they perish, but Siegfried survives. And at the sight of his magnificent development and bloom, the loathing leaves otan's soul, and he follows the hero's history with the eye of fatherly love and anxiety. How he forges his sword, kills the dragon, gets possession of the ring, escapes the craftiest ruse, awakens Brunhilda; how the curse abiding in the ring gradually overtakes him; how, faithful in faithfulness, he wounds the thing he most loves, out of love; becomes enveloped in the shadow and cloud of guilt, and, rising out of it more brilliantly than the sun, ultimately goes down, firing the whole heavens with his burning glow and purging the world of the curse,—all this is seen by the god whose sovereign spear was broken in the contest with the freest man, and who lost his power through him, rejoicing greatly over his own defeat: full of sympathy for the triumph and pain of his victor, his eye burning with aching joy looks back upon the last events; he has become free through love, free from himself.

And now ask yourselves, ye generation of to-day, Was all this composed for you? Have ye the courage to point up to the stars of the whole of this heavenly dome of beauty and goodness and to say, This is our life, that Wagner has transferred to a place beneath the stars?

Where are the men among you who are able to interpret the divine image of Wotan in the light of their own lives, and who can become ever greater while, like him, ye retreat? Who among you would renounce power, knowing and having learned that power is evil? Where are they who like Brunhilda abandon their knowledge to love, and finally rob their lives of the highest wisdom, "afflicted love, deepest sorrow, opened my eyes"? and where are the free and fearless, developing and blossoming in innocent egoism? and where are the Siegfrieds, among you?

He who questions thus and does so in vain, will find himself compelled to look around him for signs of the future; and should his eye, on reaching an unknown distance, espy just that "people" which his own generation can read out of the signs contained in Wagnerian art, he will then also understand what Wagner will mean to this people—something that he cannot be to all of us, namely, not the prophet of the future, as perhaps he would fain appear to us, but the interpreter and clarifier of the past.


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