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Title: My Life — Volume 2
Author: Wagner, Richard, 1813-1883
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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My Life, Volume 1

By Richard Wagner







MINNA had been lucky enough to find quarters near Zurich which
corresponded very closely with the wishes I had so emphatically
expressed before leaving. The house was situated in the parish of Enge,
a good fifteen minutes' walk from the town, on a site overlooking the
lake, and was an old-fashioned hostelry called 'Zum Abendstern,'
belonging to a certain Frau Hirel, who was a pleasant old lady. The
second floor, which was quite self-contained and very quiet, offered us
humble but adequate accommodations for a modest rent.

I arrived early in the morning and found Minna still in bed. She was
anxious to know whether I had returned simply out of pity; but I
quickly succeeded in obtaining her promise that she would never again
refer to what had taken place. She was soon quite herself again when
she began to show me the progress she had made in arranging the rooms.

Our position had for some years been growing more comfortable, in spite
of the fact that at this time various difficulties again arose, and our
domestic happiness seemed tolerably secure. Yet I could never quite
master a restless inclination to deviate from anything that was
regarded as conventional.

Our two pets, Peps and Papo, largely helped to make our lodgings
homelike; both were very fond of me, and were sometimes even too
obtrusive in showing their affection. Peps would always lie behind me
in the armchair while I was working, and Papo, after repeatedly calling
out 'Richard' in vain, would often come fluttering into my study if I
stayed away from the sitting-room too long. He would then settle down
on my desk and vigorously shuffle about the papers and pens. He was so
well trained that he never uttered the ordinary cry of a bird, but
expressed his sentiments only by talking or singing. As soon as he
heard my step on the staircase he would begin whistling a tune, as, for
instance, the great march in the finale of the Symphony in C minor, the
beginning of the Eighth Symphony in F major, or even a bright bit out
of the Rienzi Overture. Peps, our little dog, on the other hand, was a
highly sensitive and nervous creature. My friends used to call him
'Peps the petulant,' and there were times when we could not speak to
him even in the friendliest way without bringing on paroxysms of howls
and sobs. These two pets of course helped very much to increase the
mutual understanding between myself and my wife.

Unfortunately, there was one perpetual source of quarrel, arising from
my wife's behaviour towards poor Nathalie. Until her death she
shamefully withheld from the girl the fact that she was her mother.
Nathalie, therefore, always believed that she was Minna's sister, and
consequently could not understand why she should not have the same
rights as my wife, who always treated her in an authoritative way, as a
strict mother would do, and seemed to think herself justified in
complaining of Nathalie's behaviour. Apparently the latter had been
much neglected and spoiled just at the critical age, and deprived of
any proper training. She was short in stature and inclined to become
stout, her manners were awkward and her opinions narrow. Minna's hasty
temper and continual jeering made the girl, who was naturally very
good-natured, stubborn and spiteful, so that the behaviour of the
'sisters' often caused the most hateful scenes in our quiet home. I
never lost my patience at these incidents, however, but remained,
completely indifferent to everything going on around me.

The arrival of my young friend Karl was a pleasant diversion in our
small household. Ho occupied a tiny attic above our rooms and shared
our meals. Sometimes he would accompany me on my walks, and for a time
seemed quite satisfied.

But I soon noticed in him a growing restlessness. He had not been slow
to recognise, by the unpleasant scenes that again became daily
occurrences in our married life, at what point the shoe pinched that I
had good-naturedly put on again at his request. However, when one day I
reminded him that in coming hack to Zurich I had other objects in view
besides the longing for a quiet domestic life, he remained silent. But
I saw that there was another peculiar reason for his uneasiness; he
took to coming in late for meals, and even then he had no appetite. At
first I was anxious at this, fearing he might have taken a dislike to
our simple fare, but I soon discovered that my young friend was so
passionately addicted to sweets that I feared he might eventually ruin
his health by trying to live on large quantities of confectionery. My
remarks seemed to annoy him, as his absences from the house became more
frequent, I thought that probably his small room did not afford him the
comfort he required, and I therefore made no objection when he left us
and took a room in town.

As his state of uneasiness still seemed to increase and he did not
appear at all happy in Zurich, I was glad to be able to suggest a
little change for him, and persuade him to go for a holiday to Weimar,
where the first performance of Lohengrin was to take place about the
end of August.

About the same time I induced Minna to go with me for our first ascent
of the Righi, a feat we both accomplished very energetically on foot. I
was very much grieved on this occasion to discover that my wife had
symptoms of heart disease, which continued to develop subsequently. We
spent the evening of the 28th of August, while the first performance of
Lohengrin was taking place at Weimar, in Lucerne, at the Schwan inn,
watching the clock as the hands went round, and marking the various
times at which the performance presumably began, developed, and came to
a close.

I always felt somewhat distressed, uncomfortable, and ill at ease
whenever I tried to pass a few pleasant hours in the society of my wife.

The reports received of that first performance gave me no clear or
reassuring impression of it. Karl Ritter soon came back to Zurich, and
told me of deficiencies in staging and of the unfortunate choice of a
singer for the leading part, but remarked that on the whole it had gone
fairly well. The reports sent me by Liszt were the most encouraging. He
did not seem to think it worth while to allude to the inadequacy of the
means at his command for such a bold undertaking, but preferred to
dwell on the sympathetic spirit that prevailed in the company and the
effect it produced on the influential personages he had invited to be

Although everything in connection with this important enterprise
eventually assumed a bright aspect, the direct result on my position at
the time was very slight. I was more interested in the future of the
young friend who had been entrusted to my care than in anything else.
At the time of his visit to Weimar he had been to stay with his family
in Dresden, and after his return expressed an anxious wish to become a
musician, and possibly to secure a position as a musical director at a
theatre. I had never had an opportunity of judging of his gifts in this
line. He had always refused to play the piano in my presence, but I had
seen his setting of an alliterative poem of his own, Die Walkure,
which, though rather awkwardly put together, struck me by its precise
and skilful compliance with the rules of composition.

He proved himself to be the worthy pupil of his master, Robert
Schumann, who, long before, had told me that Karl possessed great
musical gifts, and that he could not remember ever having had any other
pupil endowed with such a keen ear and such a ready facility for
assimilation. Consequently I had no reason to discourage the young
man's confidence in his capacity for the career of a musical director.
As the winter season was approaching, I asked the manager of the
theatre for the address of Herr Kramer, who was coming for the season,
and learned that he was still engaged at Winterthur.

Sulzer, who was always ready when help or advice was needed, arranged
for a meeting with Herr Kramer at a dinner at the 'Wilden Mann' in
Winterthur. At this meeting it was decided, on my recommendation, that
Karl Ritter should be appointed musical director at the theatre for the
ensuing winter, starting from October, and the remuneration he was to
receive was really a very fair one. As my protege was admittedly a
beginner, I had to guarantee his capacity by undertaking to perform his
duties in the event of any trouble arising at the theatre on the ground
of his inefficiency. Karl seemed delighted. As October drew near and
the opening of the theatre was announced to take place 'under
exceptional artistic auspices.' I thought it advisable to see what
Karl's views were.

By way of a debut I had selected Der Freischutz, so that he might open
his career with a well-known opera. Karl did not entertain the
slightest doubt of being able to master such a simple score, but when
he had to overcome his reserve in playing the piano before me, as I
wanted to go through the whole opera with him, I was amazed at seeing
that he had no idea of accompaniment. He played the arrangement for the
pianoforte with the characteristic carelessness of an amateur who
attaches no importance to lengthening a bar by incorrect fingering. He
knew nothing whatever about rhythmic precision or tempo, the very
essentials of a conductor's career. I felt completely nonplussed and
was absolutely at a loss what to say. However, I still hoped the young
man's talent might suddenly break out, and I looked forward to an
orchestral rehearsal, for which I provided him with a pair of large
spectacles. I had never noticed before that he was so shortsighted, but
when reading he had to keep his face so close to the music that it
would have been impossible for him to control both orchestra and
singers. When I saw him, hitherto so confident, standing at the
conductor's desk staring hard at the score, in spite of his spectacles,
and making meaningless signs in the air like one in a trance, I at once
realised that the time for carrying out my guarantee had arrived.

It was, nevertheless, a somewhat difficult and trying task to make
young Ritter understand that I should be compelled to take his place;
but there was no help for it, and it was I who had to inaugurate
Kramer's winter season under such 'exceptional artistic auspices.' The
success of Der Freischulz placed me in a peculiar position as regards
both the company and the public, but it was quite out of the question
to suppose that Karl could continue to act as musical director at the
theatre by himself.

Strange to say, this trying experience coincided with an important
change in the life of another young friend of mine, Hans von Bulow,
whom I had known in Dresden. I had met his father at Zurich in the
previous year just after his second marriage. He afterwards settled
down at Lake Constance, and it was from this place that Hans wrote to
me expressing his regret that he was unable to pay his long-desired
visit to Zurich, as he had previously promised to do.

As far as I could make out, his mother, who had been divorced from his
father, did all in her power to restrain him from embracing the career
of an artist, and tried to persuade him to enter the civil or the
diplomatic service, as he had studied law. But his inclinations and
talents impelled him to a musical career. It seemed that his mother,
when giving him permission to go to visit his father, had particularly
urged him to avoid any meeting with me. When I afterwards heard that he
had been advised by his father also not to come to Zurich, I felt sure
that the latter, although he had been on friendly terms with me, was
anxious to act in accordance with his first wife's wishes in this
serious matter of his son's future, so as to avoid any further disputes
after the friction of the divorce had barely been allayed. Later on I
learned that these statements, which roused a strong feeling of
resentment in me against Eduard von Bulow, were unfounded; but the
despairing tone of Hans's letter, clearly showing that any other career
would be repugnant to him and would be a constant source of misery,
seemed to be ample reason for my interference. This was one of the
occasions when my easily excited indignation roused me to activity. I
replied very fully, and eloquently pointed out to him the vital
importance of this moment in his life. The desperate tone of his letter
justified me in telling him very plainly that this was not a case in
which he could deal hastily with his views as to the future, but that
it was a matter profoundly affecting his whole heart and soul. I told
him what I myself would do in his case, that is to say, if he really
felt an overwhelming and irresistible impulse to become an artist, and
would prefer to endure the greatest hardships and trials rather than be
forced into a course he felt was a wrong one, he ought, in defiance of
everything, to make up his mind to accept the helping hand I was
holding out to him at once. If, in spite of his father's prohibition,
he still wished to come to me, he ought not to hesitate, but should
carry out his wishes immediately on the receipt of my letter.

Karl Ritter was pleased when I entrusted him with the duty of
delivering the letter personally at Bulow's country villa. When he
arrived he asked to see his friend at the door, and went for a stroll
with him, during which he gave him my letter. Thereupon Hans, who like
Karl had no money, at once decided, in spite of storm and rain, to
accompany Karl back to Zurich on foot. So one day they turned up
absolutely tired out, and came into my room looking like a couple of
tramps, with visible signs about them of their mad expedition. Karl
beamed with joy over this feat, while young Bulow was quite overcome
with emotion.

I at once realised that I had taken a very serious responsibility on my
shoulders, yet I sympathised deeply with the overwrought youth, and my
conduct towards him was guided by all that had occurred for a long time

At first we had to console him, and stimulate his confidence by our
cheerfulness. His appointment was soon arranged. He was to share Karl's
contract at the theatre, and enjoy the same rights; both were to
receive a small salary, and I was to continue to act as surety for
their capabilities.

At this time they happened to be rehearsing a musical comedy, and Hans,
without any knowledge of the subject, took up his position at the
conductor's desk and handled the baton with great vigour and remarkable
skill. I felt safe as far as he was concerned, and all doubt as to his
ability as musical director vanished on the spot. But it was a somewhat
difficult task to overcome Karl's misgivings about himself, owing to
the idea ingrained in his mind that he never could become a practical
musician. A growing shyness and secret antipathy towards me soon
manifested itself and became more noticeable in this young man, in
spite of the fact that he was certainly gifted. It was impossible to
keep him any longer in his position or to ask him to conduct again.

Bulow also soon encountered unexpected difficulties. The manager and
his staff, who had been spoiled by my having conducted on the occasion
already mentioned, were always on the look-out for some fresh excuse
for requisitioning my services.

I did, in fact, conduct again a few times, partly to give the public a
favourable impression of the operatic company, which was really quite a
good one, and partly to show my young friends, especially Bulow, who
was so eminently adapted for a conductor, the most essential points
which the leader of an orchestra ought to know.

Hans was always equal to the occasion, and I could with a clear
conscience say there was no need for me to take his place whenever he
was called upon to conduct. However, one of the artistes, a very
conceited singer, who had been somewhat spoiled by my praise, annoyed
him so much by her ways that she succeeded in forcing me to take up the
baton again. When a couple of months later we realised the
impossibility of carrying on this state of things indefinitely, and
were tired of the whole affair, the management consented to free us
from our irksome duties. About this time Hans was offered the post of
musical director at St. Gall without any special conditions being
attached to his engagement, so I sent the two boys off to try their
luck in the neighbouring town, and thus gained time for further

Herr Eduard von Bulow had, after all, come to the conclusion that it
would be wiser to abide by his son's decision, though he did not do so
without evincing a good deal of ill-humour towards me. He had not
replied to a letter I had written him to explain my conduct in the
matter, but I afterwards learned that he had visited his son in Zurich
by way of patching up a reconciliation.

I went several times to St. Gall to see the young men, as they remained
there during the winter months. I found Karl lost in gloomy thought: he
had again met with an unfavourable reception when conducting Gluck's
Overture to Iphigenia, and was keeping aloof from everybody. Hans was
busily rehearsing with a very poor company and a horrible orchestra, in
a hideous theatre. Seeing all this misery, I told Hans that for the
time being he had picked up enough to pass for a practical musician or
even for an experienced conductor.

The question now was to find him a sphere which would give him a
suitable scope for his talents. He told me that his father was going to
send him to Freiherr von Poissl, the manager of the Munich Court
Theatre, with a letter of introduction. But his mother soon intervened,
and wanted him to go to Weimar to continue his musical training under
Liszt. This was all I could desire; I felt greatly relieved and
heartily recommended the young man, of whom I was very fond, to my
distinguished friend.

He left St. Gall at Easter, 1851, and during the long period of his
stay in Weimar I was released from the responsibility of looking after

Meanwhile Ritter remained in melancholy retirement, and not being able
to make up his mind whether or not he should return to Zurich, where he
would be disagreeably reminded of his unlucky debut, he preferred for
the present to stay in seclusion at St. Gall.

The sojourn of my young friends at St. Gall had been pleasantly varied
during the previous winter by a visit to Zurich, when Hans made his
appearance as pianist at one of the concerts of the musical society
there. I also took an active part in it by conducting one of
Beethoven's symphonies, and it was a great pleasure to us both to give
each other mutual encouragement.

I had been asked to appear again at this society's concerts during the
winter. However, I only did so occasionally, to conduct a Beethoven
symphony, making it a condition that the orchestra, and more especially
the string instruments, should be reinforced by capable musicians from
other towns.

As I always required three rehearsals for each symphony, and many of
the musicians had to come from a great distance, our work acquired
quite an imposing and solemn character. I was able to devote the time
usually taken up by a rehearsal to the study of one symphony, and
accordingly had leisure to work out the minutest details of the
execution, particularly as the technical difficulties were not of an
insuperable character. My facility in interpreting music at that time
attained a degree of perfection I had not hitherto reached, and I
recognised this by the unexpected effect my conducting produced.

The orchestra contained some really talented and clever musicians,
among whom I may mention Fries, an oboist, who, starting from a
subordinate place, had been appointed a leading player. He had to
practice with me, just as a singer would do, the more important parts
allotted to his instrument in Beethoven's symphonies. When we first
produced the Symphony in C minor, this extraordinary man played the
small passage marked adagio at the fermata of the first movement in a
manner I have never heard equalled. After my retirement from the
directorship of these concerts he left the orchestra and went into
business as a music-seller.

The orchestra could further boast of a Herr Ott-Imhoff, a highly
cultured and well-to-do man who belonged to a noble family, and had
joined the orchestra as a patron and as an amateur musician. He played
the clarionet with a soft and charming tone which was somewhat lacking
in spirit. I must also mention the worthy Herr Bar, a cornet-player,
whom I appointed leader of the brass instruments, as he exercised a
great influence on that part of the orchestra. I cannot remember ever
having heard the long, powerful chords of the last movement of the C
minor Symphony executed with such intense power as by this player in
Zurich, and can only compare the recollection of it with the
impressions I had when, in my early Parisian days, the Conservatoire
orchestra performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Our production of the Symphony in C minor made a great impression on
the audience, especially on my intimate friend Sulzer, who had
previously kept aloof from any kind of music. He became so incensed
when an attack was made on me by a newspaper that he answered the
gratuitous critic in a satirical poem composed with the skill of a

As I have already said, Bulow was invited in the course of the winter
to give a pianoforte recital at a concert at which I promised to
produce the Sinfonia Eroica.

With his usual audacity he chose Liszt's piano arrangement of the
Tannhauser Overture, a work as brilliant as it is difficult, and
therefore a somewhat hazardous undertaking. However, he caused quite a
sensation, and I myself was astounded at his execution. Up to this time
I had not paid it the attention it deserved, and it inspired me with
the greatest confidence in his future. I frequently had occasion to
admire his masterly skill both as conductor and accompanist.

During that winter, apart from the occasions in my young friend's life
already briefly alluded to, there were frequent opportunities of
displaying his capabilities. My acquaintances used to foregather in my
house, and formed quite a little club for the purposes of mutual
enjoyment, which, however, would hardly have been successful without
Bulow's assistance.

I sang suitable passages from my opera, which Hans accompanied with an
expressiveness which delighted me very much. On an occasion like this I
also read aloud extracts from my manuscripts. For instance, during a
series of successive evenings I read the whole of my longer work, Oper
und Drama, written in the course of this winter, and was favoured by a
steadily growing and remarkably attentive audience.

Now that after my return I had secured a certain degree of peace and
tranquillity of mind, I began to think of resuming my more serious
studies. But somehow the composition of Siegfried's Death did not seem
to appeal to me. The idea of sitting down deliberately to write a score
which should never go further than the paper on which it was written,
again discouraged me; whereas I felt more and more strongly impelled to
lay a foundation on which it might some day be possible to present such
a work, even though the end had to be gained by roundabout means. To
secure this object it seemed above all necessary to approach those
friends, both at home and abroad, who interested themselves in my art,
in order to expound to them more clearly the problems that demanded
solution, which, although definite enough to my own mind, had scarcely
as yet even entered into their heads. A singularly favourable
opportunity for so doing offered itself one day when Sulzer showed me
an article on 'Opera' in Brockhaus's Modern Encyclopedia. The good man
was fully convinced that in the opinions expressed in this article I
should find a preliminary basis for my own theories. But a hasty glance
sufficed to show me at once how entirely erroneous they were, and I
tried hard to point out to Sulzer the fundamental difference between
the accepted views, even of very sensible people, and my own
conceptions of the heart of the matter. Finding it naturally
impossible, even with all the eloquence at my command, to elucidate my
ideas all at once, I set about preparing a methodical plan for detailed
treatment of the subject as soon as I got home. In this way I was lead
to write this book which was published under the title of Oper und
Drama, a task which kept me fully occupied for several months, in fact
until February, 1851.

But I had to pay heavily for the exhausting toil expended on the
conclusion of this work. According to my calculations, only a few days
of persevering industry were needed for the completion of my
manuscript, when my parrot, which usually watched me on my
writing-table, was taken seriously ill. As it had already completely
recovered from several similar attacks, I did not feel very anxious.
Although my wife begged me to fetch a veterinary surgeon who lived in a
village which was rather far off, I preferred to stick to my desk, and
I put off going from one day to the next. At last one evening the
all-important manuscript was finished, and the next morning our poor
Papo lay dead on the floor. My inconsolable grief over this melancholy
loss was fully shared by Minna, and by our mutual affection for this
treasured pet we were once more tenderly united in a way likely to
conduce to our domestic happiness.

In addition to our pets, our older Zurich friends had also remained
faithful to us, in spite of the catastrophe which had befallen my
family life. Sulzer was without a doubt the worthiest and most
important of these friends. The profound difference between us both in
intellect and temperament seemed only to favour this relationship, for
each was constantly providing surprises for the other; and as the
divergencies between us were radical, they often gave rise to most
exhilarating and instructive experiences. Sulzer was extraordinarily
excitable and very delicate in health. It was quite against his own
original desire that he had entered the service of the state, and in
doing so he had sacrificed his own wishes to a conscientious
performance of duty in the extremest sense of the word, and now,
through his acquaintance with me, he was drawn more deeply into the
sphere of aesthetic enjoyment than he regarded as justifiable. Probably
he would have indulged less freely in these excesses, had I taken my
art a little less seriously. But as I insisted upon attaching an
importance to the artistic destiny of mankind which far transcended the
mere aims of citizenship, I sometimes completely upset him. Yet, on the
other hand, it was just this intense earnestness which so strongly
attracted him to me and my speculations. This not only gave rise to
pleasant conversation and calm discussion between us, but also, owing
to a fiery temper on both sides, sometimes provoked violent explosions,
so that, with trembling lips, he would seize hat and stick and hurry
away without a word of farewell. Such, however, was the intrinsic worth
of the man, that he was sure to turn up again the next evening at the
accustomed hour, when we both felt as though nothing whatever had
passed between us. But when certain bodily ailments compelled him to
remain indoors for many days, it was difficult to gain access to him,
for he was apt to become furious when any one inquired about his
health. On these occasions there was only one way of putting him in a
good temper, and that was to say that one had called to ask a favour of
him. Thereupon he was pleasantly surprised, and would not only declare
himself ready to oblige in any way that was in his power, but would
assume a really cheerful and benevolent demeanour.

A remarkable contrast to him was presented by the musician Wilhelm
Baumgartner, a merry, jovial fellow, without any aptitude for
concentration, who had learned just enough about the piano to be able,
as teacher at so much an hour, to earn what he required for a living.
He had a taste for what was beautiful, provided it did not soar too
high, and possessed a true and loyal heart, full of a great respect for
Sulzer, which unfortunately could not cure him of a craving for the

Besides this man, there were two others who had also from the very
first formed part of our circle. Both of them were friends of the pair
I have already mentioned; their names were Hagenbuch, a worthy and
respectable deputy cantonal secretary; and Bernhard Spyri, a lawyer,
and at that time editor of the Eidgenossische Zeitung. The latter was a
singularly good-tempered man, but not overburdened with intellect, for
which reason Sulzer always treated him with special consideration.

Alexander Muller soon disappeared from our midst, as he became more and
more engrossed by domestic calamities, bodily infirmities, and the
mechanical drudgery of giving lessons by the hour. As for the musician
Abt, I had never felt particularly drawn towards him, in spite of his
Schwalben, and he too speedily left us to carve a brilliant career for
himself in Brunswick.

In the meantime, however, our Zurich circle was enriched by all kinds
of additions from without, mainly due to the political shipwrecks. On
my return, in January, 1850, I had already found Adolph Kolatschek, a
plain, though not unprepossessing-looking man, though he was a bit of a
bore. He imagined himself born to be an editor, and had founded a
German monthly magazine, which was to open a field for those who had
been outwardly conquered in the recent movements to continue their
fight in the inner realm of the spirit. I felt almost flattered at
being picked out by him as an author, and being informed that 'a power
like mine' ought not to be absent from a union of spiritual forces such
as was to be established by his enterprise. I had previously sent him
from Paris my treatise on Kunst und Klima; and he now gladly accepted
some fairly long extracts from my still unpublished Oper und Drama, for
which he moreover paid me a handsome fee. This man made an indelible
impression on my mind as the only instance I have met of a really
tactful editor. He once handed me the manuscript of a review on my
Kunstwerk der Zukunft, written by a certain Herr Palleske, to read,
saying that he would not print it without my express consent, though he
did not press me to give it. It was a superficial article, without any
true comprehension of the subject, and couched in most arrogant terms.
I felt that if it appeared in this particular journal it would
certainly demand inconvenient and wearisome rejoinders from me, in
which I should have to restate my original thesis. As I was by no means
inclined to enter upon such a controversy, I agreed to Kolatschek's
proposal, and suggested that he had better return the manuscript to its
author for publication elsewhere.

Through Kolatschek I also learned to know Reinhold Solger, a really
excellent and interesting man. But it did not suit his restless and
adventurous spirit to remain cooped up in the small and narrow Swiss
world of Zurich, so that he soon left us and went to North America,
where I heard that he went about giving lectures and denouncing the
political situation in Europe. It was a pity that this talented man
never succeeded in making a name for himself by more important work.
His contributions to our monthly journal, during the brief term of his
stay in Zurich, were certainly among the best ever written on these
topics by a German.

In the new year, 1851, Georg Herwegh also joined us, and I was
delighted to meet him one day at Kolatschek's lodgings. The
vicissitudes which had brought him to Zurich came to my knowledge
afterwards in a somewhat offensive and aggressive manner. For the
present, Herwegh put on an aristocratic swagger and gave himself the
airs of a delicately nurtured and luxurious son of his times, to which
a fairly liberal interpolation of French expletives at least added a
certain distinction. Nevertheless, there was something about his
person, with his quick, flashing eye and kindliness of manner, which
was well calculated to exert an attractive influence. I felt almost
flattered by his ready acceptance of my invitation to my informal
evening parties, which may, perhaps, have been fairly agreeable
gatherings, as Bulow entertained us with music, though to me personally
they afforded no mental sustenance whatever. My wife used to declare
that, when I proceeded to read from my manuscript, Kolatschek promptly
fell asleep, while Herwegh gave all his attention to her punch. When,
later on, as I have already mentioned, I read my Oper und Drama for
twelve consecutive evenings to our Zurich friends, Herwegh stayed away,
because he did not wish to mix with those for whom such things had not
been written. Yet my intercourse with him became gradually more
cordial. Not only did I respect his poetical talent, which had recently
gained recognition, but I also learned to realise the delicate and
refined qualities of his richly cultivated intellect, and in course of
time learned that Herwegh, on his side, was beginning to covet my
society. My steady pursuit of those deeper and more serious interests
which so passionately engrossed me seemed to arouse him to an ennobling
sympathy, even for those topics which, since his sudden leap into
poetic fame, had been, greatly to his prejudice, smothered under mere
showy and trivial mannerisms, altogether alien to his original nature.
Possibly this process was accelerated by the growing difficulties of
his position, which he had hitherto regarded as demanding a certain
amount of outward show. In short, he was the first man in whom I met
with a sensitive and sympathetic comprehension of my most daring
schemes and opinions, and I soon felt compelled to believe his
assertion that he occupied himself solely with my ideas, into which,
certainly, no other man entered so profoundly as he did.

This familiarity with Herwegh, in which an element of affection was
certainly mingled, was further stimulated by news which reached me
respecting a new dramatic poem which I had sketched out for the coining
spring. Liszt's preparations in the late summer of the previous year
for the production in Weimar of my Lohengrin had met with more success
than, with such limited resources, had hitherto seemed possible. This
result could naturally only have been obtained by the zeal of a friend
endowed with such rich and varied gifts as Liszt. Though it was beyond
his power to attract quickly to the Weimar stage such singers as
Lohengrin demanded, and he had been compelled on many points to content
himself with merely suggesting what was intended to be represented, yet
he was now endeavouring by sundry ingenious methods to make these
suggestions clearly comprehensible. First of all, he prepared a
detailed account of the production of Lohengrin. Seldom has a written
description of a work of art won for it such attentive friends, and
commanded their enthusiastic appreciation from the outset, as did this
treatise of Liszt's, which extended even to the most insignificant
details. Karl Ritter distinguished himself by providing an excellent
German translation of the French original, which was first published in
the Illustrirte Zeitung. Shortly after this Liszt also issued
Tannhauser in French, accompanied by a similar preface on its origin,
and these pamphlets were the chief means of awakening, now and for long
after, especially in foreign countries, not only a surprisingly
sympathetic interest in these works, but also an intimate understanding
of them such as could not possibly have been attained by the mere study
of my pianoforte arrangements. But, far from being satisfied with this,
Liszt contrived to attract the attention of intellects outside Weimar
to the performances of my operas, in order, with kindly compulsion, to
force them upon the notice of all who had ears to hear and eyes to see.
Although his good intentions did not altogether succeed with Franz
Dingelstedt, who would only commit himself to a confused report on
Lohengrin in the Allgemeine Zeitung, yet his enthusiastic eloquence
completely and decisively captured Adolf Stahr for my work. His
detailed view of Lohengrin in the Berlin National-Zeitung, in which he
claimed a high importance for my opera, did not remain without
permanent influence upon the German public. Even in the narrow circle
of professional musicians its effects seem not to have been
unimportant; for Robert Franz, whom Liszt dragged almost by force to a
performance of Lohengrin, spoke of it with unmistakable enthusiasm.
This example gave the lead to many other journals, and for some time it
seemed as though the otherwise dull-witted musical press would
energetically champion my cause.

I shall shortly have occasion to describe what it was that eventually
gave quite a different direction to this movement. Meanwhile Liszt felt
emboldened by these kindly signs to encourage me to renew my creative
activity, which had now for some time been interrupted. His success
with Lohengrin gave him confidence in his ability to execute a yet more
hazardous undertaking, and he invited me to set my poem of Siegfried's
Death to music for production at Weimar. On his recommendation, the
manager of the Weimar theatre, Herr von Ziegesar, offered to make a
definite contract with me in the name of the Grand Duke. I was to
finish the work within a year, and during that period was to receive a
payment of fifteen hundred marks (L75).

It was a curious coincidence that about this time, and also through
Liszt, the Duke of Coburg invited me to arrange the instrumentation for
an opera of his own composition, for which he offered me the sum of two
thousand seven hundred marks (L135). In spite of my position as an
outlaw, my noble patron and would-be employer offered to receive me in
his castle at Coburg, where, in quiet seclusion with himself and Frau
Birchpfeiffer, the writer of the libretto, I might execute the work.
Liszt naturally expected nothing more from me than a decent excuse for
declining this offer, and suggested my pleading 'bodily and mental
depression.' My friend told me afterwards that the Duke had desired my
co-operation with him in his score on account of my skilful use of
trombones. When he inquired, through Liszt, what my rules for their
manipulation were, I replied that before I could write anything for
trombones I required first to have some ideas in my head.

On the other hand, however, I felt very much tempted to entertain the
Weimar proposal. Still weary from my exhausting labour on Oper und
Drama, and worried by many things which had a depressing effect on my
spirits, I seated myself for the first time for many months at my
Hartel grand-piano, which had been rescued from the Dresden
catastrophe, to see whether I could settle down to composing the music
for my ponderous heroic drama. In rapid outline I sketched the music
for the Song of the Norns, or Daughters of the Rhine, which in this
first draft was only roughly suggested. But when I attempted to turn
Brunhilda's first address to Siegfried into song my courage failed me
completely, for I could not help asking myself whether the singer had
yet been born who was capable of vitalising this heroic female figure.
The idea of my niece Johanna occurred to me, whom, as a matter of fact,
I had already destined for this rule when I was still in Dresden on
account of her various personal charms. She had now entered upon the
career of prima donna at Hamburg, but, judging from all the reports I
had received, and especially from the attitude towards me that she
openly adopted in her letters to her family, I could only conclude that
my modest hopes of enlisting her talents on my behalf were doomed to
disappointment. I was, moreover, confused by the fact that a second
Dresden prima donna, Mme. Gentiluomo Spatzer, who had once enraptured
Marschner with Donizetti's dithyrambics, kept hovering perpetually
before my mind as a possible substitute for Johanna. At last, in a
rage, I sprang up from the piano, and swore that I would write nothing
more for these silly fastidious schoolgirls. Whenever I saw any
likelihood of being again brought into closer contact with the theatre
I was filled with an indescribable disgust which, for the time being, I
was unable to overcome. It was some little consolation to discover that
bodily ill-health might possibly be at the bottom of this mental
disorder. During the spring of this year I had been suffering from a
curious rash, which spread over my whole body. For this my doctor
prescribed a course of sulphur-baths, to be taken regularly every
morning. Although the remedy excited my nerves so much that later on I
was obliged to adopt radical measures for the restoration of my health,
yet in the meantime the regular morning walk to the town and back,
surrounded by the fresh green and early spring flowers of May, acted as
a cheerful stimulant on my mental condition. I now conceived the idea
of the poem of Junger Siegfried, which I proposed to issue as a heroic
comedy by way of prelude and complement to the tragedy of Siegfrieds
Tod. Carried away by my conception, I tried to persuade myself that
this piece would be easier to produce than the other more serious and
terrible drama. With this idea in my mind I informed Liszt of my
purpose, and offered the Weimar management to compose a score for
Junger Siegfried, which as yet was unwritten, in return for which I
would definitely accept their proposal to grant me a year's salary of
fifteen hundred marks. This they agreed to without delay, and I took up
my quarters in the attic-room evacuated the previous year by Karl
Ritter, where, with the aid of sulphur and May-blossom, and in the
highest spirits, I proposed to complete the poem of Junger Siegfried,
as already outlined in my original design.

I must now give some account of the cordial relations which, ever since
my departure from Dresden, I had maintained with Theodor Uhlig, the
young musician of the Dresden orchestra, which I have already
described, and which by this time had developed into a genuinely
productive association. His independent and indeed somewhat
uncultivated disposition had been moulded into a warm, almost boundless
devotion to myself, inspired both by sympathy for my fate and a
thorough understanding of my works. He also had been among the number
of those who had visited Weimar to hear my Lohengrin, and had sent me a
very detailed account of the performance. As Hartel, the music-dealer
in Leipzig, had willingly agreed to my request to publish Lohengrin on
condition that I should not demand any share in the profits, I
entrusted Uhlig with the preparation of the pianoforte arrangement. But
it was more the theoretical questions discussed in my works that formed
the chief link that bound us together by a serious correspondence. The
characteristic which especially touched me about this man, whom from
his training I could regard merely as an instrumentalist, was that he
had grasped with clear understanding and perfect agreement those very
tendencies of mine which many musicians of apparently wider culture
than his own regarded with almost despairing horror, as being dangerous
to the orthodox practice of their art. He forthwith acquired the
literary facility necessary for the expression of his agreement with my
views, and gave tangible proof of this in a lengthy treatise on
'Instrumental Music,' which appeared in Kolatschek's German monthly
journal. He also sent to me another strictly theoretical work on the
'Structure of Musical Theme and Phrase.' In this he showed the
originality of his ideas about Mozart's and Beethoven's methods, to an
extent which was only equalled by the thoroughness with which he had
mastered the question, especially where he discussed their highly
characteristic differences. This clear and exhaustive treatise appeared
to me admirably adapted to form the basis for a new theory of the
higher art of musical phrasing, whereby Beethoven's most obscure
construction might be explained, and elaborated into a comprehensible
system that would allow of further application. These treatises
attracted the attention of Franz Brendel, the astute publisher of the
Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, to their brilliant young author. He was
invited by Brendel to join the staff of his paper, and soon succeeded
in changing his chief's previous attitude of indecision. As Brendel's
aims were on the whole perfectly honourable and serious, he was quickly
and definitely led to adopt those views which from this time began to
make a stir in the musical world under the title of the 'New Tendency.'
I thereupon felt impelled to contribute an epoch-making article to his
paper on these lines. I had noticed for some time that such
ill-sounding catch-phrases as 'Jewish ornamental flourishes'
(Melismas), 'Synagogue Music,' and the like were being bandied about
without any rhyme or reason beyond that of giving expression to
meaningless irritation. The question thus raised regarding the
significance of the modern Jew in music stimulated me to make a closer
examination of Jewish influence and the characteristics peculiar to it.
This I did in a lengthy treatise on 'Judaism in Music.' Although I did
not wish to hide my identity, as its author, from all inquiries, yet I
considered it advisable to adopt a pseudonym, lest my very seriously
intended effort should be degraded to a purely personal matter, and its
real importance be thereby vitiated. The stir, nay, the genuine
consternation, created by this article defies comparison with any other
similar publication. The unparalleled animosity with which, even up to
the present day, I have been pursued by the entire press of Europe can
only be understood by those who have taken an account of this article
and of the dreadful commotion which it caused at the time of its
publication. It must also be remembered that almost all the newspapers
of Europe are in the hands of Jews. Apart from these facts, it would be
impossible to understand the unqualified bitterness of this lasting
persecution, which cannot be adequately explained on the mere ground of
a theoretical or practical dislike for my opinions or artistic works.
The first outcome of the article was a storm which broke over poor
Brendel, who was entirely innocent, and, indeed, hardly conscious of
his offence. This erelong developed into a savage persecution which
aimed at nothing less than his ruin. Another immediate result was that
the few friends whom Liszt had induced to declare themselves in my
favour forthwith took refuge in a discreet silence. As it soon seemed
advisable, in the interests of their own productions, to give direct
evidence of their estrangement from me, most of them passed over to the
ranks of my enemies. But Uhlig clung to me all the more closely on this
account. He strengthened Brendel's weaker will to endurance, and kept
helping him with contributions for his paper, some of them profound and
others witty and very much to the point. He fixed his eye more
particularly on one of my chief antagonists, a man named Bischoff, whom
Hiller had discovered in Cologne, and who first invented for me and my
friends the title of Zukunftsmusiker ('Musicians of the Future'). With
him he entered into a prolonged and somewhat diverting controversy. The
foundation had now been laid for the problem of the so-called
Zukunftsmusik ('Music of the Future'), which was to become a European
scandal, in spite of the fact that Liszt quickly adopted the title
himself with good-humoured pride. It is true that I had to some extent
suggested this name in the title of my book, Kunstwerk der Zukunft; but
it only developed into a battle-cry when 'Judaism in Music' unbarred
the sluices of wrath upon me and my friends.

My book, Oper und Drama, was published in the second half of this year,
and, so far as it was noticed at all by the leading musicians of the
day, naturally only helped to add fuel to the wrath which blazed
against me. This fury, however, assumed more the character of slander
and malice, for our movement had meantime been reduced by a great
connoisseur in such things, Meyerbeer, to a clearly defined system,
which he maintained and practised with a sure hand until his lamented

Uhlig had come across my book, Oper und Drama, during the early stages
of the furious uproar against me. I had presented him with the original
manuscript, and as it was nicely bound in red, I hit upon the idea of
writing in it, by way of dedication, the words, 'RED, my friend, is MY
theory,' in contradistinction to the Gothic saying, 'Grey, my friend,
is all theory.' This gift elicited an exhilarating and most delightful
correspondence with my lively and keen-sighted young friend, who, after
two long years of separation, I felt sincerely desirous of seeing
again. It was not an easy matter for the poor fiddler, whose pay was
barely that of a chamber musician, to comply with my invitation. But he
gladly tried to overcome all difficulties, and said he would come early
in July. I decided to go as far as Rorschach, on the Lake of Constance,
to meet him, so that we might make an excursion through the Alps as far
as Zurich. I went by a pleasant detour through the Toggenburg,
travelling on foot as usual. In this way, cheerful and refreshed, I
reached St. Gall, where I sought out Karl Ritter, who, since Bulow's
departure, had remained there alone in curious seclusion. I could guess
the reason of his retirement, although he said that he had enjoyed very
agreeable intercourse with a St. Gall musician named Greitel, of whom I
never heard anything further. Though very tired after my long walking
tour, I could not refrain from submitting the manuscript of my Jungcr
Siegfried, which I had just finished, to the quick and critical
judgment of this intelligent young man, who was thus the first person
to hear it. I was more than gratified by its effect upon him, and, in
high spirits, persuaded him to forsake his strange retreat and go with
me to meet Uhlig, so that we might all three proceed over the Santis
for a long and pleasant stay in Zurich. My first glance at my guest, as
he landed at the familiar harbour of Rorschach, filled me at once with
anxiety for his health, for it revealed but too plainly his tendency to
consumption. In order to spare him, I wished to give up the proposed
mountain climb, but he eagerly protested that exercise of this kind in
the fresh air could only do him good after the drudgery of his wretched
fiddling. After crossing the little canton of Appenzell, we had to face
the by no means easy crossing of the Santis. It was my first experience
also of travelling over an extensive snow-field in summer. After
reaching our guide's hut, which was perched on a rugged slope, where we
regaled ourselves with exceedingly frugal fare, we had to climb the
towering and precipitous pinnacle of rock which forms the summit of the
mountain, a few hundred feet above us. Here Karl suddenly refused to
allow us, and to shake him out of his effeminacy I had to send back the
guide for him, who, at our request, succeeded in bringing him along,
half by force. But now that we had to clamber from stone to stone along
the precipitous cliff, I soon began to realise how foolish I had been
in compelling Karl to share our perilous adventure. His dizziness
evidently stupefied him, for he stared in front of him as though he
could not see, and we had to hold him fast between our alpenstocks,
every moment expecting to see him collapse, and tumble into the abyss.
When we at last attained the summit, he sank senseless on the ground,
and I now fully understood what a terrible responsibility I had
undertaken, as the yet more dangerous descent had still to be made. In
an agony of fear, which, while it made me forget my own danger
altogether, filled me with a vision of my young friend lying shattered
on the rocks below, we at last reached the guide's cottage in safety.
As Uhlig and myself were still determined to descend the precipitous
further side of the mountain, a feat which the guide informed us was
not without danger, I resolved to leave young Ritter behind in the hut,
as the indescribable anguish I had just endured on his behalf had been
a warning to me. Here he was to await the return of our guide, and in
his company take the not very dangerous path by which we had come. We
accordingly parted, as he was to return in the direction of Gall, while
we two roamed through the lovely Toggenburg valley, and the next day by
Rappersweil to the Lake of Zurich, and so home. Not until many days
later did Karl relieve our anxiety concerning him by arriving at
Zurich. He remained with us a short time, and then departed, probably
wishing to escape being tempted into more mountain climbing, which we
had certainly planned. I heard from him afterwards when he had settled
for some time in Stuttgart, where he seemed to be doing well. He soon
made great friends with a young actor, and lived on terms of great
intimacy with him.

I was sincerely delighted by the close intercourse I now had with the
gentle young Dresden chamber musician, whose manly strength of
character and extraordinary mental endowments greatly endeared him to
me. My wife said that his curly golden hair and bright blue eyes made
her think an angel had come to stay with us. For me his features had a
peculiar and, considering his fate, pathetic interest, on account of
his striking resemblance to King Friedrich August of Saxony, my former
patron, who was still alive at that time, and seemed to confirm a
rumour which had reached me that Uhlig was his natural son. It was
entertaining to hear his news of Dresden, and all about the theatre,
and the condition of musical affairs in that city. My operas, which had
once been its glory, had now quite vanished from the repertoire. He
gave me a choice example of my late colleagues' opinion of me by
relating the following incident. When Kunst und Revolution and
Kunstwerk der Zukunft appeared, and were being discussed among them,
one of them remarked: 'Ha! he may worry a long time before he will be
able to write conductor before his name again.' By way of illustrating
the advance made in music, he related the manner in which Reissiger,
having on one occasion to conduct Beethoven's Symphony in A major,
which had been previously executed by me, had helped himself out of a
sudden dilemma. Beethoven, as is well known, marks the great finale of
the last movement with a prolonged forte, which he merely heightens by
a sempre piu forte. At this point Reissiger, who had conducted the
Symphony before me, thinking the opportunity a favourable one, had
introduced a piano, in order at least to secure an effective crescendo.
This I had naturally ignored, and had instructed the orchestra to play
with their full strength throughout. Now, therefore, that the
conducting of this work had once more fallen into my predecessor's
hands, he found it difficult to restore his unlucky piano; but, feeling
that he must save his authority, which had been compromised, he made a
rule that mezzo forte should be played instead of forte.

But the most painful news he gave me was about the state of utter
neglect into which my unhappy operatic publications had fallen in the
hands of the court music-dealer Meser, who, seeing that money had to be
continually paid out, while nothing came in, regarded himself as a
sacrificial lamb whom I had lured to the slaughter. Yet he steadily
refused all inspection of his books, maintaining that he thereby
protected my property, as all I possessed having been confiscated, it
would otherwise be seized at once. A pleasanter topic than this was
Lohengrin. My friend had completed the pianoforte arrangement, and was
already busy correcting the engraver's proofs.

By his enthusiastic advocacy of the water cure, Uhlig gained an
influence over me in another direction, and one which was of long
duration. He brought me a book on the subject by a certain Rausse,
which pleased me greatly, especially by its radical principles, which
had something of Feuerbach about them. Its bold repudiation of the
entire science of medicine, with all its quackeries, combined with its
advocacy of the simplest natural processes by means of a methodical use
of strengthening and refreshing water, quickly won my fervent
adherence. He maintained, for instance, that every genuine medicine can
only act upon our organism in so far as it is a poison, and is
therefore not assimilated by our system; and proved, moreover, that men
who had become weak owing to a continuous absorption of medicine, had
been cured by the famous Priesnitz, who had effectually driven out the
poison contained in their bodies by expelling it through the skin. I
naturally thought of the disagreeable sulphur baths I had taken during
the spring, and to which I attributed my chronic and severe state of
irritability. In so doing I was probably not far wrong. For a long
while after this I did my best to expel this and all other poisons
which I might have absorbed in the course of time, and by an exclusive
water regimen restore my original healthy condition. Uhlig asserted
that by persevering conscientiously in a water cure, he was perfectly
confident of being able to renew his own bodily health entirely, and my
own faith in it also grew daily.

At the end of July we started on an excursion through the centre of
Switzerland. From Brunnen, on the Lake of Lucerne, we proceeded via
Beckenried to Engelberg, from which place we crossed the wild
Surenen-Eck, and on this occasion learned how to glide over the snow
fairly easily. But in crossing a swollen mountain torrent Uhlig had the
misfortune to fall into the water. By way of quieting my uneasiness
about him, he at once exclaimed that this was a very good way of
carrying out the water cure. He made no fuss about the drying of his
clothes, but simply spread them out in the sun, and in the meanwhile
calmly promenaded about in a state of nature in the open air,
protesting that this novel form of exercise would do him good. We
occupied the interval in discussing the important problem of
Beethoven's theme construction, until, by way of a joke, I told him
that I could see Councillor Carns of Dresden coming up behind him with
a party, which for a moment quite frightened him. Thus with light
hearts we reached the Reuss valley near Attinghausen, and in the
evening wandered on as far as Amsteg, and the next morning, in spite of
our great fatigue, at once visited the Madran valley. There we climbed
the Hufi glacier, whence we enjoyed a splendid view over an impressive
panorama of mountains, bounded at this point by the Tody range. We
returned the same day to Amsteg, and as we were both thoroughly tired
out, I dissuaded my companion from attempting the ascent of the Klausen
Pass to the Schachen valley, which we had planned for the following
day, and induced him to take the easier way home via Fluelen. When,
early in August, my young friend, who was always calm and very
deliberate in his manner, set out on his return journey to Dresden, I
could detect no signs of exhaustion about him. He was hoping on his
arrival to lighten the heavy burden of life a little by undertaking the
conductorship of the entr'acte music at the theatre, which he proposed
to organise artistically, and thus set himself free from the oppressive
and demoralising service of the opera. It was with sincere grief that I
accompanied him to the mail-coach, and he too seemed to be seized with
sudden foreboding. As a matter of fact, this was the last time we ever

But for the present we carried on an active correspondence, and as his
communications were always pleasant and entertaining, and for a long
time constituted almost my sole link with the outside world, I begged
him to write me long letters as often as possible. As postage was
expensive at that time, and voluminous letters touched our pockets
severely, Uhlig conceived the ingenious idea of using the parcel post
for our correspondence. As only packets of a certain weight might be
sent in this way, a German translation of Beaumarchais' Figaro, of
which Uhlig possessed an ancient copy, enjoyed the singular destiny of
acting as ballast for our letters to and fro. Every time, therefore,
that our epistles had swelled, to the requisite length, we announced
them with the words: 'Figaro brings tidings to-day.'

Uhlig meanwhile found much pleasure in the Mittheilung an meine Freunde
('A Communication to my Friends'), which, immediately after our
separation, I wrote as a preface to an edition of my three operas, the
Fliegender Hollander, Tannhauser, and Lohengrin. He was also amused to
hear that Hartel, who had accepted the book for publication on payment
of ten louis d'or, protested so vigorously against certain passages in
this preface, which wounded his orthodoxy and political feelings, that
I thought seriously of giving the book to another firm. However, he
finally persuaded me to give way, and I pacified his tender conscience
by a few trifling alterations.

With this comprehensive preface, which had occupied me during the whole
of the month of August, I hoped that my excursion into the realms of
literature would be ended once and for all. However, as soon as I began
to think seriously about taking up the composition of Junger Siegfried,
which I had promised for Weimar, I was seized with depressing doubts
which almost amounted to a positive reluctance to attempt this work. As
I could not clearly discern the reason of this dejection, I concluded
that its source lay in the state of my health, so I determined one day
to carry out my theories about the advantages of a water cure, which I
had always propounded with great enthusiasm. I made due inquiries about
a neighbouring hydropathic establishment, and informed my wife that I
was going off to Albisbrunnen, which was situated about three miles
from our abode. It was then about the middle of September, and I had
made up my mind not to come back until I was completely restored to

Minna was quite frightened when I announced my intention, and looked
upon it as another attempt on my part to abandon my home. I begged of
her, however, to devote herself during my absence to the task of
furnishing and arranging our new flat as comfortably as possible. This,
although small, was conveniently situated on the ground floor of the
Vordern Escher Hauser im Zeltweg. We had determined to move back to the
town, on account of the great inconvenience of the situation of our
present quarters, especially during winter time. Everybody, of course,
was astonished at the idea of my undertaking a water cure so late in
the season. Nevertheless, I soon succeeded in securing a
fellow-patient. I was not fortunate enough to get Herwegh, but Fate was
kind in sending me Hermann Muller, an ex-lieutenant in the Saxon
Guards, and a former lover of Schroder-Devrient, who proved a most
cheerful and pleasant companion. It had become impossible for him to
maintain his position in the Saxon army, and although he was not
exactly a political refugee, every career was closed to him in Germany,
and yet he met with all the consideration of an exiled patriot when he
came to Switzerland to try and make a fresh start in life. We had seen
a good deal of each other in my early Dresden days, and he soon felt at
home in my house, where my wife always gave him a warm welcome. I
easily persuaded him to follow me shortly to Albisbrunnen to undergo a
thorough treatment for an infirmity from which he was suffering. I
established myself there as comfortably as I could, and I looked
forward to excellent results. The cure itself was superintended in the
usual superficial way by a Dr. Brunner, whom my wife, on one of her
visits to this place, promptly christened the 'Water Jew,' and whom she
heartily detested. Early at five o'clock in the morning I was wrapped
up and kept in a state of perspiration for several hours; after that I
was plunged into an icy cold bath at a temperature of only four
degrees; then I was made to take a brisk walk to restore my circulation
in the chilly air of late autumn. In addition I was kept on a water
diet; no wine, coffee, or tea was allowed; and this regime, in the
dismal company of nothing but incurables, with dull evenings only
enlivened by desperate attempts at games of whist, and the prohibition
of all intellectual occupation, resulted in irritability and
overwrought nerves. I led this life for nine weeks, but I was
determined not to give in until I felt that every kind of drug or
poison I had ever absorbed into my system had been brought to the
surface. As I considered that wine was most dangerous, I presumed that
my system still contained many unassimilated substances which I had
absorbed at various dinner-parties at Sulzer's, and which must
evaporate in profuse perspiration. This life, so full of privations,
which I led in rooms miserably furnished with common deal and the usual
rustic appointments of a Swiss pension, awoke in me by way of contrast
an insuperable longing for a cosy and comfortable home; indeed, as the
year went on, this longing became a passionate desire. My imagination
was for ever picturing to itself the manner and style in which a house
or a dwelling ought to be appointed and arranged, in order to keep my
mind pleasantly free for artistic creation.

At this time symptoms of a possible improvement in my position
appeared. Karl Ritter, unfortunately for himself, wrote to me from
Stuttgart while I was at the hydro, describing his own private attempts
to secure the benefits of a water cure--not by means of baths, but by
drinking quantities of water. I had found out that it was most
dangerous to drink large quantities of water without undergoing the
rest of the treatment, so I implored Karl to submit to the regular
course, and not to have an effeminate fear of privations, and to come
at once to Albisbrunnen. He took me at my word, and to my great delight
arrived in a few days' time at Albisbrunnen. Theoretically he was
filled with enthusiasm for hydropathy, but he soon objected to it in
practice; and he denounced the use of cold milk as indigestible and
against the dictates of Nature, as mother's milk was always warm. He
found the cold packs and the cold baths too exciting, and preferred
treating himself in a comfortable and pleasant way behind the doctor's
back. He soon discovered a wretched confectioner's shop in the
neighbouring village, and when he was caught buying cheap pastry on the
sly, he was very angry. He soon grew perfectly miserable, and would
fain have escaped, had not a certain feeling of honour prevented him
from doing so. The news reached him here of the sudden death of a rich
uncle, who had left a considerable fortune to every member of Karl's
family. His mother, in telling him and me of the improvement in her
position, declared that she was now able to assure me the income which
the two families of Laussot and Ritter had offered me some time ago.
Thus I stepped into an annual income of two thousand four hundred marks
for as long as I required it, and into partnership with the Ritter

This happy and encouraging turn of events made me decide to complete my
original sketch of the Nibelungen, and to bring it out in our theatres
without paying any regard to the practicability of its various parts.
In order to do this I felt that I must free myself from all obligations
to the management of the Weimar theatre. I had already drawn six
hundred marks salary from this source, but Karl was enchanted to place
this sum at my disposal in order that I might return it. I sent the
money back to Weimar with a letter expressing my most grateful
acknowledgments to the management for their conduct towards me, and at
the same time I wrote to Liszt, giving him the fullest particulars of
my great plan, and explaining how I felt absolutely compelled to carry
it out.

Liszt, in his reply, told me how delighted he was to know that I was
now in a position to undertake such a remarkable work, which he
considered in every respect worthy of me if only on account of its
surprising originality. I began to breathe freely at last, because I
had always felt that it was merely self-deception on my part to
maintain that it would be possible to produce Junger Siegfried with the
limited means at the disposal of even the best German theatre.

My water cure and the hydropathic establishment became more and more
distasteful to me; I longed for my work, and the desire to get back to
it made me quite ill. I tried obstinately to conceal from myself that
the object of my cure had entirely failed; indeed, it had really done
me more harm than good, for although the evil secretions had not
returned, my whole body seemed terribly emaciated. I considered that I
had had quite enough of the cure, and comforted myself with the hope
that I should derive benefit from it in the future. I accordingly left
the hydropathic establishment at the end of November. Muller was to
follow me in a few days, but Karl, wishing to be consistent, was
determined to remain until he perceived a similar result in himself to
the one I had experienced or pretended I had experienced. I was much
pleased with the way in which Minna had arranged our new little flat in
Zurich. She had bought a large and luxurious divan, several carpets for
the floor and various dainty little luxuries, and in the back room my
writing-table of common deal was covered with a green tablecloth and
draped with soft green silk curtains, all of which my friends admired
immensely. This table, at which I worked continually, travelled with me
to Paris, and when I left that city I presented it to Blandine
Ollivier, Liszt's elder daughter, who had it conveyed to the little
country house at St. Tropez, belonging to her husband, where, I
believe, it stands to this day. I was very glad to receive my Zurich
friends in my new home, which was so much more conveniently situated
than my former one; only I quite spoilt all my hospitality for a long
time by my fanatical agitation for a water diet and my polemics against
the evils of wine and other intoxicating drinks. I adopted what seemed
almost a new kind of religion: when I was driven into a corner by
Sulzer and Herwegh, the latter of whom prided himself on his knowledge
of chemistry and physiology, about the absurdity of Rausse's theory of
the poisonous qualities contained in wine, I found refuge in the moral
and aesthetic motive which made me regard the enjoyment of wine as an
evil and barbarous substitute for the ecstatic state of mind which love
alone should produce. I maintained that wine, even if not taken in
excess, contained qualities producing a state of intoxication which a
man sought in order to raise his spirits, but that only he who
experienced the intoxication of love could raise his spirits in the
noblest sense of the word. This led to a discussion on the modern
relations of the sexes, whereupon I commented on the almost brutal
manner in which men kept aloof from women in Switzerland. Sulzer said
he would not at all object to the intoxication resulting from
intercourse with women, but in his opinion the difficulty lay in
procuring this by fair means. Herwegh was inclined to agree with my
paradox, but remarked that wine had nothing whatever to do with it,
that it was simply an excellent and strengthening food, which,
according to Anacreon, agreed very well with the ecstasy of love. As my
friends studied me and my condition more closely, they felt they had
reason to be very anxious about my foolish and obstinate extravagances.
I looked terribly pale and thin; I hardly slept at all, and in
everything I did I betrayed a strange excitement. Although eventually
sleep almost entirely forsook me, I still pretended that I had never
been so well or so cheerful in my life, and I continued on the coldest
winter mornings to take my cold baths, and plagued my wife to death by
making her show me my way out with a lantern for the prescribed early
morning walk.

I was in this state when the printed copies of Oper und Drama reached
me, and I devoured rather than read them with an eccentric joy. I think
that the delightful consciousness of now being able to say to myself,
and prove to the satisfaction of everybody, and even of Minna, that I
had at last completely freed myself from my hateful career as conductor
and opera composer, brought about this immoderate excitement. Nobody
had a right to make the demands upon me which two years ago had made me
so miserable. The income which the Ritters had assured me for life, and
the object of which was to give me an absolutely free hand, also
contributed to my present state of mind, and made me feel confidence in
everything I undertook. Although my plans for the present seemed to
exclude all possibility of being realised, thanks to the indifference
of an inartistic public, still I could not help inwardly cherishing the
idea that I should not be for ever addressing only the paper on which I
wrote. I anticipated that before long a great reaction would set in
with regard to the public and everything connected with our social
life, and I believed that in my boldly planned work there lay just the
right material to supply the changed conditions and real needs of the
new public whose relation to art would be completely altered with what
was required. As these bold expectations had arisen in my mind in
consequence of my observations of the state of society in general, I
naturally could not say much about them to my friends. I had not
mistaken the significance of the general collapse of the political
movements, but felt that their real weakness lay in the inadequate
though sincere expression of their cause, and that the social movement,
so far from losing ground by its political defeat, had, on the
contrary, gained in energy and expansion. I based my opinion upon the
experience I had had during my last visit to Paris, when I had
attended, among other things, a political meeting of the so-called
social democratic party. Their general behaviour made a great
impression upon me; the meeting took place in a temporary hall called
Salle de la Fraternite in the Faubourg St. Denis; six thousand men were
present, and their conduct, far from being noisy and tumultuous, filled
me with a sense of the concentrated energy and hope of this new party.
The speeches of the principal orators of the extreme left of the
Assemblee Nationale astonished me by their oratorical flights as well
as by their evident confidence in the future. As this extreme party was
gradually strengthening itself against everything that was being done
by the reactionary party then in power, and all the old liberals had
joined these social democrats publicly and had adopted their
electioneering programme, it was easy to see that in Paris, at all
events, they would have a decided majority at the impending elections
for the year 1852, and especially in the nomination of the President of
the Republic. My own opinions about this were shared by the whole of
France, and it seemed that the year 1852 was destined to witness a very
important reaction which was naturally dreaded by the other party, who
looked forward with great apprehension to the approaching catastrophe.
The condition of the other European states, who suppressed every
laudable impulse with brutal stupidity, convinced me that elsewhere too
this state of affairs would not continue long, and every one seemed to
look forward with great expectations to the decision of the following

I had discussed the general situation with my friend Uhlig, as well as
the efficacy of the water-cure system; he had just come home fresh from
orchestral rehearsals at the Dresden theatre, and found it very
difficult to agree to a drastic change in human affairs or to have any
faith in it. He assured me that I could not conceive how miserable and
mean people were in general, but I managed to delude him into the
belief that the year 1852 would be pregnant with great and important
events. Our opinions on this subject were expressed in the
correspondence which was once more diligently forwarded by Figaro.

Whenever we had to complain of any meanness or untoward circumstance, I
always reminded him of this year, so great with fate and hope, and at
the same time I hinted that we had better look forward quite calmly to
the time when the great 'upheaval' should take place, as only then,
when no one else knew what to do, could we step in and make a start.

I can hardly express how deeply and firmly this hope had taken
possession of me, and I can only attribute all my confident opinions
and declarations to the increased excitement of my nerves. The news of
the coup d'etat of the 2nd of December in Paris seemed to me absolutely
incredible, and I thought the world was surely coming to an end. When
the news was confirmed, and events which no one believed could ever
happen had apparently occurred and seemed likely to be permanent, I
gave the whole thing up like a riddle which it was beneath me to
unravel, and turned away in disgust from the contemplation of this
puzzling world. As a playful reminiscence of our hopes of the year
1852, I suggested to Uhlig that in our correspondence during that year
we should ignore its existence and should date our letters December
'51, in consequence of which this said month of December seemed of
eternal duration.

Soon afterwards I was overpowered by an extraordinary depression in
which, somehow, the disappointment about the turn of political events
and the reaction created by my exaggerated water cure, almost ruined my
health. I perceived the triumphant return of all the disappointing
signs of reaction which excluded every high ideal from intellectual
life, and from which I had hoped the shocks and fermentations of the
past few years had freed us for ever. I prophesied that the time was
approaching when intellectually we should be such paupers that the
appearance of a new book from the pen of Heinrich Heine would create
quite a sensation. When, a short time afterwards, the Romancero
appeared from the pen of this poet who had fallen into almost complete
neglect, and was very well reviewed by the newspaper critics, I laughed
aloud; as a matter of fact, I suppose I am among the very few Germans
who have never even looked at this book, which, by the way, is said to
possess great merit.

I was now compelled to pay a great deal of attention to my physical
condition, as it gave me much cause for anxiety and necessitated a
complete change in my methods. I introduced this change very gradually
and with the co-operation of my friends. My circle of acquaintances had
widened considerably this winter, although Karl Ritter, who had escaped
from Albisbrunnen a week after my own departure and had tried to settle
in our neighbourhood, ran off to Dresden, as he found Zurich much too
slow for his youthful spirits. A certain family of the name of
Wesendonck, who had settled in Zurich a short time before, sought my
acquaintance, and took up their abode in the same quarters in the
Hintern Escherhauser where I had lived when I first came to Zurich.
They had taken the flat there on the recommendation of the famous
Marschall von Bieberstein, who moved in after me in consequence of the
revolution in Dresden. I remember, on the evening of a party there,
that I displayed uncontrolled excitement in a discussion with Professor
Osenbruck. I tormented him with my persistent paradoxes all through
supper to such an extent that he positively loathed me, and ever
afterwards carefully avoided coming into contact with me.

The acquaintance with the Wesendoncks was the means of giving me the
entree to a delightful home, which in point of comfort was a great
contrast to the usual run of houses in Zurich. Herr Otto Wesendonck,
who was a few years younger than I was, had amassed a considerable
fortune through a partnership in a silk business in New York, and
seemed to make all his plans subservient to the wishes of the young
wife whom he had married a few years before. They both came from the
Lower Rhine country, and, like all the inhabitants of those parts, were
fair haired. As he was obliged to take up his abode in some part of
Europe which was convenient for the furtherance of his business in New
York, he chose Zurich, presumably because of its German character, in
preference to Lyons. During the previous winter they had both attended
the performance of a symphony of Beethoven under my conductorship, and
knowing what a sensation this performance had aroused in Zurich, they
thought it would be desirable to include me in their circle of friends.

About this time I was persuaded to undertake the directorship of the
augmented orchestra in view of the performance of some musical
masterpieces at three concerts to be given early in the new year under
the auspices of the Societe Musicale on conditions arranged in advance.

It gave me infinite pleasure on one of these occasions to conduct an
excellent performance of Beethoven's music to Egmont. As Herwegh was so
anxious to hear some of my own music I gave the Tannhauser Overture, as
I told him, entirely to please him, and I prepared a descriptive
programme as a guide. I also succeeded in giving an excellent rendering
of the Coriolanus Overture, to which I had also written an explanatory
programme. All this was taken up with so much sympathy and enthusiasm
by my friends that I was induced to accede to the request of Lowe, who
was at that time manager of the theatre, and implored me to give a
performance of the Fliegender Hollander. For the sake of my friends I
agreed to enter into negotiations with the opera company, an
undertaking which, though it only lasted a very short time, was
exceedingly objectionable. It is true that humane considerations
animated me as well, as the performance was for the benefit of
Schoneck, a young conductor, whose real talent for his art had
completely won me over to him.

The efforts which this unaccustomed excursion into the regions of opera
rehearsals, etc., cost me, greatly contributed to the overwrought state
of my nerves, and I was obliged, in spite of all my rooted prejudices
against doctors, to break faith with myself and, in accordance with the
Wesendonck's special recommendation, to place myself in the hands of
Dr. Rahn-Escher, who, by his gentle manner and soothing ways, succeeded
after a time in bringing me into a healthier condition.

I longed to get well enough to be able to take in hand the completion
of my combined Nibelungen poem. Before I could summon up the courage to
begin, I thought I would wait for the spring, and in the meanwhile I
occupied myself with a few trifles, amongst other things a letter to
Liszt on the founding of a Goethe Institution (Goethe Stiftung),
stating my ideas on the necessity of founding a German National
Theatre, as also a second letter to Franz Brendel about the line of
thought which in my opinion should be taken up in founding a new
musical journal.

I recollect a visit from Henri Vieuxtemps at this time, who came to
Zurich with Belloni to give an evening concert, and he again delighted
me and my friends with his violin playing.

With the approach of spring I was agreeably surprised by a visit from
Hermann Franck, with whom I had an interesting conversation about the
general course of events since I had lost sight of him.

In his quiet way he expressed his astonishment at the enthusiastic
manner in which I had got mixed up in the Dresden revolution. As I
quite misunderstood his remark, he explained that he thought me capable
of enthusiasm in everything, but he could hardly credit me with having
taken a serious part in anything so foolish as trivial matters of that
kind. I now learned for the first time what the prevalent opinion was
about these much-maligned occurrences in Germany, and I was in a
position to defend my poor friend Rockel, who had been branded as a
coward, and to put not only his conduct but also my own in a different
light to that in which it had been regarded hitherto even by Hermann
Franck, who afterwards expressed his sincere regret that he had so
misunderstood us.

With Rockel himself, whose sentence had by royal mercy been commuted to
lifelong imprisonment, I carried on at this time a correspondence, the
character of which soon showed that his life was more cheerful and
happy in his enforced captivity than mine with its hopelessness, in
spite of the freedom I enjoyed.

At last the month of May arrived, and I felt I needed change of air in
the country in order to strengthen my weakened nerves and carry out my
plans in regard to poetry. We found a fairly comfortable pied-a-terre
on the Rinderknecht estate. This was situated halfway up the Zurich
Berg, and we were able to enjoy an alfresco meal on the 22nd of May--my
thirty-ninth birthday--with a lovely view of the lake and the distant
Alps. Unfortunately a period of incessant rain set in which scarcely
stopped throughout the whole summer, so that I had the greatest
struggle to resist its depressing influence. However, I soon got to
work, and as I had begun to carry out my great plan by beginning at the
end and going backwards, I continued on the same lines with the
beginning as my goal. Consequently, after I had completed the
Siegfrieds Tod and Junger Siegfried, I next attacked one of the
principal subjects, the Walkure, which was to follow the introductory
prelude of the Rheingold. In this way I completed the poem of the
Walkure by the end of June. At the same time I wrote the dedication of
the score of my Lohengrin to Liszt, as well as a rhymed snub to an
unprovoked attack on my Fliegender Hollander in a Swiss newspaper. A
very disagreeable incident in connection with Herwegh pursued me to my
retreat in the country. One day a certain Herr Haug, who described
himself as an ex-Roman general of Mazzini's time, introduced himself to
me with a view of forming a sort of conspiracy against him, on behalf,
as he said, of the deeply offended family of the 'unfortunate lyric
poet'; however, he did not succeed in getting any assistance from me. A
much pleasanter incident was a long visit from Julia, the eldest
daughter of my revered friend Frau Ritter, who had married Kummer, the
young Dresden chamber musician, whose health seemed so entirely
undermined that they were going to consult a celebrated hydropathic
doctor who practised only a few miles from Zurich. I now had a good
opportunity of abusing this water cure about which my young friends
were so eager, and had always believed that I was perfectly mad on it
also. But we left the chamber musician to his fate, and rejoiced at the
long and pleasant visit of our amiable and charming young friend.

As I was quite satisfied with the success of my work, and the weather
was exceptionally cold and rainy, we made up our minds to return to our
cosy winter residence in Zurich at the end of June. I was resolved to
stay there until the appearance of some real summer weather, when I
intended to take a walking tour over the Alps, which I felt would be of
great advantage to my health. Herwegh had promised to accompany me, but
as he was apparently prevented from doing so, I started alone in the
middle of July, after arranging with my travelling companion to meet me
in Valais. I began my walking tour at Alpnach, on the Lake of Lucerne,
and my plan was to wander by unfrequented paths to the principal points
of the Bernese Oberland. I worked pretty hard, paying a visit, for
instance, to the Faulhorn, which at that time was considered a very
difficult mountain to climb. When I reached the hospice on the Grimsel
by the Hasli Thal, I asked the host, a fine, stately-looking man, about
the ascent of the Siedelhorn. He recommended me one of his servants as
a guide, a rough, sinister-looking man, who, instead of taking the
usual zig-zag paths up the mountain, led me up in a bee line, and I
rather suspected he intended to tire me out. At the top of the
Siedelhorn I was delighted to catch a glimpse, on one side, of the
centre of the Alps, whose giant backs alone were turned to us; and on
the other side, a sudden panorama of the Italian Alps, with Mont Blanc
and Monte Rosa. I had been careful to take a small bottle of champagne
with me, following the example of Prince Puckler when he made the
ascent of Snowdon; unfortunately, I could not think of anybody whose
health I could drink. We now descended vast snow-fields, over which my
guide slid with mad haste on his alpenstock; I contented myself with
leaning carefully on the iron point of mine, and coming down at a
moderate pace.

I arrived at Obergestelen dead tired, and stayed there two days, to
rest and await the arrival of Herwegh. Instead of coming himself,
however, a letter arrived from him which dragged me down from my lofty
communings with the Alps to the humdrum consideration of the unpleasant
situation in which my unhappy friend found himself as a result of the
incident I have already described. He feared that I had allowed myself
to be taken in by his adversary, and had consequently formed an
unfavourable opinion of him. I told him to make his mind easy on that
score, and to meet me again, if possible, in Italian Switzerland. So I
set out for the ascent of the Gries glacier, and the climb across the
pass to the southern side of the Alps, in the company of my sinister
guide alone. During the ascent an extremely sad sight kept meeting my
eyes; an epidemic of foot-rot had broken out among cows in the Upper
Alps, and several herds passed me in single file on their way to the
valley, where they were going to be doctored. The cows had become so
lean that they looked like skeletons, and dragged themselves pitiably
down the slopes, and the smiling country with the fat meadow-land
seemed to take a savage delight in gazing on this sad pilgrimage. At
the foot of the glacier, which stood out sheer and steep before me, I
felt so depressed, and my nerves were so overwrought, that I said I
wished to turn back. I was thereupon met by the coarse sarcasm of my
guide, who seemed to scoff at my weakness. My consequent anger braced
up my nerves, and I prepared myself at once to climb the steep walls of
ice as quickly as possible, so that this time it was he who found
difficulty in keeping up with me. We accomplished the walk over the
back of the glacier, which lasted nearly two hours, under difficulties
which caused even this native of Grimsel anxiety, at least on his own
account. Fresh snow had fallen, which partially concealed the
crevasses, and prevented one from recognising the dangerous spots. The
guide, of course, had to precede me here, to examine the path. We
arrived at last at the opening of the upper valley which gives on to
the Formazza valley, to which a steep cutting, covered with snow and
ice, led. Here my guide again began his dangerous game of conducting me
straight over the steepest slopes instead of going in a safe zig-zag;
in this way we reached a precipitous moraine, where I saw such
unavoidable danger ahead, that I insisted upon my guide going back with
me some distance, until we struck a path that I had noticed which was
not so steep. He was obliged to give in, much against the grain. I was
deeply impressed by the first signs of cultivation that we saw in our
descent from the desolate wilds. The first scanty meadow-land
accessible to cattle was called the Bettel-Matt, and the first person
we met was a marmot hunter. The wild scenery was soon enlivened by the
marvellous swirl and headlong rush of a mountain river called the Tosa,
which at one spot breaks into a superb waterfall with three distinct
branches. After the moss and reeds had, in the course of our continuous
descent, given place to grass and meadows, and the shrubs had been
replaced by pine trees, we at last arrived at the goal of our day's
journey, the village of Pommath, called Formazza by the Italian
population, which is situated in a charming valley. Here, for the first
time in my life, I had to eat roast marmot. After having paid my guide,
and sent him on his homeward journey, I started alone on the following
morning on my further descent of the valley, although I had only
partially recovered from my fatigue, owing to lack of sleep. It was not
until the November of this year, when the whole of Switzerland was
thrown into a state of consternation by the news that the Grimsel inn
had been set fire to by the host himself, who hoped by this means to
obtain the renewal of the lease from the authorities, that I learned my
life had been in danger under the guidance of this man. As soon as his
crime was discovered, the host drowned himself in the little lake, on
the borders of which the inn is situated. The serving-man, however,
whom he had bribed to arrange the fire, was caught and punished. I knew
by the name that he was the same man that the worthy innkeeper had
given me as companion on my solitary journey across the glacier pass,
and I heard at the same time that two travellers from Frankfort had
perished on the same pass a short time before my own journey. I
consequently realised that I had in a really remarkable manner escaped
a fatal danger which had threatened me.

I shall never forget my impressions of my journey through the
continually descending valley. I was particularly astonished at the
southern vegetation which suddenly spreads out before one on climbing
down from a steep and narrow rocky pass by which the Tosa is confined.
I arrived at Domodossola in the afternoon in a blaze of sunshine, and I
was reminded here of a charming comedy by an author whose name I have
forgotten, which I had once seen performed with a refinement worthy of
Platen, and to which my attention had been drawn by Eduard Devrient in
Dresden. The scene of the play was laid in Domodossola, and described
exactly the impressions I myself received on coming down from the
Northern Alps into Italy, which suddenly burst upon one's gaze. I shall
also never forget my first simple, but extremely well-served, Italian
dinner. Although I was too tired to walk any further that day, I was
very impatient to get to the borders of Lake Maggiore, and I
accordingly arranged to drive in a one-horse chaise, which was to take
me on the same evening as far as Baveno. I felt so contented while
bowling along in my little vehicle that I reproached myself for want of
consideration in having rudely declined the offer of company which an
officer passing through the Vetturino made me by means of the driver. I
admired the daintiness of the house decorations and the pleasant faces
of the people in the pretty villages I passed through. A young mother,
strolling along and singing as she spun the flax, with her baby in her
arms, also made a never-to-be-forgotten impression on me. Soon after
sunset I caught sight of the Borromean Islands rising gracefully out of
Lake Maggiore, and again I could not sleep for excitement at the
thought of what I might see on the following day. The next morning the
visit to the islands themselves delighted me so much that I could not
understand how I had managed to come upon anything so charming, and
wondered what would result from it. After stopping only one day, I left
the place with the feeling that I had now to flee from something to
which I did not belong, and went round Lake Maggiore, up past Socarno,
to Bellinzona, where I was once again on Swiss soil; from there I
proceeded to Lugano, intending, if I followed out my original plan of
travel, to stay there some time. But I soon suffered from the intense
heat; even bathing in the sun-scorched lake was not refreshing. Apart
from the dirty furniture, which included the Denksopha ('thinking
sofa') from the Clouds by Aristophanes, I was sumptuously lodged in a
palatial building, which in the winter served as the government house
of the canton of Tessin, but in the summer was used as a hotel.
However, I soon fell again into the condition that had troubled me so
long, and prevented me from taking any rest, owing to my extreme
nervous strain and excitement, whenever I felt disposed to idle
pleasantly. I had taken a good many books with me, and proposed to
entertain myself with Byron. Unfortunately it required a great effort
on my part to take any pleasure in his works, and the difficulty of
doing so increased when I began to read his Don Juan. After a few days'
time I began to wonder why I had come, and what I wanted to do here,
when suddenly Herwegh wrote saying that he and several friends intended
to join me at this place. A mysterious instinct made me telegraph to my
wife to come also. She obeyed my call with surprising alacrity, and
arrived unexpectedly in the middle of the night, after travelling by
post-chaise across the St. Gotthard Pass. She was so fatigued that she
at once fell into a sound sleep on the Denksopha, from which the
fiercest storm that I ever remember failed to awaken her. On the
following day my Zurich friends arrived.

Herwegh's chief companion was Dr. Francois Wille. I had learned to know
him some time before at Herwegh's house: his chief characteristics were
a face much scarred in students' duels, and a great tendency to witty
and outspoken remarks. He had recently been staying near Meilen on the
Lake of Zurich, and he often asked me to visit him there with Herwegh.
Here we saw something of the habits and customs of a Hamburg household,
which was kept up in a fairly prosperous style by his wife, the
daughter of Herr Sloman, a wealthy shipowner. Although in reality he
remained a student all his life, he had made himself a position and
formed a large circle of acquaintances by editing a Hamburg political
newspaper. He was a brilliant conversationalist, and was considered
good company. He seemed to have taken up with Herwegh with the object
of overcoming the latter's antipathy to Alpine climbing, and his
consequent reluctance to undertake it. He himself had made preparations
to walk over the Gotthard Pass with a Professor Eichelberger, and this
had made Herwegh furious, as he declared that walking tours were only
permissible where it was impossible to drive, and not on these broad
highways. After making an excursion into the neighbourhood of Lugano,
during which I got heartily sick of the childish sound of the church
bells, so common in Italy, I persuaded my friends to go with me to the
Borromean Islands, which I was longing to see again. During the steamer
trip on Lake Maggiore, we met a delicate-looking man with a long
cavalry moustache, whom in private was humourously dubbed General
Haynau, and the distrust with which we affected to treat him was a
source of some amusement to us.

We soon found that he was an extremely good-natured Hanoverian
nobleman, who had been travelling about Italy for some time for
pleasure, and who was able to give us very useful information
concerning intercourse with the Italians. His advice was of great
service when we were visiting the Borromean Islands, where my
acquaintances parted from my wife and myself to travel back by the
nearest route, whereas we intended proceeding further across the
Simplon and through Le Valais to Chamounix.

From the fatigue my tour had so far occasioned me, I felt that it would
be some time before I started on a similar one again. I was therefore
eager to see what was best worth seeing in Switzerland as thoroughly as
possible now that I had the chance. Moreover, I was just then, and
indeed had been for some time, in that impressionable humour from which
I might anticipate important results to myself from novel scenery, and
I did not like to miss Mont Blanc. A view of it was attended with great
difficulties, amongst which may be mentioned our arrival by night at
Martigny, where, owing to the crowded state of the hotels, we were
everywhere refused accommodation, and it was only on account of a
little intrigue between a postillion and a maidservant that we found
clandestine shelter for the night in a private house from which the
owners were absent.

We dutifully visited the so-called Mer de Glace in the Val de Chamounix
and the Flegere, from which I obtained a most impressive view of Mont
Blanc. However, my imagination was less busied with the ascent of that
peak than with the spectacle I beheld when crossing the Col des Geants,
as the great elevation that we attained did not appeal to me so much as
the unbroken and sublime wildness of the latter. For some time I
cherished the intention of undertaking just one more venture of the
kind. While descending the Flegere, Minna had a fall and sprained her
ankle; the consequence of this was so painful as to deter us from any
further adventures. We therefore saw ourselves forced to hasten on our
journey home via Geneva. But even from this more important and grander
expedition, and almost the only one I had ever undertaken purely for
recreation, I returned with a strangely unsatisfied feeling, and I
could not resist the longing for something decisive in the distance,
that would give a fresh direction to my life.

On reaching home I found announcements of a new and quite different
turn in my destiny. These consisted of inquiries and commissions from
various German theatres anxious to produce Tannhauser. The first to
apply was the Schwerin Court Theatre. Rockel's youngest sister, who
afterwards married the actor Moritz (whom I had known from my earliest
youth), had now come to Germany as a youthful singer from England,
where she had been educated. She had given such an enthusiastic account
of the impression produced upon her by Tannhauser at Weimar, to an
official at the theatre there named Stocks, who held the position of
treasurer, that he had studied the opera most assiduously, and had now
induced the management to undertake to produce it. The theatres at
Breslau, Prague, and Wiesbaden soon followed; at the last of these my
old friend Louis Schindelmeisser was acting as conductor. In a short
time other theatres followed suit; but I was most astonished when the
Berlin Court Theatre made inquiries through its new manager, Herr von
Hulsen. From this last incident I felt justified in assuming that the
Crown Princess of Prussia, who had always had a friendly feeling
towards me, fostered by my faithful friend Alwine Frommann, had again
been intensely interested by the performance of Tannhauser at Weimar,
and had given the impetus to these unexpected developments.

Whilst I was rejoicing over commissions from the smaller theatres,
those of the largest German stage were a source of anxiety. I knew that
at the former there were zealous conductors, devoted to me, who had
certainly been roused by the desire of having the opera performed; in
Berlin, on the other hand, matters were quite different. The only other
conductor besides Taubert, whom I had known previously as a man devoid
of talent, and at the same time very conceited, was Heinrich Dorn, of
whom I retained most unpleasant recollections from my earliest years
and from our joint stay in Riga. I felt little drawn towards either of
these, nor did I perceive any possibility of undertaking the direction
of my own work; and from my knowledge of their capabilities as well as
of their ill-will, I had every reason to question any successful
rendering of my opera under their conductorship. Being an exile, I was
unable to go to Berlin in person in order to supervise my work, so I
immediately begged Listz's permission to nominate him as my
representative and alter ego, to which he willingly agreed. When I
afterwards made Liszt's appointment one of my conditions, objection was
raised on the part of the general manager at Berlin on the score that
the nomination of a Weimar conductor would be regarded as a gross
insult to the Prussian court conductors, and I must consequently desist
from demanding it. Thereupon prolonged negotiations ensued with a view
to compromising the matter, which resulted in the production of
Tannhauser at Berlin being considerably delayed.

However, while Tannhauser was now rapidly spreading to the middle-class
German theatres, I became a prey to great uneasiness as to the quality
of these performances, and could never get a very clear idea of them.
As my presence was prohibited everywhere, I had recourse to a very
detailed pamphlet which was to serve as a guide to the production of my
work, and convey a correct idea of my purpose. I had this somewhat
voluminous work printed at my own expense and tastefully bound, and to
every theatre that had given an order for the operatic score I sent a
number of copies of it, with the understanding that they were to be
given to the conductor, stage manager, and principal performers for
perusal and guidance. But from that time I have never heard of a single
person who had either read this pamphlet or taken any notice of it. In
the year 1864, when all my own copies had been exhausted, owing to my
painstaking distribution of them, I found to my great delight, among
the theatrical archives, several copies that had been sent to the
Munich Court Theatre, quite intact and uncut. I was therefore in the
agreeable position of being able to procure copies of the missing
pamphlet for the King of Bavaria, who wished to see it, as well as for
myself and some friends.

It was a singular coincidence that the news of the diffusion of my
opera through the German theatres should synchronise with my resolve to
compose a work in the conception of which I had been so decidedly
influenced by the necessity of being absolutely indifferent to our own
theatres; yet this unexpected turn of events in no wise affected my
treatment of my design. On the contrary, by keeping to my plan, I
gained confidence and let things take their own course, without
attempting in any way to promote the performances of my operas. I just
let people do as they liked, and looked on surprised, while continual
accounts reached my ears of remarkable successes; none of them,
however, induced me to alter my verdict on our theatres in general or
on the opera in particular. I remained unshaken in my resolve to
produce my Nibelungen dramas just as though the present operatic stage
did not exist, since the ideal theatre of my dreams must of necessity
come sooner or later. I therefore composed the libretto of the
Rheingold in the October and November of that year, and with that I
brought the whole cycle of the Nibelungen myth as I had evolved it to a
conclusion. At the same time I was rewriting Junger Siegfried and
Siegfrieds Tod, especially the latter, in such a way as to bring them
into proper relation with the whole; and by so doing, important
amplifications were made in Siegfrieds Tod which were in harmony with
the now recognised and obvious purpose of the whole work. I was
accordingly obliged to find for this last piece a new title suited to
the part it plays in the complete cycle. I entitled it Gotterdammerung,
and I changed the name Junger Siegfried to Siegfried, as it no longer
dealt with an isolated episode in the life of the hero, but had assumed
its proper place among the other prominent figures in the framework of
the whole. The prospect of having to leave this lengthy poem for some
time entirely unknown to those whom I might expect to be interested in
it was a source of great grief to me. As the theatres now and then
surprised me by sending me the usual royalties on Tannhauser, I devoted
a part of my profits to having a number of copies of my poem neatly
printed for my own use. I arranged that only fifty copies of this
edition de luxe should be struck off. But a great sorrow overtook me
before I had completed this agreeable task. It is true, I met on all
sides with indications of sympathetic interest in the completion of my
great lyric work, although most of my acquaintances regarded the whole
thing as a chimera, or possibly a bold caprice. The only one who
entered into it with any heartiness or real enthusiasm was Herwegh,
with whom I frequently discussed it, and to whom I generally read aloud
such portions as were completed. Sulzer was much annoyed at the
remodelling of Siegfrieds Tod, as he regarded it as a fine and original
work, and thought it would be deprived of that quality if I decided to
alter it to any extent. He therefore begged me to let him have the
manuscript of the earlier version to keep as a remembrance; otherwise
it would have been entirely lost. In order to get an idea of the effect
of the whole poem when rendered in complete sequence, I decided, only a
few days after the work was completed in the middle of December, to pay
a short visit to the Wille family at their country seat, so as to read
it aloud to the little company there. Besides Herwegh, who accompanied
me, the party there consisted of Frau Wille and her sister, Frau von
Bissing. I had often entertained these ladies with music in my own
peculiar fashion during my pleasant visits to Mariafeld, about two
hours' walk from Zurich. In them I had secured a devoted and
enthusiastic audience, somewhat to Herr Wille's annoyance, as he often
admitted that he had a horror of music; nevertheless, he ended in his
jovial way by taking the matter good humouredly.

I arrived towards evening, and we attacked Rheingold at once, and as it
did not seem very late, and I was supposed to be capable of any amount
of exertion, I went on with the Walkure until midnight. The next
morning after breakfast it was Siegfried's turn, and in the evening I
finished off with Gotterdammerung. I thought I had every reason to be
satisfied with the result, and the ladies in particular were so much
moved that they ventured no comment. Unfortunately the effort left me
in a state of almost painful excitement; I could not sleep, and the
next morning I was so disinclined for conversation that I left my
hurried departure unexplained. Herwegh, who accompanied me back alone,
appeared to divine my state of mind, and shared it by maintaining a
similar silence.

However, I now wished to have the pleasure of confiding the whole
completed work to my friend Uhlig at Dresden. I carried on a regular
correspondence with him, and he had followed the development of my
plan, and was thoroughly acquainted with every phase of it. I did not
want to send him the Walkure before the Rheingold was ready, as the
latter should come first, and even then I did not want him to see the
whole thing until I could send him a handsomely printed copy. But at
the beginning of the autumn I discerned in Uhlig's letters grounds for
feeling a growing anxiety as to the state of his health. He complained
of the increase in his serious paroxysms of coughing, and eventually of
complete hoarseness. He thought all this was merely weakness, which he
hoped to overcome by invigorating his system with the cold-water
treatment and long walks. He found the violin work at the theatre very
exhausting, but if he took a sharp seven hours' walk into the country
he invariably felt much better. However, he could not rid himself of
his chest attacks or of his hoarseness, and had a difficulty in making
himself heard even when speaking to a person quite near him. Up to that
time I had been unwilling to alarm the poor fellow, and always hoped
that his condition would necessitate his consulting a doctor, who would
naturally prescribe rational treatment. Now, however, as I was
continually hearing nothing from him but assurances of his confidence
in the principles of the water cure, I could contain myself no longer,
and I entreated him to give up this madness and place himself in the
hands of a sensible doctor, for in his condition what he most needed
was, not strength, but very careful attention. The poor man was
extremely alarmed at this, as he gathered from my remarks that I feared
he was already in an advanced stage of consumption. 'What is to become
of my poor wife and children,' he wrote, 'if that is really the case?'
Unhappily, it was too late; with the last strength that was left him he
tried to write to me again, and finally my old friend Fischer, the
chorus-master, carried out Uhlig's instructions, and when these were no
longer audible he had to bend down close to his lips. The news of his
death followed with frightful rapidity. It took place on the 3rd of
January, 1853. Thus, in addition to Lehrs, another of my really devoted
friends was carried off by consumption. The handsome copy of the Ring
des Nibelungen I had intended for him lay uncut before me, and I sent
it to his youngest boy, whom he had christened Siegfried. I asked his
widow to let me have any pamphlets of a theoretical nature he might
have left behind, and I came into possession of several important ones,
among them the longer essay on 'Theme-Structure.' Although the
publication of these works would involve a great deal of trouble, owing
to the necessity of revising them, I asked Hartel of Leipzig if he
would pay the widow a fair sum for a volume of Uhlig's writings. The
publisher declared he could not undertake to bring it out without
payment, as works of that nature were quite unremunerative. It was
obvious to me, even at that time, how thoroughly every musician who had
taken a keen interest in me had made himself disliked in certain

Uhlig's melancholy death gave my home-circle the whip-hand over me with
regard to my theories on the subject of water cures. Herwegh impressed
upon my wife that she must insist upon my taking a glass of good wine
after all the exertion I underwent at the rehearsals and concerts which
I was attending throughout that winter. By degrees, also, I again
accustomed myself to enjoy such mild stimulants as tea and coffee, my
friends meanwhile perceiving to their joy that I was once more becoming
a man amongst men. Dr. Rahn-Escher now became a welcome and comforting
friend and visitor, who for many years thoroughly understood the
management of my health, and especially the misgivings arising from the
over-wrought state of my nerves. He soon verified the wisdom of his
treatment, when in the middle of February I had undertaken to read my
tetralogy aloud on four consecutive evenings before a larger audience.
I had caught a severe cold after the first evening, and on the morning
of the day for the second reading I awoke suffering from severe
hoarseness. I at once informed the doctor that my failure to give the
reading would be a serious matter to me, and asked him what he advised
me to do to get rid of the hoarseness as speedily as possible. He
recommended me to keep quiet all day, and in the evening to be taken
well wrapped up to the place where the readings were to be held. When I
got there I was to take two or three cups of weak tea, and I should be
all right; whereas if I worried over the failure to keep my engagement
I might become seriously worse. And, indeed, the reading of this
stirring work went off capitally, and I was, moreover, able to continue
the readings on the third and fourth evenings, and felt perfectly well.
I had secured a large and handsome room for these meetings in the Hotel
Baur au lac, and had the gratifying experience of seeing it fuller and
fuller each evening, in spite of having invited only a small number of
acquaintances, giving them the option of bringing any friends who they
thought would take a genuine interest in the subject and not come out
of mere curiosity. Here, too, the verdict seemed altogether favourable,
and it was from the most serious university men and government
officials that I received assurances of the greatest appreciation as
well as kindly remarks, showing that my poem and the artistic ideas
connected with it had been fully understood. From the peculiar
earnestness with which they gave vent to their opinions, which in this
case were so confidently unanimous, the idea occurred to me to try how
far this favourable impression might be utilized to serve the higher
aims of art. In accordance with the superficial views generally
prevailing on the subject, every one seemed to think I might be induced
to make terms with the theatre. I tried to think out how it would be
possible to convert the ill-equipped Zurich theatre into a highly
developed one by adopting sound principles, and I laid my views before
the public in a pamphlet entitled 'A Theatre in Zurich.' The edition,
consisting of about a hundred copies, was sold, yet I never noticed the
least indication of any result from the publication; the only outcome
was, that at a banquet of the Musical Society my excellent friend, Herr
Ott-Imhoff, expressed his entire disagreement with the statements
uttered by various people, that these ideas of mine were all very
grand, but unfortunately quite impracticable. Nevertheless, my
propositions lacked the one thing that would have made them valuable in
his eyes, namely my consent to take over the management of the theatre
in person, as he would not entrust the carrying out of my ideas to
anyone but myself. However, as I was obliged to declare then and there
that I would not have anything to do with such a scheme, the matter
dropped, and in my inmost heart I could not help thinking that the good
people were quite right.

Meanwhile, the sympathetic interest in my works was increasing. As I
now had to refuse firmly to yield to my friends' wishes for a
performance of my principal works at the theatre, I begged to be
allowed to arrange a selection of characteristic pieces, which could
easily be produced at concerts, so soon as I could obtain the requisite
support. A subscription list was accordingly circulated, and it had the
satisfactory result of inducing several well-known art patrons to put
their names down to guarantee expenses. I had to undertake to engage an
orchestra to suit my requirements. Skilled musicians from far and near
were summoned, and after interminable efforts I began to feel that
something really satisfactory would be achieved.

I had made arrangements that the performers should stay at Zurich a
whole week from Sunday to Sunday. Half of this time was allotted
exclusively to rehearsals. The performance was to take place on
Wednesday evening, and on Friday and Sunday evenings there were to be
repetitions of it. The dates were the 18th, 20th, and 22nd of May, my
fortieth birthday falling on the last-named date. I had the joy of
seeing all my directions accurately carried out. From Mayence,
Wiesbaden, Frankfort, and Stuttgart, and on the other side, from
Geneva, Lausanne, Bale, Berne, and the chief towns in Switzerland,
picked musicians arrived punctually on Sunday afternoon. They were at
once directed to the theatre, where they had to arrange their exact
places in the orchestral stand I had previously designed at
Dresden--and which proved excellent here too--so as to begin rehearsing
the first thing next morning without delay or interruption. As these
people were at my disposal in the early morning and in the evening, I
made them learn a selection of pieces from the Fliegender Hollander,
Tannhauser, and Lohengrin. I had greater trouble in trying to train
them for a chorus, but this too turned out very satisfactorily. There
was nothing in the way of solo-singing, except the Ballad of Senta from
the Hollander, which was sung by the wife of the conductor Heim in a
good though untrained voice, and with an amount of spirit that left
nothing to be desired. As a matter of fact, the performances could
hardly be called public concerts, but were rather of the nature of
family entertainments. I felt I was fulfilling a sincere desire on the
part of a larger circle of acquaintances by introducing them to the
true nature of my music, rendered as intelligibly as circumstances
permitted. As, at the same time, it was desirable that they should have
some knowledge of the poetical basis of it, I invited those who
intended to be present at my concerts to come for three evenings to the
Musical Society's concert-hall to hear me read aloud the libretto of
the three operas, portions of which they were about to hear. This
invitation met with an enthusiastic response, and I was now able to
hope that my audience would come better prepared to listen to the
selections from my operas than had ever been the case before. The fact
that pleased me most in the performances on these three evenings was
that I was able for the first time to produce something from Lohengrin
myself, and could thus get an idea of the effect of my combination of
the instrumental parts in the overture to that work.

Between the performances there was a banquet which, with the exception
of a subsequent one at Pesth, was the only function of the sort ever
held in my honour. I was sincerely and deeply affected by the speech of
the aged President of the Musical Society, Herr Ott-Usteri. He drew the
attention of all those musicians who had come together from so many
places to the significance of their meeting, and its objects and
results, and recommended as a trustworthy guide to them on their
homeward journey the conviction they had all doubtless arrived at, that
they had come into close and genuine touch with, a wonderful new
creation in the realm of art.

The sensation produced by these evening concerts spread through the
whole of Switzerland in ever-widening circles. Invitations and requests
for further repetitions of them poured in from distant towns. I was
assured that I might well repeat the three performances in the
following week without any fear of seeing a diminution in the audience.
When this project was discussed, and I pleaded my own fatigue, and also
expressed the desire to retain for these concerts their unique
character by not allowing them to become commonplace, I was very glad
to have the powerful and intelligent support of my friend Hagenbuch,
who on this occasion was indefatigable. The festival was concluded, and
the guests were dismissed at the appointed time.

I had hoped to be able to welcome Liszt among the visitors, as he had
celebrated a 'Wagner week' at Weimar in the previous March by
performing three operas of which I had only given portions here.
Unfortunately he was unable to leave just then, but by way of amends he
promised me a visit at the beginning of July. Of my German friends,
only the faithful Mme. Julie Kummer and Mme. Emilie Ritter arrived in
time. As these two ladies had gone on to Interlaken at the beginning of
June, and I also began to feel in great need of a change, I started
with my wife, towards the end of the month, for a short holiday. The
visit was spoilt in the most dismal fashion by continuous rain; and on
the 1st of July, as we were starting in desperation on our homeward
journey to Zurich with our lady friends, magnificent summer weather set
in, which lasted a considerable time. With affectionate enthusiasm we
at once attributed this change to Liszt, as he arrived in Switzerland
in the best of spirits immediately after we had returned to Zurich.
Thereupon followed one of those delightful weeks, during which every
hour of the day becomes a treasured memory. I had already taken more
roomy apartments on the second floor in the so-called Vorderen Escher
Hausern, in which I had before occupied a flat that was much too small
on the ground floor. Frau Stockar-Escher, who was part owner of the
house, was enthusiastically devoted to me. She was full of artistic
talent herself, being an excellent amateur painter in water-colours,
and had taken great pains to rearrange the new dwelling as luxuriously
as possible. The unexpected improvement in my circumstances brought
about by the continued demands for my operas, allowed me to indulge my
desire for comfortable domestic arrangements, which had been reawakened
since my stay at the hydropathic establishment, and which, after being
repressed, had become quite a passionate longing.

I had the flat so charmingly furnished with carpets and decorative
furniture that Liszt himself was surprised into admiration as he
entered my 'petite elegance', as he called it. Now for the first time I
enjoyed the delight of getting to know my friend better as a
fellow-composer. In addition to many of his celebrated pianoforte
pieces, which he had only recently written, we went through several new
symphonies with great ardour, and especially his Faust Symphony. Later
on, I had the opportunity of describing in detail the impressions I
received at this time in a letter which I wrote to Marie von
Wittgenstein, which was afterwards published. My delight over
everything I heard by Liszt was as deep as it was sincere, and, above
all, extraordinarily stimulating. I even thought of beginning to
compose again after the long interval that had elapsed. What could be
more full of promise and more momentous to me than this long-desired
meeting with the friend who had been engaged all his life in his
masterly practice of music, and had also devoted himself so absolutely
to my own works, and to diffusing the proper comprehension of them.
Those almost bewilderingly delightful days, with the inevitable rush of
friends and acquaintances, were interrupted by an excursion to the Lake
of Lucerne, accompanied only by Herwegh, to whom Liszt had the charming
idea of offering a 'draught of fellowship' with himself and me from the
three springs of the Grutli.

After this my friend took leave of us, after having arranged for
another meeting with me in the autumn.

Although I felt quite disconsolate after Liszt's departure, the
officials of Zurich took good care that I should soon have some
diversion, of a kind to which I had hitherto been a stranger. It took
the form of the presentation of a masterpiece of calligraphy in the
shape of a 'Diploma of Honour,' awarded me by the Zurich Choral
Society, which was ready at last. This was to be awarded to me with the
accompaniment of an imposing torchlight procession, in which the
various elements of the Zurich population, who, either as individuals
or members of societies, were favourably disposed to me, were to take
part. So it came to pass that one fine summer evening a large company
of torchbearers approached the Zeltweg, to the accompaniment of loud
music. They presented a spectacle such as I had never seen before, and
made a unique impression on my mind. After the singing, the voice of
the President of the Choral Society could be heard rising from the
street. I was so much affected by the incident that my unconquerable
optimism quickly overpowered every other sensation. In my speech of
acknowledgment I indicated plainly that I saw no reason why Zurich
itself should not be the chosen place to give an impetus to the
fulfilment of the aspirations I cherished for my artistic ideals, and
that it might do so on proper civic lines. I believe this was taken to
refer to a special development of the men's choral societies, and they
were quite gratified at my bold forecasts. Apart from this confusion,
for which I was responsible, that evening's ceremony and its effects on
me were very cheerful and beneficial.

But I still felt the peculiar disinclination and fear of taking up
composing again that I had previously experienced after protracted
pauses in musical production. I also felt very much exhausted by all I
had done and gone through, and the ever-recurring longing to break
completely with everything in the past, that had unfortunately haunted
me since my departure from Dresden, as well as the desire and yearning
for new and untried surroundings, fostered by that anxiety, now
acquired fresh and tormenting vigour. I felt that before entering on
such a gigantic task as the music to my drama of the Nibelungen, I must
positively make one final effort to see whether I could not, in some
new environment, attain an existence more in harmony with my feelings
than I could possibly aspire to after so many compromises. I planned a
journey to Italy, or such parts of it as were open to me as a political
refugee. The means for carrying out my wish were readily placed at my
disposal through the kindness of my friend Wesendonck, who has ever
since that time been devoted to me. However, I knew it was inadvisable
to take that journey before the autumn, and as my doctor had
recommended some special treatment for strengthening my nerves--even if
only to enjoy Italy--I decided first of all to go to St. Moritz Bad in
the Engadine. I started in the latter half of July, accompanied by
Herwegh. Strangely enough, I have often found that what other people
could note in their diaries merely as an ordinary visit or a trivial
expedition, assumed for me the character of an adventure. This occurred
on our journey to the Bad, when, owing to the coaches being crowded, we
were detained at Chur in an incessant downpour of rain. We were obliged
to pass the time in reading at a most uncomfortable inn. I got hold of
Goethe's West-ostlichen Divan, for the reading of which I had been
prepared by Daumer's adaptation of Hafiz. To this day I never think of
Goethe's words in elucidating these poems without recalling that
wretched delay in our journey to the Engadine. We did not get on much
better at St. Moritz; the present convenient Kurhaus was not then in
existence, and we had to put up with the roughest accommodation; this
was particularly annoying to me on Herwegh's account, as he had not
gone there for health, but simply for enjoyment. However, we were soon
cheered by the lovely views of the grand valleys, which were quite bare
but for the Alpine pastures, that met our eyes on our way down the
steep slopes into the Italian valleys. After we had secured the
schoolmaster at Samaden as a guide to the Rosetch glacier, we embarked
on more serious expeditions. We had confidently looked forward to
exceptional enjoyment in thus penetrating beyond the precipices of the
great Mont Bernina, to which we gave the palm for beauty above Mont
Blanc itself. Unfortunately the effect was lost on my friend, owing to
the tremendous exertions by which the ascent and crossing of the
glacier were attended. Once again, but this time to an even greater
degree, I felt the sublime impression of the sacredness of that
desolate spot, and the almost benumbing calm which the disappearance of
all vegetation produces on the pulsating life of the human organism.
After we had been wandering for two hours, deep in the glacier path, we
partook of a meal we had brought with us, and champagne, iced in the
fissures, to strengthen us for our wearisome return. I had to cover the
distance nearly twice over, as, to my astonishment, Herwegh was in such
a nervous condition that I had repeatedly to go backwards and forwards,
showing him the way up and down before he would decide to follow. I
then realised the peculiarly exhausting nature of the air in those
regions, as on our way back we stopped at the first herdsman's cottage,
and were refreshed with some delicious milk. I swallowed such
quantities of it that we were both perfectly amazed, but I experienced
no discomfort whatever in consequence.

The waters, whether for internal or external use, are known to be
powerfully impregnated with iron, and in taking them I had the same
experience as on previous occasions. With my extremely excitable
nervous system, they were a source of more trouble than relief to me.
The leisure hours were filled up by reading Goethe's
Wahlverwandtschaften, which I had not read since I was quite young.
This time I absolutely devoured the book from beginning to end, and it
also became a source of heated discussions between Herwegh and myself.
As Herwegh possessed an extensive knowledge of the characteristics of
our great poetic literature, he felt it incumbent on him to defend the
character of Charlotte against my attacks. My vehemence on the subject
showed what a strange creature I still was at over forty, and in my
heart of hearts I had to admit that Herwegh judged Gothe's poem
objectively more correctly than I did, as I always felt depressed by a
kind of moral bondage, to which Herwegh, if he had ever experienced it
at all, submitted placidly, owing to his peculiar relations with his
strong-minded wife. When the time came to an end, and I realised that I
had not much to hope for from the treatment, we returned to Zurich.
This was about the middle of August, and I now began to look forward
impatiently to my tour in Italy. At last, in the month of September,
which I had been told was quite suitable for visiting Italy, I set off
on the journey via Geneva, full of indescribable ideas of what was
before me, and of what I might see as the outcome of my search. Once
again amid all sorts of strange adventures, I reached Turin by special
mail-coach over Mont Cenis. Finding nothing to detain me there more
than a couple of days, I hurried on to Genoa. There, at any rate, the
longed-for marvels seemed to be within reach. The grand impression
produced on me by that, city overcomes, even to this day, any longing
to visit the rest of Italy. For a few days I was in a dream of delight;
but my extreme loneliness amidst these impressions soon made me feel
that I was a stranger in that world, and that I should never be at home
in it. Absolutely inexperienced as I was in searching out the treasures
of art on a systematic plan, I gave myself up in this new world to a
peculiar state of mind that might be described as a musical one, and my
main idea was to find some turning-point that might induce me to remain
there in quiet enjoyment. My only object still was to find a refuge
where I might enjoy the congenial peace suited to some new artistic
creation. In consequence, however, of thoughtlessly indulging in ices,
I soon got an attack of dysentery, which produced the most depressing
lassitude after my previous exaltation. I wanted to flee from the
tremendous noise of the harbour, near which I was staying, and seek for
the most absolute calm; and thinking a trip to Spezia would benefit me,
I went there by steamer a week later. Even this excursion, which lasted
only one night, was turned into a trying adventure, thanks to a violent
head-wind. The dysentery became worse, owing to sea-sickness, and in
the most utterly exhausted condition, scarcely able to drag myself
another step, I made for the best hotel in Spezia, which, to my horror,
was situated in a noisy, narrow street.

After a night spent in fever and sleeplessness, I forced myself to take
a long tramp the next day through the hilly country, which was covered
with pine woods. It all looked dreary and desolate, and I could not
think what I should do there. Returning in the afternoon, I stretched
myself, dead tired, on a hard couch, awaiting the long-desired hour of
sleep. It did not come; but I fell into a kind of somnolent state, in
which I suddenly felt as though I were sinking in swiftly flowing
water. The rushing sound formed itself in my brain into a musical
sound, the chord of E flat major, which continually re-echoed in broken
forms; these broken chords seemed to be melodic passages of increasing
motion, yet the pure triad of E flat major never changed, but seemed by
its continuance to impart infinite significance to the element in which
I was sinking. I awoke in sudden terror from my doze, feeling as though
the waves were rushing high above my head. I at once recognised that
the orchestral overture to the Rheingold, which must long have lain
latent within me, though it had been unable to find definite form, had
at last been revealed to me. I then quickly realised my own nature; the
stream of life was not to flow to me from without, but from within. I
decided to return to Zurich immediately, and begin the composition of
my great poem. I telegraphed to my wife to let her know my decision,
and to have my study in readiness.

The same evening I took my place on the coach going to Genoa along the
Riviera di Levante. I again had the opportunity of getting exquisite
impressions of the country during this journey, which lasted over the
whole of the following day. It was, above all, the colouring of the
wonders that presented themselves to my eyes which gave me such
delight--the redness of the rocks, the blue of the sky and the sea, the
pale green of the pines; even the dazzling white of a herd of cattle
worked upon me so powerfully that I murmured to myself with a sigh,
'How sad it is that I cannot remain to enjoy all this, and thus gratify
my sensuous nature.'

At Genoa I again felt so agreeably stimulated that I suddenly thought I
had only yielded to some foolish weakness, and resolved to carry out my
original plan. I was already making arrangements for travelling to Nice
along the celebrated Riviera di Ponente, of which I had heard so much,
but I had scarcely decided on my former plans, when I realised that the
fact which refreshed and invigorated me was not the renewal of my
delight over Italy, but the resolve to take up my work again. And
indeed, as soon as I made up my mind to alter this plan, the old
condition set in once more, with all the symptoms of dysentery. I
thereupon understood myself, and giving up the journey to Nice, I
returned direct by the nearest route via Alessandria and Novara.

This time I passed the Borromean Islands with supreme indifference, and
got back to Zurich over the St. Gotthard.

When I had once returned, the only thing that could have made me happy
would have been to start at once on my great work. For the present,
however, I saw that it would be seriously interrupted by my appointment
with Liszt, who was to be in Bale at the beginning of October. I was
restless and annoyed at being so unsettled, and spent the time in
visiting my wife, who, thinking that I would be away longer, was taking
the waters at Baden am Stein. As I was easily prevailed upon to try any
experiment of this kind if only the person who recommended it were
sufficiently sanguine, I allowed myself to be persuaded into taking a
course of hot baths, and the process heightened my excitment

At last the time for the meeting in Bale arrived. At the invitation of
the Grand Duke of Baden, Liszt had arranged and conducted a musical
festival in Karlsruhe, the aim of which was to give the public an
adequate interpretation of our respective works. As I was not yet
allowed to enter the territory of the German confederation, Liszt had
chosen Bale as the place nearest to the Baden frontier, and had brought
with him some young men who had been his devoted admirers in Karlsruhe,
to give me a hearty welcome.

I was the first to arrive, and in the evening, while sitting alone in
the dining-room of the hotel, 'Zu den drei Konigen,' the air of the
trumpet fanfare (from Lohengrin) announcing the King's arrival, sung by
a strong though not numerous chorus of men's voices, reached me from
the adjacent vestibule. The door opened and Liszt entered at the head
of his joyful little band, whom he introduced to me. I also saw Bulow
again, for the first time since his adventurous winter visit to Zurich
and St. Gall, and with him Joachim, Peter Cornelius, Richard Pohl, and
Dionys Pruckner.

Liszt told me that he was expecting a visit from his friend Caroline
von Wittgenstein and her young daughter Marie the next day. The bright
and merry spirit which prevailed at that gathering (which, like
everything that Liszt promoted, in spite of its intimate nature, was
characterised by magnificent unconventionality) grew to a pitch of
almost eccentric hilarity as the night wore on. In the midst of our
wild mood I suddenly missed Pohl. I knew him to be a champion of our
cause through having read his articles under the pseudonym of 'Hoplit.'
I stole away and found him in bed suffering from a splitting headache.
My sympathy had such an effect upon him that he declared himself
suddenly cured. Jumping out of bed, he allowed me to help him dress
hurriedly, and again joining our friends we sat up till the night was
far advanced and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. On the following day our
happiness was complete when the ladies arrived, who for the next few
days formed the centre of our little party. In those days it was
impossible for any one coming into contact with Princess Caroline not
to be fascinated by her bright manner and the charming way in which she
entered into all our little plans.

She was as much interested in the more important questions that
affected us as in the accidental details of our life in relation to
society, and she had the magnetic power of extracting the very best out
of those with whom she associated. Her daughter gave one quite a
different impression. She was barely fifteen and had a rather dreamy
look on her young face, and was at the stage 'in which womanhood and
childhood meet,' thus allowing me to pay her the compliment of calling
her 'the child.' During our lively discussions and outbursts of
merriment, her dark pensive eyes would gaze at us so calmly that we
unconsciously felt that in her innocence she unwittingly understood the
cause of our gaiety. In those days I suffered from the vanity of
wishing to recite my poems aloud (a proceeding which, by the bye,
annoyed Herwegh very much), and consequently it was no difficult task
to induce me to read out my Nibelungen drama. As the time of our
parting was drawing near, I decided I would read Siegfried only.

When Liszt was obliged to leave for Paris on a visit to his children,
we all accompanied him as far as Strasburg. I had decided to follow him
to Paris, but the Princess intended going on from Strasburg to Weimar
with her daughter.

During the few spare hours of our short stay in Strasburg I was asked
to read some of my work to the ladies, but could not find a suitable
opportunity. However, on the morning of our intended parting, Liszt
came to my room to tell me that the ladies had, after all, decided to
accompany us to Paris, and added, laughing, that Marie had induced her
mother to change her plans, as she wished to hear the rest of the
Nibelungen poems. The prolonging of our journey, with all its
delightful incidents, was quite in accordance with my taste.

We were very sorry to part from our younger friends. Bulow told me that
Joachim, who had been holding himself rather aloof, could not forget my
tremendous article on 'Judaism,' and that he consequently felt shy and
awkward in my presence. He also said that when Joachim had asked him
(Bulow) to read one of his compositions, he had inquired with a certain
gentle diffidence, whether I should be able to trace 'anything Jewish'
in it.

This touching trait in Joachim's character induced me to say a few
particularly friendly words to him at parting and to embrace him
warmly. I never saw him again, [Footnote: This was written in 1869.]
and heard to my astonishment that he had taken up a hostile attitude to
both Liszt and myself, almost immediately after we had left. The other
young men were the victims, on their return to Germany, of a very funny
although unpleasant experience, that of coming into contact with the
police at Baden. They had entered the town singing the same bright tune
of the fanfare from Lohengrin, and they had a good deal of difficulty
in giving a satisfactory account of themselves to the inhabitants.

Our journey to Paris and our stay there were full of important
incidents, and left indelible traces of our exceptionally devoted
friendship. After great difficulty we found rooms for the ladies in the
Hotel des Princes, and Liszt then suggested that we should go for a
stroll on the boulevards, which at that hour were deserted. I presume
that our feelings on this occasion must have differed as much as our
reminiscences. When I entered the sitting-room the next morning, Liszt
remarked, with his characteristic little smile, that the Princess Marie
was already in a great state of excitement at the thought of further
readings. Paris did not offer much attraction to me, and as Princess
Caroline desired to arouse as little attention as possible, and Liszt
was frequently called away on private business, we took up our reading,
where we had left it off in Bale, on the very first morning of our stay
in Paris, even before we had been outside the hotel. I was not allowed
to stop reading on the following days until the Ring des Nibelungen was
quite finished. Finally Paris claimed our attention, but while the
ladies were visiting the museums I was unfortunately obliged to stay in
my room, tortured by continually recurring nervous headaches. Liszt,
however, induced me occasionally to join them in their excursions. At
the beginning of our stay he had engaged a box for a performance of
Robert le Diable, because he wanted the ladies to see the great opera
house under the most favourable conditions. I believe that my friends
shared the terrible depression from which I was suffering on this
occasion. Liszt, however, must have had other motives for going. He had
asked me to wear evening dress, and seemed very pleased I had done so
when at the interval he invited me to go for a stroll with him through
the foyer. I could see he was under the influence of certain
reminiscences of delightful evenings spent in this selfsame foyer, and
that the dismal performance of this night must have cast a gloom over
him. We stole quietly back to our friends, hardly knowing why we had
started on this monotonous expedition. One of the artistic pleasures I
enjoyed most was a concert given by the Morin-Chevillard Quartette
Society, at which they played Beethoven's Quartettes in E flat major
and C sharp minor; the excellent rendering of this work impressed me in
very much the same way as the performance of the Ninth Symphony by the
Conservatoire orchestra had once done. I had again the opportunity of
admiring the great artistic zeal with which the French master these
treasures of music, which even to this day are so coarsely handled by
the Germans.

This was the first time that I really became intimately acquainted with
the C sharp minor quartette, because I had never before grasped its
melody. If, therefore, I had nothing else to remind me of my stay in
Paris, this would have been an unfading memory. I also carried away
with me other equally significant impressions. One day Liszt invited me
to spend an evening with him and his children, who were living very
quietly in the care of a governess in Paris.

It was quite a novelty to me to see Liszt with these young girls, and
to watch him in his intercourse with his son, then a growing lad. Liszt
himself seemed to feel strange in his fatherly position, which for
several years had only brought him cares, without any of the attendant

On this occasion we again resumed our reading of the last act of
Gotterdammerung, which brought us to the longed-for end of the
tetralogy. Berlioz, who looked us up during that time, endured these
readings with quite admirable patience. We had lunch with him one
morning before his departure, and he had already packed his music for
his concert tour through Germany. Liszt played different selections
from his Benvenuto Cellini, while Berlioz sang to them in his
peculiarly monotonous style. I also met the journalist, Jules Janin,
who was quite a celebrity in Paris, although it took me a long time to
realise this; the only thing that impressed me about him was his
colloquial Parisian French, which was quite unintelligible to me.

A dinner, followed by a musical evening at the house of the celebrated
pianoforte manufacturer, Erard, also remains in my memory. At this
house, as well as at a dinner-party given by Liszt at the Palais Royal,
I again met his children. Daniel, the youngest of them, particularly
attracted me by his brightness and his striking resemblance to his
father, but the girls were very shy. I must not forget to mention an
evening spent at the house of Mme. Kalergis, a woman of exceptional
individuality, whom I met here for the first time since the early
performance of Tannhauser in Dresden. When at dinner she asked me a
question about Louis Napoleon, I forgot myself so far in my excitement
and resentment as to put an end to all further conversation by saying
that I could not understand how anybody could possibly expect great
things from a man whom no woman could really love. After dinner, when
Liszt sat down at the piano, young Marie Wittgenstein noticed that I
had withdrawn silently and rather sadly from the rest of the company;
this was due partly to my headache, and partly to the feeling of
isolation that came over me in these surroundings. I was touched by her
sympathy and evident wish to divert me.

After a very fatiguing week my friends left Paris. As I had again been
prevented from starting on my work, I now decided not to leave Paris
until I had restored my nerves to that state of calm which was
indispensable to the fulfilment of my great project. I had invited my
wife to meet me on our way back to Zurich, to give her the opportunity
of seeing Paris again, where we had both suffered so much. After her
arrival, Kietz and Anders turned up regularly for dinner, and a young
Pole, the son of my old and beloved friend, Count Vincenz Tyszkiewicz,
also came to see us very often.

This young man (who had been born since the early days of my friendship
with his father) had devoted himself passionately to music, as so many
do nowadays. He had made quite a stir in Paris after a performance of
Freischutz at the Grand Opera, by declaring that the many cuts and
alterations which had been made were a fraud on the initiated public,
and he had sued the management of the theatre for the return of the
entrance money, which he regretted ever having paid. He also had an
idea of publishing a paper with the view of drawing attention to the
slovenly conduct of musical affairs in Paris, which in his opinion was
an insult to public taste.

Prince Eugen von Wittgenstein-Sayn, a young amateur painter who had
belonged to Liszt's circle of intimate friends, painted a miniature of
me, for which I had to give him several sittings; it was done under
Kietz's guidance, and turned out pretty well.

I had an important consultation with a young doctor named Lindemann, a
friend of Kietz's; he strongly advised me to give up the water cure,
and tried to convert me to the toxic theory. He had attracted the
attention of Parisian society by inoculating himself with various
poisons in the hospital before witnesses, in order to show their
effects upon the system, an experiment which he carried out in an
accurate and thoroughly effective manner. With regard to my own case,
he stated that it could be easily remedied if we ascertained by careful
experiments what metallic substance would specifically influence my
nervous system. He unhesitatingly recommended me, in case of very
violent attacks, to take laudanum, and in default of that poison he
seemed to consider valerian an excellent remedy.

Tired out, restless and exceedingly unstrung, I left Paris with Minna
towards the end of October, without in the least understanding why I
had spent so much money there. Hoping to counterbalance this by pushing
my operas in Germany, I calmly retired to the seclusion of my Zurich
lodgings, fully decided not to leave them again until some parts, at
least, of my Nibelungen dramas were set to music.

In the beginning of November I started on this long-postponed work. For
five and a half years (since the end of March, 1848) I had held aloof
from all musical composition, and as I very soon found myself in the
right mood for composing, this return to my work can best be compared
to a reincarnation of my soul after it had been wandering in other
spheres. As far as the technique was concerned, I soon found myself in
a difficulty when I started to write down the orchestral overture,
conceived in Spezia in a kind of half-dream, in my usual way of
sketching it out on two lines. I was compelled to resort to the
complete score-formula; this tempted me to try a new way of sketching,
which was a very hasty and superficial one, from which I immediately
wrote out the complete score.

This process often led to difficulties, as the slightest interruption
in my work made me lose the thread of my rough draft, and I had to
start from the beginning before I could recall it to my memory.

I did not let this occur in regard to Rheingold. The whole of this
composition had been finished in outline on the 16th of January, 1854,
and consequently the plan for the musical structure of this work in
four parts had been drawn in all its thematic proportions, as it was in
this great prelude that these thematic foundations of the whole had to
be laid.

I remember how much my health improved during the writing of this work;
and my surroundings during that time consequently left very little
impression on my mind.

During the first months of the new year I also conducted a few
orchestral concerts. To please my friend Sulzer, I produced, amongst
other works, the overture to Gluck's Iphigenia in Aulis, after having
written a new finale to it. The necessity for altering the finale by
Mozart induced me to write an article for the Brendel musical journal
on this artistic problem. These occupations did not, however, prevent
me from working at the Rheingold score, which I quickly dotted down in
pencil on a few single sheets. On the 28th May I finished the
instrumentation of the Rheingold. There had been very little change in
my life at home; things had remained the same during the last few
years, and everything went smoothly. Only my financial position was
rather precarious, owing to the past year's expenses for furniture,
etc., and also to the more luxurious mode of living I had adopted, on
the strength of my belief that my operas, which were now better known,
would bring me in a larger income.

The most important theatres, however, still held back, and to my
mortification all my efforts at negotiation with Berlin and Vienna
proved fruitless. In consequence of these disappointments I suffered
great worries and cares during the greater part of that year. I tried
to counteract these by new work, and instead of writing out the score
of Rheingold I began the composition of the Walkure. Towards the end of
July I had finished the first scene, but had to interrupt my work on
account of a journey to the south of Switzerland.

I had received an invitation from the 'Eidgenossische
Musikgesellschaft' to conduct their musical festival at Sion that year.
I had refused, but at the same time promised that if possible I would
conduct Beethoven's Symphony in A major at one of the gala concerts. I
intended on the way to call on Karl Ritter, who had gone to live with
his young wife at Montreux on the Lake of Geneva. The week I spent with
this young couple gave me ample opportunities for doubting whether
their happiness would be of long duration.

Karl and I left shortly afterwards for the musical festival in Valais.
On our way we were joined at Martigny by an extraordinary young man,
Robert von Hornstein, who had been introduced to me on the occasion of
my great musical festival the year before as an enthusiast and a
musician. This quaint mortal was regarded as a very welcome addition to
our party, particularly by young Ritter, and both young people looked
forward with great enthusiasm to the treat in store for them; Hornstein
had come all the way from Swabia to hear me conduct the festival in the
canton of Valais. We arrived in the midst of the musical festivities,
and I was terribly disappointed to find how very badly and
inartistically the preliminary arrangements had been made. I was so
taken aback, after having received the worst possible impression of the
sound of the very scanty orchestra in a small church, which served as
church and concert-hall combined, and was so furious at the thought of
having been dragged into such an affair, that I merely wrote a few
lines to Methfessel, the organising director of the festival, who had
come from Berne, and took my leave, without further ceremony. I escaped
by the next post-chaise that was just on the point of leaving, and I
did this so expeditiously that even my young friends were unaware of my
departure. I purposely kept the fact of my sudden flight from them; I
had my own reasons for doing so, and as they were rather interesting
from a psychological point of view, I have never forgotten them.

On coming back to dinner that day feeling miserable and depressed after
the disappointing impression I had just received, my annoyance was
treated with foolish and almost insulting roars of laughter by my young
friends. I presumed that their merriment was the result of remarks made
at my expense before I came in, as neither my admonitions nor even my
anger could induce them to behave differently. I quitted the
dining-room in disgust, paid my bill and left, without giving them any
opportunity of noticing my departure. I spent a few days in Geneva and
Lausanne, and decided to call on Frau Ritter on my way back; and there
I again met the two young people. Evidently they also had given up the
wretched festival, and been completely taken aback at my sudden
departure, had almost immediately left for Montreux, in the hope of
hearing news of me.

I made no mention of their rude conduct, and as Karl cordially invited
me to stay with them a few days longer I accepted, principally because
I was very much interested in a poetical work he had only just
finished. This poem was a comedy called Alkibiades, which he had really
treated with exceptional refinement and freedom of form. He had already
told me at Albisbrunnen about the sketch of this work, and had shown me
an elegant dagger into the blade of which the syllables Alki had been

He explained that his friend, a young actor whom he had left in
Stuttgart, possessed a similar weapon, the blade of which bore the
syllables Biades. It seemed that Karl, even without the symbolic help
of the daggers, had again found the complement of his own
'Alkibiadesian' individuality, this time in the young booby Hornstein,
and it is very probable that the two, whilst in Sion, had imagined they
were acting an 'Alkibiadesian' scene before Socrates. His comedy showed
me that his artistic talent was fortunately far better than his society
manners. To this day I regret that this decidedly difficult play has
never been produced.

Hornstein now behaved properly and desired to go to Lausanne via Vevey.
We did part of the journey together on foot, and his quaint appearance
with his knapsack on his back was most amusing, continued my journey
alone from Berne to Lucerne, taking the shortest possible route to
Selisberg on the Lake of Lucerne, where my wife was staying for a
sour-milk cure.

The symptoms of heart disease, which I had already noticed some time
previously, had increased, and this place had been recommended to her
as specially invigorating and beneficial. With great patience I endured
several weeks of life at a Swiss pension, but my wife, who had quite
adapted herself to the ways of the house and seemed very comfortable,
looked upon me as a disturbing element.

I found this a great trial, although the beautiful air and my daily
excursions into the mountains did me a great deal of good. I even went
so far as to choose a very wild spot, where, in imagination, I ordered
a little house to be built in which I should be able to work in
absolute peace.

Towards the end of July we went back to Zurich. I returned to my
Walkure and finished the first act in the month of August. I was
terribly depressed by my worries just at this time, and as it was more
than ever necessary for me to have absolute quiet for my work, I at
once agreed to my wife's departure, when she told me of her intended
visit to her relations and friends in Dresden and Zwickau. She left me
at the beginning of September, and wrote to me about her stay in
Weimar, where the Princess Wittgenstein had received her with the
greatest hospitality at Altenburg Castle. There she met Rockel's wife,
who was being cared for in the most self-sacrificing way by her
husband's brother. It showed a spirited and original trait in Minna's
character that she decided to visit Rockel in his prison at Waldheim,
solely that she might give his wife news of him, although she disliked
the man intensely.

She told me of this visit, saying sarcastically that Rockel looked
quite happy and bright, and that life in prison did not seem to suit
him badly.

Meanwhile I plunged with renewed zeal into my work, and had finished a
fair copy of the Rheingold score by the 26th of September. In the
peaceful quietness of my house at this time I first came across a book
which was destined to be of great importance to me. This was Arthur
Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. Herwegh recommended
this work to me, and told me that strangely enough it had only been
recently discovered, although it had been published over thirty years.
In a pamphlet on this subject a certain Herr Frauenstadt had drawn the
attention of the public to the book, to which I immediately felt
attracted, and I at once began to study it. For a long time I had
wanted to understand the real value of philosophy. My conversations
with Lehrs in Paris in my very young days had awakened my longing for
this branch of knowledge, upon which I had first launched when I
attended the lectures of several Leipzig professors and in later years
by reading Schelling and Hegel. I seemed to understand the reason of
their failure to satisfy me from the writings of Feuerbach, which I
studied at the same time. What fascinated me so enormously about
Schopenhauer's work was not only its extraordinary fate, but the
clearness and manly precision with which the most difficult
metaphysical problems were treated from the very beginning.

I had been greatly drawn towards the work on learning the opinion of an
English critic, who candidly confessed that he respected German
philosophy because of its complete incomprehensibility, as instanced by
Hegel's doctrines, until the study of Schopenhauer had made it clear to
him that Hegel's lack of lucidity was due not so much to his own
incapacity as to the intentionally bombastic style in which this
philosopher had clothed his problems. Like every man who is
passionately thrilled with life, I too sought first for the conclusions
of Schopenhauer's system. With its aesthetic side I was perfectly
content, and was especially astonished at his noble conception of
music. But, on the other hand, the final summing-up regarding morals
alarmed me, as, indeed, it would have startled any one in my mood; for
here the annihilation of the will and complete abnegation are
represented as the sole true and final deliverance from those bonds of
individual limitation in estimating and facing the world, which are now
clearly felt for the first time. For those who hoped to find some
philosophical justification for political and social agitation on
behalf of so-called 'individual freedom' there was certainly no support
to be found here, where all that was demanded was absolute renunciation
of all such methods of satisfying the claims of personality. At first I
naturally found his ideas by no means palatable, and felt I could not
readily abandon that so-called 'cheerful' Greek aspect of the world,
with which I had looked out upon life in my Kunstwerk der Zukunft. As a
matter of fact, it was Herwegh who at last, by a well-timed
explanation, brought me to a calmer frame of mind about my own
sensitive feelings. It is from this perception of the nullity of the
visible world--so he said--that all tragedy is derived, and such a
perception must necessarily have dwelt as an intuition in every great
poet, and even in every great man. On looking afresh into my Nibelungen
poem I recognised with surprise that the very things that now so
embarrassed me theoretically had long been familiar to me in my own
poetical conception. Now at last I could understand my Wotan, and I
returned with chastened mind to the renewed study of Schopenhauer's
book. I had learned to recognise that my first essential task was to
understand the first part, namely, the exposition and enlarging of
Kant's doctrine of the ideality of that world which has hitherto seemed
to us so solidly founded in time and space, and I believed I had taken
the first step towards such an understanding by recognising its
enormous difficulty. For many years afterwards that book never left me,
and by the summer of the following year I had already studied the whole
of it for the fourth time. The effect thus gradually wrought upon me
was extraordinary, and certainly exerted a decisive influence on the
whole course of my life. In forming my judgment upon all those matters
which I had hitherto acquired solely through the senses, I had gained
pretty much the same power as I had formerly won in music--after
abandoning the teaching of my old master Weinlich--by an exhaustive
study of counterpoint. If, therefore, in later years I again expressed
opinions in my casual writings on matters pertaining to that art which
so particularly interested me, it is certain that traces of what I
learned from my study of Schopenhauer's philosophy were clearly

Just then I was prompted to send the venerated philosopher a copy of my
Nibelungen poem. To its title I merely added by hand the words, 'With
Reverence,' but without writing a single word to Schopenhauer himself.

This I did partly from a feeling of great shyness in addressing him,
and partly because I felt that if the perusal of my poem did not
enlighten Schopenhauer about the man with whom he was dealing, a letter
from me, no matter how explicit, would not help him much. I also
renounced by this means the vain wish to be honoured by an autograph
letter from his hand. I learned later, however, from Karl Ritter, and
also from Dr. Wille, both of whom visited Schopenhauer in Frankfort,
that he spoke impressively and favourably of my poetry. In addition to
these studies, I continued writing the music to the Walkure. I was
living in great retirement at this time, my sole relaxation being to
take long walks in the neighbourhood, and, as usual with me when hard
at work at my music, I felt the longing to express myself in poetry.
This must have been partly due to the serious mood created by
Schopenhauer, which was trying to find ecstatic expression. It was some
such mood that inspired the conception of a Tristan und Isolde.

Karl Ritter had just laid before me a sketch for the dramatic treatment
of this subject (with which I was thoroughly acquainted through my
Dresden studies), and had thereby drawn my attention to the material
for this poem. I had already expressed my views to my young friend
about the faultiness of his sketch. He had, in fact, made a point of
giving prominence to the lighter phases of the romance, whereas it was
its all-pervading tragedy that impressed me so deeply that I felt
convinced it should stand out in bold relief, regardless of minor
details. On my return from one of my walks I jotted down the incidents
of the three acts in a concise form, with the intention of working them
out more elaborately later on. In the last act I introduced an episode,
which, however, I did not develop eventually, namely, the visit to
Tristan's deathbed by Parsifal during his search for the Holy Grail.
The picture of Tristan languishing, yet unable to die of his wound,
identified itself in my mind with Amfortas in the Romance of the Grail.

For the moment I forced myself to leave this poem on one side, and to
allow nothing to interrupt my great musical work. Meanwhile, through
the help of friends, I succeeded in bringing about a satisfactory
change in my financial position. My prospects with regard to the German
theatres also seemed brighter. Minna had been in Berlin, and through
the influence of our old friend, Alwine Frommann, had had an interview
with Herr von Hulsen, the manager of the court theatre. After losing
two years in fruitless efforts, I at last felt more certain of seeing
Tannhauser produced there without further obstacle, as it had become so
popular with all the theatres that its failure in Berlin could not
injure its reputation; it could only reflect disadvantageously on the
Berlin management.

In the beginning of November Minna returned from her journey, and
acting on the news she gave me about the production of Tannhauser in
Berlin, I allowed matters to take their course, a decision which
afterwards caused me great annoyance, as the rendering of my work was
simply wretched. I got some compensation, however, in the royalties,
which were an important and continuous source of income to me.

The Zurich Musical Society now again enlisted my interest for their
winter concerts. I promised to conduct, but only on condition that they
would give serious consideration to improving the orchestra. I had
already twice proposed the formation of a decent orchestra, and I now
sent in a third plan to the committee, in which I described in detail
how they might achieve this object at a comparatively slight outlay by
cooperation with the theatre. I told them that this winter would be the
last time that I should interest myself in their concerts unless they
entertained this very reasonable proposition. Apart from this work, I
took in hand a quartette society, made up of the soloists of the
orchestra, who were anxious to study the right interpretation of the
various quartettes I had recommended.

It was a great pleasure to me to see how soon the public patronised the
efforts of these artists, who, by the way, thus added a little extra to
their incomes for a considerable time. As far as their artistic
achievements went, the work was rather slow; the mere fact of their
being able to play their respective instruments well did not make them
at once understand the art of playing together, for which so much more
is needed than mere dynamic proportions and accents, attainable only by
the individual development of a higher artistic taste in the treatment
of the instrument by its exponent.

I was too ambitious about them, and actually taught them Beethoven's
Quartette in C sharp minor, which meant endless trouble and rehearsing.
I wrote some analytical annotations for the better appreciation of this
extraordinary work, and had them printed on the programme. Whether I
made any impression on the audience, or whether they liked the
performance, I was never able to find out. When I say that I completed
the sketch of the whole of the music to the Walkure by the 30th of
December of that year, it will suffice to prove my strenuous and active
life at that time, as well as to show that I did not allow any outside
distraction to disturb my rigorous plan of work.

In January, 1855, I began the instrumentation of the Walkure, but I was
compelled to interrupt it, owing to a promise I made to some of my
friends to give them a chance of hearing the overture to Faust, which I
had written in Paris fifteen years before. I had another look at this
composition, which had been the means of so important a change in my
musical ideas. Liszt had produced the work in Weimar a little while
before, and had written to me in very favourable terms about it, at the
same time expressing his wish that I should rewrite more elaborately
some parts that were only faintly indicated. So I immediately set to
work to rewrite the overture, conscientiously adopting my clear
friend's delicate suggestions, and I finished it as it was afterwards
published by Hartel. I taught our orchestra this overture, and did not
think the performance at all bad. My wife, however, did not like it;
she said it seemed to her 'as if nothing good could be made out of it,'
and she begged me not to have it produced in London when I went there
that year. At this time I had an extraordinary application, such as I
have never received again. In January the London Philharmonic Society
wrote asking me if I would be willing to conduct their concerts for the
season. I did not answer immediately, as I wanted to obtain some
particulars first, and was very much surprised one day to receive a
visit from a certain Mr. Anderson, a member of the committee of the
celebrated society, who had come to Zurich on purpose to ensure my

I was expected to go to London for four months to give eight concerts
for the Philharmonic Society, for which I was to receive in all L200. I
did not quite know what to do, as, from a business point of view, it
was of no advantage to me, and, as far as the conducting went, it was
not much in my line, unless I could rely on at least a few high-class
artistic productions.

One thing only struck me as favourable, and that was the prospect of
again handling a large and excellent orchestra, after having been
denied one for so long, while the fact that I had attracted the
attention of that remote world of music fascinated me exceedingly. I
felt as if fate were calling me, and at last I accepted the invitation
of this simple and amiable-looking Englishman, Mr. Anderson, who, fully
satisfied with the result of his mission, immediately left for England
wrapped in a big fur coat, whose real owner I only got to know later
on. Before following him to England, I had to free myself from a
calamity which I had brought upon myself through being too
kind-hearted. The managing director of the Zurich theatre for that
year, an obtrusive and over-zealous person, had at last made me accede
to his wish to produce Tannhauser, on the plea that as this work was
now performed at every opera house, it would be a very bad thing for
the Zurich theatre if it were the only one to be deprived of the
privilege, merely because I happened to live in the town. Besides this,
my wife interfered in the matter, and the singers who played Tannhauser
and Wolfram at once put themselves under her wing. She really
succeeded, too, in working on my humanitarian feelings with regard to
one of her proteges, a poor tenor who had been badly bullied by the
conductor till then. I took these people through their parts a few
times, and in consequence found myself obliged to attend the stage
rehearsals to superintend their performances. What it all came to in
the end was that I was driven to interfere again and again, until I
found myself at the conductor's desk, and eventually conducted the
first performance myself. I have a particularly vivid recollection of
the singer who played Elizabeth on that occasion. She had originally
taken soubrette parts, and went through her role in white kid gloves,
dangling a fan. This time I had really had enough of such concessions,
and when at the close the audience called me before the curtain, I
stood there and told my friends with great frankness that this was the
last time they would get me to do anything of the sort. I advised them
in future to look to the state of their theatre, as they had just had a
most convincing proof of its faulty construction--at which they were
all much astonished. I made a similar announcement to the
'Musikgesellschaft,' where I also conducted once more--really for the
last time--before my departure. Unfortunately, they put down my
protests to my sense of humour, and were not in the least spurred to
exert themselves, with the result that I had to be very stern and
almost rude the following winter, to deter them, once and for all, from
making further demands upon me. I thus left my former patrons in Zurich
somewhat nonplussed when I started for London on 26th February.

I travelled through Paris and spent some days there, during which time
I saw only Kietz and his friend Lindemann (whom he regarded as a quack
doctor). Arriving in London on 2nd March I first went to see Ferdinand
Prager. In his youth he had been a friend of the Rockel brothers, who
had given me a very favourable account of him. He proved to be an
unusually good-natured fellow, though of an excitability insufficiently
balanced by his standard of culture. After spending the first night at
his home, I installed myself the following day with his help in a house
in Portland Terrace, in the neighbourhood of Regent's Park, of which I
had agreeable recollections from former visits. I promised myself a
pleasant stay there in the coming spring, if only on account of its
close proximity to that part of the park where beautiful copper beeches
over-shadowed the path. But though I spent four months in London, it
seemed to me that spring never came, the foggy climate so overclouded
all the impressions I received. Prager was only too eager to escort me
when I went to pay the customary visits, including one to Costa. I was
thus introduced to the director of the Italian Opera, who was at the
same time the real leader of music in London; for he was also director
of the Sacred-Music Society, which gave almost regular weekly
performances of Handel and Mendelssohn.

Prager also took me to see his friend Sainton, the leader of the London
orchestra. After giving me a very hearty reception he told me the
remarkable history of my invitation to London. Sainton, a southern
Frenchman from Toulouse, of naive and fiery temperament, was living
with a full-blooded German musician from Hamburg, named Luders, the son
of a bandsman, of a brusque but friendly disposition. I was much
affected when I heard, later on, of the incident which had made these
two men inseparable friends. Sainton had been making a concert tour by
way of St. Petersburg, and found himself stranded at Helsingfors in
Finland, unable to get any further, pursued as he was by the demon of
ill-luck. At this moment the curious figure of the modest Hamburg
bandsman's son had accosted him on the staircase of the hotel, asking
whether he would be inclined to accept his offer of friendship and take
half of his available cash, as he (Luders) had of course noticed the
awkwardness of the other's position. From that moment the two became
inseparable friends, made concert tours in Sweden and Denmark, found
their way back in the strangest fashion to Havre, Paris, and Toulouse,
by way of Hamburg, and finally settled down in London--Sainton to take
an important post in the orchestra, while Luders got along as best he
could by the drudgery of giving lessons. Now I found them living
together in a pretty house like a married couple, each tenderly
concerned for his friend's welfare. Luders had read my essays on art,
and my Oper und Drama in particular moved him to exclaim,
'Donnerwetter, there's something in that!' Sainton pricked up his ears
at this, and when the conductor of the Philharmonic concerts (the great
Mr. Costa himself), for some unknown reason, quarrelled with the
society before the season began and refused to conduct their concerts
any longer, Sainton, to whom Mr. Anderson, the treasurer, had gone for
advice in this awkward predicament, recommended them, at Luders'
instigation, to engage me. I now heard that they had not acted upon
this suggestion at once. Only when Sainton happened to remark casually
that he had seen me conduct in Dresden did Mr. Anderson decide to make
the journey to Zurich to see me (in the fur coat lent by Sainton for
the purpose), as a result of which visit I was now here. I soon
discovered, too, that Sainton had in this case acted with the rashness
characteristic of his nation. It had never occurred to Costa that he
would be taken seriously in his statement to the Philharmonic Society,
and he was thoroughly disgusted at my appointment. As he was at the
head of the same orchestra which was at my disposal for the
Philharmonic concerts, he was able to foster an attitude of hostility
to the undertakings for which I was responsible, and even my friend
Sainton had to suffer from his animosity without actually realising the
source of the annoyance.

As time went on I saw this more plainly, while there was abundant
material for unpleasantness of every description in other quarters. In
the first place Mr. Davison, the musical critic of the Times, adopted a
most hostile attitude, and it was from this that I first realised,
clearly and definitely, the effect of my essay entitled 'Judaism in
Music.' Prager had further informed me that Davison's extremely
powerful position on the Times had accustomed him to expect every one
who came to England on business connected with music to propitiate him
by all sorts of delicate attentions. Jenny Lind was one whose
submission to these pretensions did much to ensure her popular success;
whereas Sontag considered that her rank as Countess Rossi elevated her
above such considerations. As I had been completely absorbed in the
delight of handling a good, full orchestra, with which I hoped to give
some fine performances, it was a great blow to learn that I had no
control whatever over the number of rehearsals I thought necessary for
the concerts. For each concert, which included two symphonies and
several minor pieces as well, the society's economical arrangements
allowed me only one rehearsal. Still I went on hoping that the
impression produced by the performances I conducted might even here
justify the demand for a special effort. It proved absolutely
impossible, however, to depart in any way from the beaten track, and,
realising this, I at once felt that the fulfilment of the task I had
undertaken was a terrible burden. At the first concert we played
Beethoven's Eroica, and my success as a conductor seemed so marked that
the committee of the society were evidently prepared to make a special
effort for the second. They demanded selections from my own
compositions as well as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and conceded me two
rehearsals as an exceptional favour. This concert went off quite
passably. I had drawn up an explanatory programme for my Lohengrin
Overture, but the words 'Holy Grail' and 'God' were struck out with
great solemnity, as that sort of thing was not allowed at secular
concerts. I had to content myself with the chorus from the Italian
Opera for the symphony, besides putting up with a baritone whose
English phlegm and Italian training drove me to despair at the
rehearsal. All I understood of the English version of the text was,
'Hail thee joy' for Freudeschoner Gotterfunken. The Philharmonic
Society appeared to have staked everything on the success of this
concert, which, in fact, left nothing to be desired. They were
accordingly horrified when the Times reporter fell on this performance,
too, with furious contempt and disparagement. They appealed to Prager
to persuade me to offer Mr. Davison some attentions, or at least to
agree to meet that gentleman and be properly introduced to him at a
banquet to be arranged by Mr. Anderson. But Prager now knew me well
enough to dash their hopes of obtaining any concession of that sort
from me. The banquet fell through, and, as I saw later, the society
began from that time forward to regret my appointment, realising that
they had an entirely intractable and pig-headed person to deal with.

As the Easter holidays began after the second concert, thereby
involving a long pause, I asked my friend's advice as to whether it
would not be more sensible to give up the whole thing--this
conductorship of the Philharmonic concerts which I had so soon
discovered to be a foolish and fruitless undertaking--and go quietly
back to Zurich. Prager assured me that the execution of this resolve
would in no wise be regarded as a reflection on the situation, but
simply as a deplorable piece of rudeness on my part, and that the
principal sufferers would be my friends. This decided me, and I
stayed--without, it is true, any hope of giving a fresh impetus to
musical life in London. The only stimulating incident occurred on the
occasion of the seventh concert, which was the evening chosen by the
Queen for her annual visit to these functions. She expressed a wish
through her husband, Prince Albert, to hear the Tannhauser Overture.
The presence of the court certainly lent a pleasing air of ceremony to
the evening, and I had, too, the pleasure of a fairly animated
conversation with Queen Victoria and her Consort in response to their
command. The question arose of putting my operas on the stage, and
Prince Albert objected that Italian singers would never be able to
interpret my music. I was amused when the Queen met this objection by
saying that, after all, a great many Italian singers were really
Germans. All this made a good impression and, it was obvious, served as
a demonstration in my favour, without, however, influencing the real
situation to any appreciable extent. The leading papers still
announced, as before, that every concert I conducted was a fiasco.
Ferdinand Hiller actually thought himself justified in proclaiming, for
the consolation of his friends, that my day in London was coming to an
end, and that my banishment was practically a certainty. This was on
the occasion of the Rhenish Musical Festival, which was held at that
time. As a set-off against this I reaped great satisfaction from a
scene which took place at the close of the eighth and last concert
which I conducted--one of those strange scenes which now and again
result from the long-suppressed emotion of those concerned. The members
of the orchestra had at once realised, after my successes, the
advisability of avoiding any expression of sympathy with me if they
wished to keep in good odour with their real though unacknowledged
chief, Mr. Costa, and save themselves from a possible speedy dismissal
at his hands. This was the explanation given me when the signs of
appreciation, which I had become accustomed to receive from the players
in the course of our work together, suddenly ceased. Now, however, at
the end of the series their suppressed feelings burst forth, and they
crowded round me on all sides with deafening cheers, while the
audience, who usually left the hall noisily before the end, likewise
formed up in enthusiastic groups and surrounded me, cheering warmly and
pressing my hand. Thus both players and listeners combined to make my
farewell a scene of cordiality which could hardly be surpassed.

But it was the personal relations which grew out of my stay in London
that provided the strangest aspect of my life there.

Immediately after my arrival, Karl Klindworth, a young pupil of Liszt,
who had been recommended to me as particularly gifted, came to see me.
He became a faithful and intimate friend, not only during my stay in
London, but ever after. Young as he was, the short time he had spent in
London had sufficed to give him an opinion of English musical life, the
justice of which I was soon compelled to admit, terrible though it was.
Incapable of adapting himself to the curiously organised English
musical cliques, he at once lost all reasonable prospect or hope of
meeting with the recognition due to his talent. He resigned himself to
making his way through the dreary wastes of English musical life solely
by giving lessons like a day-labourer, being too proud to pay the
smallest attentions to the ruling critics, who had fallen on him
immediately as a pupil of Liszt. He was really an excellent musician,
and in addition a distinguished pianist. He immediately approached me
with the request to be allowed to make a pianoforte arrangement of the
score of Rheingold, for the use only of virtuosi of the first rank.
Unfortunately, he was overtaken by a tedious illness, which robbed me
for a long time of the desired intercourse with him.

Although Prager and his wife stood by me with great constancy, my real
centre of intimacy was the original Sainton-Luders' household. I had a
standing invitation to dine with them, and I found occasion, with few
exceptions, to take my meals with these friends, whose devotion
surpassed that of all the others. It was here that I generally found
relaxation from the unpleasantness of my business relations in London.
Prager was often present, and we frequently took an evening stroll
through the foggy streets. On such occasions Ludors would fortify us
against the inclemency of the London climate by an excellent punch
which he could prepare under any conditions. Only once did we get
separated, and that was in the terrific crowd that accompanied the
Emperor Napoleon from St. James's Palace to Covent Garden Theatre one
evening. He had come over to London with his Consort, on a visit to
Queen Victoria, during the critical stage of the Crimean War, and the
Londoners gaped at him as he passed no less greedily than other nations
are apt to do under similar circumstances. It so befell that I was
taken for a pushing sightseer, and proportionately punished by blows in
the ribs when I was crossing the road to try and get into Regent Street
from the Haymarket. This caused me much amusement, on account of the
obvious misunderstanding.

The grave annoyances which arose, partly from the peculiarly momentous
quarrel between Sainton and Mr. Anderson (instigated by Costa), and
which deprived me of every possibility of obtaining any influence over
the society, were productive, on the other hand, of some amusing
experiences. Anderson had, it seemed, succeeded in elevating himself to
the post of conductor of the Queen's band, through the influence of the
Queen's private coachman. As he possessed absolutely no knowledge of
music, the annual court concert which he had to conduct became a very
feast of absurdity to the unruly Sainton, and I heard some very funny
stories about it. Another thing brought to light in the course of these
imbroglios was that Mrs. Anderson, whom I had christened Charlemagne on
account of her great corpulency, had appropriated to herself, among
other things, the office and salary of a court trumpeter. I soon
arrived at the conviction, from these and other similar reports, that
my lively friend would be beaten by this snug little clique in the war
of disclosures, and was able subsequently to see the decision go
against him at the point when either he or Anderson had to give way.
This confirmed my idea that in this free country of England, things
were managed in much the same way as elsewhere.

The arrival of Berlioz made a very important addition to our little
company. He, too, had been brought over to London, to conduct two of
the New Philharmonic Society's concerts. The society had appointed as
ordinary conductor, by whose recommendation I could never discover, a
certain Dr. Wilde, a typical chubby-faced Englishman, remarkably
good-natured, but ludicrously incompetent. He had taken some special
lessons in conducting from the Stuttgart conductor, Lindpaintner, who
had trained him up to the point of at least attempting to catch up the
orchestra with his beat, the orchestra itself going its own way
entirely. I heard a Beethoven symphony performed in this fashion, and
was surprised to hear the audience break into precisely the same
applause with which it greeted one of my own strictly accurate and
really fiery performances. To lend distinction to these concerts,
however, they had, as I said, invited Berlioz over for some of them. I
thus heard him conduct some classical works, such as a Mozart symphony,
and was amazed to find a conductor, who was so energetic in the
interpretation of his own compositions, sink into the commonest rut of
the vulgar time-beater. Certain of his own compositions, such as the
more effective fragments from the Romeo and Juliet Symphony, again made
a particular impression on me, it is true; but I was now more
consciously awake to the curious weaknesses which disfigure even the
finest conceptions of this extraordinary musician than on those earlier
occasions, when I only had a sense of general discomfort adequate to
the magnitude of the impression.

I felt much stimulated, however, on the two or three occasions when
Sainton invited me to dine with Berlioz. I was now brought face to face
with this strangely gifted person, tormented and even blunted in some
respects as he then was. When I saw him, a man considerably my senior,
coming here merely in the hope of earning a few guineas, I could deem
myself perfectly happy, and almost floating on air, by contrast; for my
own coming had been brought about rather by a desire for distraction, a
craving for outward inspiration. His whole being expressed weariness
and despair, and I was suddenly seized with deep sympathy for this man
whose talent so far surpassed that of his rivals--for this was clear as
daylight to me. Berlioz seemed to be pleasantly affected by the
attitude of gay spontaneity I adopted with him. His usual short, almost
reserved, manner thawed visibly during the friendly hours we passed
together. He told me many comical things about Meyerbeer, and the
impossibility of escaping from his flattery, which was dictated by his
insatiable thirst for laudatory articles. The first performance of his
Prophet had been preceded by the customary diner de la veille, and when
Berlioz excused himself for staying away, Meyerbeer first reproached
him tenderly, then challenged him to make good the great injustice he
had done him, by writing 'a real nice article' about his opera. Berlioz
declared it was impossible to get anything detrimental to Meyerbeer
inserted in a Paris paper.

I found it less easy to discuss with him matters of a more profound
artistic nature, as I invariably came up against the real Frenchman
then, who, fluent and glib of tongue, was so sure of himself that it
never occurred to him to doubt whether he had understood his companions
aright. Once, in a pleasant glow of inspiration (having suddenly
mastered the French language, to my own great surprise), I tried to
express to him my idea of the 'artistic conception.' I endeavoured to
describe the powerful effect of vital impressions on the temperament,
how they hold us captive, as it were, until we rid ourselves of them by
the unique development of our inmost spiritual visions, which are not
called forth by these impressions, but only roused by them from their
deep slumber. The artistic structure, therefore, appears to us as in no
wise a result of, but, on the contrary, a liberation from, the vital
impressions. At this point Berlioz smiled in a patronising,
comprehensive way, and said: 'Nous appelons cela: digerer.' My
amazement at this prompt summing-up of my laboured communications was
further justified by my new friend's outward behaviour. I invited him
to be present at my last concert, and also at a small farewell feast
which I was giving at home to my few friends after it. He soon left the
table, saying that he felt unwell, but the friends who were left made
no secret to me of their belief that Berlioz had been put out of humour
by the exceedingly enthusiastic farewell with which the audience had
parted from me.

The total harvest, however, of acquaintances I made in London was not
particularly profitable. I took pleasure in the society of Mr.
Ellerton, a dignified, agreeable man, the brother-in-law of Lord
Brougham--a poet, a music-lover, and, alas! a composer. He asked to be
introduced to me at one of the Philharmonic concerts, and did not
hesitate to tell me that he welcomed me to London because it seemed
likely that I was destined to check the exaggerated Mendelssohn
worship. He was also the only Englishman who honoured me by any
hospitality, and by entertaining myself and my friends at the
University Club, gave me an opportunity of realising the munificence of
such an establishment in London. After we had spent a very agreeable
time there, I had a glimpse of the weaker side of English hospitalities
of this order, though the incident was friendly enough. My host had to
be taken home by two men, one holding each arm, quite as a matter of
course, as it was obvious that he would not have got far across the
road without this help.

I made the acquaintance, too, of a curious man, an old-fashioned but
very friendly composer named Potter. I had to play a symphony of his,
which entertained me by its modest dimensions and its neat development
of counterpoint, the more so as the composer, a friendly elderly
recluse, clung to me with almost distressing humility. I had positively
to force him into accepting the right tempo for the Andante in his
symphony, thus proving to him that it was really pretty and
interesting. He had so little faith in his work, that he considered the
only way to avoid the danger of boring people with it was to rattle
through it at a disgraceful speed. He really beamed with delight and
gratitude when I secured him great applause by taking this very Andante
at my own time.

I got on less well with a Mr. MacFarrine, a pompous, melancholy
Scotsman, whose compositions, I was assured, were held in high esteem
by the committee of the Philharmonic Society. He seemed too proud to
discuss the interpretation of any of his works with me, and I was
therefore relieved when a symphony of his, which did not appeal to me,
was laid aside, the substitute chosen being an overture entitled the
Steeple-chase, which I enjoyed playing, on account of its peculiarly
wild, passionate character.

My acquaintance with Beneke (a merchant) and his family was attended by
much awkwardness. Wesendonck had given me a letter of recommendation to
them, so that I should at least have one 'house' to go to in London. I
had to travel a full German mile to Camberwell in response to their
invitations, only to discover that I had dropped into the very family
whose house Mendelssohn had made his home when in London. The good
people did not know what to do with me, apart from congratulating me on
the excellence of my Mendelssohn performances, and rewarding me with
descriptions of the generous character of the deceased.

Howard, the secretary of the Philharmonic Society, a worthy and
agreeable old man, was another person (the only one, he believed) in
the circle of my English acquaintances who took the trouble to
entertain me. I had to go once or twice to the Italian Opera at Covent
Garden with his daughter. There I heard Fidelio, given in rather
grotesque fashion by unclean Germans and voiceless Italians, and with
recitatives. I consequently managed to evade paying frequent visits to
this theatre. When I went to say good-bye to Mr. Howard on leaving
London, I was surprised to meet Meyerbeer at his house. He had just
arrived in London to conduct his Nordstern. As I saw him come in it
occurred to me immediately that Howard, whom I had only known as the
secretary of the Philharmonic Society, was also the musical critic of
the Illustrated London News; it was in the latter capacity that the
great operatic composer had called upon him. Meyerbeer was absolutely
paralysed when he saw me, and this put me into such a frame of mind
that we found it impossible to exchange a word. Mr. Howard, who had
felt sure that we were acquainted, was much surprised at this, and
asked me as I was leaving whether I did not know Meyerbeer. I answered
that he had better ask Meyerbeer. On meeting Howard again that evening,
I was assured that Meyerbeer had spoken of me in terms of the highest
praise. I then suggested his reading certain numbers of the Paris
Gazette musicale, in which Fetis had, some time before, given a less
favourable interpretation of Meyerbeer's views about me. Howard shook
his head, and could not understand how two such GREAT COMPOSERS could
meet in so strange a manner.

A visit from my old friend Hermann Franck was a pleasant surprise. He
was then staying at Brighton, and had come up to London for a few days.
We conversed a great deal, and I had to make a considerable effort to
put him right in his ideas about me, as he had heard the most wonderful
reports from German musicians during the last few years in which our
intercourse had been broken off. He was astonished, in the first place,
to find me in London, where he considered it impossible for me ever to
find a suitable field for my musical tendencies. I did not understand
what he meant by my 'tendencies,' but I told him quite simply how I
came to accept the invitation of the Philharmonic Society, and that I
proposed to fulfil my contract for this year's concerts, and then to go
back to my work at Zurich without further ceremony. This sounded quite
different to the state of things he had imagined, for he had felt bound
to conclude that I proposed to create a stronghold in London from which
to conduct a war of extermination against the whole race of German
musicians. This was the unanimous explanation of my intentions which he
had heard in Germany. Nothing could be more astounding, he said, than
the surprising incongruity between the fictitious form in which I
appeared to these people, and my real nature, which he had recognised
at once on seeing me again. We joked about this, and came to a closer
understanding. I was glad to see that he valued as much as I did the
works of Schopenhauer, which had become known in the last few years. He
expressed his opinion of them with singular decision; he considered
that German intellect was destined, either to complete deterioration,
in conjunction with the national political situation, or else to an
equally complete regeneration, in which Schopenhauer would play his
part. He left me--soon to meet his terrible and not less inexplicable
fate. Only a few months later, after my return home, I heard of his
mysterious death. He was staying, as I said, at Brighton, for the
purpose of putting his son, a boy of about sixteen, into the English
navy. I had noticed that the son's obstinate determination to serve in
this force was repugnant to his father. On the morning of the day on
which the ship was to sail, the father's body was found shattered in
the street, as the result of a fall from the window, while the son was
found lifeless--apparently strangled--on his bed. The mother had died
some years previously, and there was no one left to give information as
to the terrible occurrence, which, so far as I know, has never to this
day been cleared up. Franck had, out of forgetfulness, left a map of
London behind on his visit to me; this I kept, as I did not know his
address, and it is still in my possession.

I have pleasanter, though not entirely unclouded, recollections of my
relations with Semper, whom I also met in London, where he had been
settled for some time with his family. He had always seemed to me so
violent and morose when in Dresden that I was surprised and moved to
admiration by the comparatively calm and resigned spirit with which he
bore the terrible interruption to his professional career, and by his
readiness to adapt his talent (which was of an unusually productive
order) to the circumstances in which he was placed. Commissions for
large buildings were out of the question for him in England, but he set
his hopes, to a certain extent, on the patronage accorded him by Prince
Albert, as this gave him some prospects for the future. For the time
being he contented himself with commissions to design decorations for
interiors and luxurious furniture, for which he was well paid. He took
to this work as seriously, from an artistic point of view, as if it had
been a large building. We often met, and I also spent a few evenings at
his house in Kensington, when we invariably dropped into the old vein
of strange, serious humour that helped us to forget the seamy side of
life. The report I was able to give of Semper after my return home did
much to influence Sulzer in his successful attempt to get him over to
Zurich to build the new Polytechnic.

On various occasions I also visited some not uninteresting theatres in
London, strictly avoiding opera-houses, of course. I was most attracted
by the little Adelphi Theatre in the Strand, and I frequently made
Prager and Luders go with me. They acted some dramatised fairy-tales
there under the title of Christmas. One of the performances interested
me particularly because it consisted of a subtly connected
conglomeration of the most familiar tales, played straight through,
with no break at the end of the acts. It began with 'The Goose that
laid the Golden Eggs,' and was transformed into 'The Three Wishes';
this passed into 'Red Riding Hood' (with the wolf changed into a
cannibal who sang a very comical little couplet), and finished as
'Cinderella,' varied with other ingredients. These pieces were in every
respect excellently mounted and played, and I gained a very good notion
there of the imaginative fare in which the English people can find
amusement. I found the performances at the Olympic Theatre less simple
and innocent. Besides witty drawing-room pieces in the French style,
which were very well played there, they acted fairy-tales such as the
Yellow Dwarf, in which Hobson, an uncommonly popular actor, took the
grotesque title-role. I saw the same actor again in a little comedy
called Garrick Fever, in which he ends by representing a drunken man
who, when people insisted on taking him for Garrick, undertook the part
of Hamlet in this condition. I was greatly astonished by many
audacities in his acting on this occasion.

A small out-of-the-way theatre in Marylebone was just then trying to
attract the public by Shakespeare's plays. I attended a performance of
the Merry Wives there, which really amazed me by its correctness and
precision. Even a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Haymarket
Theatre impressed me favourably, in spite of the great inferiority of
the company, on account of its accuracy and of the scenic arrangements,
which were no doubt an inheritance from the Garrick tradition. But I
still remember a curious illusion in connection with this: after the
first act I told Luders, who was with me, how surprised I was at their
giving the part of Romeo to an old man, whose age must at least be
sixty, and who seemed anxious to retrieve his long-lost youth by
laboriously adopting a sickly-sweet, feminine air. Luders looked at the
programme again, and cried, 'Donnerwetter, it's a woman!' It was the
once famous American, Miss Cushman.

In spite of every effort, I found it impossible to obtain a seat for
Henry VIII at the Princess's Theatre. This play had been organised
according to the new stage realism, and enjoyed an incredible vogue as
a gorgeous spectacular piece, mounted with unusual care.

In the province of music, with which I was more concerned, I have still
to mention several of the Sacred-Music Society's concerts, which I
attended in the large room at Exeter Hall. The oratorios given there
nearly every week have, it must be admitted, the advantage of the great
confidence which arises from frequent repetition. Neither could I
refuse to recognise the great precision of the chorus of seven hundred
voices, which reached quite a respectable standard on a few occasions,
particularly in Handel's Messiah. It was here that I came to understand
the true spirit of English musical culture, which is bound up with the
spirit of English Protestantism. This accounts for the fact that an
oratorio attracts the public far more than an opera. A further
advantage is secured by the feeling among the audience that an evening
spent in listening to an oratorio may be regarded as a sort of service,
and is almost as good as going to church. Every one in the audience
holds a Handel piano score in the same way as one holds a prayer-book
in church. These scores are sold at the box-office in shilling
editions, and are followed most diligently--out of anxiety, it seemed
to me, not to miss certain points solemnly enjoyed by the whole
audience. For instance, at the beginning of the 'Hallelujah Chorus' it
is considered proper for every one to rise from his seat. This
movement, which probably originated in an expression of enthusiasm, is
now carried out at each performance of the Messiah with painful

All these recollections, however, are merged in the all-absorbing
memory of almost uninterrupted ill-health, caused primarily, no doubt,
by the state of the London climate at that season of the year, which is
notorious all over the world. I had a perpetual cold, and I therefore
followed the advice of my friends to take a heavy English diet by way
of resisting the effect of the air, but this did not improve matters in
the least. For one thing, I could not get my home sufficiently warmed
through, and the work that I had brought with me was the first thing to
suffer. The instrumentation of the Walkure, which I had hoped to finish
off here, only advanced a paltry hundred pages. I was hindered in this
principally by the circumstance that the sketches from which I had to
work on the instrumentation had been written down without considering
the extent to which a prolonged interruption of my working humour might
affect the coherence of the sketch. How often did I sit before those
pencilled pages as if they had been unfamiliar hieroglyphics which I
was incapable of deciphering! In absolute despair I plunged into Dante,
making for the first time a serious effort to read him. The Inferno,
indeed, became a never-to-be-forgotten reality in that London

But at last came the hour of deliverance from even those evils which I
had brought upon myself by my last assumption that I might be accepted,
not to say wanted, in the great world. The sole consolation I had was
in the deep emotion of my new friends when I took leave of them. I
hurried home by way of Paris, which was clothed in its summer glory,
and saw people really promenading again, instead of pushing through the
streets on business. And so I returned to Zurich, full of cheerful
impressions, on the 30th of June, my net profits being exactly one
thousand francs.

My wife had an idea of taking up her sour-milk cure again on the
Selisberg by Lake Lucerne, and as I thought mountain air would be good
for my impaired health also, we decided to move there at once. Our
project suffered a brief delay through the fatal illness of my dog
Peps. As the result of old age in his thirteenth year, he suddenly
exhibited such weakness that we became apprehensive of taking him up
the Selisberg, for he could not have borne the fatigue of the ascent.
In a few days his agony became alarmingly acute. He grew stupid, and
had frequent convulsions, his only conscious act being to get up often
from his bed (which was in my wife's room, as he was usually under her
care) and stumble as far as my writing-table, where he sank down again
in exhaustion. The veterinary surgeon said he could do no more, and as
the convulsions gradually became terribly acute, I was advised to
shorten the poor animal's cruel agony and free him from his pain by a
little prussic acid. We delayed our departure on his account until I at
last convinced myself that a quick death would be charity to the poor
suffering creature, who was quite past all hope. I hired a boat, and
took an hour's row across the lake to visit a young doctor of my
acquaintance named Obrist, who had, I knew, come into possession of a
village apothecary's stock, which included various poisons. From him I
obtained a deadly dose, which I carried home across the lake in my
solitary skiff on an exquisite summer evening. I was determined only to
resort to this last expedient in case the poor brute were in extremity.
He slept that last night as usual in his basket by my bedside, his
invariable habit being to wake me with his paws in the morning. I was
suddenly roused by his groans, caused by a particularly violent attack
of convulsions; he then sank back without a sound; and I was so
strangely moved by the significance of the moment that I immediately
looked at my watch to impress on my memory the hour at which my
extraordinarily devoted little friend died; it was ten minutes past one
on the 10th of July. We devoted the next day to his burial, and shed
bitter tears over him. Frau Stockar-Escher, our landlady, made over to
us a pretty little plot in her garden, and there we buried him, with
his basket and cushions. His grave was shown me many years after, but
the last time I went to look at the little garden I found that
everything had undergone an elegant transformation, and there were no
longer any signs of Pep's grave.

At last we really started for the Selisberg, accompanied this time only
by the new parrot--a substitute for good old Papo--from the Kreutzberg
menagerie, which I had bought for my wife the year before. This one was
a very good and intelligent bird also, but I left him entirely to
Minna, treating him with invariable kindness, but never making a friend
of him. Fortunately for us, our stay in the glorious air of this summer
resort, of which we had grown very fond, was favoured by continuous
fine weather. I devoted all my leisure, apart from my lonely walks, to
making a fair copy of that part of the Walkure which was fully scored,
and also took up my favourite reading again--the study of Schopenhauer.
I had the pleasure of receiving a charming letter from Berlioz,
together with Les Soirees de l'Orchestre, his new book, which I found
inspiriting to read, although the author's taste for the grotesque was
as foreign to me here as in his compositions. Here, too, I met young
Robert von Hornstein again, who proved himself a pleasant and
intelligent companion. I was particularly interested in his quick and
evidently successful plunge into the study of Schopenhauer. He informed
me that he proposed to settle for some time in Zurich, where Karl
Ritter, too, had decided to take permanent winter quarters for his
young wife and himself.

In the middle of August we returned to Zurich ourselves, and I was able
to devote myself steadily to completing the instrumentation of the
Walkure, while my relations with former acquaintances remained much the
same. From outside I received news of the steady persistence with which
my Tannhauser was, little by little, being propagated in German
theatres. Lohengrin, too, followed in its steps, though without a first
meeting with an entirely favourable reception. Franz Dingelstedt, who
was at the time manager of the court theatre at Munich, undertook to
introduce Tannhauser there, although, thanks to Lachner, the place was
not prepossessed in my favour. He seemed to have managed it fairly
well; its success, however, according to him, was not so great as to
allow of my promised fee being punctually paid. But my income, owing to
the conscientious stewardship of my friend Sulzer, was now sufficient
to permit me to work without anxiety on that account. But I met with a
new vexation when colder weather set in. I suffered from innumerable
attacks of erysipelas during the whole winter, each fresh attack (in
consequence of some tiny error of diet, or of the least cold) being
attended by violent pain. It was obviously the result of the ill
effects of the London climate. What pained me most was the frequent
interruption of my work on this account. The most I could do was to
read when the illness was taking its course. Burnouff's Introduction a
l'Histoire du Bouddhisme interested me most among my books, and I found
material in it for a dramatic poem, which has stayed in my mind ever
since, though only vaguely sketched. I may still perhaps work it out. I
gave it the title of Die Sieger. It was founded on the simple legend of
a Tschantala girl, who is received into the dignified order of beggars
known as Clakyamouni, and, through her exceedingly passionate and
purified love for Ananda, the chief disciple of Buddha, herself gains
merit. Besides the underlying beauty of this simple material, a curious
relation between it and the subsequent development of my musical
experience influenced my selection. For to the mind of Buddha the past
life (in a former incarnation) of every being who appears before him
stands revealed as plainly as the present; and this simple story has
its significance, as showing that the past life of the suffering hero
and heroine is bound up with the immediate present in this life. I saw
at once that the continuous reminiscence in the music of this double
existence might perfectly well be presented to the emotions, and I
decided accordingly to keep in prospect the working out of this poem as
a particularly congenial task.

I had thus two new subjects stamped on my imagination, Tristan and Die
Sieger; with these I was constantly occupied from this time onwards,
together with my great work, the Nibelungen, the unfinished portion of
which was still of gigantic dimensions. The more these projects
absorbed me, the more did I writhe with impatience at the perpetual
interruptions of my work by these loathsome attacks of illness. About
this time Liszt proposed to pay me a visit that had been postponed in
the summer, but I had to ask him not to come, as I could not be
certain, after my late experiences, of not being tied to a sick-bed
during the few days he would be able to give me. Thus I spent the
winter, calm and resigned in my productive moments, but moody and
irritable towards the outside world, and consequently a source of some
anxiety to my friends. I was glad, however, when Karl Ritter's arrival
in Zurich allowed him to become more intimate with me again. By his
selecting Zurich as a settled home, for the winter months, at any rate,
he showed his devotion to me in a way that did me good, and wiped out
more than one bad impression. Hornstein had actually managed to come
too, but could not stay. He declared he was so nervous that he could
not touch a note of the piano, and made no attempt to deny that the
fact of his mother's having died insane made him very much afraid of
going mad himself. Although this in a way made him interesting, his
intellectual gifts were marred by such weakness of character, that we
were soon reduced to thinking him fairly hopeless, and we were not
inconsolable when he suddenly left Zurich.

My circle had gained considerably of late by the addition of a new
acquaintance, Gottfried Keller, a native of Zurich, who had just
returned to the welcoming arms of his affectionate fellow-townsmen from
Germany, where his writings had brought him some fame. Several of his
works--in particular, a longish novel, Der Grune Heinrich--had been
recommended to me in favourable though not exaggerated terms by Sulzer.
I was therefore surprised to find him a person of extraordinarily shy
and awkward demeanour. Every one felt anxious about his prospects on
first becoming acquainted with him, and it was indeed this question of
his future that was the difficulty. Although everything he wrote showed
great original talent, it was obvious at once that they were merely
efforts in the direction of artistic development, and the inevitable
inquiry arose as to what was to follow and really establish his fame. I
kept continually asking him what he was going to do next. In reply he
would mention all sorts of fully matured schemes, which would none of
them hold water on closer acquaintance. Luckily a government post was
eventually found for him (from patriotic considerations, it
seemed),--where he no doubt did good service, although his literary
activity seemed to lie fallow after his early efforts.

Herwegh, another friend of longer standing, was less fortunate. I had
worried myself for a long time about him too, trying to think that his
previous efforts were merely introductions to really serious artistic
achievements. He admitted himself that he felt his best was still to
come. It seemed to him that he had all the material--crowds of
'ideas'--in reserve for a great poetical work; there was nothing
wanting but the 'frame' in which he could paint it all, and this is
what he hoped, from day to day, to find. As I grew tired of waiting for
it, I set about trying to find the longed-for frame for him myself. He
evidently wished to evolve an epic poem on a large scale, in which to
embody the views he had acquired. As he had once alluded to Dante's
luck in finding a subject like the pilgrimage through hell and
purgatory into paradise, it occurred to me to suggest, for the desired
frame, the Brahman myth of Metempsychosis, which in Plato's version
comes within reach of our classical education. He did not think it a
bad idea, and I accordingly took some trouble to define the form such a
poem would take. He was to decide upon three acts, each containing
three songs, which would make nine songs in all. The first act would
show his hero in the Asiatic country of his birth; the second, his
reincarnation in Greece and Rome; the third, his reincarnation in the
Middle Ages and in modern times. All this pleased him very much, and he
thought, it might come to something. Not so my cynical friend, Dr.
Wille, who had an estate in the country where we often met in the bosom
of his family. He was of opinion that we expected far too much of
Herwegh. Viewed at close quarters he was, after all, only a young
Swabian who had received a far larger share of honour and glory than
his abilities warranted, through the Jewish halo thrown around him by
his wife. In the end I had to shrug my shoulders in silent acquiescence
with these hopelessly unkind remarks, as I could, of course, see poor
Herwegh sinking into deeper apathy every year, until in the end he
seemed incapable of doing anything.

Semper's arrival in Zurich, which had at last taken place, enlivened
our circle considerably. The Federal authorities had asked me to use my
influence with Semper to induce him to accept a post as teacher at the
Federal Polytechnic. Semper came over at once to have a look at the
establishment first, and was favourably impressed with everything. He
even found cause for delight, when out walking, in the unclipped trees,
'where one might light upon a caterpillar again,' he said, and decided
definitely to migrate to Zurich, and thus brought himself and his
family permanently into my circle of acquaintance. True, he had small
prospect of commissions for large buildings, and considered himself
doomed to play the schoolmaster for ever. He was, however, in the
throes of writing a great work on art, which, after various mishaps and
a change of publisher, he brought out later under the title, Der Styl.
I often found him engaged with the drawings for illustrating this book;
he drew them himself very neatly on stone, and grew so fond of the work
that he declared the smallest detail in his drawing interested him far
more than the big clumsy architectural jobs.

From this time forward, in accordance with my manifesto, I would have
nothing whatever to do with the 'Musikgesellschaft,' neither did I ever
conduct a public performance in Zurich again. The members of this
society could not at first be brought to believe that I was in earnest,
and I was obliged to bring it home to them by a categorical
explanation, in which I dwelt on their slackness and their disregard of
my urgent proposals for the establishment of a decent orchestra. The
excuse I invariably received was, that although there was money enough
among the musical public, yet every one fought shy of heading the
subscription list with a definite sum, because of the tiresome
notoriety they would win among the towns-people. My old friend, Herr
Ott-Imhof, assured me that it would not embarrass him in the least to
pay ten thousand francs a year to a cause of that sort, but that from
that moment every one would demand why he was spending his income in
that way. It would rouse such a commotion that he might easily be
brought to account about the administration of his property. This
called to my mind Goethe's exclamation at the beginning of his Erste
Schweizer Briefe. So my musical activities at Zurich ceased definitely
from that time.

[Footnote:  This doubtless refers to the following passage: 'And the
Swiss call themselves free! These smug bourgeois shut up in their
little towns, these poor devils on their precipices and rocks, call
themselves free! Is there any limit at all to what one can make people
believe and cherish, provided that one preserves the old fable of
"Freedom" in spirits of wine for them? Once upon a time they rid
themselves of a tyrant and thought themselves free. Then, thanks to the
glorious sun, a singular transformation occurred, and out of the corpse
of their late oppressor a host of minor tyrants arose. Now they
continue to relate the old fable; on all sides it is drummed into one's
ears ad nauseam--they have thrown off the yoke of the despot and have
remained free. And there they are, ensconsed behind their walls and
imprisoned in their customs, their laws, the opinion of their
neighbours, and their Philistine suburbanism' (Goethe's Werke, Briefe
aus der Schweiz, Erste Abteilung.)--Editor]

On the other hand, I occasionally had music at home. Neat and precious
copies of Klindworth's pianoforte score of Rheingold, as well as of
some acts of the Walkure, lay ready to hand, and Baumgartner was the
first who was set down to see what he could make of the atrociously
difficult arrangement. Later on we found that Theodor Kirchner, a
musician who had settled at Winterthur and frequently visited Zurich,
was better able to play certain bits of the pianoforte score. The wife
of Heim, the head of the Glee Society, with whom we were both on
friendly terms, was pressed into the service to sing the parts for
female voices when I attempted to play some of the vocal parts. She had
a really fine voice and a warm tone, and had been the only soloist at
the big performances in 1853; only she was thoroughly unmusical, and I
had hard work to make her keep in tune, and it was even more difficult
to get the time right. Still, we achieved something, and my friends had
an occasional foretaste of my Nibelungen music.

But I had to exercise great moderation here too, as every excitement
threatened to bring on a return of erysipelas. A little party of us
were at Karl Ritter's one evening, when I hit upon the idea of reading
aloud Hoffmann's Der Goldene Topf. I did not notice that the room was
getting gradually cooler, but before I had finished my reading I found
myself, to every one's horror, with a swollen, red nose, and had to
trail laboriously home to tend the malady, which exhausted me terribly
every time. During these periods of suffering I became more and more
absorbed in developing the libretto of Tristan, whereas my intervals of
convalescence were devoted to the score of the Walkure, at which I
toiled diligently but laboriously, completing the fair copy in March of
that year (1856). But my illness and the strain of work had reduced me
to a state of unusual irritability, and I can remember how extremely
bad-tempered I was when our friends the Wesendoncks came in that
evening to pay a sort of congratulatory visit on the completion of my
score. I expressed my opinion of this way of sympathising with my work
with such extraordinary bitterness that the poor insulted visitors
departed abruptly in great consternation, and it took many
explanations, which I had great difficulty in making, to atone for the
insult as the days went on. My wife came out splendidly on this
occasion in her efforts to smooth things over. A special tie between
her and our friends had been formed by the introduction of a very
friendly little dog into our house, which had been obtained by the
Wesendoncks as a successor to my good old Peps. He proved such a good
and ingratiating animal that he soon gained my wife's tender affection,
while I, too, always felt very kindly towards him. This time I left the
choice of a name to my wife, however, and she invented, apparently as a
pendant to Peps, the name Fips, which I was quite willing for him to
have. But he was always more my wife's friend, as, despite my great
sense of justice, which made me recognise the excellence of these
animals, I never was able to become so attached to them as to Peps and

About the time of my birthday I had a visit from my old friend
Tichatschek of Dresden, who remained faithful to his devotion and
enthusiasm for me--as far as so uncultured a person was capable of such
emotions. On the morning of my birthday I was awakened in a touching
way by the strains of my beloved Adagio from Beethoven's E minor
Quartette. My wife had invited the musicians in whom I took a special
interest for this occasion, and they had, with subtle delicacy, chosen
the very piece of which I had once spoken with such great emotion. At
our party in the evening Tichatschek sang several things from
Lohengrin, and really amazed us all by the brilliancy of voice he still
preserved. He had also succeeded, by perseverance, in overcoming the
irresolution of the Dresden management, due to their subserviency to
the court, with regard to further performances of my operas. They were
now being given there again, with great success and to full houses. I
took a slight cold on an excursion which we made with our visitor to
Brunnen on Lake Lucerne, and thus brought on my thirteenth attack of
erysipelas. One of the terrible southern gales, which make it
impossible to heat the rooms at Brunnen, made my sufferings this time
more acute, added to the fact that I went through with the excursion,
in spite of my painful condition, rather than spoil our guest's
pleasure by turning back sooner. I was still in bed when Tichatschek
left, and I decided at least to try a change of air in the south,
because this dreadful malady seemed to me to haunt the locality of
Zurich. I chose the Lake of Geneva, and decided to look out for a
well-situated country resort in the neighbourhood of Geneva or
thereabouts, where I could start on a cure which my Zurich doctor had
prescribed. I therefore started for Geneva in the beginning of June.
Fips, who was to accompany me into my rural retreat, caused me great
anxiety on the journey; I nearly changed my destination, on account of
an attempt to dislodge him from my carriage in the train for part of
the journey. It was thanks to the energetic way in which I carried my
point that I started my cure at Geneva, as I should otherwise probably
have gone in a different direction.

In Geneva I put up first at the familiar old Hotel de l'Ecu de Geneve,
which called up various reminiscences to my mind. Here I consulted Dr.
Coindet, who sent me to Mornex on Mont Saleve, for the sake of its good
air, and recommended me a pension. My first thought on arrival was to
find a place where I should be undisturbed, and I persuaded the lady
who kept the pension to make over to me an isolated pavilion in the
garden which consisted of one large reception-room. Much persuasion was
needed, as all the boarders--precisely the people I wished to
avoid--were indignant at having the room originally intended for their
social gatherings taken away. But at last I secured my object, though I
had to bind myself to vacate my drawing-room on Sunday mornings,
because it was then stocked with benches and arranged for a service,
which seemed to mean a good deal to the Calvinists among the boarders.
I fell in with this quite happily, and made my sacrifice honourably the
very first Sunday by betaking myself to Geneva to read the papers. The
next day, however, my hostess informed me that the boarders were very
annoyed at only being able to hold the service, and not the week-day
games in my drawing-room. I was given notice, and looked round for
other quarters, which I found in the house of a neighbour.

This neighbour was a Dr. Vaillant, who had taken an equally fine site
on which to erect a hydropathic institute. I first made inquiries about
warm baths, as my Zurich doctor had advised the use of these with
sulphur, but there was no prospect of obtaining any such thing. Dr.
Vaillant'a whole manner pleased me so much, however, that I told him my
troubles. When I asked him which of two things I should drink: hot
sulphur bath-water or a certain stinking mineral water, he smiled and
said: 'Monsieur, vous n'etes que nerveux. All this will only excite you
more; you merely need calming. If you will entrust yourself to me, I
promise that you will have so far recovered by the end of two months as
never to have erysipelas again.' And he kept his word.

I certainly formed a very different opinion of hydrotherapic methods
through this excellent doctor from any I could have acquired from the
'Water Jew' of Albisbrunnen and other raw amateurs. Vaillant had been
famous as a doctor in Paris itself (Lablache and Rossini had consulted
him), but he had the misfortune of becoming paralysed in both legs, and
after four years of helpless misery, during which he lost his whole
practice and sank into utter misery, he came across the original
Silesian hydropathologist, Priessnitz, to whom he was conveyed, with
the result that he recovered completely. There he learned the method
that had proved so effective, refined it from all the brutalities of
its inventor, and tried to recommend himself to the Parisians by
building a hydro at Meudon. But he met with no encouragement. His
former patients, whom he tried to persuade into visiting his
institution, merely asked whether there was dancing there in the
evening. He found it impossible to keep it up, and it is to this
circumstance that I owe my meeting with him there, near Geneva, where
he was once more trying to exploit his cure in a practical way. He laid
claim to attention, if only by the fact that he strictly limited the
number of patients he took into his house, insisting that a doctor
could only be responsible for the right application and success of his
treatment by being in a position to observe his patients minutely at
all hours of the day. The advantage of his system, which benefited me
so wonderfully, was the thoroughly calming effect of the treatment,
which consisted in the most ingenious use of water at a moderate

Besides this, Vaillant took a special pleasure in satisfying my wants,
particularly in procuring me rest and quiet. For instance, my presence
at the common breakfast, which I found exciting and inconvenient, was
excused, and I was allowed to make tea in my own room instead. This was
an unaccustomed treat for me, and I indulged in it, under cover of
secrecy, to excess, usually drinking tea behind closed doors for two
hours, while I read Walter Scott's novels, after the fatiguing
exertions of my morning cure. I had found some cheap and good French
translations of these novels in Geneva, and had brought a whole pile of
them to Mornex. They were admirably suited to my routine, which
prohibited serious study or work; but, apart from that, I now fully
endorsed Schopenhauer's high opinion of this poet's value, of which I
had till then been doubtful. On my solitary strolls, it is true, I
generally took a volume of Byron with me, because I possessed a
miniature edition, to read on some mountain height with a view of Mont
Blanc, but I soon left it at home, for I realised that I hardly ever
drew it from my pocket.

The only work I permitted myself was the sketching of plans for
building myself a house. These, in the end, I tried to work out
correctly with all the materials of an architect's draughtsman. I had
risen to this bold idea after negotiations on which I entered about
that time with Hartel, the music publishers at Leipzig, for the sale of
my Nibelungen compositions. I demanded forty thousand francs on the
spot for the four works, of which half was to be paid me when the
building of the house began. The publishers really seemed so far
favourably inclined towards my proposals as to make my undertaking

Very soon, however, their opinion of the market value of my works
underwent an unhappy change. I could never make out whether this was
the result of their having only just examined my poem carefully and
decided that it was impracticable, or whether influence had been
brought to bear on them from the same quarter to which the opposition
directed against most of my undertakings could be traced, and which
grew more and more evident as time wore on. Be that as it may, the hope
of earning capital for my house-building forsook me; but my
architectural studies took their course, and I made it my aim to obtain
means to fulfil them.

As the two months I had destined to Dr. Vaillant's treatment were up on
the 15th of August, I left the resort which had proved so beneficial,
and went straight off on a visit to Karl Ritter, who, with his wife,
had taken a lovely and very unassuming little house near Lausanne for
the summer months. Both of them had visited me at Mornex, but when I
tried to induce Karl to have some cold-water treatment, he declared,
after one trial, that even the most soothing method excited him. On the
whole, though, we found a good number of agreeable topics to discuss,
and he told me he would return to Zurich in the autumn.

I returned home in a fairly good humour with Fips, on whose account I
travelled by mail-coach to avoid the obnoxious railway journey. My
wife, too, had returned home from her sour-milk cure on the Selisberg,
and in addition I found my sister Clara installed, the only one of my
relatives who had visited me in my Swiss retreat. We at once made an
excursion with her to my favourite spot, Brunnen on Lake Lucerne, and
spent an exquisite evening there enjoying the glorious sunset and other
beautiful effects of the Alpine landscape. At night-fall, when the moon
rose full over the lake, it turned out that a very pretty and effective
ovation had been arranged for me (I had been a frequent visitor there)
by our enthusiastic and attentive host, Colonel Auf-der-Mauer. Two
boats, illuminated by coloured lanterns, came up to the beach facing
our hotel, bearing the Brunnen brass band, which was formed entirely of
amateurs from the countryside. With Federal staunchness, and without
any attempts at punctilious unison, they proceeded to play some of my
compositions in a loud and irrefutable manner. They then paid me homage
in a little speech, and I replied heartily, after which there was much
gripping of all sorts of horny hands on my part, as we drank a few
bottles of wine on the beach. For years afterwards I never passed this
beach on very frequent visits without receiving a friendly handshake or
a greeting. I was generally in doubt as to what the particular boatman
wanted of me, but it always turned out that I was dealing with one of
the brass bandsmen whose good intentions had been manifested on that
pleasant evening.

My sister Clara's lengthy stay with us at Zurich enlivened our family
circle very pleasantly. She was the musical one among my brothers and
sisters, and I enjoyed her society very much. It was also a relief to
me when her presence acted as a damper upon the various household
scenes brought on by Minna, who, as a result of the steady development
of her heart trouble, grew more and more suspicious, vehement and

In October I expected a visit from Liszt, who proposed to make a fairly
long stay at Zurich, accompanied by various people of note. I could not
wait so long, however, before beginning the composition of Siegfried,
and I began to sketch the overture on the 22nd of September.

A tinker had established himself opposite our house, and stunned my
ears all day long with his incessant hammering. In my disgust at never
being able to find a detached house protected from every kind of noise,
I was on the point of deciding to give up composing altogether until
the time when this indispensable condition should be fulfilled. But it
was precisely my rage over the tinker that, in a moment of agitation,
gave me the theme for Siegfried's furious outburst against the bungling
Mime. I played over the childishly quarrelsome Polter theme in G minor
to my sister, furiously singing the words at the same time, which made
us all laugh so much that I decided to make one more effort. This
resulted in my writing down a good part of the first scene by the time
Liszt arrived on 13th October.

Liszt came by himself, and my house at once became a musical centre. He
had finished his Faust and Dante Symphonies since I had seen him, and
it was nothing short of marvellous to hear him play them to me on the
piano from the score. As I felt sure that Liszt must be convinced of
the great impression his compositions made on me, I felt no scruples in
persuading him to alter the mistaken ending of the Dante Symphony. If
anything had convinced me of the man's masterly and poetical powers of
conception, it was the original ending of the Faust Symphony, in which
the delicate fragrance of a last reminiscence of Gretchen overpowers
everything, without arresting the attention by a violent disturbance.
The ending of the Dante Symphony seemed to me to be quite on the same
lines, for the delicately introduced Magnificat in the same way only
gives a hint of a soft, shimmering Paradise. I was the more startled to
hear this beautiful suggestion suddenly interrupted in an alarming way
by a pompous, plagal cadence which, as I was told, was supposed to
represent Domenico.

'No!' I exclaimed loudly, 'not that! Away with it! No majestic Deity!
Leave us the fine soft shimmer.'

'You are right,' said Liszt. 'I said so too; it was the Princess who
persuaded me differently. But it shall be as you wish.'

All well and good--but all the greater was my distress to learn later
that not only had this ending of the Dante Symphony been preserved, but
even the delicate ending of the Faust Symphony, which had appealed to
me so particularly, had been changed, in a manner better calculated to
produce an effect, by the introduction of a chorus. And this was
exactly typical of my relations to Liszt and to his friend Caroline

This woman, with her daughter Marie, was soon to arrive on a visit too,
and the necessary preparations were made for her reception. But before
these ladies arrived, a most painful incident occurred between Liszt
and Karl Ritter at my house. Ritter's looks alone, and still more, a
certain abrupt contradictoriness in his way of speaking, seemed to put
Liszt into a state in which he was easily irritated. One evening Liszt
was speaking in an impressive tone of the merits of the Jesuits, and
Ritter's inopportune smiles appeared to offend him. At table the
conversation turned on the Emperor of the French, Louis Napoleon, whose
merits Liszt rather summarily insisted that we should acknowledge,
whereas we were, on the whole, anything but enthusiastic about the
general state of affairs in France. When Liszt, in an attempt to make
clear the important influence of France on European culture, mentioned
as an instance the French Academie, Karl again indulged in his fatal
smile. This exasperated Liszt beyond all bounds, and in his reply he
included some such phrase as this: 'If we are not prepared to admit
this, what do we prove ourselves to be? Baboons!' I laughed, but again
Karl only smiled--this time, with deadly embarrassment. I discovered
afterwards through Bulow that in some youthful squabble he had had the
word 'Baboon-face' hurled at him. It soon became impossible to hide the
fact that Ritter felt himself grossly insulted by 'the doctor,' as he
called him, and he left my house foaming with rage, not to set foot in
it again for years. After a few days I received a letter in which he
demanded, first, a complete apology from Liszt, as soon as he came to
see me again, and if this were unobtainable, Liszt's exclusion from my
house. It distressed me greatly to receive, soon after this, a letter
from Ritter's mother, whom I respected very much, reproaching me for my
unjust treatment of her son in not having obtained satisfaction for an
insult offered him in my house. For a long time my relations with this
family, intimate as they had been, were painfully strained, as I found
it impossible to make them see the incident in the right light. When
Liszt, after a time, heard of it, he regretted the disturbance too, and
with praise-worthy magnanimity made the first advance towards a
reconciliation by paying Ritter a friendly visit. There was nothing
said about the incident, and Ritter's return visit was made, not to
Liszt, but to the Princess, who had arrived in the meantime. After this
Liszt decided that he could do nothing further; Ritter, therefore,
withdrew from our society from this time forward, and changed his
winter quarters from Zurich to Lausanne, where he settled permanently.

Not only my own modest residence, but the whole of Zurich seemed full
of life when Princess Caroline and her daughter took up their abode at
the Hotel Baur for a time. The curious spell of excitement which this
lady immediately threw over every one she succeeded in drawing into her
circle amounted, in the case of my good sister Clara (who was still
with us at the time), almost to intoxication. It was as if Zurich had
suddenly become a metropolis. Carriages drove hither and thither,
footmen ushered one in and out, dinners and suppers poured in upon us,
and we found ourselves suddenly surrounded by an increasing number of
interesting people, whose existence at Zurich we had never even
suspected, though they now undoubtedly cropped up everywhere. A
musician named Winterberger, who felt it incumbent on him on certain
occasions to behave eccentrically, had been brought there by Liszt;
Kirchner, the Schumann enthusiast from Winterthur, was practically
always there, attracted by the new life, and he too did not fail to
play the wag. But it was principally the professors of Zurich
University whom Princess Caroline coaxed out of their hole-and-corner
Zurich habits. She would have them, one at a time, for herself, and
again serve them up en masse for us. If I looked in for a moment from
my regular midday walk, the lady would be dining alone, now with
Semper, now with Professor Kochly, then with Moleschott, and so on.
Even my very peculiar friend Sulzer was drawn in, and, as he could not
deny, in a manner intoxicated. But a really refreshing sense of freedom
and spontaneity pervaded everything, and the unceremonious evenings at
my house in particular were really remarkably free and easy. On these
occasions the Princess, with Polish patriarchal friendliness, would
help the mistress of the house in serving. Once, after we had had some
music, I had to give the substance of my two newly conceived poems,
Tristan und Isolde and Die Sieger, to a group which, half sitting, half
lying before me, was certainly not without charm.

The crown of our festivities was, however, Liszt's birthday, on the
22nd October, which the Princess celebrated with due pomp at her own
house. Every one who was some one at Zurich was there. A poem by
Hoffmann von Fallersleben was telegraphed from Weimar, and at the
Princess's request was solemnly read aloud by Herwegh in a strangely
altered voice. I then gave a performance, with Frau Heim, of the first
act, and a scene from the second, of the Walkure, Liszt accompanying. I
was able to obtain a favourable idea of the effect of our performance
by the wish expressed by Dr. Wille to hear these things badly done, so
that he could form a correct judgment, as he feared he might be seduced
by the excellence of our execution. Besides these, Liszt's Symphonic
Poems were played on two grand pianos. At the feast, a dispute arose
about Heinrich Heine, with respect to whom Liszt made all sorts of
insidious remarks. Frau Wesendonck responded by asking if he did not
think Heine's name as a poet would, nevertheless, be inscribed in the
temple of immortality.

'Yes, but in mud,' answered Liszt quickly, creating, as may be
conceived, a great sensation.

Unfortunately, our circle was soon to suffer a great loss by Liszt's
illness--a skin eruption--which confined him to his bed for a
considerable period. As soon as he was a little better, we quickly went
to the piano again to try over by ourselves my two finished scores of
Rheingold and the Walkure. Princess Marie listened carefully, and was
even able to make intelligent suggestions in connection with a few
difficult passages in the poem.

Princess Caroline, too, seemed to set extraordinary store on being
quite clear as to the actual intrigue concerning the fate of the gods
in my Nibelungen. She took me in hand one day, quite like one of the
Zurich professors, en particulier, to clear up this point to her
satisfaction. I must confess it was irrefutably brought home to me that
she was anxious to understand the most delicate and mysterious features
of the intrigue, though in rather too precise and matter-of-fact a
spirit. In the end I felt as though I had explained a French society
play to her. Her high spirits in all such things were as marked as the
curious amiability of her nature in other respects; for when I one day
explained to her, in illustration of the first of these two qualities,
that four weeks of uninterrupted companionship with her would have been
the death of me, she laughed heartily. I had reason for sadness in the
changes which I realised had taken place in her daughter Marie; in the
three years since I had first seen her she had faded to an
extraordinary extent. If I then called her a 'child,' I could not now
properly describe her as a 'young woman.' Some disastrous experience
seemed to have made her prematurely old. It was only when she was
excited, especially in the evening when she was with friends, that the
attractive and radiant side of her nature asserted itself to a marked
extent. I remember one fine evening at Herwegh's, when Liszt was moved
to the same state of enthusiasm by a grand-piano abominably out of
tune, as by the disgusting cigars to which at that time he was more
passionately devoted than to the finer brands. We were all compelled to
exchange our belief in magic for a belief in actual witchcraft as we
listened to his wonderful phantasies on this pianoforte. To my great
horror, Liszt still gave evidence on more than one occasion of an
irritability which was thoroughly bad-tempered and even quarrelsome,
such as had already manifested itself in the unfortunate scene with
young Ritter. For instance, it was dangerous, especially in the
presence of Princess Caroline, to praise Goethe. Even Liszt and myself
had nearly quarrelled (for which he seemed to be very eager) over the
character of Egmont, which he thought it his duty to depreciate because
the man allows himself to be taken in by Alba. I had been warned, and
had the presence of mind to confine myself to observing the peculiar
physiology of my friend on this occasion, and turning my attention to
his condition, much more than to the subject of our dispute. We never
actually came to blows; but from this time forward I retained
throughout my life a vague feeling that we might one day come to such
an encounter, in which case it would not fail to be terrific. Perhaps
it was just this feeling that acted as a check on me whenever any
opportunity arose for heated argument. Goodness knows that I myself had
a bad enough reputation with my friends for my own irritability and
sudden outbursts of temper!

After I had made a stay of more than six weeks, we had a final
opportunity for coming together again before my return from this visit
that had meant so much for me. We had agreed to spend a week at St.
Gall, where we had an invitation from Schadrowsky, a young musical
director, to give our support to a society concert in that district.

We stayed together at the Hecht inn, and the Princess entertained us as
if she had been in her own house. She gave me and my wife a room next
her own private apartment. Unfortunately a most trying night was in
store for us. Princess Caroline had one of her severe nervous attacks,
and in order to preclude the approach of the painful hallucination by
which she was tormented at such times, her daughter Marie was obliged
to read to her all through the night in a voice deliberately raised a
good deal above its natural pitch. I got fearfully excited, especially
at what appeared to be an inexplicable disregard for the peace of one's
neighbour implied by such conduct. At two o'clock in the morning I
leaped out of bed, rang the bell continuously until the waiter awoke,
and asked him to take me to a bedroom in one of the remotest parts of
the inn. We moved there and then, not without attracting the attention
of our neighbours, upon whom, however, the circumstance made no
impression. The next morning I was much astonished to see Marie appear
as usual, quite unembarrassed, and without showing the least traces of
anything exceptional having occurred. I now learned that everybody
connected with the Princess was thoroughly accustomed to such
disturbances. Here, too, the house soon filled with all sorts of
guests: Herwegh and his wife came, Dr. Wille and his wife, Kirchner,
and several others, and before long our life in the Hecht yielded
nothing, in point of activity, to our life in the Hotel Baur. The
excuse for all this, as I have said, was the society concert of the
musical club of St. Gall. At the rehearsal, to my genuine delight,
Liszt impressed two of his compositions, Orpheus and the Prelude, upon
the orchestra with complete success, in spite of the limited resources
at his command. The performance turned out to be a really fine one, and
full of spirit. I was especially delighted with the Orpheus and with
the finely proportioned orchestral work, to which I had always assigned
a high place of honour among Liszt's compositions. On the other hand,
the special favour of the public was awarded to the Prelude, of which
the greater part was encored. I conducted the Eroica Symphony of
Beethoven under very painful conditions, as I always caught cold on
such occasions, and generally became feverish afterwards. My conception
and rendering of Beethoven's work made a powerful impression upon
Liszt, whose opinion was the only one which had any real weight with
me. We watched each other over our work with a closeness and sympathy
that was genuinely instructive. At night we had to take part in a
little supper in our honour, which was the occasion for expressing the
noble and deep sentiments of the worthy citizens of St. Gall concerning
the significance of our visit. As I was regaled with a most
complimentary panegyric by a poet, it was necessary for me to respond
with equal seriousness and eloquence. In his dithyrambic enthusiasm,
Liszt went so far as to suggest a general clinking of glasses,
signifying approval of his suggestion that the new theatre of St. Gall
should be opened with a model performance of Lohengrin. No one offered
any objection. The next day, the 24th of November, we all met, for
various festivities, in the house of an ardent lover of music, Herr
Bourit, a rich merchant of St. Gall. Here we had some pianoforte music,
and Liszt played to us, among other things, the great Sonata of
Beethoven in B flat major, at the close of which Kirchner dryly and
candidly remarked, 'Now we can truly say that we have witnessed the
impossible, for I shall always regard what I have just heard as an
impossibility.' On this occasion, attention was called to the twentieth
anniversary of my marriage with Minna, which fell on this day, and
after the wedding music of Lohengrin had been played, we formed a
charming procession a la Polonaise through the various rooms.

In spite of all these pleasant experiences, I should have been well
content to see the end of the business and return to the peace of my
home in Zurich. The indisposition of the Princess, however, retarded
the departure of my friends for Germany for several days, and we found
ourselves compelled to remain together in a state of nervous tension
and aimlessness for some time, until at last, on the 27th November, I
escorted my visitors to Rorschach, and took my leave of them there on
the steamer. Since then I have never seen the Princess or her daughter,
nor I think it likely I shall ever meet them again.

It was not without some misgiving that I took leave of my friends, for
the Princess was really ill, and Liszt seemed to be much exhausted. I
recommended their immediate return to Weimar, and told them to take
care of themselves. Great was my surprise, therefore, when before long
I received the news that they were making a sojourn of some duration in
Munich. This followed immediately upon their departure, and was also
attended with much noisy festivity and occasional artistic gatherings.
I was thus led to the conclusion that it was foolish of me to recommend
people with such constitutions either to do a thing or to abstain from
doing it. I, for my part, returned home to Zurich very much exhausted,
unable to sleep, and tormented by the frosty weather at this cold
season of the year. I was afraid that I had by my recent method of life
subjected myself to a fresh attack of erysipelas. I was very pleased
when I awoke the next morning to discover no trace of what I feared,
and from that day I continued to sing the praises of my excellent Dr.
Vaillant wherever I went. By the beginning of December I had so far
recovered as to be able to resume the composition of Siegfried. Thus I
again entered upon my orderly method of life, with all its
insignificance as far as outward things were concerned: work, long
walks, the perusal of books, evenings spent with some friend or other
of the domestic circle. The only thing that worried me was the regret I
still felt for my quarrel with Ritter, in consequence of the unhappy
contre-temps with Liszt. I now lost touch entirely with this young
friend, who in so many ways had endeared himself to me. Before the
close of the winter he left Zurich without seeing me again.

During the months of January and February (1857) I completed the first
act of Siegfried, writing down the composition in full to take the
place of the earlier rough pencil draft, and immediately set to work on
the orchestration; but I probably carried out Vaillant's instructions
with too much zeal. Pursued by the fear of a possible return of
erysipelas, I sought to ward it off by a repeated and regular process
of sweating once a week, wrapped up in towels, on the hydropathic
system. By this means I certainly escaped the dreaded evil, but the
effort exhausted me very much, and I longed for the return of the warm
weather, when I should be relieved from the severities of this

It was now that the tortures inflicted upon me by noisy and musical
neighbours began to increase in intensity. Apart from the tinker, whom
I hated with a deadly hatred, and with whom I had a terrible scene
about once a week, the number of pianos in the house where I lived was
augmented. The climax came with the arrival of a certain Herr Stockar,
who played the flute in the room under mine every Sunday, whereupon I
gave up all hope of composing any more. One day my friends the
Wesendoncks, who had returned from wintering in Paris, unfolded to me a
most welcome prospect of the fulfilment of my ardent wishes in regard
to my future place of abode. Wesendonck had already had an idea of
having a small house built for me on a site I was to select for myself.
My own plans, elaborated with a deceptive skill, had been already
submitted to an architect. But the acquisition of a suitable plot of
land was and still remained a great difficulty. In my walks I had long
had my eye on a little winter residence in the district of Enge, on the
ridge of the hill that separates the Lake of Zurich from Sihlthal. It
was called Lavater Cottage, as it had belonged to that famous
phrenologist, and he had been in the habit of staying there regularly.
I had enlisted the services of my friend Hagenbuch, the Cantonal
Secretary, to use all his influence to secure me a few acres of land at
this spot as cheaply as possible. But herein lay the great difficulty.
The piece of land I required consisted of various lots attached to
larger estates, and it turned out that in order to acquire my one plot
it would have been necessary to buy out a large number of different
owners. I put the difficulties of my case before Wesendonck, and
gradually created in him a desire to purchase this wide tract of land,
and lay out a fine site containing a large villa for his own family.
The idea was that I should also have a plot there. However, the demands
made upon my friend in regard to the preliminaries and to the building
of his house, which was to be on a scale both generous and dignified,
were too many, and he also thought the enclosure of two families within
the same confines might lead in time to inconveniences on both sides.
There happened to be an unpretentious little country house with a
garden which I had admired, and which was only separated from his
estate by a narrow carriage drive; and this Wesendonck decided to buy
for me. I rejoiced beyond measure when I heard of his intention. The
shock experienced by the over-cautious buyer was consequently all the
greater when one day be discovered that the present owner, with whom he
had negotiated in too timid a fashion, had just sold his piece of land
to somebody else. Luckily it turned out that the buyer was a mental
specialist, whose sole intention in making the purchase was to instal
himself with his lunatic asylum by the side of my friend. This
information awakened the most terrible anticipations in Wesendonck, and
put the utmost strain upon his energy. He now gave instructions that
this piece of land must be acquired at any price from the unfortunate
specialist. Thus, after many vexatious vicissitudes, it came into the
possession of my friend, who had to pay pretty heavily for it. He
allowed me to come into possession at Easter of this year, charging me
the same rent as I had paid for my lodging in the Zeltweg, that is to
say, eight hundred francs a year.

Our installation in this house, which occupied me heart and soul at the
beginning of the spring, was not achieved without many a
disappointment. The cottage, which had only been designed for use in
summer, had to be made habitable for the winter by putting in heating
apparatus and various other necessaries. It is true, that most of the
essentials in this respect were carried out by the proprietor; but no
end of difficulties remained to be solved. There was not a single thing
upon which my wife and I did not constantly differ, and my position as
an ordinary middle-class man without a brass farthing of my own made
matters no easier. With regard to my finances, however, events took
place from time to time which were well calculated to inspire a
sanguine temperament with trustful confidence in the future. In spite
of the bad performances of my operas, Tannhauser brought me
unexpectedly good royalties from Berlin. From Vienna, too, I obtained
the wherewithal to give me breathing-space in a most curious way. I was
still excluded from the Royal Opera, and I had been assured that so
long as there was an imperial court, I was not to dream of a
performance of my seditious works in Vienna. This strange state of
affairs inspired my old director, Hoffmann of Riga, now director of the
Josephstadt Theatre, to venture on the production of Tannhauser with a
special opera company, in a summer theatre built by himself on the
Lerchenfeld outside the boundary of Vienna. He offered me for every
performance which I would license a royalty of a hundred francs. When
Liszt, whom I informed of the matter, thought this offer was
suspicious, I wrote and told him that I proposed to follow Mirabeau's
example with regard to it. Mirabeau, when he failed to be elected by
his peers to the assembly of Notables, addressed himself to the
electors of Marseilles in the capacity of a linen-draper. This pleased
Liszt; and, indeed, I now made my way, by means of the summer theatre
on the Lerchenfeld, into the capital of the Austrian empire. Of the
performance itself the most wonderful accounts reached me. Sulzer, who
on one of his journeys had passed through Vienna and had witnessed a
performance, had complained principally of the darkness of the house,
which did not allow him to read a single word of the libretto, also of
its having rained hard right into the middle of the audience. Another
story was told me some years later by the son-in-law of Mme. Herold,
the widow of the composer of that name. He had been in Vienna at that
period on his wedding tour, and had heard this Lerchenfeld performance.
The young man assured me that, in spite of all superficial
deficiencies, the production there had given him genuine pleasure, and
had been more deeply impressive than the performance in the Berlin
Court Theatre, which he had seen afterwards, and found immeasurably
inferior. The energy of my old Riga Theatre director in Vienna brought
me in two thousand francs for twenty performances of Tannhauser. After
such a curious experience, offering clear proof of my popularity, I may
perhaps be excused for having felt confident about the future, and
having relied on incalculable results from my works, even with regard
to actual gain.

While I was thus occupied in arranging the little country house for
which I had longed so much, and working on the orchestration of the
first act of Siegfried, I plunged anew into the philosophy of
Schopenhauer and into Scott's novels, to which I was drawn with a
particular affection. I also busied myself with elucidating my
impressions of Liszt's compositions. For this purpose I adopted the
form of a letter to Marie Wittgenstein, which was published in
Brendel's musical journal.

When we moved to what I intended to be my permanent refuge for life, I
again set myself to consider the means of obtaining a basis for the
supply of the necessities of that life. Once again I took up the
threads of my negotiations with Hartel about the Nibelungen, but I was
obliged to put them down as unfruitful, and little calculated to end in
any success for this work. I complained of this to Liszt, and openly
told him how glad I should be if he would bring this to the ears of the
Grand Duke of Weimar (who, from what my friend told me, wished himself
still to be regarded as the patron of my Nibelungen enterprise), so
that he might realise the difficulties I was encountering in the
matter. I added that if one could not expect a common bookseller to
assume the responsibility of such an extraordinary undertaking, one
might well hope that the Prince, whose idea was to make it a point of
honour, should take a share, and a serious share, in the necessary
preliminaries, among which the development of the work itself must very
properly be included. My meaning was, that the Grand Duke should take
the place of Hartel, should purchase the work from me, and pay by
instalments as the score neared completion; he would thus become the
owner, and, later on, could if he liked cover his expenses through a
publisher. Liszt understood me very well, but could not refrain from
dissuading me from taking up such an attitude towards his Royal

My whole attention was now directed to the young Grand Duchess of
Baden. Several years had passed since Eduard Devrient had been
transferred to Karlsruhe by the Grand Duke to be manager of the court
theatre there. Since my departure from Dresden I had always kept in
touch with Devrient, though our meetings were rare. Moreover, he had
written the most enthusiastic letters in appreciation of my pamphlets,
Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft and Oper und Drama. He maintained that the
Karlsruhe Theatre was so poorly equipped, that he thought he could not
well entertain the idea of a performance of my operas in that house.
All these conditions were suddenly changed when the Grand Duke married,
and the Crown Princess's young daughter, who had been turned into a
champion of mine by my old friend Alwine Frommann, thus secured a
position of independence in Karlsruhe, and was eager in her demand for
the performance of my works. My operas were now being produced there
also, and Devrient in his turn had the pleasure of informing me of the
great interest shown in them by the young Princess, who even frequently
attended the rehearsals. This made a very agreeable impression upon me.
On my own initiative I expressed my gratitude in an address which I
directed to the Grand Duchess herself, enclosing 'Wotan's Abschied'
from the finale of the Walkure as a souvenir for her album.

The 20th April was now drawing near, the day on which I was to leave my
lodging in the Zeltweg (which had already been let), although I could
not occupy the cottage, where the arrangements were not yet complete.
The bad weather had given us colds in the course of our frequent visits
to the little house, in which masons and carpenters had made themselves
at home. In the worst of tempers we spent a week in the inn, and I
began to wonder whether it was worth while occupying this new piece of
land at all, for I had a sudden foreboding that it would be my fate to
wander further afield. Eventually we moved in at the end of April, in
spite of everything. It was cold and damp, the new heating apparatus
did not provide any warmth, and we were both ill, and could hardly
leave our beds. Then came a good omen: the first letter that reached me
was one of reconciliation and love from Frau Julie Ritter, in which she
told me that the quarrel, brought about by her son's conduct, was at
last ended. Beautiful spring weather now set in; on Good Friday I awoke
to find the sun shining brightly for the first time in this house: the
little garden was radiant with green, the birds sang, and at last I
could sit on the roof and enjoy the long-yearned-for peace with its
message of promise. Full of this sentiment, I suddenly remembered that
the day was Good Friday, and I called to mind the significance this
omen had already once assumed for me when I was reading Wolfram's
Parsifal. Since the sojourn in Marienbad, where I had conceived the
Meistersinger and Lohengrin, I had never occupied myself again with
that poem; now its noble possibilities struck me with overwhelming
force, and out of my thoughts about Good Friday I rapidly conceived a
whole drama, of which I made a rough sketch with a few dashes of the
pen, dividing the whole into three acts.

In the midst of arranging the house, a never-ending task, at which I
set to work with all my might, I felt an inner compulsion to work: I
took up Siegfried again, and began to compose the second act. I had not
made up my mind what name to give to my new place of refuge. As the
introductory part of this act turned out very well, thanks to my
favourable frame of mind, I burst out laughing at the thought that I
ought to call my new home 'Fafner's Ruhe,' to correspond with the first
piece of work done in it. It was not destined to be so, however. The
property continued to be called simply 'Asyl,' and I have designated it
under this title in the chart of dates to my works.

The miscarriage of my prospects of support for the Nibelungen from the
Grand Duke of Weimar fostered in me a continued depression of spirits;
for I saw before me a burden of which I knew not how to rid myself. At
the same time a romantic message was conveyed to me: a man who rejoiced
in the name of Ferreiro introduced himself to me as the Brazilian
consul in Leipzig, and told me that the Emperor of Brazil was greatly
attracted by my music. The man was an adept in meeting my doubts about
this strange phenomenon in the letters which he wrote; the Emperor
loved everything German, and wanted me very much to come to him in Rio
Janeiro, so that I might conduct my operas in person. As only Italian
was sung in that country, it would be necessary to translate my
libretto, which the Emperor regarded as a very easy matter, and
actually an improvement to the libretto itself. Strange to say, these
proposals exercised a very agreeable influence on me. I felt I could
easily produce a passionate musical poem which would turn out quite
excellent in Italian, and I turned my thoughts once more, with an
ever-reviving preference, towards Tristan und Isolde. In order in some
way to test the intensity of that generous affection for my works
protested by the Emperor of Brazil, I promptly sent to Senor Ferreiro
the expensively bound volumes containing the pianoforte versions of my
three earlier operas, and for a long time I indulged in the hope of
some very handsome return from their gracious and splendid reception in
Rio Janeiro. But of these pianoforte versions, and the Emperor of
Brazil and his consul Ferreiro, I never heard a single syllable again
as long as I lived. Semper, it is true, involved himself in an
architectonic entanglement with this tropical country: a competition
was invited for the building of a new opera house in Rio; Semper had
announced that he would take part in it, and completed some splendid
plans which afforded us great entertainment, and appeared to be of
special interest, among others, to Dr. Wille, who thought that it must
be a new problem for an architect to sketch an opera house for a black
public. I have not learned whether the results of Semper's negotiations
with Brazil were much more satisfactory than mine; at all events, I
know that he did not build the theatre.

A violent cold threw me for a few days into a state of high fever; when
I recovered from it, my birthday had come. As I was sitting once more
in the evening on my roof, I was surprised at hearing one of the songs
of the Three Rhine Maidens, from the finale of Rheingold, which floated
to my ears from the near distance across the gardens. Frau Pollert,
whose troubles with her husband had once stood in the way of a second
performance in Magdeburg of my Liebesverbot (in itself a very difficult
production), had again appeared last winter as a singer, and also as
the mother of two daughters, in the theatrical firmament of Zurich. As
she still had a fine voice, and was full of goodwill towards me, I
allowed her to practise the last act of Walkure for herself, and the
Rhine Maidens scenes from the Rheingold with her two daughters, and
frequently in the course of the winter we had managed to give short
performances of this music for our friends. On the evening of my
birthday the song of my devoted lady friends surprised me in a very
touching way, and I suddenly experienced a strange revulsion of
feeling, which made me disinclined to continue the composition of the
Nibelungen, and all the more anxious to take up Tristan again. I
determined to yield to this desire, which I had long nourished in
secret, and to set to work at once on this new task, which I had wished
to regard only as a short interruption to the great one. However, in
order to prove to myself that I was not being scared away from the
older work by any feeling of aversion, I determined, at all events, to
complete the composition of the second act of Siegfried, which had only
just been begun. This I did with a right good will, and gradually the
music of Tristan dawned more and more clearly on my mind.

To some extent external motives, which seemed to me both attractive and
advantageous to the execution of my task, acted as incentives to make
me set to work on Tristan. These motives became fully defined when
Eduard Devrient came on a visit to me at the beginning of July and
stayed with me for three days. He told me of the good reception
accorded to my despatch by the Grand Duchess of Baden, and I gathered
that he had been commissioned to come to an understanding with me about
some enterprise or other; I informed him that I had decided to
interrupt my work on the Nibelungen by composing an opera, which was
bound by its contents and requirements to put me once more into
relation with the theatres, however inferior they might be. I should do
myself an injustice if I said that this external motive alone inspired
the conception of Tristan, and made me determine to have it produced.
Nevertheless, I must confess that a perceptible change had come over
the frame of mind in which, several years ago, I had contemplated the
completion of the greater work. At the same time I had come fresh from
my writings upon art, in which I had attempted to explain the reasons
for the decay of our public art, and especially of the theatre, by
seeking to establish some connection between these reasons and the
prevailing condition of culture. It would have been impossible for me
at that time to have devoted myself to a work which compelled me to
study its immediate production at one of our existing theatres. It was
only an utter disregard of these theatres, as I have taken occasion to
observe before, that could determine me to take up my artistic work
again. With regard to the Nibelungen dramas, I was compelled to adhere
without flinching to the one essential stipulation that it could only
be produced under quite exceptional conditions, such as those I
afterwards described in the preface to the printed edition of the poem.
Nevertheless, the successful popularisation of my earlier operas had so
far influenced my frame of mind that, as I approached the completion of
more than half of my great work, I felt I could look forward with
growing confidence to the possibility that this too might be produced.
Up to this point Liszt had been the only person to nourish the secret
hope of my heart, as he was confident that the Grand Duke of Weimar
would do something for me, but to judge from my latest experience these
prospects amounted to nothing, while I had grounds for hoping that a
new work of similar design to Tannhauser or Lohengrin would be taken up
everywhere with considerable alacrity. The manner in which I finally
executed the plan of Tristan shows clearly how little I was thinking of
our operatic theatres and the scope of their capabilities.
Nevertheless, I had still to fight a continuous battle for the
necessaries of life, and I succeeded in deceiving myself so far as to
persuade myself that in interrupting the composition of the Nibelungen
and taking up Tristan, I was acting in the practical spirit of a man
who carefully weighs the issues at stake. Devrient was much pleased to
hear that I was undertaking a work that could be regarded as practical.
He asked me at which theatre I contemplated producing my new work. I
answered that naturally I could only have in view a theatre in which it
would be possible for me to superintend the task of production in
person. My idea was that this would either be in Brazil or, as I was
excluded from the territory of the German Confederation, in one of the
towns lying near the German frontiers, which I presumed would be able
to place an operatic company at my disposal. The place I had in my mind
was Strasburg, but Devrient had many practical reasons for being wholly
opposed to such an undertaking; he was of opinion that a performance in
Karlsruhe could be arranged more easily and would meet with greater
success. My only objection to this was, that in that town I should be
debarred from taking a personal share in the study and production of my
work. Devrient, however, thought that, as far as this was concerned, I
might feel justified in entertaining some hope, as the Grand Duke of
Baden was so well disposed towards me, and took an active interest in
my work. I was highly delighted to learn this. Devrient also spoke with
great sympathy of the young tenor Schnorr, who, besides possessing
admirable gifts, was keenly attracted by my operas. I was now in the
best of tempers, and acted the host to Devrient for all I was worth.
One morning I played and sang to him the whole of the Rheingold, which
seemed to give him great pleasure. Half seriously, and half in joke, I
told him that I had written the character of Mime especially for him,
and that if, when the work was ready, it was not too late, he might
have the pleasure of taking the part. As Devrient was with me, he had,
of course, to do his share of reciting. I invited all the friends in
our circle, including Semper and Herwegh, and Devrient read us the Mark
Antony scenes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. So happy was his
interpretation of the part, that even Herwegh, who had approached the
recitation from its outset in a spirit of ridicule, freely acknowledged
the success of the practised actor's skilful manipulation. Devrient
wrote a letter from my house to the Grand Duke of Baden, telling him
his impressions about me and what he had found me like. Soon after his
departure I received an autograph letter from the Grand Duke, couched
in very amiable terms, in which he first thanked me most profusely for
the souvenir I had presented to his wife for her album, and at the same
time declared his intention of championing my cause, and, above all, of
securing my return to Germany.

From this time forward my resolve to produce Tristan had to be
seriously entertained, as it was written in plain letters in my book of
fate. To all these circumstances I was indebted for the continuation of
the favourable mood in which I now brought the second act of Siegfried
to a close. My daily walks were directed on bright summer afternoons to
the peaceful Sihlthal, in whose wooded surroundings I listened long and
attentively to the song of the forest birds, and I was astonished to
make the acquaintance of entirely new melodies, sung by singers whose
forms I could not see and whose names I did not know. In the forest
scene of Siegfried I put down, in artistic imitation of nature, as much
as I could remember of these airs. At the beginning of August I had
carefully sketched the composition of the second act. I was glad I had
reserved the third act with the awakening of Brunhilda for the time
when I should again be able to go on with the opera, for it seemed to
me that all the problems in my work were now happily solved, and that
all that remained was to get pure joy out of it.

As I firmly believed in the wisdom of husbanding my artistic power, I
now prepared to write out Tristan. A certain strain was put upon my
patience at this point by the arrival of the excellent Ferdinand Prager
from London. His visit, in other respects, was a source of genuine
pleasure to me, for I was bound to recognise in him a faithful and
life-long friend. The only difficulty was, that he laboured under the
delusion that he was exceptionally nervous, and that he was persecuted
by fate. This was a source of considerable annoyance to me, as with the
best will in the world, I could not muster up any sympathy for him. We
helped ourselves out of the dilemma by an excursion to Schaffhausen,
where I paid my first visit to the famous Rhine Falls, which did not
fail to impress me duly.

About this time the Wesendoncks moved into their villa, which had now
been embellished by stucco-workers and upholsterers from Paris. At this
point a new phase began in my relations with this family, which was not
really important, but nevertheless exercised considerable influence on
the outward conduct of my life. We had become so intimate, through
being such near neighbours in a country place, that it was impossible
to avoid a marked increase in our intimacy if only through meeting one
another daily. I had often noticed that Wesendonck, in his
straightforward open manner, had shown uneasiness at the way in which I
made myself at home in his house. In many things, in the matter of
heating and lighting the rooms, and also in the hours appointed for
meals, consideration was shown me which seemed to encroach upon his
rights as master of the house. It needed a few confidential discussions
on the subject to establish an agreement which was half implied and
half expressed. This understanding had a tendency, as time wore on, to
assume a doubtful significance in the eyes of other people, and
necessitated a certain measure of precaution in an intimacy which had
now become exceedingly close. These precautions were occasionally the
source of great amusement to the two parties who were in the secret.
Curiously enough, this closer association with my neighbour coincided
with the time when I began to work out my libretto, Tristan und Isolde.

Robert Franz now arrived in Zurich on a visit. I was delighted by his
agreeable personality, and his visit reassured me that no deep
significance need be attached to the somewhat strained relations which
had sprung up between us since the time when he took up the cudgels for
me on the occasion of the production of Lohengrin. The misunderstanding
had been chiefly due to the intermeddling of his brother-in-law
Heinrich (who had written a pamphlet about me). We played and sang
together; he accompanied me in some of his songs, and my compositions
for the Nibelungen seemed to please him. But one day, when the
Wesendoncks asked him to dinner to meet me, he begged that he might be
alone with the family without any other guests, because if I were there
he would not attain the importance by which he set so much store. We
laughed over this, and I did so the more heartily because I was
sometimes quite grateful to be saved the trouble of talking to people
so curiously uncommunicative as I found Franz to be. After he left us,
he never sent us a word of himself or his doings again.

When I had almost finished the first act of Tristan, a newly married
couple arrived in Zurich, who certainly had a prominent claim on my
interest. It was about the beginning of September that Hans von Bulow
arrived with his young wife Cosima (a daughter of Liszt's) at the Raben
Hotel. I invited them to my little house, so that they might spend the
whole time of their stay in Zurich with me, as their visit was mainly
on my account.

We spent the month of September together most pleasantly. In the
meanwhile I completed the libretto of Tristan und Isolde, and at the
same time Hans made me a fair copy of each act. I read it over, act by
act, to my two friends, until at last I was able to get them all
together for a private reading, which made a deep impression on the few
intimate friends who composed the audience. As Frau Wesendonck appeared
to be particularly moved by the last act, I said consolingly that one
ought not to grieve over it, as, under any circumstances, in a matter
so grave things generally turned out in this way, and Cosima heartily
agreed. We also had a good deal of music together, as in Billow I had
at last found the right man to play Klindworth's atrocious arrangement
of my Nibelungen scores. But the two acts of Siegfried, which had only
been written down as rough drafts, were mastered by Hans with such
consummate skill that he could play them as if they had really been
arranged for the piano. As usual, I took all the singing parts;
sometimes we had a few listeners, amongst whom Mme. Wille was the most
promising. Cosima listened silently with her head bowed; if pressed for
an expression of opinion, she began to cry.

Towards the end of September my young friends left me to travel back to
their destination in Berlin, and begin their married life like good

For the time being we had sounded a sort of funeral peal over the
Nibelungen by playing so much of it, and it was now completely laid
aside. The consequence was, that when later on we took it out of its
folio for similar gatherings, it wore a lack-lustre look, and grew ever
fainter, as if to remind us of the past. At the beginning of October,
however, I at once began to compose Tristan, finishing the first act by
the new year, when I was already engaged in orchestrating the prelude.
During that time I developed a dreamy, timorous passion for retirement.
Work, long walks in all winds and weathers, evenings spent in reading
Calderon--such was my mode of life, and if it was disturbed, I was
thrown into the deepest state of irritation. My connection with the
world confined itself almost entirely to my negotiations with the
music-seller Hartel about the publication of Tristan. As I had told
this man that, by way of contrast to the immense undertaking of the
Nibelungen, I had in my mind a practicable work, which, in its demands
upon the producer, confined itself, to all intents and purposes, to the
engagement of a few good singers, he showed such keenness to take up my
offer that I ventured to ask four hundred louis d'or. Thereupon Hartel
answered that I was to read his counter offer, made, in a sealed letter
which he enclosed, only on condition that I at once agreed to waive my
own demands entirely, as he did not think the work I proposed to write
was one which could be produced without difficulties. In the sealed
enclosure I found that he offered me only one hundred louis d'or, but
he undertook, after a period of five years, to give me a half-share in
the proceeds, with the alternative of buying out my rights for another
hundred louis d'or. With these terms I had to comply, and soon set to
work to orchestrate the first act, so as to let the engraver have one
batch of sheets at a time.

Besides this, I was interested at that time in the expected crisis of
the American money market in the month of November, the consequences of
which, during a few fatal weeks, threatened to endanger the whole of my
friend Wesendonck's fortune. I remember that the impending catastrophe
was borne with great dignity by those who were likely to be its
victims; still the possibility of having to sell their house, their
grounds, and their horses cast an unavoidable gloom over our evening
meetings; and, after a while, Wesendonck went away to make arrangements
with various foreign bankers.

During that time I spent the mornings in my house composing Tristan,
and every evening we used to read Calderon, which made a deep and
permanent impression upon me, for I had become fairly familiar with
Spanish dramatic literature, thanks to Schack. At last the dreaded
American crisis happily blew over, and it was soon apparent that
Wesendonck's fortune had considerably increased. Again, during the
winter evenings, I read Tristan aloud to a wider circle of friends.
Gottfried Keller was pleased with the compact form of the whole, which
really contained only three full scenes. Semper, however, was very
angry about it: he objected that I took everything too seriously, and
said that the charm in the artistic construction of such material
consisted in the fact that the tragic element was broken up in such a
way that one could extract enjoyment even from its most affecting
parts. That was just what pleased him in Mozart's Don Juan, one met the
tragic types there, as if at a masquerade, where even the domino was
preferable to the plain character. I admitted that I should get on much
more comfortably if I took life more seriously and art more lightly,
but for the present I intended to let the opposite relations prevail.

As a matter of fact people shook their heads. After I had sketched the
first act of the composition, and had developed the character of my
musical production more precisely. I thought with a peculiar smile of
my first idea of writing this work as a sort of Italian opera, and I
became less anxious at the absence of news from Brazil. On the other
hand, my attention was particularly drawn at the end of this year to
what was going on in Paris in regard to my operas. A young author from
that city wrote asking me to entrust him with the translation of my
Tannhauser, as the manager of the Theatre Lyrique, M. Carvalho, was
taking steps to produce that opera in Paris. I was alarmed at this, as
I was afraid that the copyright of my works had not been secured in
France, and that they might dispose of them there at their own sweet
will. To this I most strongly objected. I was well aware how this
undertaking would be carried out, from an account I had read a short
time before of the performance of Weber's Euryanthe at that very
Theatre Lyrique, and of the objectionable elaborations or rather
mutilations which had been effected for the purposes of production. As
Liszt's elder daughter Blandine had recently married the famous lawyer
E. Ollivier, and I could consequently rely on substantial help from
them, I made up my mind to go to Paris for a week, and look after the
matter about which I had been approached, and, at any rate, secure my
author's rights legally. In addition to this I was in a very melancholy
state of mind, to which overwork and constant occupation on the kind of
task that Semper had, perhaps with justice, denounced as being too
serious, had contributed by reason of the strain on my mental powers.

If I remember rightly, I gave evidence of this state of mind (which
curiously enough led me to despise all worldly cares) in a letter I
wrote to my old friend Alwine Frommann on New Year's Eve 1857.

With the beginning of the new year 1858 the necessity for a break in my
work became so manifest, that I positively dreaded beginning the
instrumentation of the first act of Tristan und Isolde, until I had
allowed myself the trip for which I longed. For at that moment,
unfortunately, neither Zurich, nor my home, nor the company of my
friends afforded me any relaxation.

Even the agreeable and immediate proximity of the Wesendonck family
increased my discomfort, for it was really intolerable to me to devote
all my evenings to conversations and entertainments in which my kind
friend Otto Wesendonck felt obliged to take as much part as myself and
the rest of us. His apprehension that everything in his house would
very soon follow my lead instead of his, gave him that peculiar
aggressiveness with which a man who believes himself neglected
interpolates himself like an extinguisher into every conversation
carried on in his presence.

All this soon became oppressive and irksome to me, and no one who did
not realise my condition, and show signs of sympathising with it, could
excite my interest, and even then it was a very languid one. So I made
up my mind in the middle of the severe winter weather, and
notwithstanding the fact that for the present I was quite unprovided
with the necessary means, and was consequently obliged to take all
sorts of tiresome precautions, to carry out my excursion to Paris. I
felt a growing presentiment that I was going away never to return. I
reached Strasburg on the 15th of January, too much upset to travel any
further just then. From there I wrote to Eduard Devrient at Karlsruhe,
asking him to request the Grand Duke to send an adjutant to meet me at
Kehl on my return from Paris, to accompany me on a visit to Karlsruhe,
as I particularly wanted to become acquainted with the artists who were
to sing in Tristan. A little later I was taken to task by Eduard
Devrient for my impertinence in expecting to have grand-ducal adjutants
at my disposal, from which I gathered that he had attributed my request
to a desire for some mark of honour, whereas my idea had been that that
was the only possible way in which I, a political outlaw, could venture
to visit Karlsruhe, though my object was a purely professional one. I
could not help smiling at this strange misconception, but I was also
startled at this proof of shallowness in my old friend, and began to
wonder what he might do next.

I was trudging wearily along in the twilight through the public
promenade of Strasburg, to restore my overwrought nerves, when I was
suddenly taken aback by seeing on a theatre poster the word TANNHAUSER.
Looking at the bill more closely, I saw that it was the Overture to
Tannhauser that was to be given as a prelude to a French play. The
exact meaning of this I did not quite understand, but of course I took
my seat in the theatre, which was very empty. The orchestra, looking
all the larger from contrast with the empty house, was assembled in a
huge space and was a very strong one. The rendering given of my
overture under the conductor's baton was really a very good one.

As I was sitting rather near the front in the stalls, I was recognised
by the man who was playing the kettledrum, as he had taken part in my
Zurich performances in 1853. The news of my presence spread like
wildfire through the whole orchestra until it reached the ears of the
conductor, and led to great excitement. The small audience, who had
evidently put in appearance simply on account of the French play, and
who were not at all inclined to pay any particular attention to the
overture, were very much astonished when, at the conclusion of the
overture, the conductor and the whole orchestra turned round in the
direction of my stall, and gave vent to enthusiastic applause, which I
had to acknowledge with a bow. All eyes followed me eagerly as I left
the hall after this scene, to pay my respects to the conductor. It was
Herr Hasselmann, a native of Strasburg, and apparently a very
good-natured, amiable fellow. He accompanied me to my hotel and,
amongst other things, told me the circumstances connected with the
performance of my overture. These somewhat surprised me. According to
the terms of a legacy left by a wealthy citizen of Strasburg, a great
lover of music, who had already contributed very largely to the
building of the theatre, the orchestra, whose flourishing condition was
due to his beneficence, had to give, during the usual theatrical
performances, one of the greater instrumental works with a full band
once a week. This time, as it happened, it was the turn for the
overture to Tannhauser. The feeling that was uppermost in my mind was
one of envy that Strasburg should have produced a citizen whose like
had never seen the light of day in any of the towns in which I had been
connected with music, and more particularly Zurich.

Whilst I was discussing the state of music in Strasburg with Conductor
Hasselmann, Orsini's famous attempt on the life of the Emperor took
place in Paris. I heard some vague rumours of it on my journey the
following morning, but it was not until the 17th, on my arrival in
Paris, that I heard the full details of it from the waiter in my hotel.
I looked upon this event as a malicious stroke of fate, aimed at me
personally. Even at breakfast on the following morning, I feared I
should see my old acquaintance, the agent of the Ministry of the
Interior, walk in and demand my instant departure from Paris as a
political refugee. I presumed that as a visitor at the Grand Hotel du
Louvre, then newly opened, I should be regarded by the police with
greater respect, than at the little hotel at the corner of the Rue des
Filles St. Thomas, where I had once stayed for the sake of economy. I
had originally intended to take up my quarters at an hotel I knew in
the Rue le Pelletier, but the outrage had been perpetrated just at that
spot, and the principal criminals had been pursued and arrested there.
It was a strange coincidence! Supposing I had arrived in Paris just two
days earlier, and had gone there!!!

After thus apostrophising the demon of my fate, I hunted up M. Ollivier
and his young wife. In the former I soon found a very taking and active
friend, who at once resolutely took in hand the matter which was my
chief object in Paris. One day we called on a notary who was a friend
of his, and who seemed to be under an obligation to him. I there gave
Ollivier a formal and carefully considered power of attorney, to
represent my proprietary rights as author, and in spite of many
official formalities in the way of stamps I was treated with perfect
hospitality, so that I felt I was well sheltered under my friend's
protection. In the course of my walks with my friend Ollivier in the
Palais de Justice and in the Salle des pas perdus, I was introduced to
the most celebrated lawyers in the world strolling about there in their
berrettas and robes, and I was soon on such intimate terms with them
that they formed a circle around me, and made me explain the subject of
Tannhauser. This pleased me greatly. I was no less delighted by my
conversation with Ollivier regarding his political views and position.
He still believed in the Republic which would come to stay after the
inevitable overthrow of the Napoleonic rule. He and his friends did not
intend to provoke a revolution, but they held themselves in readiness
for the moment when it should come, as it necessarily must, and fully
resolved this time not to give it up again to the plunder of base
conspirators. In principle he agreed with the logical conclusions of
socialism; he knew and respected Proudhon, but not as a politician; he
thought nothing could be founded on a durable basis except through the
initiative of political organisation. By means of simple legislation,
which had already passed several enactments protecting the public good
against the abuses of private privilege, even the boldest demands for a
commonwealth based on equal rights for all would gradually be met.

I now noticed with great satisfaction that I had made considerable
progress in the development of my character, as I could listen to and
discuss these and other topics without getting into a state of
excitement, as I used formally to do in similar discussions.

Blandine impressed me at the same time most favourably with her
gentleness, her cheerfulness, and a certain quiet wit added to a quick
mental perception. We very soon understood each other; the slightest
suggestion sufficed to create a mutual understanding on any subject in
which we were interested.

Sunday arrived, and with it a concert at the Conservatoire. As I had
hitherto been present only at rehearsals, and had never got so far as
the performances, my friends succeeded in procuring a seat for me in
the box of Mme. Herold, the widow of the composer, a woman of
sympathetic disposition, who at once declared herself warmly in favour
of my music. It is true her knowledge of it was slight, but she had
been won over to it by the enthusiasm of her daughter and son-in-law,
who, as I have previously mentioned, had heard Tannhauser during their
honeymoon in Vienna and Berlin. This was really a pleasant surprise.
Added to this, I now heard for the first time in my life a performance
of Haydn's Seasons, which the audience enjoyed immensely, as they
thought the steady florid vocal cadences, which are so rare in modern
music, but which so frequently occur at the conclusion of the musical
phrases in Haydn's music, very original and charming. The rest of the
day was spent very pleasantly in the bosom of the Herold family.
Towards the end of the evening a man came in whose appearance was
hailed with marked attention. This was Herr Scudo, who, I found out
afterwards, was the famous musical editor of the Revue des deux Mondes.
His influence with other journals was considerable, but so far it had
certainly not been in my favour. The kind hostess wished me to make his
acquaintance, so that he might have a good impression of me, but I told
her such an object could not be attained through the medium of a
drawing-room conversation, and later on I was confirmed in my opinion
that the reasons why a gentleman of this type, who possesses no
knowledge of the subject, declares himself hostile to an artist, having
nothing whatever to do with his convictions or even with his approval
or disapproval. On a subsequent occasion these good people had to
suffer for having interested themselves in me, as, in a report of my
concerts by Herr Scudo, they were held up to ridicule as a family of
strong democratic tendencies.

I now looked up my friend Berlioz, whose acquaintance I had recently
renewed in London, and on the whole I found him kindly disposed.

I informed him that I had only just come to Paris on a short pleasure
trip. He was at that time busy composing a grand opera, Die Trojaner.
In order to get an impression of the work, I was particularly anxious
to hear the libretto Berlioz had written himself, and he spent an
evening reading it out to me. I was disappointed in it, not only as far
as it was concerned, but also by his singularly dry and theatrical
delivery. I fancied that in the latter I could see the character of the
music to which he had set his words, and I sank into utter despair
about it, as I could see that he regarded this as his masterpiece, and
was looking forward to its production as the great object of his life.

I also received an invitation with the Olliviers from the Erard family,
at whose house I again met my old friend the widow of Spontini. We
spent a rather charming evening there, during which, strange to say, I
had to be responsible for the musical entertainment at the piano. They
declared they had thoroughly entered into the spirit of the various
selections I had played from my operas in my now characteristic
fashion, and that they had enjoyed them immensely. At any rate, such
intimate heartfelt playing had never before been heard in that gorgeous
drawing-room. Apart from this, I made one great acquisition, through
the friendly courtesy of Mme. Erard and her brother-in-law Schaffer,
who since the death of her husband had carried on the business, in the
shape of a promise of one of the celebrated grand-pianos of their
manufacture. With this the gloom of my excursion to Paris seemed to be
turned into light, for I was so rejoiced at it, that I looked upon
every other result as chimerical, and upon this as the only reality.

After that I left Paris on the 2nd of February in a more cheerful frame
of mind, and on my homeward journey went to look up my old friend Kietz
in Epernay, where M. Paul Chandon, who had known Kietz since boyhood,
had interested himself in the ruined painter by taking him into his
house, and giving him a number of commissions for portraits. As soon as
I arrived I was irresistibly drawn into Chandon's hospitable house, and
could not refuse to remain there for a couple of days. I found in
Chandon a passionate admirer of my operas, particularly of Rienzi, the
first performance of which he had witnessed during his Dresden days. I
also visited the marvellous wine vaults at Champagne, which extended
for miles into the heart of the rocky ground. Kietz was painting a
portrait in oils, and the opinion entertained by every one that it
would very soon be finished rather amused me.

After much superfluous entertainment I at last freed myself from this
unexpected hospitality and returned to Zurich on the 5th of February,
where I had arranged by letter for an evening party immediately after
my arrival, as I thought I had much to relate which I could tell them
all collectively instead of by means of long and wearisome
communications to individual friends. Semper, who was one of the
company, was annoyed that he had stayed in Zurich whilst I had been in
Paris, and he became quite furious over my cheerful adventures and
declared I was an impudent child of fortune, while he looked upon it as
the greatest calamity that he should be chained to that wretched hole
Zurich. How I smiled inwardly at his envy of my fortune!

My affairs were making but little progress, as my operas had been sold
to almost every theatre and I had very little left out of the proceeds.
I now heard nothing about all these performances except that they were
yielding very little money. I resigned myself to the fact of bringing
out Rienzi, as it was just suited to our inferior class of theatre.
Before offering it for sale, it was desirable to have it performed
again in Dresden; but this, it was said, was impossible on account of
the impression created by the Orsini outrage. So I worked on at the
instrumentation of the first act of Tristan, and during that time I
could not help feeling that most probably other objections, besides
those of political captiousness, would be raised against the spread of
this work. I therefore continued my work vaguely and somewhat

In the month of March Frau Wesendonck informed me that she thought of
having a kind of musical entertainment in her house to celebrate her
husband's birthday. She had a predilection for a little serenade music,
which, with the help of eight instrumentalists from Zurich, I had
arranged during the winter for the occasion of her own birthday. The
pride of the Wesendonck villa was a spacious hall which had been very
elegantly decorated by Parisian stucco-workers, and I had once remarked
that music would not sound at all badly there. We had tested it on a
small scale, but now it was to be tried on a larger one. I offered to
bring together a respectable orchestra to perform fragments of the
Beethoven symphonies, consisting mainly of the brighter parts, for the
entertainment of the company. The necessary preparations required a
good deal of time, and the date of the birthday had to be overstepped.
As it was, we had nearly reached Easter, and our concert took place
almost at the end of March. The musical At Home was most successful. A
full orchestra for the Beethoven pieces played with the greatest eclat
under my conductorship, to the assembly of guests scattered about in
the surrounding rooms, selections from the symphonies. Such an
unprecedented home concert seemed to throw every one into a great state
of excitement.

The young daughter of the house presented me at the beginning of the
performance with an ivory baton, carved from a design by Semper, the
first and only complimentary one I ever received. There was no lack of
flowers and ornamental trees, under which I stood when conducting, and
when to suit my taste for musical effect we concluded, not with a loud,
but with a deeply soothing piece, like the Adagio from the Ninth
Symphony, we felt that Zurich society had indeed witnessed something
quite unique, and my friends on whom I had bestowed this mark of
distinction were deeply touched by it.

This festival left on me the most melancholy impressions; I felt as
though I had reached the meridian of my life, that I had in fact passed
it, and that the string of the bow was over-stretched. Mme. Wille told
me afterwards that she had been overcome by similar feelings on that
evening. On the 3rd of April I sent the manuscript of the score of the
first act of Tristan und Isolde to Leipzig to be engraved; I had
already promised to give Frau Wesendonck the pencil-sketch for the
instrumentation of the prelude, and I sent this to her accompanied by a
note in which I explained to her seriously and calmly the feelings that
animated me at the time. My wife had for some time been anxious as to
her relations with our neighbour; she complained with increasing
bitterness that she was not treated by her with the attention due to
the wife of a man whom Frau Wesendonck was so pleased to welcome in her
house, and that when we did meet, it was rather by reason of that
lady's visits to me than to her. So far she had not really expressed
any jealousy. As she happened to be in the garden that morning, she met
the servant carrying the packet for Frau Wesendonck, took it from him
and opened the letter. As she was quite incapable of understanding the
state of mind I had described in the letter, she readily gave a vulgar
interpretation to my words, and accordingly felt herself justified in
bursting into my room and attacking me with the most extraordinary
reproaches about the terrible discovery she had made. She afterwards
admitted that nothing had vexed her so much as the extreme calmness and
apparent indifference with which I treated her foolish conduct. As a
matter of fact I never said a word; I hardly moved, but simply allowed
her to depart. I could not help realising that this was henceforth to
be the intolerable character of the conjugal relations I had resumed
eight years before. I told her peremptorily to keep quiet and not be
guilty of any blunder either in judgment or in act, and tried to make
her realise to what a serious state of affairs this foolish occurrence
had brought us. She really seemed to understand what I meant, and
promised to keep quiet and not to give way to her absurd jealousy.
Unfortunately the poor creature was already suffering from a serious
development of heart disease, which affected her temper; she could not
throw off the peculiar depression and terrible restlessness which
enlargement of the heart causes, and only a few days after she felt
that she must relieve her feelings, and the only possible way in which
she could think of doing so was by warning our neighbour, Frau
Wesendonck, with an emphasis she thought was well meant, against the
consequences of any imprudent intimacy with me.

As I was returning from a walk I met Herr Wesendonck and his wife in
their carriage just starting for a drive. I noticed her troubled
demeanour in contrast to the peculiarly smiling and contented
expression of her husband. I realised the position clearly when I
afterwards met my wife looking wonderfully cheerful. She held out her
hand to me with great generosity, assuring me of her renewed affection.
In answer to my question, whether she had by any chance broken her
promise, she said confidently that like a wise woman she had been
obliged to put things into proper order. I told her she would very
probably experience some very unpleasant consequences through breaking
her word. In the first place, I thought it essential she should take
steps to improve her health as we had previously arranged, and told her
she had better go as soon as possible to the health resort she had been
recommended at Brestenberg on the Hallwyler Lake. We had heard
wonderful accounts of the cures of heart disease which the doctor there
had effected, and Minna was quite prepared to submit to his treatment.
A few days later, therefore, I took her and her parrot to the
pleasantly situated and well-appointed watering-place which was about
three hours distant. Meantime, I avoided asking any questions as to
what had taken place in regard to our neighbours. When I left her at
Brestenberg and took my leave she quite seemed to realise the painful
seriousness of our position. I could say very little to comfort her,
except that I would try, in the interests of our future life together,
to mitigate the dreaded consequences of her having broken her word.

On my return home I experienced the unpleasant effects of my wife's
conduct towards our neighbour. In Minna's utter misconstruction of my
purely friendly relations with the young wife, whose only interest in
me consisted in her solicitude for my peace of mind and well-being, she
had gone so far as to threaten to inform the lady's husband. Frau
Wesendonck felt so deeply insulted at this, as she was perfectly
unconscious of having done any wrong, that she was absolutely astounded
at me, and said she could not conceive how I could have led my wife
into such a misunderstanding. The outcome of this disturbance was that,
thanks to the discreet mediation of our mutual friend Mme. Wille, I was
absolved from any responsibility for my wife's conduct; still, I was
given to understand that henceforth it would be impossible for the
injured lady to enter my house again, or indeed to continue to have any
intercourse with my wife. They did not seem to realise, and would not
admit, that this would entail the giving up of my home and my removal
from Zurich. I hoped that although my relations with these good friends
had been disturbed, they were not really destroyed, and that time would
smooth things over. I felt that I must look forward to an improvement
in my wife's health, when she would admit her folly, and thus be able
to resume her intercourse with our neighbours in a reasonable manner.

Some time elapsed, during which the Wesendonck family took a pleasure
trip of several weeks to Northern Italy.

The arrival of the promised Erard grand-piano made me painfully
conscious of what a tin kettle my old grand-piano from Breitkopf und
Hartel had been, and I forthwith banished it to the lower regions,
where my wife begged she might keep it as a souvenir 'of old times.'
She afterwards took it with her to Saxony, where she sold it for three
hundred marks. The new piano appealed to my musical sense immensely,
and whilst I was improvising I seemed to drift quite naturally into the
soft nocturnal sounds of the second act of Tristan, the composition of
which I now began to sketch out. This was at the beginning of May. My
work was unexpectedly interrupted by the command of the Grand Duke of
Weimar to meet him on a certain day in Lucerne, where he was staying
after his return from Italy. I availed myself of this opportunity to
have a lengthy interview at the hotel in Chamberlain von Beaulieu's
room, with my former nominal patron whose acquaintance I had made at
the time of my flight.

From this interview with Karl Alexander I gathered that my attitude
towards the Grand Duke of Baden, in regard to the performance of
Tristan, in Karlsruhe, had made an impression on the Weimar court, for
while he made particular mention of that matter, I gathered from what
he said that he was also anxious about my Nibelungen work, in which he
declared he had always taken the liveliest interest, and wanted my
assurance that this composition would be produced at Weimar. I had no
serious objection to that. Moreover, I was vastly entertained by the
personality of this free-and-easy good-natured Prince, who, though he
sat chatting next to me on a narrow sofa, was evidently anxious by his
singularly choice language to impress me as a man of culture. I was
much struck to find that his dignified bearing was not in the least
disturbed when Herr von Beaulieu, with the object of amusing us, made
some rather clumsy remarks which were meant to be witty. After the
Grand Duke had asked me in the most guarded way my opinion of Liszt's
compositions, I was surprised to notice by his general bearing that he
was not at all uncomfortable when the chamberlain expressed the most
contemptuous opinions about the Grand Duke's famous friend, saying that
Liszt's composing was a mere mania on his part. This gave me a strange
insight into this royal friendship, and I had some difficulty in
keeping serious during the interview. I had to pay the Grand Duke
another visit on the following morning, but on that occasion I saw him
without his chamberlain, whose absence certainly had a favourable
effect on the Prince's remarks about his friend.

Liszt, whose inspiring conversation and advice he loudly asserted that
he could not praise enough. I was surprised to see the Grand Duchess
walk in upon us, and was received by her with a most condescending bow,
the formality of which I have never forgotten. I looked upon my meeting
with these exalted personages as an exceedingly amusing adventure in my
travels. I have never heard from them since. [Footnote: This was
dictated in 1869] Later on, when I called on Liszt at Weimar, just
before he left there, he could not even induce the Grand Duke to
receive me!

A short time after my return from that expedition Karl Tausig called
with a letter of introduction from Liszt; he was then sixteen years of
age, and astonished everybody by his dainty appearance and his unusual
precocity of understanding and demeanour. He had already been greeted
in Vienna, on his public appearance as a pianist, as a future Liszt. He
gave himself all the airs of a Liszt, and already smoked the strongest
cigars to such an extent that I felt a perfect horror of them.
Otherwise I was very glad he had made up his mind to spend some time in
the neighbourhood, all the more so as I could appreciate to the utmost
his amusing, half-childish, though very intelligent and knowing
personality, and, above all, his exceptionally finished piano-playing
and quick musical faculty. He played the most complicated pieces at
sight, and knew how to use his astonishing facility in the most
extravagant tricks for my entertainment. He afterwards came to live
quite near us; he was my daily guest at all meals, and accompanied me
on my usual walks to the Sihlthal. He soon tried to wriggle out of
these, however. He also went with me on a visit to Minna at
Brestenberg. As I had to repeat these expeditions regularly every week,
being anxious to watch the result of the treatment, Tausig endeavoured
to escape from these also, as neither Brestenberg nor Minna's
conversation seemed to appeal to him. However, he could not avoid
meeting her when, feeling obliged to interrupt her cure for a few days
to look after her household affairs, she returned at the end of May. I
noticed by her manner that she no longer attached any importance to the
recent domestic upheaval; the view she took of the matter was that
there had been a little 'love affair' which she had put straight. As
she referred to this with a certain amount of unpleasant levity, I was
obliged, though I would willingly have spared her on account of the
state of her health, to explain clearly and firmly, that in consequence
of her disobedience and her foolish conduct towards our neighbour, the
possibility of our remaining on the estate, where we had only just
settled with so much difficulty, was a matter of the most serious
doubt, and I felt bound to warn her that we must be prepared for the
necessity of a separation, as I was fully determined that if this
dreaded event took place, I would not agree to live under similar
domestic conditions elsewhere. The earnestness with which I dwelt on
the character of our past life together, on that occasion, so impressed
and shocked her that, fully realising it was through her fault that the
home it had cost us so much pain to build up had been destroyed, she
broke into a low wail of lamentation for the first time in our lives.
This was the first and only occasion on which she gave me any token of
loving humility, when late at night she kissed my hand as I withdrew. I
was deeply touched at this, and the idea flashed across my mind that
possibly a great and decided change might take place in the character
of the poor woman, and this determined me to renew my hope of the
possibility of continuing the life we had resumed.

Everything contributed to the maintenance of this hope: my wife
returned to Brestenberg to complete the second part of her cure; the
most glorious summer weather favoured my disposition to work at the
second act of Tristan; the evenings with Tausig cheered me up, and my
relations with my neighbours, who had never borne me any ill-will,
seemed to me to favour the possibility of a dignified and desirable
understanding in the future. It was quite probable that if my wife went
on a visit to her friends in Saxony after her cure, time would
eventually cover the past with oblivion, and her own future conduct as
well as the changed attitude of our deeply offended neighbour, would
make it possible to renew our mutual intercourse in a dignified way.

I was still further cheered by the prospect of the arrival of an
agreeable visitor, as well as by some satisfactory negotiations with
two of the most important German theatres.

In June the Berlin manager approached me about Lohengrin, and we soon
came to an agreement. In Vienna, too, the forced intrusion of
Tannhauser had produced its effect on the attitude of the management of
the court theatre. Just recently the well-known conductor, Karl Eckert,
had been entrusted with the technical management of the Opera. He
seized the happy opportunity afforded by the possession of a very good
company of singers, and by the closing of the theatre for much needed
restoration, to give the company time to study Lohengrin, with the
object of securing the acceptance of this new and difficult work by the
court authorities. He thereupon made me his offers. I wanted to insist
on the author's rights on the same terms as those granted in Berlin,
but he would not agree to this, because the takings of the house were
very small, owing to the lack of space in the old theatre. On the other
hand, Conductor Esser called on me one day; he had come from Vienna to
make all arrangements, and in the name of the management he offered me
about two thousand marks, cash down, for the first twenty performances
of Lohengrin, and promised me a further sum of two thousand marks on
their completion. The frank and genial manner of the worthy musician
won me over, and I closed with him at once. The result was that Esser
went through the score of Lohengrin with me there and then, with great
conscientiousness and zeal, and paid special attention to all my
wishes. With every confidence in a favourable result I bid him
farewell, and he hurried back to Vienna to set to work at once.

I then completed the composition sketches for the second act of Tristan
in excellent spirits, and began the more detailed execution of it, but
I did not get quite through the first scene, as I was exposed to
continual interruptions. Tichatschek came to pay me another visit, and
took up his abode in my little spare room, to recover, as he said, from
the effects of his recent exertions. He boasted that he had again
introduced my operas, which had been repeatedly forbidden, into the
repertoire of the Dresden theatre, and had also taken part in them
himself with great success.

Lohengrin was also to be produced there. Although this was very
gratifying, I did not in the least know what to do with the good man at
such close quarters. Fortunately I was able to hand him over to Tausig,
who understood my embarrassment, and kept Tichatschek to himself pretty
well the whole day, by playing cards with him. The young tenor Niemann,
of whose great talent I had heard so much, soon arrived with his bride,
the famous actress Seebach, and owing to his almost gigantic frame, he
struck me as being just the man for Siegfried. The fact of having two
famous tenors with me at the same time gave rise to the annoyance that
neither of them would sing anything to me, as they were ill at ease in
each other's presence. I quite believed, however, that Niemann's voice
must be on a par with his imposing personality. About that time (15th
July) I fetched my wife from Brestenberg. During my absence my servant,
who was a cunning Saxon, had thought fit to erect a kind of triumphal
arch to celebrate the return of the mistress of the house. This led to
great complications, as, much to her delight, Minna was convinced that
this flower-bedecked triumphal arch would greatly attract the attention
of our neighbours, and thought this would be sufficient to prevent them
from regarding her return home as a humiliating one. She insisted with
triumphant joy upon the decorations remaining up for several days.
About the same time the Bulows, true to their promise, paid another
visit. The unfortunate Tichatschek again put off his departure, and
consequently continued to occupy our one small spare room, so I was
obliged to let my friends stay at the hotel several days longer.
However, the visits they paid to the Wesendoncks as well as to me soon
afforded me an opportunity of hearing, much to my surprise, of the
effect the triumphal arch had produced on our neighbour's young wife,
who was still nursing her injured feelings. When I heard of her
passionate protests I realised to what a pass things had come, and
immediately gave up all hope of putting a peaceful end to the
discordant situation. Those were days of terrible anxiety. I wished
myself in the most distant desert, and yet was in the awkward position
of having to keep my house open to a succession of visitors. At last
Tichatschek took his departure, and I could at least devote the
remainder of my stay to the pleasant duty of entertaining favourite
guests. The Bulows really seemed to me to have been providentially sent
for the purpose of quelling the horrible excitement that prevailed in
the house. Hans made the best of things when, on the day of his
arrival, he caught me in the midst of a terrific scene with Minna, as I
had just told her plainly that from what I could see of the present
position of affairs, our stay here was no longer possible, and that I
was only deferring my departure until after the visit of our young
friends. This time, however, I had to admit that she was not altogether
to blame.

We spent another whole month together in the cottage, which, by the
way, I had unconsciously christened Asyl. It was an extremely trying
period, and the experiences I went through every day only confirmed me
in my decision to give up the house. Under the circumstances my young
guests also had to suffer, as my worry communicated itself to all who
were in sympathy with me. Klindworth, who was coming on a visit from
London, to add to the gloom of this extraordinary menage, soon joined
us. So the house was suddenly filled, and the table surrounded by sad,
mysteriously depressed guests, whose wants were ministered to by one
who was shortly to leave her home for ever.

It seemed to me that there must be one human being in existence
specially qualified to bring light and reconciliation, or at least
tolerable order, into the gloom and trouble by which we were all
surrounded. Liszt had promised me a visit, but he was so happily
situated beyond the reach of these harassing conditions, he had had
such experience of the world, and possessed that innate aplomb to such
an extraordinary degree, that he did not seem to me to be very likely
to approach these misunderstandings in a rational spirit. I almost felt
inclined to make my final decision dependent on the effect of his
expected visit. It was in vain that we begged of him to hasten his
journey; he offered to meet me at the Lake of Geneva a month later!
Then my courage failed. Intercourse with my friends now afforded me no
satisfaction, for although they could not understand why I should be
turned out of a home that suited me so well, yet it was apparent to
every one that I could not remain under these conditions. We still had
music every now and then, but it was in a half-hearted and
absent-minded fashion. To make matters worse, we had a national vocal
festival inflicted upon us, during which I was obliged to face all
kinds of demands; matters did not always pass off without
unpleasantness, as amongst others I had to decline to see Franz
Lachner, who had been specially engaged for the festival, and did not
return his call. Tausig certainly delighted us by carolling Lachner's
'Old German Battle Song' in the upper octave, which, thanks to his
boyish falsetto, was within his reach; however, even his pranks were no
longer able to cheer us. Everything, which under other circumstances
would have made this summer month one of the most stimulating in my
life, now contributed to my discomfort, as did also the stay of the
Countess d'Agoult, who, having come on a visit to her daughter and
son-in-law, attached herself to our party for the time being. By way of
filling up the house, Karl Ritter also came after much grumbling and
sulking, and once again proved himself to be very interesting and

As the time for the general leave-taking at last drew near, I had
arranged all the details connected with the breaking up of my home. I
settled the necessary business part by a personal visit to Herr
Wesendonck, and in the presence of Bulow I took leave of Frau
Wesendonck, who, in spite of her ever-recurring misconceptions on the
matter, eventually reproached herself bitterly when she saw that these
misunderstandings had ended by breaking up my home. My friends were
much distressed at parting from me, whilst I could only meet their
expressions of sorrow with apathy. On the 16th August the Bulows also
left; Hans was bathed in tears and his wife Cosima was gloomy and
silent. I had arranged with Minna that she should remain there for
about a week to clear up and dispose of our little belongings as she
thought best. I had advised her to entrust these unpleasant duties to
some one else, as I hardly thought it possible that she would be fitted
for such a wretched task, which, under the circumstances, would be very
trying to her. She replied reproachfully that 'it would be a fine thing
if, with all our misfortunes, we neglected our property. Order there
must be.' I afterwards learned to my disgust that she carried out the
removal and her own departure with such formality, by advertising in
the daily papers that the effects would be sold cheaply owing to sudden
departure, and thereby exciting much curiosity, that perplexed rumours
were spread about giving the whole affair a scandalous signification,
which afterwards caused much unpleasantness both to me and the
Wesendonck family.

On the 17th August, the day after the departure of the Bulows (whose
stay had been the only reason for detaining me), I got up at early dawn
after a sleepless night, and went down into the dining-room, where
Minna was already expecting me to breakfast, as I intended to start by
the five o'clock train. She was calm; it was only when accompanying me
in the carriage to the station that she was overpowered by her emotion
under the trying circumstances. It was the most brilliant summer day
with a bright, cloudless sky; I remember that I never once looked back,
or shed a tear on taking leave of her, and this almost terrified me. As
I travelled along in the train I could not conceal from myself an
increasing feeling of comfort; it was obvious that the absolutely
useless worries of the past weeks could not have been endured any
longer, and that my life's ambition demanded a complete severance from
them. On the evening of the same day I arrived in Geneva; here I wished
to rest a little and pull myself together, so as to arrange my plan of
life calmly. As I had an idea of making another attempt to settle in
Italy, I proposed, after my former experience, to wait till the cooler
autumn weather, so as not to expose myself again to the malignant
influence of the sudden change of climate. I arranged to stay for a
month at the Maison Fazy, deluding myself into the idea that a lengthy
stay there would be very pleasant. I told Karl Ritter, who was at
Lausanne, of my intention of going to Italy, and to my surprise he
wrote saying that he also intended to give up his home and go to Italy
alone, as his wife was going to Saxony for the winter on account of
family affairs. He offered himself as my travelling companion. This
suited me excellently, and as Ritter also assured me that he knew, from
a previous visit, that the climate of Venice was quite agreeable at
this season, I was induced to make a hasty departure. I had, however,
to arrange about my passport. I expected that the embassies in Berne
would corroborate the fact that as a political refugee I should have
nothing to fear in Venice, which, although belonging to Austria, did
not form part of the German Confederation. Liszt, to whom I also
applied for information on this point, advised me on no account to go
to Venice; on the other hand, the report that some of my friends in
Berne obtained from the Austrian ambassador pronounced it as quite
safe; so, after barely a week's stay in Geneva, I informed Karl Ritter
of my readiness to start, and called for him at his villa in Lausanne,
so that we might begin the journey together.

We did not talk much on the way, but gave ourselves up silently to our
impressions. The route was over the Simplon to Lake Maggiore, where I
again visited the Borromean Islands from Baveno. There, on the terrace
garden of Isola Bella, I spent a wonderful late summer morning in the
company of my young friend, who was never obtrusive, but, on the
contrary, inclined to be too silent. For the first time I felt my mind
entirely at rest, and filled with the hope of a new and harmonious
future. We continued our journey by coach through Sesto Calende to
Milan; and Karl was filled with such a longing for his beloved Venice,
that he could barely grant me time to admire the famous Duomo; but I
had no objection to being hurried with this object in view. As we were
looking from the railway dike at Venice rising before us from the
mirror of water, Karl lost his hat out of the carriage owing to an
enthusiastic movement of delight; I thought that I must follow suit, so
I too threw my hat out; consequently we arrived in Venice bareheaded,
and immediately got into a gondola to go down the Grand Canal as far as
the Piazzetta near San Marco. The weather had suddenly become gloomy,
and the aspect of the gondolas quite shocked me; for, in spite of what
I had heard about these peculiar vessels draped in black, the sight of
one was an unpleasant surprise: when I had to go under the black
awning, I could not help remembering the cholera-scare some time
earlier. I certainly felt I was taking part in a funeral procession
during a pestilence. Karl assured me that every one felt the same at
first, but that one soon got accustomed to it. Next came the long sail
through the twists and turns of the Grand Canal. The impression that
everything made on me here did not tend to dispel my melancholy frame
of mind. Where Karl, on looking at the ruined walls, only saw the Ca
d'Oro of Fanny Elser or some other famous palace, my doleful glances
were completely absorbed by the crumbling ruins between these
interesting buildings. At last I became silent, and allowed myself to
be put down at the world-famous Piazzetta, and to be shown the palace
of the Doges, though I reserved to myself the right of admiring it
until I had freed myself from the extremely melancholy mood into which
my arrival in Venice had thrown me.

Starting on the following morning from the Hotel Danieli, where we had
found only a gloomy lodging, I began by looking for a residence that
would suit me for my prolonged stay. I heard that one of the three
Giustiniani palaces, situated not far from the Palazzo Foscari, was at
present very little patronised by visitors, on account of its
situation, which in the winter is somewhat unfavourable. I found some
very spacious and imposing apartments there, all of which they told me
would remain uninhabited. I here engaged a large stately room with a
spacious bedroom adjoining. I had my luggage quickly transferred there,
and on the evening of 30th August I said to myself, 'At last I am
living in Venice.' My leading idea was that I could work here
undisturbed. I immediately wrote to Zurich asking for my Erard 'Grand'
and my bed to be sent on to me, as, with regard to the latter, I felt
that I should find out what cold meant in Venice. In addition to this,
the grey-washed walls of my large room soon annoyed me, as they were so
little suited to the ceiling, which was covered with a fresco which I
thought was rather tasteful. I decided to have the walls of the large
room covered with hangings of a dark-red shade, even if they were of
quite common quality. This immediately caused much trouble; but it
seemed to me that it was well worth surmounting, when I gazed down from
my balcony with growing satisfaction on the wonderful canal, and said
to myself that here I would complete Tristan. I also had a little more
decorating done; I arranged to have dark-red portieres, even if they
were of the cheapest material, to cover the common doors which the
Hungarian landlord had had put into the ruined palace in place of the
original valuable ones, which had probably been sold. In addition, the
host had contrived to get some showy furniture, such as a few gilded
chairs, covered with common cotton plush; but the most prominent
article was a finely carved gilded table-pedestal, on which was placed
a vulgar pinewood top which I had to cover with a plain red cloth.
Finally the Erard arrived; it was placed in the middle of the large
room, and now wonderful Venice was to be attacked by music.

However, the dysentery I had previously suffered from in Genoa laid
hold of me again, and rendered me incapable of any intellectual
activity for weeks. I had already learned to appreciate the matchless
beauty of Venice, and I was full of hope that my joy in it would give
me back my power to satisfy my reviving artistic yearnings. On one of
my first promenades on the Riva I was accosted by two strangers, one of
whom introduced himself as Count Edmund Zichy, the other as Prince
Dolgoroukow. They had both left Vienna barely a week before, where they
had been present at the first performances of my Lohengrin; they gave
me the most satisfactory reports about the result of it, and by their
enthusiasm I could see that their impressions were very favourable.
Count Zichy left Venice soon afterwards, but Prince Dolgoroukow decided
to stay on for the winter. Although I certainly intended to avoid
company, this Russian, who was about fifty years of age, soon managed
to make me yield to his persuasions. He had an earnest and extremely
expressive face (he prided himself on being of direct Caucasian
descent), and showed remarkable culture in every respect, a wide
knowledge of the world, and above all a taste for music, in the
literature of which he was also so well versed that it amounted to a
passion. I had at first explained to him that owing to the state of my
health I was bound to renounce all society, and that I needed quiet
more than anything. Apart from the difficulty of avoiding him
altogether on the limited walks in Venice, the restaurant at Albergo
San Marco where I joined Ritter every day for meals led to inevitable
meetings with this stranger, to whom I eventually became sincerely
attached. He had taken up his abode in that hotel, and I could not
prevent him from taking his meals there. During my stay in Venice we
met almost daily, and continued to be on very friendly terms. On the
other hand I had a great surprise, on returning to my apartments one
evening, to be informed that Liszt had just arrived. I rushed eagerly
to the room pointed out to me as his, and there, to my horror, saw
Winterberger the pianist, who had introduced himself to my host as a
mutual friend of myself and of Liszt, and in the confusion of the
moment the host had concluded that the new arrival was Liszt himself.
As a matter of fact I had recently got to know this young man as a
follower of Liszt during his comparatively long stay in Zurich; he was
considered an excellent organist, and was also called into requisition
as second at the piano when there were arrangements for two
pianofortes. Except for some foolish behaviour on his part I had not
noticed anything particular about him. I was surprised, however, that
he should have selected my address as his lodging in Venice. He told me
that he was merely the precursor of a certain Princess Galitzin, for
whom he had to arrange winter quarters in Venice; that he knew nobody
there, but having heard in Vienna that I was staying here, it was very
natural he should apply first at my hotel. I argued with him that this
was not an hotel, and announced that if his Russian Princess thought of
taking up her abode next to me, I should move out at once. He then
reassured me, by telling me that he had only wanted to make a good
impression on the host by mentioning the Princess, as he thought she
had already engaged rooms elsewhere. As I again asked what he thought
of doing in this palace, and drew his attention to the fact that it was
very expensive, and that I put up with the large outlay simply because
it was most essential that I should be undisturbed, and have no
neighbours, and hear no piano, he tried to pacify me by the assurance
that he would certainly not be a burden to me, and that I could make my
mind easy about his presence in the same house until he could arrange
to move elsewhere. His next attempt was to work his way into the good
graces of Karl Ritter; they both discovered a living-room in the palace
at a sufficient distance from mine to be out of earshot. In this way I
consented to put up with his proximity, although it was a long time
before I allowed Ritter to bring him to me of an evening.

A Venetian piano-teacher, Tessarin by name, was more successful than
Winterberger in winning favour with me. He was a typical handsome
Venetian, with a curious impediment in his speech; he had a passion for
German music, and was well acquainted with Liszt's new compositions,
and also with my own operas. He admitted that having regard to his
surroundings he was a 'white raven' in matters musical. He also
succeeded in approaching me through Ritter, who seemed to be devoting
himself in Venice to the study of human nature rather than to work. He
had taken a small and extremely modest dwelling on the Riva dei
Schiavoni, which, being in a sunny position, required no artificial
heating. This was in reality less for himself than for his scanty
luggage, as he was hardly ever at home, but was running about in the
daytime after pictures and collections; in the evening, however, he
studied human nature in the cafes on the Piazza San Marco. He was the
only person I saw regularly every day; otherwise I rigorously avoided
any other society or acquaintance. I was repeatedly asked by the
Princess Galitzin's private physician to call upon that lady, who came
to Venice very shortly and appeared to be living in grand style. Once,
when I wanted the piano scores of Tannhauser and Lohengrin, and had
heard that the Princess was the only person in Venice who possessed
them, I was bold enough to ask her for them, but I did not feel it
incumbent on me to call on her for that purpose. On only one occasion
did any stranger succeed in interrupting my seclusion, and then it was
because his appearance had pleased me when I had met him in the Albergo
San Marco; this was Rahl the painter, from Vienna. I once went so far
as to arrange a sort of soiree for him, Prince Dolgoroukow, and
Tessarin the pianoforte teacher, at which a few of my pieces were
played. It was then that Winterberger made his debut.

All my social experiences during the seven months I spent in Venice
were limited to these few attempts at friendly intercourse, and apart
from these my days were planned out with the utmost regularity during
the whole time. I worked till two o'clock, then I got into the gondola
that was always in waiting, and was taken along the solemn Grand Canal
to the bright Piazzetta, the peculiar charm of which always had a
cheerful effect on me. After this I made for my restaurant in the
Piazza San Marco, and when I had finished my meal I walked alone or
with Karl along the Riva to the Giardino Pubblico, the only
pleasure-ground in Venice where there are any trees, and at nightfall I
came back in the gondola down the canal, then more sombre and silent,
till I reached the spot where I could see my solitary lamp shining from
the night-shrouded facade of the old Palazzo Giustiniani. After I had
worked a little longer Karl, heralded by the swish of the gondola,
would come in regularly at eight o'clock for a few hours' chat over our
tea. Very rarely did I vary this routine by a visit to one of the
theatres. When I did, I preferred the performances at the Camploi
Theatre, where Goldoni's pieces were very well played; but I seldom
went to the opera, and when I did go it was merely out of curiosity.
More frequently, when bad weather deprived us of our walk, we
patronised the popular drama at the Malibran Theatre, where the
performances were given in the daytime. The admission cost us six
kreuzers. The audiences were excellent, the majority being in their
shirt-sleeves, and the pieces given were generally of the
ultra-melodramatic type. However, one day to my great astonishment and
intense delight I saw there Le Baruffe Chioggiote, the grotesque comedy
that had appealed so strongly to Goethe in his day, at this very
theatre. So true to nature was this performance that it surpassed
anything of the kind I have ever witnessed.

There was little else that attracted my attention in the oppressed and
degenerate life of the Venetian people, and the only impression I
derived from the exquisite ruin of this wonderful city as far as human
interest is concerned was that of a watering-place kept up for the
benefit of visitors. Strangely enough, it was the thoroughly German
element of good military music, to which so much attention is paid in
the Austrian army, that brought me into touch with public life in
Venice. The conductors in the two Austrian regiments quartered there
began playing overtures of mine, Rienzi and Tannhauser for instance,
and invited me to attend their practices in their barracks. There I
also met the whole staff of officers, and was treated by them with
great respect. These bands played on alternate evenings amid brilliant
illuminations in the middle of the Piazza San Marco, whose acoustic
properties for this class of production were really excellent. I was
often suddenly startled towards the end of my meal by the sound of my
own overtures; then, as I sat at the restaurant window giving myself up
to impressions of the music, I did not know which dazzled me most, the
incomparable piazza magnificently illuminated and filled with countless
numbers of moving people, or the music that seemed to be borne away in
rustling glory to the winds. Only one thing was wanting that might
certainly have been expected from an Italian audience: the people were
gathered round the band in thousands listening most intently, but no
two hands ever forgot themselves so far as to applaud, as the least
sign of approbation of Austrian military music would have been looked
upon as treason to the Italian Fatherland. All public life in Venice
also suffered by this extraordinary rift between the general public and
the authorities; this was peculiarly apparent in the relations of the
population to the Austrian officers, who floated about publicly in
Venice like oil on water. The populace, too, behaved with no less
reserve, or one might even say hostility, to the clergy, who were for
the most part of Italian origin. I saw a procession of clerics in their
vestments passing along the Piazza San Marco accompanied by the people
with unconcealed derision.

It was very difficult for Ritter to induce me to interrupt my daily
arrangements even to visit a gallery or a church, though, whenever we
had to pass through the town, the exceedingly varied architectonic
peculiarities and beauties always delighted me afresh. But the frequent
gondola trips towards the Lido constituted my chief enjoyment during
practically the whole of my stay in Venice. It was more especially on
our homeward journeys at sunset that I was always over-powered by
unique impressions. During the first part of our stay in the September
of that year we saw on one of these occasions the marvellous apparition
of the great comet, which at that time was at its highest brilliancy,
and was generally said to portend an imminent catastrophe. The singing
of a popular choral society, trained by an official of the Venetian
arsenal, seemed like a real lagoon idyll. They generally sang only
three-part naturally harmonised folk-songs. It was new to me not to
hear the higher voice rise above the compass of the alto, that is to
say, without touching the soprano, thereby imparting to the sound of
the chorus a manly youthfulness hitherto unknown to me. On fine
evenings they glided down the Grand Canal in a large illuminated
gondola, stopping before a few palaces as if to serenade (when
requested and paid for so doing, be it understood), and generally
attracted a number of other gondolas in their wake. During one
sleepless night, when I felt impelled to go out on to my balcony in the
small hours, I heard for the first time the famous old folk-song of the
gondolieri. I seemed to hear the first call, in the stillness of the
night, proceeding from the Rialo to about a mile away like a rough
lament, and answered in the same tone from a yet further distance in
another direction. This melancholy dialogue, which was repeated at
longer intervals, affected me so much that I could not fix the very
simple musical component parts in my memory. However, on a subsequent
occasion I was told that this folk-song was of great poetic interest.
As I was returning home late one night on the gloomy canal, the moon
appeared suddenly and illuminated the marvellous palaces and the tall
figure of my gondolier towering above the stern of the gondola, slowly
moving his huge sweep. Suddenly he uttered a deep wail, not unlike the
cry of an animal; the cry gradually gained in strength, and formed
itself, after a long-drawn 'Oh!' into the simple musical exclamation
'Venezia!' This was followed by other sounds of which I have no
distinct recollection, as I was so much moved at the time. Such were
the impressions that to me appeared the most characteristic of Venice
during my stay there, and they remained with me until the completion of
the second act of Tristan, and possibly even suggested to me the
long-drawn wail of the shepherd's horn at the beginning of the third

These sensations, however, did not manifest themselves very easily or
consecutively. Bodily sufferings and my usual cares, that never quite
left me, often considerably hindered and disturbed my work. I had
scarcely settled down comfortably in my rooms, the northerly aspect of
which exposed them to frequent gusts of wind (from which I had
practically no protection in the form of heating appliances), and had
barely got over the demoralising effect of dysentery, when I fell a
victim to a specific Venetian complaint, namely a carbuncle on my leg,
as the result of the extreme change of climate and of air. This
happened just when I was intending to resume the second act, that had
been so cruelly interrupted. The malady, which I had first regarded as
slight, soon increased and became exceedingly painful, and I was
obliged to call in a doctor, who had to treat me carefully for nearly
four weeks. It was in the late autumn, towards the end of November,
that Ritter left me to pay a visit to his relations and friends in
Dresden and Berlin; I therefore remained quite alone during this long
illness, with no other society than that of the servants of the house.
Incapable of work, I amused myself by reading the History of Venice by
Count Daru, in which I became much interested, as I was on the spot.
Through it I lost some of my popular prejudices against the tyrannical
mode of government in ancient Venice. The ill-famed Council of Ten and
the State Inquisition appeared to me in a peculiar, although certainly
horrible, light; the open admission that in the secrecy of its methods
lay the guarantee of the power of the state, seemed to me so decidedly
in the interests of each and every member of the marvellous republic,
that the suppression of all knowledge was very wisely considered a
republican duty. Actual hypocrisy was entirely foreign to this state
constitution; moreover the clerical element, however respectfully
treated by the government, never exercised an unworthy influence on the
development of the character of the citizens as in other parts of
Italy. The terrible selfish calculations of state reasons were turned
into maxims of quite an ancient heathen character, not really evil in
themselves, but reminiscent of similar maxims among the Athenians,
which, as we read in Thucydides, were adopted by them in all
simplicity, as the foundations of human morality. In addition to this I
once more took up, by way of a restorative, as I had often done before,
a volume of Schopenhauer, with whom I became on intimate terms, and I
experienced a sensation of relief when I found that I was now able to
explain the tormenting gaps in his system by the aids which he himself

My few associations with the outer world now became calmer, but one day
I was distressed by a letter from Wesendonck in which he informed me of
the death of his son Guido, who was about four years old; it depressed
me to think that I had refused to stand godfather to him, on the
pretext that I might bring him bad luck. This event touched me deeply,
and as I was longing for a thorough rest, I mapped out for myself a
short journey across the Alps, with the idea that I might spend
Christmas with my old friends, and offer them my condolences. I
informed Mme. Wille of this idea, and in reply received, strange to
say, from her husband instead of from herself, some quite unexpected
particulars regarding the extremely unpleasant curiosity which my
sudden departure from Zurich had caused, especially in reference to the
part my wife had played in it, and at which the Wesendonck family had
been so much annoyed. As I also heard how skilfully Wesendonck had
treated the matter, some agreeable communications followed couched in
conciliatory terms. It was much to Minna's credit that in her relations
towards me she had by her letters proved herself wise and considerate,
and while staying in Dresden, where she met her old friends, she lived
quietly, and I always provided for her amicably. By so doing she
strengthened the impression she had made on me at the time of that
touching nocturnal scene, and I willingly put before her the
possibility of a domestic reunion, provided that we could establish a
home that promised to be a permanent one, which at that time I could
only picture to myself as feasible in Germany, and if possible in
Dresden. To obtain some idea as to whether it was possible to carry out
such an arrangement, I lost no time in applying to Luttichau, as I had
received favourable reports from Minna about his kindly feeling and
warm attachment to me. I really went so far as to write to him
cordially and in detail. It was another lesson for me when in return I
received occasionally a few dry lines in a businesslike tone, in which
he pointed out that at that moment nothing could be done with respect
to my desired return to Saxony. On the other hand, I learned through
the police authorities in Venice, that the Saxon ambassador in Vienna
ardently wished to drive me even out of Venice. This proved
unsuccessful, however, as I was sufficiently protected by a Swiss
passport, which to my great delight the Austrian authorities duly
respected. The only hope I had with regard to my longed-for return to
Germany was based on the friendly efforts of the Grand Duke of Baden.
Eduard Devrient, to whom I also applied for more definite information
respecting our project of a first performance of Tristan, informed me
that the Grand Duke looked upon my presence at the performance as an
understood thing; whether he was taking any steps on his own account
against the League, in case his direct efforts to obtain the King of
Saxony's permission should be fruitless, or whether he intended to
accomplish it in some other way, he did not know. Consequently I
realised that I could not count on the possibility of an early
settlement in Germany.

A great deal of my time was taken up in correspondence with the object
of procuring the necessary means of subsistence, which at that time,
owing to the divided household, made no small calls upon my purse.
Fortunately a few of the larger theatres had not yet come to terms
about my operas, so I might still expect some fees from them, whereas
those from the more active theatres had already been spent. The
Stuttgart Court Theatre was the last to apply for Tannhauser. At that
time I had a particular affection for Stuttgart, owing to the reasons I
have already mentioned; this was also true of Vienna, which had been
the first place to produce Lohengrin, and, in consequence of its
success, thought it necessary to secure Tannhauser. My negotiations
with Eckert, who was director at that time, quickly led to satisfactory

All this happened during the course of the winter and early spring of
1859. Otherwise I lived very quietly and with great regularity, as I
have described. After recovering the use of my leg, I was able in
December to begin my regular gondola trips to the Piazzetta again and
the return journeys in the evening, and also to give myself up for some
time uninterruptedly to my musical work. I spent Christmas and New
Year's Eve quite alone, but in my dreams at night I often found myself
in society, which had a very disturbing effect on my rest.

At the beginning of 1859 Karl Ritter suddenly turned up again at my
rooms for his usual evening visits. His anxiety about the performance
of a dramatic piece he had written had taken him to the shores of the
Baltic. This was a work he had completed a short time before ARMIDA,
much of which again showed his great talent. The tendency of the whole
play is to show terrible glimpses of the poet's soul, and these prevent
one from passing a favourable judgment on some parts of the piece, but
other parts, notably the meeting of Rinaldo with Armida, and the
violent birth of their love, are depicted by the author with real
poetic fire. As is the case with all such works, which are in reality
always hampered by the superficiality of the dilettante, much should
have been altered and rewritten for stage effect. Karl would not hear
of this; on the contrary, he thought he had discovered, in an
intelligent theatrical manager in Stettin, the very man who would lay
aside any such considerations as were peculiar to me. He had, however,
been disappointed in this hope, and had come back to Venice intending
to carry out his fond desire of living aimlessly. To wander through
Rome clad in the garb of a capuchin, studying the treasures of art from
hour to hour, was the kind of existence he would have preferred to any

He would not hear of a remodelled version of ARMIDA, but declared his
intention to set to work on some new dramatic material which he had
taken from Machiavelli's FLORENTINE HISTORIES. He would not specify
what this material was more definitely, lest I should dissuade him from
using it, inasmuch as it contained only situations, and absolutely no
indication of any purpose. He seemed no longer to have any desire to
give himself up to musical work, although even in this respect the
young man showed himself to me in a thoroughly interesting light by a
fantasy for the piano which he had written soon after his arrival in
Venice. Nevertheless he displayed a more highly intelligent
appreciation than before of the development of the second act of
Tristan, in which I had at last made regular progress. In the evening I
frequently played to him, Winterberger and Tessarin, the portions I had
completed during the day, and they were always deeply moved. During the
previous interruption in my work, which had lasted rather a long time,
Hartel had engraved the first act of the score, and Bulow had arranged
it for the piano. Thus a portion of the opera lay before me in
monumental completeness, while I was still in a fruitful state of
excitement with regard to the execution of the whole. And now in the
early months of the year the orchestration of this act, which I
continued to send in groups of sheets to the publisher to be engraved,
also neared completion. By the middle of March I was able to send off
the last sheets to Leipzig.

It was now necessary to make new decisions for my plan of life. The
question presented itself as to where I was going to compose the third
act; for I wished to begin it only in a place where I had a prospect of
finishing it undisturbed. It seemed as if this was not destined to be
the case in Venice. My work would have occupied me until late into the
summer, and on account of my health I did not think I dared spend the
hot weather in Venice. Its climate about this time of the year did not
commend itself to me. Already I had found great disadvantages and
anything but favourable results from the fact that it was not possible
to enjoy the invigorating recreation of rambling about in this place.
Once in the winter, when I wanted a good walk, I had gone by train to
Viterbo to take my fill of exercise by tramping inland for several
miles towards the mountains. Inhospitable weather had opposed my
progress, and this, added to other unfavourable circumstances, resulted
in my bringing away from my excursion nothing more valuable than a
favourable opinion of the city of lagoons, to which I fled as to a
place of refuge against the dust of the streets and the spectacle of
horses being cruelly used. Moreover, it now turned out that my further
stay in Venice no longer depended wholly on my own will. I had been
recently cited (very politely) before a commissioner of police, who
informed me, without mincing the matter, that there had been an
incessant agitation on the part of the Saxon embassy in Vienna against
my remaining in what was a part of the Austrian Empire. When I
explained that I only wished to extend my stay to the beginning of
spring, I was advised to obtain permission to do so from the Archduke
Maximilian, who as viceroy resided in Milan, preferring my request on
the ground of ill-health as alleged by a doctor's certificate. I did
this, and the Archduke issued immediate instructions by telegram to the
Administrative Government of Venice, to leave me in peace.

But soon it became clear to me that the political situation, which was
putting Austrian Italy into a state of ferment, might develop into an
occasion for renewing active precautionary measures against strangers.
The outbreak of war with Piedmont and France became more and more
imminent, and the evidence of deep agitation in the Italian population
grew more unmistakable every moment. One day, when I was sauntering up
and down the Riva with Tessarin, we came upon a fairly large crowd of
strangers, who, with a mixture of respect and curiosity, were watching
the Archduke Maximilian and his wife as they were taking the air during
a short visit to Venice. The situation was rapidly conveyed to me by my
Venetian pianist, who nudged me violently and sought to drag me away
from the spot by my arm: in order that, as he explained, I might be
spared the necessity of raising my hat to the Archduke. Seeing the
stately and very attractive figure of the young Prince passing along, I
slipped by my friend with a laugh, and took honest pleasure in being
able by my greeting to thank him for his protection, although, of
course, he did not know who I was.

Soon, however, everything began to assume a more serious aspect, and to
look gloomy and depressing. Day by day the Riva was so crowded with
troops newly disembarked, that it became quite unavailable for a
promenade. The officers of these troops, on the whole, made a very
favourable impression on me, and their homely German tongue, as they
chatted harmlessly with one another, reminded me pleasantly of home. In
the rank and file, on the other hand, I could not possibly feel any
confidence, for in them I saw chiefly the dull servile features of
certain leading Slav races in the Austrian monarchy. One could not fail
to recognise in them a certain brute force, but it was no less clear
that they were entirely devoid of that naive intelligence which is such
an attractive characteristic of the Italian people. I could not but
grudge the former race their victory over the latter. The facial
expression of these troops recurred forcibly to my memory in the autumn
of this year in Paris, when I could not avoid comparing the picked
French troops, the Chasseurs de Vincennes and the Zouaves, with these
Austrian soldiers; and without any scientific knowledge of strategy, I
understood in a flash the battles of Magenta and Solferino. For the
present I learned that Milan was already in a state of seige and was
almost completely barred to foreigners. As I had determined to seek my
summer refuge in Switzerland on the Lake of Lucerne, this news
accelerated my departure; for I did not want to have my retreat cut off
by the exigencies of war. So I packed up my things, sent the Erard once
more over the Gotthard, and prepared to take leave of my few,
acquaintances. Ritter had resolved to remain in Italy; he intended to
go to Florence and Rome, whither Winterberger, with whom he had struck
up a friendship, had hurried in advance. Winterberger declared that he
was provided by a brother with money enough to enjoy Italy--an
experience which he declared necessary for his recreation and recovery,
from what disease I do not know. Ritter therefore counted upon leaving
Venice within a very short time. My leave-taking with the worthy
Dolgoroukow, whom I left in great suffering, was very sincere, and I
embraced Karl at the station, probably for the last time, for from that
moment I was left without any direct news of him, and have not seen him
to this day.

On the 24th of March, after some adventures caused by the military
control of strangers, I reached Milan, where I allowed myself to stay
three days to see the sights. Without any official guide to help me, I
contented myself with following up the simplest directions I could
obtain to the Brera, the Ambrosian Library, the 'Last Supper' of
Leonardo da Vinci, and the cathedral. I climbed the various roofs and
towers of this cathedral at all points. Finding, as I always did, that
my first impressions were the liveliest, I confined my attention in the
Brera chiefly to two pictures which confronted me as soon as I entered;
they were Van Dyck's 'Saint Anthony before the Infant Jesus' and
Crespi's 'Martyrdom of Saint Stephen.' I realised on this occasion that
I was not a good judge of pictures, because when once the subject has
made a clear and sympathetic appeal to me, it settles my view, and
nothing else counts. A strange light, however, was shed on the effect
made by the purely artistic significance of a masterpiece, when I stood
before Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' and had the same experience as
every one else. This work of art, although it is almost entirely
destroyed as a picture, produces such an extraordinary effect on the
mind of the spectator, that even after a close examination of the
copies hanging beside it representing it in a restored state, when he
turns to the ruined picture the fact is suddenly revealed to the eye of
his soul that the contents of the original are absolutely inimitable.
In the evening I made all haste to get to the Italian comedy again. I
grew very fond of it, and found it had installed itself here in the
tiny Teatro Re for the benefit of a small audience of the lower orders.
The Italians of to-day unfortunately despise it heartily. Here, too,
the comedies of Goldoni were played with, as it seemed to me,
considerable and ingenious skill. On the other hand, it was my fate to
be present at a performance in the Scala Theatre, where, in a setting
of an external magnificence that was extraordinary, it was proved true
that Italian taste was degenerating sadly. Before the most brilliant
and enthusiastic audience one could wish for, gathered together in that
immense theatre, an incredibly worthless fake of an opera by a modern
composer, whose name I have forgotten, was performed. The same evening
I learned, however, that although the Italian public was passionately
fond of song, it was the ballet which they regarded as the main item;
for, obviously, the dreary opera, at the beginning was only intended to
prepare the way for a groat choreographic performance on a subject no
less pretentious than that of Antony and Cleopatra. In this ballet I
saw even the cold politician Octavianus, who until now had not so far
lost his dignity as to appear as a character in any Italian opera,
acting in pantomime and contriving fairly successfully to maintain an
attitude of diplomatic reserve. The climax, however, was reached in the
scene of Cleopatra's funeral. This afforded the immense staff of the
ballet an opportunity for displaying the most varied picturesque
effects in highly characteristic costumes.

After receiving these impressions all by myself, I travelled to Lucerne
one brilliant spring day by way of Como, where everything was in full
blossom, through Lugano, which I knew already, and the Gotthard, which
I had to cross in small open sledges along towering walls of snow. When
I reached Lucerne the weather was bitterly cold, in contrast with the
genial spring I had enjoyed in Italy. The allowance of money I had made
for my stay in Lucerne was based on the assumption that the big Hotel
Schweizerhof was quite empty from about this time until the summer
season began, and that without further preliminaries I should be able
to find a lodging there both spacious and free from noise. This hope
had not been entertained in vain. The courteous manager of the hotel,
Colonel Segesser, allotted to me a whole floor in the annexe on the
left, to occupy at my pleasure. I could make myself quite comfortable
here in the larger rooms at a moderate price. As the hotel at this time
of the year had only a very small staff of servants, it was left to me
to make arrangements for some one to wait upon me. For this purpose I
found a careful woman well suited to look after my comfort. Many years
afterwards, remembering the good services she had rendered me,
especially later on when the number of guests had increased, I engaged
her as my housekeeper.

Soon my things arrived from Venice. The Erard had been obliged to cross
the Alps again when the snow was on the ground. When it was set up in
my spacious drawing-room, I said to myself that all this trouble and
expense had been incurred to enable me at last to complete the third
act of Tristan und Isolde. There were times when this seemed to me to
be an extravagant ambition; for the difficulties in the way of
finishing my work seemed to make it impossible. I compared myself to
Leto who, in order to find a place in which to give birth to Apollo and
Artemis, was hunted about the world and could find no resting-place
until Poseidon, taking compassion on her, caused the island of Delos to
rise from the sea.

I wished to regard Lucerne as this Delos. But the terrible influence of
the weather, which was intensely cold and continuously wet, weighed
upon my spirits in a most unfriendly fashion until the end of May. As
such great sacrifice had been made to find this new place of refuge, I
thought every day had been uselessly frittered away which had not
contributed something to my work of composing. For the greater part of
my third act I was occupied with a subject sad beyond words; it came to
such a pass that it is only with a shudder that I can recall the first
few months of this emigration to Lucerne.

A few days after my arrival I had already visited the Wesendoncks in
Zurich. Our meeting was melancholy, but in no way embarrassed. I spent
some days in my friends' house, where I saw my old Zurich acquaintances
again, and felt as though I were passing from one dream to another. In
fact, everything assumed an air of unsubstantiality for me. Several
times in the course of my stay in Lucerne I repeated this visit, which
was twice returned to me, once on the occasion of my birthday.

Besides the work on which I was now somewhat gloriously engaged, I was
also heavy with cares about keeping myself and my wife alive. Of my own
accord and out of necessary respect for the circumstances in which my
friends the Ritters were placed, I had already in Venice felt myself
for the future obliged to decline their voluntary support. I was
beginning to exhaust the little that I could contrive to extract with
difficulty from those of my operas which up to this period it had been
possible to produce. It was settled that I should take up the
Nibelungen work when Tristan was finished, and I thought it my duty to
find out some way of making my future existence easier. This Nibelungen
work spurred me to the attempt. The Grand Duke of Weimar still kept up
his interest in it, to judge from the communications I had received
from him during the previous year. I therefore wrote to Liszt and
repeated my request that he would make a serious proposal to the Grand
Duke to buy the copyright of the work and arrange for its publication,
with the right of disposing of it to a publisher on his own terms. I
enclosed my former negotiations with Hartel, which had been broken off,
and which were now intended to serve as a fair basis for what may be
called the business arrangement that Liszt was to enter into with the
Grand Duke. Liszt soon gave me an embarrassed hint that his Royal
Highness was not really keen on it. This was quite enough for me.

On the other hand, I was driven by circumstances to come to an
agreement with Meser in Dresden about the unfortunate copyright of my
three earlier operas. The actor Kriete, one of my principal creditors,
was making piteous demands for the return of his capital. Schmidt, a
Dresden lawyer, offered to put the matter right, and after a long and
heated correspondence it was arranged that a certain H. Muller,
successor to Meser, who had died a short time before, should enter into
possession of the copyright of these publications. On this occasion I
heard of nothing but of the costs and expenditure to which my former
agent had been put; but it was impossible to get any clear account of
the receipts he had taken from my works beyond the fact that the lawyer
admitted to me that the late Meser must have put aside some thousands
of thalers, which, however, it would not be possible to lay hands on,
as he had not left his heirs any funds at all.

In order to pacify the woeful Kriete, I was eventually obliged to agree
to sell my rights in the works Meser had published for nine thousand
marks, which represented the exact sum I owed to Kriete and another
creditor who held a smaller share. With regard to the arrears of
interest still owing on the money at compound rate, I remained Kriete's
personal debtor; the joint sum amounted in the year 1864 to five
thousand four hundred marks, which were duly claimed of me about this
time with all the pressure of the law. In the interests of Pusinelli,
my chief creditor, who could only be provided under this arrangement
with inadequate payment, I reserved to myself the French copyright of
these three operas, in the event of this music being produced in France
through my efforts at finding a publisher to purchase it in that

According to the contents of a letter from the lawyer Schmidt, this
reservation of mine had been accepted by the present publisher in
Dresden. Pusinelli in a friendly spirit forbore to take advantage of
the benefits accruing to him from this arrangement, in regard to the
capital he had formerly lent me. He assured me he would never claim it.
Thus one possibility remained open to me for the future: that if my
operas could make their way into France, although there would be no
question of any profit coming to me through those works of mine, I
should be reimbursed for the capital I had spent on them and for that
which I had been obliged to guarantee. When, later on, my Paris
publisher Flaxland and I came to make out an agreement, Meser's
successor in Dresden announced himself as absolute proprietor of my
operas, and actually succeeded in putting so many obstacles in
Flaxland's way in the conduct of his French business, that the latter
was compelled to purchase peace at the price of six thousand francs.
The natural result of this was that Flaxland was placed in the position
of being able to deny that it was I who owned the French copyright of
my work. Upon this I made repeated appeals to Adolph Schmidt, the
lawyer, to give evidence in my favour, asking nothing more of him than
that he should forward to me a copy of the correspondence referring to
the rights I had reserved, which had become valid in the Lucerne
transaction. To all the letters addressed to him on this subject,
however, he obstinately refused an answer, and I learned later on from
a Viennese lawyer that I must give up hoping to get this kind of
evidence, as I had no legal means in my possession to force the
advocate to give it, if he were not so inclined.

While, owing to this, I had little opportunity of improving my
prospects for the future, I had at least the satisfaction of seeing the
score of Tannhauser engraved at last. As the stock of my earlier
autograph copies had come to an end, chiefly through the wasteful
management of Meser, I had already persuaded Hartel when I was in
Venice to have the score engraved. Meser's successor had acquired the
complete rights of this work, and therefore regarded it as a point of
honour not to give up the score to another publisher; consequently he
took over the task of producing it at his own cost. Unluckily fate
demanded that just a year later I had to revise and reconstruct the
first two scenes completely. To this day it is a subject of regret to
me not to have been able to introduce this fresh piece of work into the
engraved score.

The Hartels, never faltering in their assumption that Tristan might
provide good food for the theatre, set their men busily to work upon
engraving the score of the second act, while I was at work on the
third. The process of registering corrections, while I was in the
throes of composing the third act--one long ecstasy--wielded over me a
strange, almost uncanny influence; for in the first scenes of this act
it was made clear to me that in this opera (which had been most
unwarrantably assumed to be an easy one to produce), I had embodied the
most daring and most exotic conception in all my writings. While I was
at work on the great scene of Tristan, found myself often asking
whether I was not mad to want to give such work to a publisher to print
for the theatre. And yet I could not have parted with a single accent
in that tale of pain, although the whole thing tortured me to the last

I tried to overcome my gastric troubles by using (among other things)
Kissingen water in moderate doses. As I was fatigued and made incapable
of work by the early walks I had to take during this treatment, it
occurred to me to take a short ride instead. For this purpose the hotel
manager lent me a horse, aged twenty-five, named Lise. On this animal I
rode every morning as long as it would carry me. It never conveyed me
very far, but turned back regularly at certain spots without taking the
slightest notice of my directions.

Thus passed the months of April, May, and the greater part of June,
without my completing even half of my composition for the third act,
and all the while I was contending with a mood of the deepest
melancholy. At last came the season for the visitors to arrive; the
hotel with its annexes began to fill, and it was no longer possible to
think of maintaining my exceptional privilege with regard to the use of
such choice quarters. It was proposed to move me to the second storey
of the main building, where only travellers who spent the night on
their way to other places in Switzerland were put up, whereas in the
annexes people were lodged who came to make a long stay, and who used
their rooms day and night. As a matter of fact, this arrangement
answered admirably. From this time forward I was completely undisturbed
during the hours of my work in my little sitting-room with its
adjoining bedchamber, as the rooms engaged for the night by strangers
in this storey were perfectly empty in the daytime.

Really splendid summer weather set in eventually, lasting a good two
months with a continuously cloudless sky. I enjoyed the curious charm
of protecting myself against the extremes of the sun's heat by
carefully keeping my room cool and dark, and going out on to my balcony
only in the evening to surrender myself to the influence of the summer
air. Two good horn-players gave me great pleasure by providing a
performance of simple folk-songs almost regularly in a skiff on the
lake. In my work, too, I had now luckily passed the critical point, and
in spite of its sorrowful character, the more subdued mood of that part
of my poem which I had still to master, threw me into a sincere
spiritual ecstasy, during which I completed the composition of the
whole work by the beginning of August, fragments only remaining to be

Lonely as was my life, the exciting events of the Italian war provided
me plenty of interest. I followed this struggle, as unexpected as it
was significant, through the thrilling course of its successes and
reverses. Still I did not remain entirely without company. In July,
Felix Drasecke, whom I had not known before, came to Lucerne for a
lengthy visit. After hearing a performance of the prelude to Tristan
und Isolde conducted by Liszt, he had almost immediately determined to
make himself personally acquainted with me. I was completely terrified
by his arrival, and was at a loss to know what to do with him.
Moreover, as his talk was in a certain facetious vein, overflowing with
stories of persons and circumstances for which I was gradually losing
all appreciation, he soon began to bore me, a fact which astonished
him, and which he recognised so clearly that he thought he had better
leave after a few days. This made me in my turn embarrassed, and I now
took special care to deprive him of the bad opinion he had formed of
me. I soon learned to like him, and for a considerable time, until
shortly before his departure from Lucerne, he was my daily companion,
from whose intercourse I derived much pleasure, as he was a highly
gifted musician and by no means a prig. But Drasecke was not my only

Wilhelm Baumgartner, my old Zurich acquaintance, came to spend a few
weeks in Lucerne out of kindness to me. And lastly Alexander Seroff
from St. Petersburg came to stay some time in the neighbourhood. He was
a remarkable man, of great intelligence, and openly prepossessed in
favour of Liszt and myself. He had heard my Lohengrin in Dresden and
wanted to know more of me--an ambition I was obliged to satisfy by
playing Tristan to him in the rough-and-ready fashion which was
peculiar to me. I went up Mount Pilatus with Drasecke, and again had to
look after a companion who suffered from giddiness. To celebrate his
departure I invited him to take an excursion to Brunnen and the Grutli.
After this we took leave of each other for the time being, as his
moderate resources did not permit him to remain any longer, and I too
was seriously thinking of taking my departure.

The question now arose as to where I was to go. I had addressed
letters, first through Eduard Devrient, and finally direct to the Grand
Duke of Baden, asking the latter for a guarantee that I might settle,
if not in Karlsruhe itself, at least in some small place in the
neighbourhood. This would suffice to set at rest a craving, which could
no longer be suppressed, for intercourse now and then with an orchestra
and a company of singers, if only to hear them play. I learned later
that the Grand Duke had really bestirred himself in the matter by
writing to the King of Saxony. But the view still prevailed in that
quarter that I could not be granted an amnesty, but could only hope to
receive an act of grace; it being assumed, of course, that I would
first have to report myself to a magistrate for examination. Thus the
fulfilment of my wish remained impossible, and I shrank in dismay
before the problem of how to secure a performance of my Tristan which I
could superintend in person, as I had determined to do. I was assured
that the Grand Duke would know what measures to resort to in order to
meet the situation. But the question was, where was I to turn for a
place in which to settle with some prospect of being able to remain
there. I longed for a permanent home again. After due consideration I
decided that Paris was the only place where I could make sure of now
and then hearing a good orchestra and a first-class quartette. Without
these stimulating influences Zurich at last became unbearable, and in
no other city but Paris, where I could stay undisturbed, could I safely
reckon on being able to obtain artistic recreation of a sufficiently
high standard.

At last I had to bestir myself to come to a decision about my wife. We
had now been apart from each other for a whole year. After the hard
lessons she had received from me, and which, according to her letters,
had left a deep impression upon her, I was justified in assuming that
the renewal of our life in common might be made tolerable; especially
as it would remove the grave difficulty of her maintenance. I therefore
agreed with her that she should join me late in the autumn in Paris. In
the meantime I was willing to look for a possible abode there, and
undertook to arrange for the removal of our furniture and household
goods to the French capital. In order to carry out this plan financial
assistance was imperative, as the means at my disposal were quite
inadequate. I then made to Wesendonck the same offer in regard to my
Nibelungen that I had made to the Grand Duke of Weimar, that is to say,
I proposed that he should buy the copyright for publishing the work.
Wesendonck acceded to my wishes without demur, and was ready to buy out
each of the completed portions of my work in turn for about the same
sum as it was reasonable to suppose a publisher would pay for it later
on. I was not able to fix my departure, which took place on the 7th of
September, when I went for a three days' visit to my friends in Zurich.
I spent these days at the Wesendonck's, where I was well looked after
and saw my former acquaintances, Herwegh, Semper, and Gottfried Keller.
One of the evenings I spent with them was marked by an animated dispute
with Semper over the political events of the time. Semper professed to
recognise, in the recent defeat of Austria, the defeat of the German
nationality; in the Romance element represented by Louis Napoleon, he
recognised a sort of Assyrian despotism which he hated both in art and
politics. He expressed himself with such emphasis that Keller, who was
generally so silent, was provoked into a lively debate. Semper in his
turn was so aggravated at this, that at last in a fit of desperation he
blamed me for luring him into the enemy's camp, by being the cause of
his invitation to the Wesendonck's. We made it up before we parted that
night, and met again on several occasions after this, when we took care
never again to let our discussions become so passionate. From Zurich I
went to Winterthur to visit Sulzer. I did not see my friend himself,
but only his wife and the boy she had borne to him since my last visit;
the mother and child made a very touching and friendly impression on
me, particularly when I realised that I must now regard my old friend
in the light of a happy father.

On the 15th of September I reached Paris. I had intended to fix my
abode somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Champs Elysees, and with
this object in view at once looked out for temporary lodgings in that
district, which I found eventually in the Avenue de Matignon. My main
object was to discover my desired peaceful place of refuge in some
small house remote from the thoroughfares. I at once bestirred myself
to find this, and thought it my duty to make use of every acquaintance
I could call to mind. The Olliviers were not in Paris at the time;
Countess d'Agoult was ill, and was also busy arranging her departure
for Italy, and unable to receive me. She referred me to her daughter
the Countess Charnace, upon whom I called, but without being able to
explain to her the purpose I had in view. I also looked up the Herold
family, who had received me in such a friendly way on my last visit to
Paris; but I found Mme. Herold in a strange and morbidly excitable
state of mind, the result of ill-health, so that instead of discussing
my views with her, my only thought was to keep her calm and avoid
upsetting her by even the slightest appeal for help. In my passionate
longing to find a home I decided to get no further information, but set
about the matter myself. At last I discovered in the Rue Newton near
the Barriere de l'Etoile, a side street off the Champs Elysees, not yet
completed in accordance with a former plan of Paris, a nice little
villa with a small garden. I took this on a three-years' agreement at a
rent of four thousand francs a year. Here, at all events, I might look
for complete quiet and total isolation from the noise of the streets.
This fact alone prepossessed me very much in taking the little house,
the late occupier of which had been the well-known author Octave
Feuillet, who was at that time under the patronage of the imperial
court. But I was puzzled that the building, in spite of my being unable
to detect anything old in its structure, had been so neglected inside.
The proprietor could in no way be induced to do anything to restore the
place and make it habitable, even if I had consented to pay a higher
rent. The reason of this I discovered some time afterwards: the estate
itself was doomed in consequence of the plans for the rebuilding of
Paris; but the time had not yet come to make the official announcement
of the government's intentions to the proprietors, because, had this
been done, their claims to compensation would have become valid at
once. I consequently laboured under the pleasant delusion that whatever
I was obliged to spend on interior decoration and on restoring the
property would, in the course of years, prove to be money well
invested. I therefore proceeded to give the necessary instructions for
the work without hesitating, and ordered my furniture to be sent from
Zurich, thinking that as fate had driven me to my choice, I could
regard myself as a resident of Paris for the rest of my life.

While the house was being prepared, I tried to get my bearings as to
what could be extracted for my future existence out of the popularity
of my artistic works. The first thing I did was to look up M. de
Charnal and to get information from him about the translation of the
libretto of my Rienzi with which he had been entrusted. It turned out
that M. Carvalho, the director of the Theatre Lyrique, would hear of
absolutely nothing but Tannhauser. I prevailed upon Carvalho to visit
me to talk the matter over. He declared that he was most certainly
inclined to produce one of my operas, only it must be Tannhauser,
because, as he explained, this opera was identified with me among the
Parisians, who would think it ridiculous to produce any other work
under the name of 'Wagner.' As to my choice of a translator for the
poem of this opera he seemed to entertain grave doubts: he asked
whether I had not made a mistake, whereupon I tried to get more
definite information about the capabilities of M. de Charnal, and
discovered to my horror that this charming young man, who boasted that
he had collaborated in a melodrama called Schinderhannes, which he
thought was a German romantic subject, had not had the slightest
conception of the character of the work he was handling.

As his enthusiasm moved me, I tried to shape some verses with him and
make them practicable for musical purposes; but I failed utterly, and
all my trouble was in vain. Bulow had once drawn my attention to
Auguste de Gasperini, a young doctor who had ceased to practise, and
whose acquaintance he had made in Baden-Baden, where he discovered that
he was extraordinarily fond of my music. I called upon him without loss
of time, and as he was not in Paris, I wrote to him. This man sent his
friend Leroy to me with a letter of recommendation. He was a
well-educated Parisian music-master, who won my esteem by his
attractive personality. My confidence in him was aroused, because he at
once dissuaded me from associating myself with an obscure journalist on
a theatrical newspaper (in which character M. de Charnal finally
disclosed himself), and advised me to go to Roger, a highly gifted and
experienced operatic singer, who had been a favourite with the Parisian
public and was master of the German language. This lifted a load from
my heart: I accepted the invitation which Leroy arranged for me through
another friend, who took me down to Roger's country place one day to
meet him. I have forgotten the name of this large estate which was
occupied by the Paris tenor, whose fame had been so celebrated up to
that time; the chateau had once belonged to a marquis, and was built in
a very sumptuous style and surrounded by extensive hunting-grounds. It
was the desire to handle a gun and make use of these grounds (which he
loved) that, only a short time before, had landed this charming singer
in a terrible disaster which had shattered his right arm.

I found Roger, some months after the accident, completely recovered;
but the forearm had had to be amputated. The question now was whether a
famous mechanician, who had promised to make him a perfect substitute
for the lost limb even in the matter of free gesticulation, would be
able to carry out his task. He succeeded fairly well, as I saw with my
own eyes some time later, when I witnessed Roger act in a benefit
performance which the Grand Opera had given him, and use his arm so
ingeniously that he received great applause for this reason alone. In
spite of this he had to accept the fact that he was regarded as
'disabled,' and that his career at the Grand Opera in Paris had come to
a close. For the time being he seemed to be glad to secure for himself
some sort of literary occupation, and accepted with much pleasure my
proposal that he should make a translation of Tannhauser for practical
use. He sang to me the French text of some of the main themes which he
had already translated, and they seemed to me good. After I had spent a
day and a night with the singer, who had once been such a popular
favourite, and was now condemned to look forward to a sad decline, I
felt in very good spirits and full of hope, more especially as his
intelligent way of approaching my opera gave me a pleasing idea of the
extent to which it was possible to cultivate the French mind. In spite
of this I had soon to give up the notion of Roger's working for me, as
for a long time he was entirely absorbed in trying to make secure the
position into which he had fallen through his terrible accident. He was
so busy with his own affairs that he could hardly give me an answer to
my inquiries, and for the time being I lost sight of him altogether.

I had come to this arrangement with Roger more by chance than out of
necessity, as I continued to adhere firmly to my plan simply to seek a
suitable pied-a-terre in Paris. My serious artistic enterprises, on the
other hand, were still directed to Germany, from which, from another
point of view, I was an enforced exile. Soon, however, the whole aspect
of affairs changed: the proposed performance of Tristan in Karlsruhe,
on which I had continued to keep an eye, was finally announced as
abandoned. I had to remain uncertain as to the precise reason why this
undertaking had been given up, which at an earlier stage had apparently
been pursued with so much zeal. Devrient pointed out to me that all his
attempts to secure an appropriate representation of the rule of Isolde
had been shattered by my deciding against the singer Garrigues (who had
already married young Schnorr), and that he felt his incapacity to
offer advice on the rest of the business all the more keenly because
Schnorr, the tenor, whose devotion to me was so great, had himself
despaired of being able to execute the last portion of the task
assigned to him. I realised at once that this was an obstacle which I
should have been able to overcome, together with all its disastrous
consequences, if I had been permitted, even for a brief space of time,
to visit Karlsruhe. But the mere expression of this wish seemed, as
soon as it was reiterated, to arouse the bitterest feelings against me.
Devrient expressed his opinion on the matter with so much violence and
brutality that I could not help seeing that what kept me from Karlsruhe
was mainly his personal disinclination to have me there, or to be
interfered with in the conduct of his theatre.

A less potent factor in the situation I found in the painful feeling
now aroused in the Grand Duke at the prospect of not being able to
fulfil the promise he had once held out to me, that I should visit him
in Karlsruhe, where he was in residence; if the main object for the
visit were to subside under pressure of other considerations, he could
only regard this circumstance in the light of an almost desirable
event. At the same time I received from Bulow, who had gone several
times to Karlsruhe, fairly broad hints as to what Devrient was aiming
at. Full light was shed on the affair at a later stage; for the present
it was a matter of the utmost importance for me to face the fact that I
was entirely cut off from Germany, and must think of a fresh field for
the production of Tristan, which lay so near my heart. I rapidly
sketched a plan for starting a German theatre in Paris itself, such as
had existed in bygone years with the co-operation of Schroder-Devrient.
I thought I could safely rely on the possibility of doing so, as the
most eminent singers of the German theatre were known to me, and would
gladly follow me if I were to summon them to Paris on such a mission. I
received messages of ready acceptance, in the event of my succeeding in
founding a German opera season in Paris on a solid basis, from
Tichatschek, Mitterwurzer, Niemann the tenor, and also Luise Meyer in
Vienna. My immediate and besetting care was then to discover in Paris a
suitable man for the task, who would undertake the execution of my plan
at his own risk. My object was to secure the Salle Ventadour for a
spring season of two months after the close of the Italian opera. There
would then be performances of my operas, Tannhauser, Lohengrin, and
finally Tristan, by a chosen company and chorus of German singers, for
the benefit of the Parisian public in general and myself in particular.

With this purpose in mind, my anxieties and endeavours now took a
totally different direction from that towards which they had tended
when I first settled again in Paris; to cultivate acquaintances,
especially among those who had influence, was now of the utmost
importance to me. For this reason I was glad to hear that Gasperini had
arrived in Paris for good. Although I had only known him very slightly
before, I now immediately communicated my plans to him, and was
introduced in the friendliest way to a rich man who was well disposed
towards him, a M. Lucy, who, so I was told, was not without influence,
and was at that time Receiver-General in Marseilles. Our deliberations
convinced us that the most necessary, and indeed indispensable, thing
was to find some one to come forward and finance our enterprise. My
friend Gasperini could not but agree that, on the strength of the
opinions he had himself advanced, it was natural I should look upon M.
Lucy as the very man we wanted; but he thought it advisable to put our
wishes before his friend with some caution, for though Lucy had much
chaleur de coeur, he was principally a man of business and understood
but little of music. Above all, it was necessary that my compositions
should become well known in Paris, so that further enterprises might be
founded on the results thus obtained. With this object in view I
decided to arrange a few important concerts. To effect this I had to
welcome my old friend Belloni, Liszt's former secretary, into the
circle of my closer acquaintances. He immediately enlisted a companion
of his in our cause, a highly intelligent man called Giacomelli, whom I
never knew to be anything but good-natured. He was the editor of a
theatrical journal and was cordially recommended to me by Belloni, as
much for his excellent French as for his exceptional capabilities in
other respects. My new protector's strange editorial office became from
this time one of my most important places of rendezvous, which I
frequented almost daily, and where I met all the curious creatures with
whom, for the purpose of theatrical and similar matters, one is obliged
to mix in Paris. The next thing to be considered was how to obtain the
most suitable hall for my intended concerts. It was evident that I
should appear to greatest advantage before the Parisian public if I
could secure the theatre and orchestra of the Grand Opera.

For this I had to address myself to the Emperor Napoleon, which I did
in a concise letter composed for me by Gasperini. The hostility of
Fould, who was at that time the Minister of the Household to Napoleon,
would probably have to be reckoned with, on account of his friendly
relations to Meyerbeer. The injurious and dreaded influence of this
personage we hoped to counteract by that of M. Mocquard, Napoleon's
secretary, who, as Ollivier declared, composed all the imperial
speeches. In an elan of fiery generosity Lucy decided to appeal to the
friend of his youth, for as such he regarded Mocquard, in a letter of
recommendation to him on my behalf. As even this communication received
no answer from the Tuileries, I and my more practical friends, Belloni
and Giacomelli, with whom I held consultations, grew more doubtful
every day of our own power as opposed to that of the Minister of the
Household, and we therefore entered into negotiations with Calzado, the
director of the Italian Opera, instead. We met with a direct refusal in
this quarter, whereupon I finally decided to seek a personal interview
with the man. By a power of persuasion which astonished even myself,
and, above all, by holding out the prospect of my Tristan at the
Italian Opera possibly proving a huge success, I actually succeeded in
at last obtaining his consent to let the Salle Ventadour for three
evenings with a week's interval between each. But even my passionate
eloquence, which Giacomelli extolled on our way home, could not
persuade him to lower the rent, which he fixed at four thousand francs
an evening, merely for the hire and lighting of the hall.

After this the most important point was to get a first-class orchestra
for my concerts, and my two agents had, for the time being, more than
enough to do in this respect. In consequence of their endeavours on my
behalf I now began to notice the first signs of a hostile, and hitherto
unsuspected, attitude towards me and my undertaking on the part of my
old friend Berlioz. Full of the favourable impression he had made upon
me when we met in London in 1855, which was strengthened by a friendly
correspondence he had kept up for a time, I had called at his house as
soon as I arrived in Paris. As he was not in I turned back into the
street, where I met him on his way home, and noticed that the sight of
me occasioned a convulsive movement of fright, which showed itself in
his whole physiognomy and bearing in a way which was almost gruesome. I
saw at a glance how matters stood between us, but concealed my own
uneasiness under an appearance of natural concern about his state of
health, which he immediately assured me was one of torture, and that he
could only bear up against the most violent attacks of neuralgia with
the help of electric treatment, from which he was just returning. In
order to allay his suffering I offered to leave him immediately, but
this made him so far ashamed of his attitude that he pressed me to
return with him to his house. Here I succeeded in making him feel
somewhat more friendly towards me by disclosing my real intentions in
Paris: even the concerts I proposed giving were merely to serve the
purpose of so far attracting public attention as to make it possible to
establish German opera here, so that when I wished to do so I could
superintend the representation of such of my own works I had not yet
heard; while, on the other hand, I completely renounced the idea of a
French production of Tannhauser, such as the manager Carvalho had
seemed to contemplate. In consequence of these explanations I was
apparently for a time on quite a friendly footing with Berlioz. I
consequently thought that, with regard to the engagement of musicians
for the proposed concerts, I could not on this occasion do better than
refer my agents to this experienced friend, whose advice would
certainly prove invaluable. They afterwards informed me that Berlioz
had at first shown himself sympathetically inclined, but his manner had
suddenly changed one day when Mme. Berlioz entered the room where they
were discussing matters, and exclaimed in a tone of angry surprise,
'Comment, je crois que vous donnez des conseils pour les concerts de M.
Wagner?' Belloni then discovered that this lady had just accepted a
valuable bracelet sent her by Meyerbeer. Being a man of the world he
said to me, 'Do not count upon Berlioz,' and there the whole matter

From this time forward Belloni's bright face was clouded over with an
expression of the deepest anxiety. He thought he had discovered that
the whole Parisian press was exceedingly hostile towards me, which he
had not the slightest doubt was due to the tremendous agitation
Meyerbeer had set on foot from Berlin. He discovered that an urgent
correspondence had been carried on from there with the editors of the
principal Paris journals, and that amongst others the famous Fiorentino
had already taken advantage of Meyerbeer's alarm at my Parisian
enterprise, to threaten him with praise of my music, thus naturally
exciting Meyerbeer to further bribery. This increased Belloni's
anxiety, and he advised me, above all, to try and find financial
support for my plans, or if I had no prospect of this, to rely on the
imperial power alone. He pointed out that it was absolutely impossible
for me to carry out the concerts entirely on my own responsibility
without financial support, and his arguments had the effect of making
me decide to be careful; for what with my journey to Paris and my
installation there, my funds were thoroughly exhausted. So I was again
forced to enter into negotiations with the Tuileries about the letting
of the Opera House and its orchestra free of charge. Ollivier now came
forward with judicious advice and introductions, which brought me into
touch with all kinds of people, and, amongst others, with Camille
Doucet (a leading member of Fould's ministry and also a dramatic
author). By this means I hoped to penetrate into the presence of
Meyerbeer's admirer, the unapproachable and terrible Minister of State.
One result of these introductions, however, was that I formed a lasting
friendship with Jules Ferry, though our acquaintance proved quite
useless to the immediate purpose in hand. The Emperor and his secretary
remained obstinately silent, and this even after I had obtained the
Grand Duke of Baden's consent to the intercession of his ambassador in
Paris on my behalf, and also that of the Swiss ambassador, Dr. Kern,
whose combined forces were to try and enlighten me, and possibly also
the Emperor, about Fould's manoeuvres. But it was useless--all remained
silent as before.

Under these circumstances I regarded it as a freak of fate that Minna
should announce her readiness to join me in Paris, and that I should
have to expect her arrival shortly. In the selection as well as in the
arrangement of the little house in the Rue Newton I had had particular
regard to our future existence together. My living-room was separated
from hers by a staircase, and I had taken care that the part of the
house to be occupied by her should not be wanting in comfort. But,
above all, the affection which had been revived by our last reunion in
Zurich had prompted me to furnish and decorate the rooms with special
care, so that they might have a friendly appearance and make life in
common with this woman, who was becoming quite a stranger to me, more
possible to bear. On account of this I was afterwards reproached with a
love of luxury. There was also a possibility of arranging a
drawing-room in our house, and though I had not intended to be
extravagant, I finally discovered that, in addition to the trouble of
negotiations with unreliable Parisian workmen, I was drawn into
expenses I had not counted upon. But I comforted myself with the
reflection that, as it could not be helped now, Minna would at least be
pleased when she entered the house she was henceforth to manage. I also
thought it necessary to get a maid for her, and a particularly suitable
person was recommended me by Mme. Herold. I had also engaged a
man-servant as soon as I arrived, and although he was rather a
thick-headed Swiss from Valais, who had at one time belonged to the
Pope's bodyguard, he soon became quite devoted to me. In addition to
these two servants there was my wife's former cook, whom she had taken
with her from Zurich, and by whom she was accompanied when at last I
was able to go and meet her at the station on the 17th of November.
Here Minna immediately handed me the parrot and her dog Fips, which
involuntarily reminded me of her arrival in the harbour of Rorschach
ten years ago. Just as she had done on that occasion also, she now
immediately gave me to understand that she did not come to me out of
need, and that if I treated her badly she knew quite well where to go.
Moreover, there was no denying that since then a not unimportant change
had taken place in her; she owned that she was filled with a similar
anxiety and fear like a person feels who is about to enter a new
situation, and did not know whether she would be able to stand it. Here
I sought to divert her thoughts by acquainting her with my public
position, which as my wife she would naturally share. Unfortunately she
could not understand this at all, and it failed to make any appeal to
her, while her attention was immediately absorbed by the interior
arrangement of our house. The fact of my having taken a man-servant
merely filled her with scorn; but that, under the title of lady's maid,
I should have provided her with what I had really considered a very
necessary attendant, made her furious. This person, whom Mme. Herold
had recommended to me with the assurance that she had shown angelic
patience in the care of her sick and aged mother, speedily became so
demoralised by Minna's treatment of her that, at the end of a very
short time, I of my own accord hurriedly dismissed her, and in doing so
was violently reproached by my wife for giving the woman a small tip.
To an even greater extent did she succeed in spoiling my man-servant,
who finally refused to obey her orders, and when I found fault with him
became so impertinent towards me also that I had to send him away at
the shortest notice. He left a very good complete set of livery behind,
which I had just bought at great expense, and which remained on my
hands, as I felt no inclination ever to have a man-servant again. On
the other hand, I cannot but bear the highest testimony in favour of
the Swabian Therese, who from this time forward performed the entire
service of the household alone during the whole of my sojourn in Paris.
This woman, who was gifted with unusual penetration, at once grasped my
painful position towards her mistress, and understanding my wife's
faults, succeeded by her indefatigable activity in turning matters to
the best advantage for me as well as for the household, and thus
neutralising their bad effect.

So in this last reunion with Minna I once more entered upon a state of
existence which I had repeatedly lived through before, and which it
seemed was now to start afresh. This time it was almost a blessing that
there could be no question of quiet retirement, but that, on the
contrary, it was necessary to enter upon an endless succession of
worldly relations and activities, to which I was again driven by fate
entirely against my choice and inclination.

With the opening of the year 1860 a very unexpected turn of affairs
made it seem possible that I should succeed in carrying out my plans.
The musical director Esser in Vienna informed me that Schott, the music
publisher of Mayence, wished to obtain a new opera by me for
publication. I had nothing to offer at present but the Rhieingold; the
peculiar composition of this work, meant only as a prelude to the
Nilielungen trilogy I meant to write, made it difficult for me to offer
it as an opera without adding any further explanation. However,
Schott's eagerness, at all costs, to have a work of mine to add to his
catalogue of publications was so great that I no longer hesitated, and,
without concealing from him the fact that he would have great
difficulty in propagating this work, I offered to place it at his
disposal for the sum of ten thousand francs, promising him at the same
time the option of purchasing the three main operas which were to
follow at the same price for each. In the event of Schott accepting my
offer, I immediately formed a plan of spending the sum thus
unexpectedly acquired for the furthering of my Paris undertaking.

Tired out with the obstinate silence maintained by the imperial
cabinet, I now commissioned my agents to close with Signor Calzado for
three concerts to be given at the Italian Opera, as well as to obtain
the necessary orchestra and singers. When the arrangements for this had
been set in motion, I was again made anxious by Schott's tardy offers
of lower terms; in order not to alienate him, however, I wrote to the
musical director Schmidt in Frankfort commissioning him to continue the
negotiations with Schott on considerably reduced terms, to which I gave
my consent. I had scarcely sent off this letter when an answer from
Schott reached me, in which he at last expressed his willingness to pay
me the sum of ten thousand francs for which I had asked. I thereupon
sent a telegram to Schmidt promptly cancelling the commission with
which I had just charged him.

With renewed courage I and my agents now followed up our plans, and the
necessary preparations for the concerts engaged my whole attention. I
had to look out for a choir, and for this I thought it necessary to
reinforce the expensively paid company of the Italian Opera by a German
society of singers who had been recommended to me and who were under
the direction of a certain Herr Ehmant. In order to ingratiate myself
with its members, I had one evening to visit their meeting-place in the
Rue du Temple, and cheerfully accommodate myself to the smell of beer
and the fumes of tobacco with which the atmosphere was laden, and in
the midst of which sturdy German artists were to reveal their
capabilities to me. I was also brought into contact with a M. Cheve,
the teacher and director of a French national choral society, whose
rehearsals took place in the Ecole de Medecine. I there met an odd
enthusiast, who, by his method of teaching people to sing without
notes, hoped to bring about the regeneration of the French people's
genius. But the worst trouble was occasioned by the necessity of my
having the different orchestral parts of the selections I was going to
have played copied out for me. For this task I hired several poor
German musicians, who remained at my house from morning till night, in
order to make the necessary arrangements, which were often rather
difficult, under my direction.

In the midst of these absorbing occupations Hans von Bulow looked me
up. He had come to Paris for some length of time, as it turned out,
more to assist me in my undertaking than to follow his own pursuit as a
concert virtuoso. He was staying with Liszt's mother, but spent the
greater part of the day with me, in order to give help wherever it was
needed, as, for instance, with the immediate preparation of the copies.
His activity in all directions was extraordinary, but he seemed, above
all, to have set himself the task of making certain social connections,
that he and his wife had formed during their visit to Paris the year
before, useful to my undertaking. The result of this was felt in due
course, but for the present he helped me to arrange the concerts, the
rehearsals for which had begun.

The first of these took place in the Herz Hall, and led to such an
agitation on the part of the musicians against me that it was almost as
bad as a riot. I had continually to remonstrate with them about habits
on their part, which I on my side felt unable to overlook, and tried to
prove, on common-sense grounds, how impossible it was to give way to
them. My 6/8 time, which I took as 4/4 time, particularly incensed
them, and with tumultuous protestations they declared it should be
taken alla-breva. In consequence of a sharp call to order and an
allusion on my part to the discipline of a well-drilled orchestra, they
declared they were not 'Prussian soldiers,' but free men.

At last I saw that one of the chief mistakes had lain in the faulty
setting up of the orchestra, and I now formed my plan for the next
rehearsal. After a consultation with my friends I went to the
concert-room on the next occasion the first thing in the morning and
superintended the arranging of the desks myself, and ordered a
plentiful lunch for the musicians to which, at the beginning of the
rehearsal, I invited them in the following manner. I told them that on
the result of our meeting of that day depended the possibility of my
giving my concerts; that we must not leave the concert-room till we
were quite clear about it. I therefore requested the members to
rehearse for two hours, then to partake of a frugal lunch prepared for
them in the adjoining salon, whereupon we would immediately hold a
second rehearsal for which I would pay them. The effect of this
proposal was miraculous: the advantageous arrangement of the orchestra
contributed to the maintenance of the general good-humour, and the
favourable impression made upon every one by the prelude to Lohengrin,
which was then played, rose to enthusiasm, so that at the conclusion of
the first rehearsal both players and audience, amongst whom was
Gasperini, were delighted with me. This friendly disposition was most
agreeably displayed at the principal rehearsal, which took place on the
stage of the Italian Opera House. I had now gained sufficient control
to allow me to dismiss a careless cornet-player from the orchestra with
a severe reproof, without incurring any difficulties owing to their
esprit de corps.

At last the first concert took place on the 25th of January (1860); all
the pieces which I had chosen from my various operas, including Tristan
und Isolde, met with an entirely favourable, nay enthusiastic,
reception from the public, and I even had the experience of one of my
pieces, the march from Tannhauser, being interrupted by storms of
applause. The pleasure thus expressed was aroused, it seems, because
the audience was surprised to find that my music, of which there had
been so many contradictory reports, contained such long phrases of
connected melody. Well satisfied as I was, both with the way in which
the concert had been carried out and its enthusiastic reception, I had
on the following days to overcome contrary impressions caused by the
papers giving vent to their feelings against me. It was now clear that
Belloni had been quite right in supposing that they were hostile to me,
and his foresight, which had led us to omit inviting the press, had
merely roused our opponents to greater fury. As the whole undertaking
had been arranged more for the stimulation of friends than to excite
praise, I was not so much disturbed by the blustering of these
gentlemen as by the absence of any sign from the former. What caused me
most anxiety was that the apparently well-filled house should not have
brought us better returns than was found to be the case. We had made
from five to six thousand francs, but the expenses amounted to eleven
thousand francs. This might be partially covered if, in the case of the
two less expensive concerts still to come, we could rely on
considerably higher returns. Belloni and Giacomelli shook their heads,
however; they thought it better not to close their eyes to the fact
that concerts were not suited to the taste of the French people, who
demanded the dramatic element as well, that is to say, costumes,
scenery, the ballet, etc., in order to feel satisfied. The small number
of tickets sold for the second concert, which was given on the 1st of
February, actually put my agents to the necessity of filling the room
artificially, so as at least to save appearances. I had to allow them
to do as they thought best in this matter, and was afterwards
astonished to learn how they had managed to fill the first places in
this aristocratic theatre in such a way as to deceive even our enemies.
The real receipts amounted to little over two thousand francs, and it
now required all my determination and my contempt for the miseries that
might result not to cancel the third concert to be given on the 8th of
February. My fees from Schott, a part of which, it is true, I had to
devote to the household expenses of my troubled domestic existence,
were all spent, and I had to look round for further subsidies. These I
obtained with great difficulty, through Gasperini's mediation, from the
very man to win whose assistance in a much wider sense had been the
whole object of the concerts. In short, we had to have recourse to M.
Lucy, the Receiver-General of Marseilles, who was to come to Paris at
the time my concerts were being given, and upon whom my friend
Gasperini had assumed that an important Parisian success would have the
effect of making him declare his readiness to finance my project of
establishing German opera in Paris. M. Lucy, on the contrary, did not
appear at the first concert at all, and was only present at a part of
the second, during which he fell asleep. The fact that he was now
called upon to advance several thousands of francs for the third
concert naturally seemed to him to protect him against any further
demands on our part, and he felt a certain satisfaction at being exempt
from all further participation in my plans, at the price of this loan.
Although, as a matter of fact, this concert now seemed useless, it
nevertheless gave me great pleasure, as much through the spirited
performance itself as on account of its favourable reception by the
audience, which, it is true, my agents had again to supplement in order
to give the appearance of a full hall, but which, nevertheless, showed
a marked increase in the number of tickets paid for.

The realisation of the deep impression I had made on certain people had
more effect upon me at this time than the dejection I felt at having to
all outward appearances failed in this enterprise. It was undeniable
that the sensation I had produced had directly, as the comments of the
press had indirectly, aroused extraordinary interest in me. My omission
to invite any journalists seemed to be regarded on all sides as a
wonderful piece of audacity on my part. I had foreseen the attitude
likely to be adopted by the majority of reporters, but I was sorry that
even such men as M. Franc-Marie, the critic of the Patrie, who at the
end of the concert had come forward to thank me with deep emotion,
should have found themselves forced to follow the lead of the others,
without compromising, and even to go so far as to deny their true
opinion of me. Berlioz aroused a universal feeling of anger amongst my
adherents, by an article which began in a roundabout way, but ended
with an open attack on me which he published in the Journal des Debats.
As he had once been an old friend, I was determined not to overlook
this treatment, and answered his onslaught in a letter which, with the
greatest difficulty, I managed to get translated into good French, and
succeeded, not without trouble, in having it inserted in the Journal
des Debats. It so happened that this very letter had the effect of
drawing those on whom my concerts had already made an impression more
enthusiastically towards me. Amongst others a M. Perrin introduced
himself to me; he had formerly been director of the Opera Comique, and
was now a well-to-do bel esprit and painter, and later became director
of the Grand Opera. He had heard Lohengrin and Tannhauser performed in
Germany, and expressed himself in such a way as led me to suppose that
he would make it a point of honour to bring these operas to France
should he at any time be in a position to do so. A certain Count
Foucher de Careil had also become acquainted with my operas in the same
way, through seeing them performed in Germany, and he too became one of
my distinguished and lasting friends. He had made a name by various
publications on German philosophy, and more especially through a book
on Leibnitz, and it could not but prove interesting to me to be brought
through him into touch with a form of the French genius as yet unknown
to me.

It is impossible to record all the passing acquaintances with whom I
was brought in contact at this time, amongst whom a Russian Count
Tolstoi was conspicuously kind; but I must here mention the excellent
impression made upon me by the novelist Champfleury's amiable pamphlet,
of which I and my concerts formed the subject. In a series of light and
airy aphorisms he displayed such a comprehension of my music, and even
of my personality, that I had never again met with such a suggestive
and masterly appreciation, and had only come across its equal once
before in Liszt's lucubrations on Lohengrin and Tannhauser. My personal
acquaintance with Champfleury, which followed, brought me face to face
with a very simple and in a certain sense easy-tempered individual,
such as one seldom meets, and belonging to a type of Frenchman fast
becoming extinct.

The advances made me by the poet Baudelaire were in their way still
more significant. My acquaintance with him began with a letter in which
he told me his impressions of my music and the effect it had produced
upon him, in spite of his having thought till then that he possessed an
artistic sense for colouring, but none for sound. His opinions on the
matter, which he expressed in the most fantastic terms and with
audacious self-assurance, proved him, to say the least, a man of
extraordinary understanding, who with impetuous energy followed the
impressions he received from my music to their ultimate consequences.
He explained that he did not put his address to his letter in order
that I might not be led to think that he wanted something from me.
Needless to say, I knew how to find him, and had soon included him
among the acquaintances to whom I announced my intention of being at
home every Wednesday evening.

I had been told by my older Parisian friends, amongst whom I continued
to count the faithful Gasperini, that this was the right thing to do in
Paris; and so it came about that, in accordance with the fashion, I
used to hold a salon in my small house in the Rue Newton, which made
Minna feel that she occupied a very dignified position, though she only
knew a few scraps of French, with which she could barely help herself
out. This salon, which the Olliviers also attended in a friendly way,
was crowded for a time by an ever-growing circle. Here an old
acquaintance of mine, Malwida von Meysenburg, again came across me, and
from that time forth became a close friend for life. I had only met her
once before; this was during my visit to London in 1855, when she had
made herself known to me by a letter in which she enthusiastically
expressed her agreement with the opinions contained in my book Das
Kunstwerk der Zukunft. The occasion on which we had met in London had
been at an evening party at the house of a family called Althaus, when
I found her full of the desires and projects for the future perfection
of the human race to which I had given expression in my book, but from
which, under the influence of Schopenhauer and a profound realisation
of the intense tragedy of life and the emptiness of its phenomena, I
had turned away with almost a feeling of irritation. I found it very
painful in discussing the question, not to be understood by this
enthusiastic friend and to have to appear to her in the light of a
renegade from a noble cause. We parted in London on very bad terms with
one another. It was almost a shock to me to meet Malwida again in
Paris. Very soon, however, all unpleasant recollections of our
discussion in London were wiped out, as she at once explained to me,
that our dispute had had the effect of making her decide to read
Schopenhauer at once. When, by earnest study, she had made herself
acquainted with his philosophy, she came to the conclusion that the
opinions she had at that time expressed and eagerly maintained
concerning the happiness of the world must have vexed me on account of
their shallowness. She then declared herself to be one of my most
zealous followers in the sense that she, from now, became a true friend
who was ever anxious for my welfare. When the laws of propriety
compelled me to introduce her as a friend of mine to my wife, she could
not help noticing at the first glance the misery of our merely nominal
life in common, and realising the discomfort resulting from it; made it
her business to interpose with affectionate solicitude. She also
quickly saw the difficult position in which I was placed in Paris with
my almost purposeless enterprises and the absence of all material
security. The tremendous expenses I had incurred in giving the three
concerts had not remained a secret from any of those concerned about
me. Malwida also soon guessed the difficulties in which I found myself,
since no prospect was opened on any side which could be looked upon as
a practical result of my enterprise and a compensation for the
sacrifices I had made. Entirely of her own accord she felt it her duty
to try and obtain help for me, which she endeavoured to get from a
certain Mme. Schwabe, the widow of a rich English tradesman, in whose
house she had found shelter as governess to the eldest daughter, and
whom she now proposed to introduce to me. She did not conceal from
herself or from me what a disagreeable task the cultivation of this
acquaintance might be to me; nevertheless she relied on the kindness
she thought this somewhat grotesque woman possessed, as well as on her
vanity, which would prompt her to repay me for the distinction she
obtained by frequenting my salon. As a matter of fact I was entirely at
the end of my resources, and I only found courage to deny my
poverty-stricken condition in public on account of the horror I felt
when I learned that a collection was being made for me amongst the
Germans in Paris to indemnify me for the expense I had incurred in
giving the three concerts. When the news of this reached me I
immediately interfered with the declaration that the idea that I was in
distress in consequence of the losses I had sustained was founded on a
false report, and that I should be obliged to refuse all efforts made
on my behalf. On this supposition Mme. Schwabe, who regularly attended
my soirees and as regularly fell asleep while any music was going on,
was however induced, through the solicitations of Malwida, to offer me
her personal assistance. She gave me about three thousand francs, of
which at this moment I was certainly in the greatest need; as I did not
wish to accept this money as a gift, I gave the lady, who in no way
exacted it, a written agreement of my own accord, by which I undertook
to return this sum at the end of a year. She good-naturedly accepted
this, not as a security but merely in order to satisfy my feelings.
When, at the end of this time, I found it impossible to meet my
obligation, I turned to Malwida, who was still in Paris, and asked her
to tell Mme. Schwabe, who had left, how matters stood, and to obtain
her consent to the renewal of the agreement for another year. Malwida
earnestly assured me I need not take the trouble to ask for a renewal,
as Mme. Schwabe had never looked upon the sum given me as anything but
a contribution towards my undertaking, in which she flattered herself
that she took great interest. We shall see later on how the case really

During this stirring time I was deeply moved and surprised to receive a
present from an admirer in Dresden called Richard Weiland; it was an
artistic silver ornament representing a sheet of music surrounded by a
crown of laurels; upon the sheet were engraved the first bars from the
principal themes of my various operas up to Rheingold and Tristan. The
modest fellow once paid me a visit afterwards and told me that he had
gone regularly to different places in order to see the productions of
my operas, which had given him the opportunity of comparing the
representation of Tannhauser in Prague, in which the overture had
lasted twenty minutes, with the one in Dresden, which, under my
direction, had only taken twelve minutes.

My acquaintance with Rossini also proved agreeably stimulating to me in
another way; a comic writer had attributed an anecdote to him according
to which, when his friend Caraffa declared himself an admirer of my
music, he had served him his fish without sauce at dinner, and
explained in so doing that his friend liked music without melody.
Rossini openly protested against this in an article in which he
designated the story as a mauvaise blague and at the same time declared
that he would never allow himself such a jest at the expense of a man
who was trying to extend his influence in the artistic world. When I
heard of this, I did not for a moment hesitate to pay Rossini a visit,
and was received by him in the friendliest manner, which I afterwards
described in a memorandum devoted to reminiscences of him. I was also
glad to hear that my old acquaintance Halevy, during the controversy
occasioned by my music, had taken my part in a kindly way, and I have
already described my visit to him and our conversation on that occasion.

In spite of all these pleasant and stimulating events, nothing occurred
to make my position less uncertain. I was still kept in doubt as to
whether I should receive an answer from the Emperor Napoleon to my
request for the use of the Opera House for the repetition of my
concerts. Only by obtaining this, and having no preliminary expenses in
consequence, could I gain the benefit which was becoming more and more
necessary to me. It remained an understood thing that the Minister
Fould was assiduously using his influence to turn the Emperor against
me. As, on the other hand, I had made the surprising discovery that
Marshal Magnan had been present at all three of my concerts, I hoped to
enlist this gentleman's sympathy, which might be turned to good
account, as the Emperor was particularly indebted to him since the
events of the 2nd of December. I was anxious to circumvent Fould's
intrigues, as the man had become most obnoxious to me, and I
consequently introduced myself to the Marshal, and was one day
surprised to see a hussar ride up to my door, who got down from his
horse, rang the bell, and handed my astonished man-servant a letter
from Magnan, in which he summoned me to his presence.

I was therefore duly received at the Commandant's residence by this
military man, whose bearing struck me as stately, almost to the point
of rudeness. He chatted very intelligently with me, frankly confessing
his delight in my music, and listening very attentively to the report
of my flagrantly futile addresses to the Emperor, as well as to my
expressions of suspicion regarding Fould. I was told later that he
spoke very plainly to Fould that very evening at the Tuileries on my

This much at least is certain, that from that moment I noticed that my
affairs took a more favourable turn in that quarter. Yet the deciding
factor was found at last in a movement on my behalf from a source I had
hitherto entirely disregarded. Bulow, arrested by his interest in the
outcome of these matters, continued to prolong his stay in Paris. He
had come with letters of introduction from the Princess-Regent of
Prussia to the Ambassador, Count Pourtales. His hope that the latter
might eventually express a desire to have me presented to him had so
far remained unfulfilled. In order, therefore, to compel him to make my
acquaintance, he finally adopted the plan of inviting the Prussian
Ambassador and his attache, Count Paul Hatzfeld, to lunch at
Vachette's, a first-class restaurant, where I was to accompany him. The
result of this meeting was certainly everything that could be desired.
Not only did Count Pourtales charm me with the simplicity and
undisguised warmth of his conversation and attitude towards me, but
from this time forward Count Hatzfeld used to visit me and also
frequented my Wednesday evening At Homes, and at last brought me the
news that there was a distinct movement in my favour at the Tuileries.
Finally, one day he requested me to go with him to call on the
Emperor's military chamberlain, Count Bacciochi, and from this official
I received the first hints of a reply to my earlier application to his
Imperial Majesty, who now expressed a wish to know why I wanted to give
a concert in the Grand Opera House. No one, he said, took any serious
interest in such enterprises, and it could do me no good. He thought it
might perhaps be better if he were to persuade M. Alphonse Royer, the
director of this imperial institution, to come to some understanding
with me respecting the composition of an opera written on purpose for
Paris. As I would not agree to his suggestion, this and other
subsequent interviews remained for the time being without result. On
one of these occasions Bulow accompanied me, and we were both struck by
a ridiculous habit peculiar to this singular old man, whom Belloni said
he had known in his youth as a box-office clerk at the Scala Theatre in
Milan. He suffered from involuntary spasmodic movements of the hands,
the result of certain not very creditable physical infirmities, and
probably to conceal these he continually toyed with a small stick,
which he tossed to and fro with seeming affectation. But even after I
had at last succeeded in gaining access to the imperial officials, it
seemed as though next to nothing would be done on my behalf, when
suddenly one morning Count Hatzfeld overwhelmed me with news that on
the preceding evening the Emperor had given orders for a performance of
my Tannhauser. The decisive word had been spoken by Princess
Metternich. As I happened to be the subject of conversation near the
Emperor, she had joined the circle, and on being asked for her opinion,
she said she had heard Tannhauser in Dresden, and spoke in such
enthusiastic terms in favour of it that the Emperor at once promised to
give orders for its production. It is true that Fould, on receiving the
imperial command the same evening, broke out into a furious rage, but
the Emperor told him he could not go back upon his promise, as he had
pledged his word to Princess Metternich. I was now once more taken to
Bacciochi, who this time received me very seriously, but first of all
made the singular inquiry as to what was the subject of my opera. This
I had to outline for him, and when I had finished, he exclaimed with
satisfaction, 'Ah! le Pape ne vient pas en scene? C'est bon! On nous
avait dit que vous aviez fait paraitre le Saint Pere, et ceci, vous
comprenez, n'aurait pas pu passer. Du reste, monsieur, on sait a
present que vous avez enormement de genie; l'Empereur a donne l'ordre
de representer votre opera.' He moreover assured me that every facility
should be placed at my disposal for the fulfilment of my wishes, and
that henceforth I must make my arrangements direct with the manager
Royer. This new turn of affairs put me into a state of vague agitation,
for at first my inner conviction could only make me feel that singular
misunderstandings would be sure to arise. For one thing, all hope of
being able to carry out my original plan of producing my work in Paris
with a picked German company was now at an end, and I could not conceal
from myself that I had been launched upon an adventure which might turn
out well or badly. A few interviews with the manager Royer sufficed to
enlighten me as to the character of the enterprise entrusted to me. His
chief anxiety was to convince me of the necessity of rearranging my
second act, because according to him it was absolutely necessary for a
grand ballet to be introduced at this point. To this and similar
suggestions I hardly deigned to reply, and as I went home asked myself
what I should do next, in case I decided to refuse to produce my
Tannhauser at the Grand Opera.

Meanwhile other cares, more immediately connected with my personal
affairs, pressed heavily upon me, and compelled me to devote every
effort to their removal. With this object in view I decided at once to
carry out an undertaking suggested to me by Giacomelli, namely, a
repetition of my concerts in Brussels. A contract had been made with
the Theatre de la Monnaie there for three concerts, half the proceeds
of which, after the deduction of all expenses, was to be mine.
Accompanied by my agent, I started on 19th March for the Belgian
capital, to see whether I could not manage to recoup the money lost on
my Paris concerts. Under the guidance of my mentor I found myself
compelled to call upon all sorts of newspaper editors and, among other
Belgian worthies, a certain M. Fetis pere. All I knew about him was
that, years before, he had allowed himself to be bribed by Meyerbeer to
write articles against me, and I now found it amusing to enter into
conversation with this man, who, although he assumed great airs of
authority, yet in the end declared himself entirely of my opinion.

Here also I made the acquaintance of a very remarkable man, the
Councillor of State Klindworth, whose daughter, or, as some said, his
wife, had been recommended to me by Liszt when I was in London. But I
had not seen her on that occasion, and I now had the pleasant surprise
of being invited to call upon her in Brussels. While she, on her part,
showed the greatest cordiality towards me, M. Klindworth provided me
with inexhaustible entertainment by the narrative of his wonderful
career as a diplomatist in numerous transactions of which I had
hitherto known nothing. I dined with them several times, and met Count
and Countess Condenhoven, the latter being a daughter of my old friend
Mme. Kalergis. M. Klindworth showed a keen and lasting interest in me,
which even prompted him to give me a letter of recommendation, to
Prince Metternich, with whose father he said he had been on very
familiar terms. He had a strange habit of interlarding his otherwise
frivolous conversation with continual references to an omnipotent
Providence, and when, during one of our later interviews, I once
hazarded a risky retort, he quite lost his temper, and I fancied he was
going to break off our connection. Fortunately this fear was not
realised, either at that time or afterwards.

But except for these interesting acquaintances, I gained nothing in
Brussels but anxiety and fruitless exertion. The first concert, for
which season-tickets were suspended, drew a large audience. But, owing
to my misconception of a clause in our agreement, the cost of musical
accompaniment, which was put down to me alone, was reckoned at so high
a figure by the managers, that next to nothing was left over by way of
profit. This deficiency was to be recouped from the second concert, to
which, however, season-ticket holders were admitted free. But beyond
these persons, who, I was told, almost filled the house, there were few
single-ticket holders, so that there was not enough left to pay my
travelling and hotel expenses, which had been increased by the
inclusion of my agent and servant. I consequently gave up the idea of
having a third concert, and set off once more for Paris in a not very
cheerful frame of mind, but with the gift of a vase of Bohemian glass
from Mme. Street, Klindworth's daughter whom I have already mentioned.
Nevertheless, my stay in Brussels, including a short trip from there to
Antwerp, had served to distract my thoughts a little. As I did not at
that moment feel at all inclined to devote my precious time to looking
at works of art, I contented myself in Antwerp with a cursory glance at
its outward aspect, which I found less rich in antiquities than I had
anticipated. The situation of its famous citadel proved peculiarly
disappointing. In view of the first act of my Lohengrin I had presumed
that this citadel, which I imagined as the ancient keep of Antwerp,
would from the opposite side of the Scheldt be a prominent object to
the eye. Instead of which, nothing whatever was to be seen but a
monotonous plain, with fortifications sunk into the earth. After this,
whenever I saw Lohengrin again, I could not restrain a smile at the
scene-painter's castle, perched aloft in the background on its stately

On returning to Paris at the end of March my sole anxiety was how to
repair my impecunious and therefore hopeless position. The pressure of
these monetary cares seemed all the more incongruous from the fact that
the notoriety of my position had made my house, where, of course, I
allowed no signs of poverty to appear, exceedingly popular. My
Wednesday receptions became more brilliant than ever. Interesting
strangers sought me out, in the hope that they, too, might attain to
equal fortune through knowing me. Fraulein Ingeborg Stark, who
afterwards married young Hans von Bronsart, put in an appearance among
us, a vision of bewitching elegance, and played the piano, in which she
was modestly assisted by Fraulein Aline Hund of Weimar. A highly gifted
young French musician, Camille Saint-Saens, also played a very
agreeable part in our musical entertainments; a noteworthy addition to
my other French acquaintances was made in the person of M. Frederic
Villot. He was Conservateur des Tableaux du Louvre, an exceedingly
polished and cultured man, whom I met for the first time in Flaxland's
music-shop, where I did a good deal of business. To my surprise I
happened to overhear him asking about the score of Tristan, which he
had ordered. On being introduced to him I learned, in reply to my
inquiry, that he already possessed the scores of my earlier operas; and
when I then asked whether he thought it possible for me to make my
dramatic compositions pay, as I could not understand how he, without
any knowledge of the German language, could rightly appreciate the
music, which was so closely allied to the sense of the poetry, he
answered wittily that it was precisely my music which afforded him the
best guidance to a comprehension of the poem itself. This reply
strongly attracted me to the man, and from that time I found great
pleasure in keeping up an active correspondence with him. For this
reason, when I brought out a translation of my operatic poems, I felt
that its very detailed preface could not be dedicated to any worthier
man. As he was not able to play the scores of my operas himself, he had
them performed for him by Saint-Saens, whom he apparently patronised. I
thus learned to appreciate the skill and talent of this young musician,
which was simply amazing. With an unparalleled sureness and rapidity of
glance with regard to even the most complicated orchestral score, this
young man combined a not less marvellous memory. He was not only able
to play my scores, including Tristan, by heart, but could also
reproduce their several parts, whether they were leading or minor
themes. And this he did with such precision that one might easily have
thought that he had the actual music before his eyes. I afterwards
learned that this stupendous receptivity for all the technical material
of a work was not accompanied by any corresponding intensity of
productive power; so that when he tried to set up as a composer I quite
lost sight of him in the course of time.

I now had to enter into closer communication with the manager of the
Opera House, M. Royer, with regard to the production of Tannhauser,
which he had been commissioned to prepare. Two months passed before I
was able to make up my mind whether to say yes or no to the business.
At no single interview did this man fail to press for the introduction
of a ballet into the second act. I might bewilder him, but with all the
eloquence at my command I could never convince him on the point. At
last, however, I could no longer refuse to consider the advisability of
preparing a suitable translation of the poem.

Arrangements for this work had so far progressed very slowly. As I have
already said, I had found M. de Charnal altogether incompetent, Roger
had permanently disappeared from my sight, and Gasperini showed no real
desire for the work. At last a certain Herr Lindau came to see me, who
protested that with the aid of young Edmond Roche he could produce a
faithful translation of Tannhauser. This man Lindau was a native of
Magdeburg, who had fled to escape the Prussian military service. He had
first been introduced to me by Giacomelli on an occasion when the
French singer engaged by him to sing 'L'Etoile du Soir' at one of my
concerts had disappointed us, and he had recommended Lindau as a very
efficient substitute. This man promptly declared his readiness to
undertake this song, with which he was quite familiar, without any
rehearsal, an offer which led me to regard him as a genius sent down
from heaven on purpose for me. Nothing could, therefore, equal my
amazement at the unbounded impudence of the man; for on the evening of
the concert he executed his task with the most amateurish timidity; he
did not enunciate a single note of the song clearly, and nothing but
astonishment at so unprecedented a performance appeared to restrain the
audience from breaking out into marked disapproval. Yet, in spite of
this, Lindau, who had all sorts of explanations and excuses to offer
for his short-comings, contrived to insinuate himself into my house, if
not as a successful singer, at least as a sympathetic friend. There,
thanks to Minna's partiality, he soon became an almost daily guest. In
spite of a certain inward repugnance towards him, I treated him with
tolerant good-nature, not so much because of the 'enormous connection'
he said he could influence, but because he really showed himself to be
a most obliging fellow on all sorts of occasions.

But the fact that finally induced me to grant him a share in the
translation of Tannhauser was his suggestion that young Roche should
also participate in the work.

I had become acquainted with Roche immediately after my arrival in
Paris (in the September of the previous year), and this in a somewhat
remarkable and flattering way. In order to receive my furniture on its
arrival from Zurich I had to go to the Custom House, where I was
referred to a pale, seedy-looking young man, who appeared full of life,
however, with whom I had to settle my business. When I wished to give
him my name, he enthusiastically interrupted me with the exclamation,
'O, je connais bien Monsieur Richard Wagner, puisque j'ai son portrait
suspendu au-dessus de mon piano.' Much astonished, I asked what he knew
about me, and learned that by careful study of my pianoforte
arrangements he had become one of my most fervent admirers. After he
had helped me with self-sacrificing attentions to complete my tiresome
business with the Custom House, I made him promise to pay me a visit.
This he did, and I was able to obtain a clearer insight into the
necessitous position of the poor fellow, who, so far as I was able to
judge, showed signs of possessing great poetic talent. He further
informed me that he had tried to eke out a precarious living as a
violinist in the orchestras of the smaller vaudeville theatres, but
that being a married man he would, for the sake of his family, much
prefer a situation in some office with a fixed salary and prospects of
promotion. I soon found that he thoroughly understood my music, which,
he assured me, gave him the only pleasure he had in his hard life. As
regards his power of poetical composition, I could only gather from
Gasperini and other competent judges that he could, at any rate, turn
out very good verse. I had already thought of him as a translator for
Tannhauser, and now that the only obstacle to his doing the work, his
ignorance of the German language, was removed by Lindau's proffered
collaboration, the possibility of such an arrangement at once decided
me to accept the latter's offer.

The first thing on which we agreed was that a fair prose translation of
the whole subject should be taken in hand, and this task I naturally
entrusted to Lindau alone. A serious delay, however, intervened before
this was delivered to me, which was subsequently explained by the fact
that Lindau was quite unable to provide even this dry version, and had
pressed the work on another man, a Frenchman who knew German, and whom
he induced to undertake it by holding out hopes of a fee, to be
squeezed out of me later on. At the same time Roche turned a few of the
leading stanzas of my poem into verse, with which I was well contented.
As I was thus satisfied about the ability of my two helpers, I visited
Royer in order to make my position secure by obtaining his authority
for a contract with the two men. He did not seem to like my placing the
work in the hands of two perfectly unknown people; but I insisted that
they should at least have a fair trial. As I was obstinately resolved
not to withdraw the work from Roche, but soon realised Lindau's
complete inefficiency, I joined in the task myself at a cost of much
exertion. We frequently spent four hours together in my room in
translating a few verses, during which time I often felt tempted to
kick Lindau out, for although he did not even understand the German
text, he was always ready with the most impudent suggestions. It was
only because I could not think of any other way of keeping poor Roche
in the business that I endured such an absurd association.

This irritating and laborious work lasted for several months, during
which I had to enter into fuller negotiations with Royer respecting his
preparations for the production of Tannhauser, and particularly with
regard to the cast and distribution of the parts. It struck me as odd
that hardly any of the leading singers of the Opera were suggested by
him. As a matter of fact none of them aroused my sympathy, with the
sole exception of Mme. Gueymard, whom I would gladly have secured for
Venus, but who, for reasons I never clearly understood, was refused me.
In order to form an honest opinion of the company at my disposal, I now
had to attend several performances of such operas as La Favorita, Il
Trovatore, and Semiramis, on which occasions my inner conviction told
me so clearly that I was being hopelessly led astray, that each time I
reached home I felt I must renounce the whole enterprise. On the other
hand, I found continual encouragement in the generous way in which M.
Royer, in obedience to authority, now offered to secure me any singer I
might choose to designate. The most important item was a tenor for the
title-role. I could think of no one but Niemann of Hanover, whose fame
reached me from every quarter. Even Frenchmen such as Foucher de Careil
and Perrin, who had heard him in my operas, confirmed the report of his
great talent. The manager also regarded such an acquisition as highly
desirable for his theatre, and Niemann was accordingly invited to come
to Paris with a view of being engaged. Besides him, M. Royer wished me
to agree to his securing a certain Mme. Tedesco, a tragedienne, who, on
account of her beauty, would be a very valuable addition to the
repertoire of his theatre, protesting that he could think of no woman
better fitted for the part of Venus. Without knowing the lady I gave my
consent to this excellent proposal, and moreover agreed to the
engagement of a Mlle. Sax, a still unspoiled young singer with a very
beautiful voice, as well as of an Italian baritone, Morelli, whose
sonorous tones, as contrasted with the sickly French singers of this
class, had greatly pleased me during my visits to the Opera. When these
arrangements were concluded, I thought I had done all that was really
necessary, though I did not cherish any very firm conviction on the

Amid these labours I passed my forty-seventh birthday in a far from
happy frame of mind, to which, however, on the evening of this day, the
peculiarly bright glow of Jupiter gave me an omen of better things to
come. The beautiful weather, suitable to the time of year, which in
Paris is never favourable to the conduct of business, had only tended
to increase the stringency of my needs. I was and still continued to be
without any prospect of meeting my household expenses, which had now
become very heavy. As I was ever anxious, amid all my other
discomforts, to find some relief from this burden, I had made an
agreement with the music-dealer Flaxland for the sale of all my French
rights in the Fliegender Hollander, Tannhauser, and Lohengrin for
whatever they would fetch. Our contract stipulated that for each of
these three operas he was to pay me a sum of one thousand francs down,
and further payments on their being performed in a Paris theatre,
namely, one thousand francs after the first ten performances, and the
same amount for the following performances up to the twentieth. I at
once notified my friend Pusinelli of this contract, having made this
condition in his favour when selling my operas to Meser's successors.
This I did by way of guaranteeing him the repayment of the capital
advanced for their publication. I begged him, however, to allow me to
retain Flaxland's first instalment on account, as otherwise I should be
stranded in Paris without the means of bringing my operas to the point
of being profitable. My friend agreed to all my suggestions. The
Dresden publisher, on the contrary, was just as disagreeable, and
complained at once that I was infringing his rights in France, and so
worried Flaxland that the latter felt justified in raising all sorts of
difficulties against me.

I had almost become involved in fresh complications in consequence,
when one day Count Paul Hatzfeld appeared at my house with a request
that I would visit Mme. Kalergis, who had just arrived in Paris, to
receive certain communications from her. I now saw the lady again for
the first time since my stay in Paris with Liszt in 1853. She greeted
me by declaring how much she regretted not having been present at my
concerts in the preceding winter, as she had thereby missed the chance
of helping me in a time of great stress. She had heard that I had
suffered great losses, the account of which she had been told ran to
ten thousand francs, and she now begged me to accept that sum from her
hand. Although I had thought it right to deny these losses to Count
Hatzfeld, when an application was made to the Prussian embassy on
behalf of the odious subscription-list, yet I had now no reason
whatever for hiding the truth from this noble-hearted woman. I felt as
though something were now being fulfilled which I had always been
entitled to expect, and my only impulse was an immediate desire to show
my gratitude to this rare lady by at least doing something for her. All
the friction which disturbed our later intercourse sprang solely from
my inability to fulfil this desire, in which I felt ever more and more
confirmed by her singular character and restless, unsettled life. For
the present I endeavoured to do something for her which should prove
the reality of my feeling of obligation. I improvised a special
performance of the second act of my Tristan, in which Mme. Viardot was
to share the singing parts with myself, and on which occasion my
friendship for the latter received a considerable impetus; while for
the pianoforte accompaniment I summoned Klindworth at my own expense
from London. This exceedingly select performance took place in Mme.
Viardot's house. Besides Mme. Kalergis, in whose honour alone it was
given, Berlioz was the only person present. Mme. Viardot had specially
charged herself with securing his presence, apparently with the avowed
object of easing the strained relations between Berlioz and myself. I
was never clear as to the effect produced upon both performers and
listeners by the presentation under such circumstances of this
extraordinary selection. Mme. Kalergis remained dumb. Berlioz merely
expressed himself warmly on the chaleur of my delivery, which may very
well have afforded a strong contrast to that of my partner in the work,
who rendered most of her part in low tones. Klindworth seemed
particularly stirred to anger at the result. His own share was
admirably executed; but he declared that he had been consumed with
indignation at observing Viardot's lukewarm execution of her part, in
which she was probably determined by the presence of Berlioz. By way of
set-off to this, we were very pleased by the performance, on another
evening, of the first act of the Walkure, at which, in addition to Mme.
Kalergis, the singer Niemann was present. This man had now arrived in
Paris, at the request of the manager Royer, to arrange a contract. I
confess I was astounded at the pose he assumed, and the airs with which
he presented himself at my door with the question, 'Well, do you want
me or do you not?' Nevertheless, when we went to the manager's office
he pulled himself together, so as to make a good effect. In this he
succeeded admirably, for every one was amazed to meet a tenor of such
extraordinary physical endowments. Nevertheless, he had to submit to a
nominal trial performance, for which he chose the description of the
pilgrimage in Tannhauser, acting and singing it upon the stage of the
Grand Opera House. Mme. Kalergis and Princess Metternich, who were
secretly present at this performance, were both enthusiastically
prepossessed in Niemann's favour, as were also all the members of the
management. He was engaged for eight months at a monthly salary of ten
thousand francs. His contract referred solely to Tannhauser, as I felt
obliged to protest against the singer appearing before this in other

The conclusion of this agreement, and the remarkable circumstances
under which it had been brought about, filled me with a hitherto
unknown consciousness of the power thus suddenly placed in my hands. I
had also been drawn into closer contact with Princess Metternich, who
was undoubtedly the good fairy of the whole enterprise, and I was now
also received with flattering cordiality by her husband and by the
whole diplomatic circle to which they belonged. To the Princess, in
particular, people attributed an almost omnipotent influence at the
French Imperial Court, where Fould, the otherwise influential Minister
of State, could effect nothing against her in matters pertaining to
myself. She instructed me to apply only to her for the fulfilment of
all my wishes, and said she would know how to find ways and means of
attaining the success of the project, on which she had now evidently
set her heart, all the more firmly because she saw that I still had no
real faith in the enterprise.

Under these more hopeful auspices I spent the months from summer to
autumn, when rehearsals were to begin. It was a great boon to me that I
was just then able to make provision for Minna's health, as the doctors
had urgently prescribed her a visit to the baths of Soden, near
Frankfort. She accordingly set off at the beginning of July, when I
promised myself the pleasure of fetching her on the completion of her
cure, as it happened that I myself had occasion to visit the Rhine at
that time.

It was just at this moment that an improvement took place in my
relations with the King of Saxony, who had hitherto obstinately opposed
to grant me an amnesty. I owed this to the growing interest now taken
in me by the other German embassies, especially those of Austria and
Prussia. Herr von Seebach, the Saxon Ambassador, who was married to a
cousin of my magnanimous friend, Mme. Kalergis, had shown great
kindness to me, and at last he seemed to grow tired of being
continually taunted by his colleagues about my objectionable position
as a 'political refugee,' and consequently felt it his duty to make
representations to his court on my behalf. In this action he appears to
have been generously assisted by the Princess-Regent of Prussia--once
more through the intervention of Count Pourtales. I heard that on the
occasion of a meeting between the German princes and the Emperor
Napoleon in Baden she used her influence on my behalf with the King of
Saxony. The result was that, after settling several ridiculous
objections, all of which Herr von Seebach had to repeat to me, the
latter was able to report that, although King John would not pardon me,
nor permit my return to the kingdom of Saxony, yet he would raise no
obstacle to my staying in any other state in the German Confederation
which I might have to visit in pursuit of my artistic aims, provided
such a state made no objection to my presence. Herr von Seebach added
the further hint, that it would be advisable for me to present myself
to the Princess-Regent on the occasion of my next visit to the
Rhineland, in order to express my thanks for her kindly intercession, a
courtesy which he gave me to understand the King of Saxony himself
appeared to desire.

But before this project could be realised I had still to endure the
most harassing torments with my translators of Tannhauser. Amid these
anxieties, and indeed throughout all my previous worries, I was again
suffering from my old malady, which now seemed to have settled in my
abdomen. As a remedy I was advised to take horse exercise. The painter
Czermak, a friendly young man, whom Fraulein Meysenburg had introduced
to me, offered his help for the necessary riding lessons. In return for
a subscription for a fixed period, a man from a livery stables brought
round his quietest horses, for which we had specially bargained, for
the use of myself and comrade, upon which we ventured forth with the
utmost caution for a ride in the Bois de Boulogne. We chose the morning
hours for this exercise, so as not to meet the elegant cavaliers of the
fashionable world. As I placed implicit reliance on Czermak's
experience, I was naturally astonished to find that I far excelled him,
if not in horsemanship, at least in courage, for I was able to endure
the exceedingly disagreeable trot of my horse, whereas he loudly
protested against every repetition of the experience. As I grew bolder
I resolved one day to ride out alone. The groom who brought me the
horse prudently kept an eye on me as far as the Barriere de l'Etoile,
as he was doubtful of my ability to take my horse beyond this point.
And, in fact, as I drew near to the Avenue de l'Imperatrice my steed
obstinately refused to go any further: he curveted sideways and
backwards and frequently stood stock-still. In this he persisted until
at last I decided to return, in which the prudent foresight of the
groom luckily came to my rescue. He helped me down from my beast in the
open street and led it home smiling. With this experience my last
effort to become a horseman came to an inglorious end, and I lost ten
rides, the vouchers for which remained unused in my desk.

By way of compensation I found abundant refreshment and regular
exercise in solitary walks in the Bois de Boulogne, gaily accompanied
by my little dog Fips, during which I learned once more to appreciate
the sylvan beauty of this artificial pleasure-ground. Life also had
become quieter, as is usually the case at this season in Paris. Bulow,
after hearing that his dejeuner at Vachette's had produced the
extraordinary result of an imperial command for the production of
Tannhauser, had long since gone back to Germany; and in August I also
set out on my carefully planned excursion to the German Rhine
districts. There I first turned my steps, via Cologne, to Coblenz,
where I expected to find Princess Augusta of Prussia. Learning,
however, that she was in Baden, I made my way towards Soden, whence I
fetched Minna for a further tour, accompanied by her recently acquired
friend, Mathilde Schiffner. We touched at Frankfort, where I met my
brother Albert for the first time since leaving Dresden, as he also
happened to be passing through this city.

When I was there it occurred to me that this was the residence of
Schopenhauer, but a singular timidity restrained me from calling upon
him. My temper just then seemed too distraught and too far removed from
all that which might have formed a subject for conversation with
Schopenhauer, even if I had felt strongly attracted towards him, and
which alone could have furnished a reason for intruding myself upon
him, in spite of such disinclination. As with so many other things in
my life, I again deferred one of its most precious opportunities until
that fervently expected 'more favourable season,' which I presumed was
sure to come some day. When, a year after this flying visit, I again
stayed some time in Frankfort to superintend the production of my
Meistersinger, I imagined that at last this more favourable opportunity
for seeing Schopenhauer had come. But, alas! he died that very year, a
fact which led me to many bitter reflections on the uncertainty of fate.

During this earlier visit another fondly cherished hope also came to
nothing. I had reckoned on being able to induce Liszt to meet me in
Frankfort, but instead found only a letter declaring it impossible to
grant the fulfilment of my wish.

From this town we went straight to Baden-Baden. Here I abandoned Minna
and her friend to the seductions of the roulette-table, while I availed
myself of a letter of introduction from Count Pourtales to Countess
Hacke, a lady-in-waiting on her Royal Highness, through whom I hoped to
be presented to her exalted patroness. After a little delay I duly
received an invitation to meet her in the Trinkhalle at five o'clock in
the afternoon. It was a wet, cold day, and at that hour the whole
surroundings of the place seemed absolutely devoid of life as I
approached my momentous rendezvous. I found Augusta pacing to and fro
with Countess Hacke, and as I approached she graciously stopped. Her
conversation consisted almost entirely of assurances that she was
completely powerless in every respect, in response to which I
imprudently cited the hint received from the King of Saxony that I
should offer her my personal thanks for previous intervention on my
behalf. This she seemed evidently to resent, and dismissed me with an
air of indifference meant to show that she took very little interest in
my concerns. My old friend Alwine Frommann told me later that she did
not know what there was about me that displeased the Princess, but
thought it might possibly be my Saxon accent.

This time I left the much-praised paradise of Baden without carrying
away any very friendly impression, and at Mannheim boarded a steamer,
accompanied only by Minna, on which for the first time I was borne
along the famous Rhine. It struck me as very strange that I should so
often have crossed the Rhine without having once made the acquaintance
of this most characteristic historical thoroughfare of mediaeval
Germany. A hasty return to Cologne concluded this excursion, which had
lasted only a week, and from which I returned to face once more the
solution of the problems of my Parisian enterprise, now opening out
painfully before me.

One factor which seemed likely greatly to relieve the difficulties
confronting me was to be found in the friendly relationship into which
the young banker, Emil Erlanger, was pleased to enter towards me. This
I owed, in the first place, to an extraordinary man named Albert
Beckmann, a former Hanoverian revolutionary, and afterwards private
librarian to Louis Napoleon, who was at this time a press agent for
several interests, respecting which I was never quite clear. This man
succeeded in making my acquaintance as an open admirer, in which
capacity he showed himself remarkably obliging. He now informed me that
M. Erlanger, by whom he was also employed in connection with the press,
would be pleased to know me. I was on the point of bluntly declining
the honour, saying that I wanted to know nothing about any banker
except with regard to his money, when he answered my jest by telling me
in all seriousness that it was precisely in this way that M. Erlanger
desired to serve me. As a result of this invitation I made the
acquaintance of a genuinely agreeable man, who, having often heard my
music in Germany, had become inspired by a sympathetic interest in my
person. He frankly expressed a desire that I should commit the
management of my financial business entirely to his hands, which meant,
in fact, nothing less than that he would permanently hold himself
responsible for any needful subsidies, in return for which I was to
assign to him all the eventual proceeds of my Paris undertakings. This
offer was distinctly novel, and moreover exactly fell in with the needs
of my peculiar situation. And, in fact, so far as my subsequent
financial security was concerned, I had no further difficulties to
encounter until my position in Paris was fully decided. And although my
later intercourse with M. Erlanger was accompanied by many
circumstances which no man's kindly courtesy could have relieved, yet I
ever found in him a truly devoted friend, who earnestly studied both my
own personal welfare and the success of my enterprises.

This eminently satisfactory turn of events was calculated to inspire me
with high courage had the circumstances been somewhat different. As it
was, it had no power to excite in me even the slightest enthusiasm for
an undertaking of which the hollowness and unsuitability for me
personally were clearly revealed every time I approached it. It was
with a feeling of ill-humour that I met every demand made by this
venture, and yet it represented the foundation of the confidence
reposed in me. My mind was subjected, however, to a certain refreshing
uncertainty as to the character of my scheme by a new acquaintance who
was introduced to me in connection with it. M. Royer informed me that
he could not 'pass' the translation which I had taken infinite pains to
conjure into existence through the two men who had volunteered to help
me. He most earnestly recommended a thorough revision by M. Charles
Truinet, whose pseudonym was Nuitter. This man was still young and
extraordinarily attractive, with something friendly and open in his
manner. He had called on me a few months ago to offer his co-operation
in the translation, of my operas, on the introduction of Ollivier, his
colleague at the Paris bar. Proud of my connection with Lindau,
however, I had refused his help; but the time had now come when, in
consequence of M. Royer's strictures, Truinet's renewed offer of his
services had to be taken into consideration. He understood no German,
but maintained that as far as this was concerned he could place
sufficient reliance upon his old father, who had travelled for a long
time in Germany and had acquired the essentials of our language. As a
matter of fact, there was no need for special knowledge in this
respect, as the sole problem seemed to be to make the French verses
less stiff and stilted which poor Roche had constructed under the
shameful control of Lindau, who used to make out that he knew
everything better than any one else. The inexhaustible patience with
which Truinet proceeded from one change to another in order to satisfy
my requirements, even with regard to the musical fitness of the
version, won my sympathy for this last collaborator. From this time
forward we had to keep Lindau away from the slightest interference in
this new modelling of the 'book.' He had been recognised as quite
incompetent. Roche, on the other hand, was retained, in so far as his
work served as a basis for the new versification. As it was difficult
for him to leave his custom office, he was excused from troubling about
the remaining part of the work, as Truinet was quite free and could
keep in daily touch with me. I now saw that Truinet's law degree was
merely ornamental, and that he never had any thought of conducting a
case. His chief interests lay in the administration of the Grand Opera,
to which he was attached as keeper of the archives. First with one
collaborator and then with another he had also worked at little plays
for the vaudeville and theatres of a lower order, and even for the
Bouffes Parisiens; but he was ashamed of these productions and always
knew how to evade talking about this sphere of activity. I was greatly
obliged to him for the final arrangement of a text to my Tannhauser
which could be sung and which was regarded on all sides as
'acceptable.' But I cannot remember ever having been attracted by
anything poetic or even aesthetic in his nature. His value, however, as
an experienced, warm-hearted, staunchly devoted friend at all times,
especially in periods of the greatest distress, made itself more and
more clearly felt. I can hardly remember ever meeting a man of such
sound judgment on the most difficult points, or one so actively ready
when occasion arose to uphold the view I advocated.

We had first of all to join forces in promoting an entirely new piece
of work. In obedience to a need I had always felt, I had seized the
occasion of this carefully prepared production of Tannhauser to expand
and considerably fill out the first Venus scene. For this purpose I
wrote the text in loosely constructed German verses, so as to leave the
translator quite free to work them out in a suitable French form:
people told me that Truinet's verses were not at all bad; and with
these as a basis I composed the extra music for the scene, and only
fitted a German text to it afterwards. My annoying discussions with the
management on the subject of a big ballet had determined me to make
extensive additions to the scene of the 'Venusberg.' I thought that
this would give the staff of the ballet a choreographic task of so
magnificent a character that there would no longer be any occasion to
grumble at me for my obstinacy in this matter. The musical composition
of the two scenes occupied most of my time during the month of
September, and at the same time I began the pianoforte rehearsals of
Tannhauser in the foyer of the Grand Opera.

The company, part of which had been freshly engaged for this purpose,
were now assembled, and I was interested in learning the way in which a
new work is studied at the French Opera.

The characteristic features of the system in Paris may be described
simply as extreme frigidity and extraordinary accuracy. M. Vauthrot,
the chorus-master, excelled in both these qualities. He was a man whom
I could not help regarding as hostile to me, because I had never been
able to win from him a single expression of enthusiasm. On the other
hand, he proved to me by the most punctilious solicitude how
conscientious he really was about his work. He insisted on considerable
alterations in the text, so as to obtain a favourable medium for
singing. My knowledge of the scores of Auber and Boieldieu had misled
me into assuming that the French people were entirely indifferent as to
whether the mute syllables in poetry and singing were to be sounded or
not. Vauthrot maintained that this was only the case with composers,
but not with good singers. He was always feeling misgivings about the
length of my work, which I met with the observation that I could not
understand how he could be afraid of boring the public with any opera
after they had been accustomed to find pleasure in Rossini's Semiramis,
which was often produced. Upon this he paused to reflect, and agreed
with me so far as the monotony of action and of music in that work was
concerned. He told me not to forget, however, that the public neither
cared for action nor music, but that their whole attention was directed
to the brilliancy of the singers. Tannhauser gave little scope for
brilliancy, and, as a matter of fact, I had none of that quality at my
disposal. The only singer in my company who had any claim to such a
distinction was Mme. Tedesco, a rather grotesque but voluptuous type of
Jewess who had returned from Portugal and Spain after having had great
triumphs in Italian operas. She did not conceal her satisfaction at
having secured an engagement at the Paris Opera through my unwilling
choice of her for the part of Venus. She gave herself no end of trouble
to solve the problem to the best of her ability--a problem which was
entirely beyond her and which was suited only to a genuine tragedy
actress. For a certain time her efforts appeared to be crowned with
success, and several special rehearsals with Niemann led to a lively
affinity between Tannhauser and Venus. As Niemann mastered the French
pronunciation with considerable skill, these rehearsals, in which
Fraulein Sax also proved delightful, made genuine and encouraging
progress. Up to this point these rehearsals were undisturbed, as my
acquaintance with M. Dietzsch was as yet very slight. According to the
rules of the Opera House, Dietzsch had hitherto only been present at
the pianoforte rehearsals as chef d'orchestre and future conductor of
the opera, so as to make himself accurately acquainted with the
intentions of the singers. Still less was I disturbed by M. Cormon, the
stage manager, who was also present at the rehearsals, and with a
lively skill, characteristic of the French people, conducted the
numerous so-called 'property' rehearsals, at which the way each scene
was to be played was determined. Even when M. Cormon or others did not
understand me, they were always ready to subordinate themselves to my
decisions; for I continued to be regarded as all-powerful, and
everybody thought that I could enforce what I wanted through Princess
Metternich, a belief which, indeed, was not without foundation. For
instance, I had learned that Prince Poniatowsky was threatening to
place a serious obstacle in the way of continuing our rehearsals by
reviving one of his own operas, the production of which had fallen
through. The undaunted Princess met my complaints on this subject by
obtaining an immediate order that the Prince's opera should be laid
aside. Naturally this did not tend to ingratiate me with the Prince,
and he did not fail to make me feel his displeasure when I called upon
him. In the midst of all this work I was afforded some recreation by a
visit from my sister Louise with part of her family. To entertain her
in my own home presented the greatest difficulties owing to the strange
fact that it was now becoming absolutely dangerous to approach my
house. When I first took it, the proprietor gave me a fairly long
lease, but would not undertake any repairs. I now discovered the reason
of this was that it had just been decided by the Paris Committee of
Reconstruction to clear the Rue Newton with all its side streets to
facilitate the opening up of a broad boulevard from one of the bridges
to the Barriere de l'Etoile. But up to the last moment this plan was
officially denied, so as to avoid for as long as possible the liability
of paying compensation for the land that was to be expropriated. To my
astonishment I noticed that excavations were being made close to my
front door; these increased in width, so that at first no carriages
could pass my door, and finally my house was unapproachable even on
foot. Under these circumstances the proprietor had no objection to make
to my leaving the house. His sole stipulation was that I should sue him
for damages, as that was the only way by which he in his turn could sue
the government. About this time my friend Ollivier was debarred for
three months on account of a parliamentary misdemeanour; he therefore
recommended me for the conduct of my case to his friend Picard, who, as
I saw later on from the legal proceedings, acquitted himself of his
task with much humour. Nevertheless, there was no chance of damages for
me (whether the proprietor obtained any, I cannot say); but, at all
events, I had to content myself with being released from my agreement.
I also obtained leave to look about for another house, and instituted
my search in a neighbourhood less remote from the Opera. I found a poor
cheerless spot in the Rue d'Aumale. Late in the autumn in stormy
weather we completed the arduous task of moving, in which Louisa's
daughter, my niece Ottilie, proved a capable and willing child.
Unfortunately I caught a violent cold in the course of moving and took
few precautions to check it. I again exposed myself to the growing
excitement of the rehearsals, and eventually I was struck down by
typhoid fever.

We had reached the month of November. My relations had to go home,
leaving me behind in a state of unconsciousness, in which I was
consigned to the care of my friend Gasperini. In my fits of fever I
insisted on their calling in all imaginable medical aid, and, as a
matter of fact, Count Hatzfeld did bring in the doctor attached to the
Prussian embassy. The injustice thus done to my friend, who took the
greatest care of me, was due to no mistrust of him, but to feverish
hallucinations which filled my brain with the most outrageous and
luxuriant fancies. In this condition, not only did I imagine that
Princess Metternich and Mme. Kalergis were arranging a complete court
for me, to which I invited the Emperor Napoleon, but I actually
requested that Emil Erlanger should place a villa near Paris at my
disposal, and that I should be removed to it, as it was impossible for
me to recover in the dark hole where I was. At last I insisted on being
taken to Naples, where I promised myself a speedy recovery in free
intercourse with Garibaldi. Gasperini held bravely out against all this
madness, and he and Minna had to use force in order to apply the
necessary mustard-plasters to the soles of my feet. During bad nights
later on in life similar vain and extravagant fancies used to return to
me, and on waking I have realised with horror that they were the
offspring of that period of fever. After five days we mastered the
fever; but I seemed to be threatened with blindness, and my weakness
was extreme. At last the injury to my sight passed away, and after a
few weeks I again trusted myself to steal along the few streets between
my house and the Opera, to satisfy my anxiety for the continuation of
the rehearsals.

People here had indulged in the oddest ideas, and seemed to have
assumed that I was as good as dead. I learned that the rehearsals had
been needlessly suspended, and moreover gathered from one indication
after another that the affair had practically collapsed, although in my
intense desire for recovery I tried my utmost to conceal this from
myself. But I was much elated and pleased to see that the translation
of the four operatic librettos which had so far appeared had been
published. I had written a very exhaustive preface to them addressed to
M. Frederic Villot. The translation of all this had been arranged for
me by M. Challemel Lacour, a man with whom I had become acquainted at
Herwegh's house in days gone by when he was a political refugee. He was
a highly intelligent translator, and had now done me such admirable
service that every one recognised the value of his work. I had given J.
J. Weber, the bookseller in Leipzig, the German original of the preface
to publish under the title of Zukunftsmusik. This pamphlet also reached
me now, and pleased me, as it probably represented the only result of
my whole Paris undertaking, which looked so brilliant on the surface.

At the same time I was now in a position to complete the new
composition for Tannhauser, of which the great dance scene in the
Venusberg was still incomplete. I finished it at three o'clock one
morning after staying up all night, just as Minna returned home from a
great ball at the Hotel de Ville to which she had been with a friend. I
had given her some handsome presents for Christmas, but as far as I
myself was concerned I continued, on the advice of my doctor, to assist
the slow process of recovery by a beefsteak in the morning and a glass
of Bavarian beer before going to bed. We did not watch the old year
out; on the contrary, I retired to bed and slept calmly into 1861.

1861.--The slackness with which the rehearsals of Tannhauser were being
conducted when I fell ill changed at the beginning of the new year into
a more decided handling of all the details connected with the intended
performance. But I could not fail to notice at the same time that the
attitude of all those who took part was substantially altered. The
rehearsals, which were more numerous than might be expected, gave me
the impression that the management was adhering to the strict execution
of a command, but were not fired by any hope of successful results.
Certainly I now obtained a clearer insight into the actual state of
affairs. From the press, which was entirely in the hands of Meyerbeer,
I knew long ago what I had to expect. The management of the Opera,
probably after repeated efforts to make the chief leaders in the press
tractable, were now likewise convinced that my Tannhauser venture would
only meet with a hostile reception from that quarter. This view was
shared even in the highest circles, and it seemed as if an attempt was
being made to discover some means whereby to win over to my side that
part of the operatic public which could turn the scales. Prince
Metternich sent me an invitation one day to meet the new cabinet
minister, Count Walewsky. An air of ceremony pervaded the introduction,
and made it particularly significant when the Count in a persuasive
speech endeavoured to convince me that they entertained every wish for
my good fortune and desired to help me to a brilliant success. He added
in conclusion that the power to effect this was in my own hands, if I
would only consent to introduce a ballet into the second act of my
opera; the most celebrated ballet-dancers from St. Petersburg and
London had been proposed to me, and I had only to make my selection;
their engagement would be concluded as soon as I had entrusted the
success of my work to their co-operation. In declining these proposals
I think I was no less eloquent than he in making them. My complete
failure, however, was due to the fact that I did not appear to
understand the worthy minister when he informed me that the ballet in
the first act counted for nothing, because those devotees of the
theatre who only cared for the ballet on an opera night were
accustomed, according to the new fashion, not to dine until eight
o'clock, and so did not reach the theatre until ten o'clock, when about
half the performance was over. I replied that I could not undertake
myself to oblige these gentlemen, but might well hope duly to impress
another part of the public. But with his imperturbable air of ceremony
he met me with the objection that these gentlemen's support could alone
be counted upon to produce a successful result, inasmuch as they were
powerful enough even to defy the hostile attitude of the press. This
precaution awakened no response in me, and I offered to withdraw my
work altogether, whereupon I was assured with the greatest earnestness
that, according to the Emperor's command, which had to be universally
respected, I was master of the situation, and my wishes would be
followed in everything. The Count had only thought it his duty to give
me a friendly piece of advice.

The consequences of this conversation soon became evident in many ways.
I threw myself enthusiastically into the work of carrying out the great
dance scenes of the first act, and tried to win Petitpas, the
ballet-master, to my side. I asked for unheard-of combinations quite
different from those generally employed in the ballet. I drew attention
to the dances of the Maenads and Bacchantes, and astounded Petitpas
with the mere proposition that he would be able to accomplish something
of the kind with his graceful pupils, as it was well within his powers.
He explained to me that by placing my ballet at the beginning of the
first act I had myself renounced all claim to the step-dancers attached
to the Opera, and all he could do was to offer to engage three
Hungarian dancers, who had formerly danced in the fairy scenes at the
Porte St. Martin, to fill the parts of the three graces. As I was quite
content to dispense with the distinguished dancers belonging to the
Opera, I insisted all the more that the rank and file of the ballet
should be actively coached. I wanted to know that the male staff was
present in full force, but I learned that it was impossible to bring it
up to my requirements, unless some tailors were engaged who, for a
monthly salary of fifty francs, figured in a vague way in the wings
during the performances of the solo dancers. Finally I tried to produce
my effects by means of the costumes, and asked for considerable funds
for that purpose, only to learn, after I had been wearied by one
subterfuge after another, that the management was determined not to
expend a halfpenny on my ballet, which they regarded as completely
wasted. Such was the substance of what my trusty friend Truinet
conveyed to me. This was the first sign out of many which soon revealed
to me the fact, that even in the circles of the operatic administration
itself Tannhauser was already regarded as labour lost and sheer waste
of trouble.

The atmosphere created by this conviction now weighed with increasing
pressure upon everything which was undertaken for the preparation of a
performance which was postponed time after time. With the beginning of
the year the rehearsals had readied the stage at which the scenes were
arranged and the orchestral practices begun. Everything was conducted
with a care which impressed me very agreeably at the beginning, until
finally I was bored by it, because I saw that the powers of the
performers were being relaxed by eternal repetition, and it was now
evident that I must trust to my own ability to pull the matter quickly
through as I thought best. But it was not the fatigue due to this
system that finally made Niemann, the main prop in my work, recoil from
the task which at the start he had undertaken with an energy full of
promise. He had been informed that there was a conspiracy to ruin my
work. From this time forward he was a victim to a despondency to which,
in his relations with me, he sought to lend a sort of diabolical
character. He maintained that so far he could only see the matter in a
black light, and he brought forward some arguments that sounded very
sensible; he criticised the whole Opera as an institution and the
public attached to it, and also our staff of singers, of whom he
maintained that not a single one understood his part as I intended it;
and he exposed all the disadvantages of the undertaking, which I myself
could not fail to see as soon as I came to deal with the chef du chant,
the regisseur, the ballet-master, the conductor of the chorus, but,
particularly, with the chef d'orchestre. Above all, Niemann (who at the
beginning, with a full knowledge of what it involved, had imposed upon
himself the task of playing his part without curtailments of any sort)
insisted upon cutting down the score. He met my expression of
astonishment with the remark, that I must not suppose that the
sacrifice of this or that passage mattered, but that we were in the
throes of an undertaking which could not be got through too quickly.

Under circumstances from which so little encouragement could be
derived, the study of Tannhauser dragged itself along to the brink of
the so-called 'dress' rehearsals. From all sides the friends of my past
life gathered together in Paris to be present at the apotheosis of the
first performance. Among these were Otto Wesendonck, Ferdinand Prager,
the unfortunate Kietz, for whom I had to pay the costs of his journey
and of his stay in Paris; luckily M. Chandon from Epernay came, too,
with a hamper of 'Fleur du Jardin,' the finest of all his champagne
brands. This was to be drunk to the success of Tannhauser. Bulow also
came, depressed and saddened by the burdens of his own life, and hoping
to be able to gather courage and renewed vitality from the success of
my undertaking. I did not dare to tell him in so many words of the
miserable state of affairs; on the contrary, seeing him so depressed, I
made the best of a bad matter. At the first rehearsal, however, at
which Bulow was present, he did not fail to grasp how matters stood. I
no longer concealed anything from him; and we continued to indulge in
sorrowful intercourse till the night of the performance, which was
again and again postponed, and it was only his untiring efforts to be
of use to me that gave some life to our companionship. From whatever
side we regarded our grotesque undertaking, we encountered
unsuitability and incompetence. For instance, it was impossible in the
whole of Paris to find the twelve French horns which in Dresden had so
bravely sounded the hunting call in the first act. In connection with
this matter I had to deal with the terrible man Sax, the celebrated
instrument-maker. He had to help me out with all kinds of substitutes
in the shape of saxophones and saxhorns; moreover, he was officially
appointed to conduct the music behind the scenes. It was an
impossibility ever to get this music properly played.

The main grievance, however, lay in the incompetence of M. Dietzsch,
the conductor, which had now reached a pitch hitherto unsuspected. In
the numerous orchestral rehearsals which had been held hitherto, I had
accustomed myself to use this man like a machine. From my habitual
position on the stage near his desk I had conducted both conductor and
orchestra. In this way I had maintained my tempi in such a way that I
felt no doubt that on my removal all my points would remain firmly
established. I found, on the contrary, that no sooner was Dietzsch left
to his own resources than everything began to waver; not one tempo, not
one nuance was conscientiously and strictly preserved. I then realised
the extreme danger in which we were placed. Granted that no one singer
was suited to his task, or qualified to achieve it so as to produce a
genuine effect; granted that the ballet, and even the sumptuous
mounting and vitality of the Parisian performances of the day, could
contribute nothing on this occasion, or at most but little; granted
that the whole spirit of the libretto, and that indefinable SOMETHING
which even in the worst performances of Tannhauser in Germany roused a
feeling of home, was likely here to strike an alien or at best an
unfamiliar note; yet in spite of all this the character of the
orchestral music, which if rendered with emphasis was full of
suggestive expression, led one to hope that it would make an impression
even upon a Parisian audience. But it was precisely in this particular
that I saw everything submerged in a colourless chaos, with every line
of the drawing obliterated; moreover, the singers became more and more
uncertain in their work; even the poor ballet-girls were no longer able
to keep time in their trivial steps; so that at last I thought myself
obliged to interpose with the declaration that the opera required a
different conductor, and that in case of necessity I myself was ready
to take his place. This declaration brought to a climax the confusion
that had grown up around me. Even the members of the orchestra, who had
long recognised and openly ridiculed their conductor's incompetence,
took sides against me now that the matter concerned their notorious
chief. The press lashed itself into fury over my 'arrogance,' and in
the face of all the agitation caused by the affair, Napoleon III. could
send me no better advice than to forgo my requests, as in adhering to
them I should only be exposing the chances of my work to the greatest
risks. On the other hand, I was allowed to start fresh rehearsals and
have them repeated until I was satisfied.

This way out of the difficulty could lead to nothing but an increase of
fatigue for me and for the whole staff actively engaged in the
undertaking, and the fact still remained that M. Dietzsch could not be
depended upon for the tempo. Finally, by sheer force of will rather
than of conviction, I tried to imagine I was doing a service by holding
out for the correct interpretation of a performance which, after all,
had to be got through; whereupon for the first time the impetuous
musicians broke out into rebellion against the excessive rehearsals. At
this stage I noticed that the guarantee of my practical control given
by the general management was not altogether made in good faith, and in
the face of the growing complaint on all sides against being
overfatigued I decided 'to demand the return of my score' as they
called it; that is to say, to dispense with the production of the
opera. I addressed an express request to this effect to the cabinet
minister Walewsky, but received the answer that it was impossible to
comply with my wishes, more particularly on account of the heavy
expenses which had already been incurred in its preparation. I refused
to abide by his decision, and called a conference of those friends of
mine who were more closely interested in me, among whom were Count
Hatzfeld and Emil Erlanger. I took counsel with them as to the means at
my disposal for forbidding Tannhauser to be performed at the Opera
House. It happened that Otto Wesendonck was present at this conference;
he was still waiting in Paris hoping to have the pleasure of attending
the first performance, but he was now thoroughly convinced that the
situation was hopeless, and promptly fled back to Zurich. Prager had
already done likewise. Kietz alone held out faithfully, and he busied
himself in trying to make some money in Paris to provide for his
future, in which attempt he was hampered by many difficulties that
stood in the way of his desire. This conference resulted in fresh
representations being made to the Emperor Napoleon, which, however, met
with the same gracious reply as before, and I was authorised to
institute a fresh course of rehearsals. At last, weary to the depths of
my soul, completely disillusioned, and absolutely decided in my
pessimistic view of the matter, I determined to abandon it to its fate.

Having at last, in this frame of mind, given my consent to fix the date
of the first performance of my opera, I was now plagued in another
direction in the most astonishing way. Every one of my friends and
partisans demanded a good seat for the first night; but the management
pointed out that the occupation of the house on such occasions was
entirely in the hands of the court and those dependent on it, and I was
soon to realise clearly enough to whom these seats were to be allotted.
At present I had to suffer the annoyance of being unable to serve many
of my friends as I should have liked. Some of them were very quick to
resent what they supposed to be my neglect of them. Champfleury in a
letter complained of this flagrant breach of friendship; Gasperini
started an open quarrel because I had not reserved one of the best
boxes for his patron and my creditor Lucy, the Receiver-General of
Marseilles. Even Blandine, who had been filled with the most generous
enthusiasm for my work at the rehearsals she had attended, could not
suppress a suspicion that I was guilty of neglecting my best friends
when I was unable to offer her and her husband Ollivier anything better
than a couple of stalls. It needed all Emil's sang-froid to obtain from
this deeply offended friend a just appreciation of the honest assurance
that I was in an impossible position, in which I was exposed to
betrayal on all sides. Poor Bulow alone understood everything; he
suffered with me, and shirked no trouble to be of use to me in all
these difficulties. The first performance on the 13th of March put an
end to all these complications; my friends now understood that it was
to no celebration of my triumphs, as they supposed, to which they
should have been invited.

I have already said enough elsewhere of the way in which this evening
passed off. I was justified in flattering myself that in the end a
favourable view of my opera prevailed, inasmuch as the intention of my
opponents had been to break up this performance completely, and this
they had found it impossible to do. But I was grieved the next day to
receive nothing but reproaches from my friends, with Gasperini at the
head of them, because I had allowed the occupation of the house at the
first performance to be completely wrested out of my hands. Meyerbeer,
they urged, knew how to work such things differently; had he not, ever
since he first appeared in Paris, refused to allow the production of a
single one of his operas to take place without a guarantee that he
himself should fill the auditorium, to the remotest corner? As I had
not looked after my best friends, such as M. Lucy, was not the
ill-success of that evening to be ascribed to my own conduct?
Confronted with these and similar arguments, I had to spend the whole
day in writing letters and in devoting myself to the most urgent
efforts at propitiation. Above all, I was besieged with advice as to
how I might recover the lost ground at the subsequent performances. As
the management placed a very small number of free seats at my disposal,
money had to be found for the purchase of tickets. In the pursuit of
this object, which my friends were so warmly advocating and which
involved much that was disagreeable, I shrank from approaching Emil
Erlanger or anybody else. Giacomelli, however, had found out that
Aufmordt, the merchant, a business friend of Wesendonck, had offered to
help to the extent of five hundred francs. I now allowed these
champions of my welfare to act according to their own ideas, and was
curious to see what assistance I should derive from these resources
which I had previously neglected and now utilised.

The second performance took place on the 18th of March, and, indeed,
the first act promised well. The overture was loudly applauded without
a note of opposition. Mme. Tedesco, who had eventually been completely
won over to her part of Venus by a wig powdered with gold dust, called
out triumphantly to me in the manager's box, when the 'septuor' of the
finale of the first act was again vigorously applauded, that everything
was now all right and that we had won the victory. But when shrill
whistling was suddenly heard in the second act, Royer the manager
turned to me with an air of complete resignation and said, 'Ce sont les
Jockeys; nous sommes perdus.' Apparently at the bidding of the Emperor,
extensive negotiations had been entered into with these members of the
Jockey Club as to the fate of my opera. They had been requested to
allow three performances to take place, after which they had been
promised that it should be so curtailed as to admit of its presentation
only as a curtain-raiser to introduce a ballet which was to follow. But
these gentlemen had not agreed to the terms. In the first place, my
attitude during the first performance (which had been such a bone of
contention) had been observed to be utterly unlike that of a man who
would consent to the proposed line of conduct; this being so, it was to
be feared that if two more performances were allowed to take place
without interruption, we might hope to win so many adherents that the
friends of the ballet would be treated to repetitions of this work
thirty times running. To guard against this they determined to protest
in time. The fact that these gentlemen meant business was now realised
by the excellent M. Royer; and from that time he gave up all attempt to
resist them, in spite of the support granted to our party by the
Emperor and his Consort, who stoically kept their seats through the
uproars of their own courtiers.

The impression made by this scene had a disastrous effect upon my
friends. After the performance Bulow broke out into sobs as he embraced
Minna, who had not been spared the insults of those next to her when
they recognised her as the wife of the composer. Our trusty servant
Therese, a Swabian girl, had been sneered at by a crazy hooligan, but
when she realised that he understood German, she succeeded in quieting
him for a time by calling him Schweinhund at the top of her voice. Poor
Kietz was struck dumb with disappointment, and Chandon's 'Fleur du
Jardin' was growing sour in the storeroom.

Hearing that in spite of everything a third performance was fixed, I
was confronted with only two possible solutions of the difficulty. One
was, to try once more to withdraw my score; the other, to demand that
my opera should be given on a Sunday, that is to say, on a
non-subscriber's day. I assumed that such a performance could not be
regarded by the usual ticket-holders as a provocation, for they were
quite accustomed on such days to surrender their boxes to any of the
general public who chanced to come and buy them. My strategical
proposal seemed to please the management and the Tuileries, and was
accepted. Only they refused to conform to my wish to announce this as
the third and LAST performance. Both Minna and I stayed away from this,
as it was just as embarrassing for me to know that my wife was insulted
as to see the singers on the stage subjected to such behaviour. I was
really sorry for Morelli and Mlle. Sax, who had proved their genuine
devotion to me. As soon as the first performance was over, I met Mlle.
Sax in the corridor on her way home, and chaffed her about being
whistled off the stage. With proud dignity she replied, 'Je le
supporterai cent fois comme aujourd' hui. Ah, les miserables!' Morelli
found himself strangely perplexed when he had to weather the onslaught
of the hooligans. I had explained to him in the minutest detail how to
act his part from the time when Elizabeth disappears in the third act,
until the beginning of his song to the evening star. He was not to move
an inch from his rocky ledge, and from this position, half turning to
the audience, he was to address his farewell to the departing lady. It
had been a difficult task for him to obey my instructions, as he
maintained that it was against all operatic custom for the singer not
to address such an important passage straight to the public from the
footlights. When in the course of the performance he seized his harp to
begin the song, there was a cry from the audience, 'Ah! il prend encore
sa harpe,' upon which there was a universal outburst of laughter
followed by fresh whistling, so prolonged, that at last Morelli decided
boldly to lay aside his harp and step forward to the proscenium in the
usual way. Here he resolutely sang his evening carol entirely
unaccompanied, as Dietzsch only found his place at the tenth bar. Peace
was then restored, and at last the public listened breathlessly to the
song, and at its close covered the singer with applause.

As the vocalists showed a courageous determination to encounter fresh
onslaughts, I could not protest. At the same time I could not endure to
be in the position of a passive spectator suffering at the infliction
of such unworthy methods, and as the third performance was also likely
to be attended with doubtful consequences, I stayed at home. After the
various acts messages reached us informing us that after the first act
Truinet at once came round to my opinion that the score should be
withdrawn; it was found that the 'Jockeys' had not stayed away, as was
their custom, from this Sunday performance; on the contrary, they had
purposely taken their seats from the beginning, so as not to allow a
single scene to pass without a row. I was assured that in the first act
the performance had been twice suspended by fights lasting a quarter of
an hour each. By far the greater part of the public obstinately took my
part against the childish conduct of the rowdies, without intending by
their action to express any opinion of my work. But in opposing their
assailants they were at a great disadvantage. When everybody on my side
was utterly wearied out with clapping and shouting applause and calling
'Order,' and it looked as if peace were about to reign once more, the
'Jockeys' returned afresh to their task and began cheerfully whistling
their hunting-tunes and playing their flageolets, so that they were
always bound to have the last word. In an interval between the acts one
of these gentlemen entered the box of a certain great lady, who in the
excess of her anger introduced him to one of her friends with the
words, 'C'est un de ces miserables, mon cousin.' The young man,
completely unabashed, answered, 'Que voulez-vous? I am beginning to
like the music myself. But, you see, a man must keep his word. If you
will excuse me, I will return to my work again.' He thereupon took his
leave. The next day I met Herr von Seebach, the friendly Saxon
Ambassador, who was as hoarse as he could be, as he and all his friends
had completely lost their voices through the uproar of the previous
night. Princess Metternich had remained at home, as she had already had
to endure the coarse insults and ridicule of our opponents at the first
two performances.

She indicated the height to which this fury had risen by mentioning
some of her best friends, with whom she had engaged in so virulent a
controversy that she had ended by saying: 'Away with your free France!
In Vienna, where at least there is a genuine aristocracy, it would be
unthinkable for a Prince Liechtenstein or Schwarzenberg to scream from
his box for a ballet in Fidelio.' I believe she also spoke to the
Emperor in the same strain, so that he seriously debated whether by
police intervention some check could not be put upon the unmannerly
conduct of these gentlemen, most of whom, unfortunately, belonged to
the Imperial Household. Some rumour of this got abroad, so that my
friends believed they had really gained the day when, at the third
performance, they found the corridors of the theatre occupied by a
strong body of police. But it turned out later on that these
precautions had only been taken to ensure the safety of the 'Jockeys,'
as it was feared they might be attacked from the pit as a punishment
for their insolence. It seems that the performance, which was again
carried through to the end, was accompanied from start to finish by an
endless tumult. After the second act the wife of von Szemere, the
Hungarian revolutionary minister, joined us in a state of complete
collapse, declaring that the row in the theatre was more than she could
bear. No one seemed able to tell me exactly how the third act had been
got through. As far as I could make out, it resembled the turmoil of a
battle thick with the smoke of gunpowder. I invited my friend Truinet
to visit me the next morning, so that with his help I might compose a
letter to the management withdrawing my work and, as author, forbidding
any further performance of the same, as I did not wish to see my
singers abused instead of myself by a section of the public from whom
the Imperial administration seemed unable to protect them. The
astonishing thing about the whole matter was that in thus interfering I
was guilty of no bravado, for a fourth and fifth performance of the
opera had been already arranged, and the management protested that they
were under obligations to the public, who still continued to crowd to
this opera. But through Truinet I contrived to have my letter published
the next day in the Journal des Debats, so that at last, though with
great reluctance, the management gave their consent to my withdrawal of
the piece.

Thereupon the legal action taken on my behalf by Ollivier against
Lindau also came to an end. The latter had put in a claim on my
author's rights in the libretto, in which he said he was entitled to a
share as one of the three collaborators. His counsel, Maitre Marie,
based his plea on a principle which I was said to have established
myself, namely that the point of chief importance was not the melody,
but the correct declamation of the words of the libretto, which
obviously neither Roche nor Truinet could have ensured, seeing that
neither of them understood German. Ollivier's argument for the defence
was so energetic that he was almost on the point of proving the purely
musical essence of my melody by singing the 'Abendstern.' Completely
carried away by this, the judges rejected the plaintiff's claim, but
requested me to pay him a small sum by way of compensation, as he
seemed really to have taken some part in the work at the beginning. In
any case, however, I could not have paid this out of the proceeds of
the Paris performances of Tannhauser, as I had decided with Truinet, on
withdrawing the opera, to hand over the whole of the proceeds from my
author's rights, both for libretto and music, to poor Roche, to whom
the failure of my work meant the ruin of all his hopes for the
amelioration of his position.

Various other connections were also dissolved by this outcome of
affairs. During the past few months I had busied myself with an
artistic club which had been founded, chiefly through the influence of
the German embassies, among an aristocratic connection for the
production of good music apart from the theatres, and to stimulate
interest in this branch of art among the upper classes. Unfortunately,
in the circular it had published it had illustrated its endeavours to
produce good music by comparing them to those of the Jockey Club to
improve the breed of horses. Their object was to enrol all who had won
a name in the musical world, and I was obliged to become a member at a
yearly subscription of two hundred francs. Together with M. Gounod and
other Parisian celebrities, I was nominated one of an artistic
committee, of which Auber was elected president. The society often held
its meetings at the house of a certain Count Osmond, a lively young
man, who had lost an arm in a duel, and posed as a musical dilettante.
In this way I also learned to know a young Prince Polignac, who
interested me particularly on account of his brother, to whom we were
indebted for a complete translation of Faust. I went to lunch with him
one morning, when he revealed to me the fact that he composed musical
fantasies. He was very anxious to convince me of the correctness of his
interpretation of Beethoven's Symphony in A major, in the last movement
of which he declared he could clearly demonstrate all the phases of a
shipwreck. Our earlier general meetings were chiefly occupied with
arrangements and preparations for a great classical concert, for which
I also was to compose something. These meetings were enlivened solely
by Gounod's pedantic zeal, who with unflagging and nauseating garrulity
executed his duties as secretary, while Auber continually interrupted,
rather than assisted the proceedings, with trifling and not always very
delicate anecdotes and puns, all evidently intended to urge us to end
the discussions. Even after the decisive failure of Tannhauser I
received summonses to the meetings of this committee, but never
attended it any more, and sent in my resignation to the president of
the society, stating that I should probably soon be returning to

With Gounod alone did I still continue on friendly terms, and I heard
that he energetically championed my cause in society. He is said on one
occasion to have exclaimed: 'Que Dieu me donne une pareille chute!' As
an acknowledgment of this advocacy I presented him with the score of
Tristan und Isolde, being all the more gratified by his behaviour
because no feeling of friendship had ever been able to induce me to
hear his Faust.

I now came into touch with energetic protagonists of my cause at every
turn. I was particularly honoured in the columns of those smaller
journals of which Meyerbeer had as yet taken no account, and several
good criticisms now appeared. In one of these I read that my Tannhauser
was la symphonie chantee. Baudelaire distinguished himself by an
exceedingly witty and aptly turned pamphlet on this topic; and finally
Jules Janin himself astonished me by an article in the Journal des
Debats, in which, with burning indignation, he gave a somewhat
exaggerated report, in his own peculiar style, of the whole episode.
Even parodies of Tannhauser were given in the theatres for the
delectation of the public; and Musard could find no better means of
attracting audiences to his concerts than the daily announcement, in
enormous letters, of the Overture to Tannhauser. Pasdeloup also
frequently produced some of my pieces by way of showing his sentiments.
And lastly, Countess Lowenthal, the wife of the Austrian military
plenipotentiary, gave a great matinee, at which Mme. Viardot sang
various items from Tannhauser, for which she received five hundred

By some singular coincidence people managed to confound my fate with
that of a certain M. de la Vaquerie, who had also made a dismal failure
with a drama, Les Funerailles de l'Honeur. His friends gave a banquet,
to which I was invited, and we were both enthusiastically acclaimed.
Fiery speeches were made about the encanaillemenl of the public,
containing references to politics, which were easily explained by the
fact that my partner in the festivity was related to Victor Hugo.
Unfortunately particular supporters had provided a small piano, on
which I was literally compelled to play favourite passages from
Tannhauser. Whereupon the evening became a festival in my honour alone.

But a much more important result than these was that people began to
recognise the reality of my popularity, and began to plan yet greater
undertakings. The manager of the Theatre Lyrique sought everywhere for
a tenor suitable for Tannhauser, and only his inability to find one
compelled him to renounce his intention of producing my opera at once.
M. de Beaumont, the manager of the Opera Comique, who was on the verge
of bankruptcy, hoped to save himself with Tannhauser, with which
intention he approached me with the most urgent proposals. True, he
hoped at the same time to enlist Princess Metternich's intervention on
his behalf with the Emperor, who was to help him out of his
embarrassments. He reproached me with coldness when I failed to fall in
with his glowing dreams, in which I could find no pleasure. But I was
interested to learn that Roger, who now had a post at the Opera
Comique, had included part of the last act of Tannhauser in the
programme of a performance given for his own benefit, whereby he drew
down upon his head the fury of the more influential press, but won a
good reception from the public. Schemes now began to multiply. A. M.
Chabrol, whose journalistic name was Lorbach, visited me on behalf of a
company, whose director was an enormously wealthy man, with a plan for
founding a Theatre Wagner, of which I refused to hear anything until it
could secure an experienced man of first-class reputation as manager.
Eventually M. Perrin was selected for the post. This man had lived for
years in the firm conviction that he would be some day appointed
manager of the Grand Opera, and thought, therefore, that he ought not
to compromise himself. It is true, he ascribed the failure of
Tannhauser entirely to Royer's incapacity, who ought to have made it
his business to win over the press to his side. Nevertheless he was
strongly tempted to share in the attempt because of the opportunity it
afforded him of proving that, if he took the matter in hand, everything
would at once wear a different aspect, and Tannhauser become a great
success. But as he was an exceedingly cold and cautious man, he thought
he had discovered serious flaws in M. Lorbach's proposals, and when the
latter began to stipulate for certain commissions, Perrin immediately
fancied that he detected a not quite blameless savour of speculation in
the whole business, and declared that if he wanted to found a Wagner
Theatre, he would manage to procure the necessary funds in his own way.
As a matter of fact, he did actually entertain the notion of securing a
large cafe, the 'Alcazar,' and after that the 'Bazar de la Bonne
Nouvelle,' for the purposes of such a theatre. It also seemed possible
that the requisite capitalists would be found for his enterprise. M.
Erlanger believed he could succeed in getting ten bankers to guarantee
fifty thousand francs, thus placing a sum of five hundred thousand
francs at M. Perrin's disposal. But the latter soon lost courage when
he found that the gentlemen thus approached were willing to risk their
money on a theatre for their own amusement, but not for the serious
purpose of acclimatising my music in Paris.

With this disappointing experience M. Erlanger now withdrew from all
further participation in my fate. From a business point of view he
regarded the arrangement made with me as a sort of deal, in which he
had not succeeded. The settlement of my financial position seemed
likely now to be undertaken by other friends, and with this object in
view the German embassies approached me with great delicacy,
commissioning Count Hatzfeld to inquire into my necessities. My own
view of the situation was simply that, in obedience to the Emperor's
command for the production of my opera, I had wasted my time over an
enterprise the failure of which had not been my fault. With perfect
justice my friends pointed out how careless I had been not to secure
from the first certain stipulations about compensations, a demand which
the Frenchman's practical mind would at once have recognised as
reasonable and obvious. As matters stood, I had demanded no return for
my time and labour beyond certain author's rights in case of success.
Feeling how impossible it was for me to approach either the management
or the Emperor to retrieve this omission, I was content to leave
Princess Metternich to intercede on my behalf. Count Pourtales had
stayed on in Berlin to try and persuade the Prince Regent to order a
performance of Tannhauser for my benefit. Unfortunately, the latter had
been unable to secure the execution of his order owing to the
opposition of his manager, Herr von Hulsen, who was hostile to me. As I
had no other prospect for a long time to come but one of complete
helplessness, I had no option but to leave the representation of my
claim for compensation to the kindly care of my royal patroness. All
these events had taken place within the short space of a month after
the production of Tannhauser, and now, on the 15th April, I went for a
short trip to Germany, to try and find some solid ground for my future
in that country.

The only person who really understood my deepest needs had already set
out on the same road, away from the chaos of Parisian theatrical life.
Bulow had just sent me news from Karlsruhe that the grand-ducal family
were favourably disposed towards me, and I promptly formed the plan of
immediately setting to work seriously on the production there of my
Tristan, which had been so fatally deferred. Accordingly I went to
Karlsruhe, and if anything could have decided me to execute my hastily
formed plan, it would certainly have been the exceptionally cordial
welcome I now received at the hands of the Grand Duke of Baden. This
exalted personage seemed really desirous of awakening my sincerest
confidence in himself. During an exceedingly intimate interview, at
which his young wife was also present, the Grand Duke took pains to
convince me that his profound sympathy for me was less as a composer of
operas, whose excellence he neither wished nor was able to appreciate,
than as the man who had suffered so much for his patriotic and
independent opinions. As I naturally could not attach much value to the
political importance of my past career, he imagined this arose from
suspicious reticence, and encouraged me by the assurance that, although
great mistakes and even offences might have been committed in this
respect, these only affected those who, while they had remained in
Germany, had not been made happy, and had thereby certainly atoned for
their misdeeds by inward suffering. On the other hand, it was now the
duty of all these guilty ones to repair the wrongs they had done to
those who had been driven into exile. He gladly placed his theatre at
my disposal, and gave the necessary orders to the manager. This was my
old 'friend' Eduard Devrient, and the painful embarrassment he betrayed
on my arrival fully justified all that Bulow had said about the
complete worthlessness of those sentiments of sincere sympathy for me
which he had hitherto affected. But in the happy atmosphere created by
the Grand Duke's gracious reception I was soon able to bring
Devrient--in appearance at least--to do as I wished, and he was
compelled to assent to the proposed production of Tristan. As he was
unable to deny that, especially since Schnorr's departure for Dresden,
he did not possess the requisite singers for my work, he referred me to
Vienna, expressing at the same time his astonishment that I did not try
to have my operas produced there, where everything required was ready
to hand. It cost me some trouble to make him understand why I preferred
a few exceptionally fine performances of my works in Karlsruhe to the
mere chance of having them inscribed on the repertoire of the Vienna
Opera House. I obtained permission to secure Schnorr, who of course
would be engaged only for the special performances at Karlsruhe, and
was also allowed to choose in Vienna the other singers for our intended
'model performance.'

I was thus left to rely on Vienna, and had meanwhile to return to
Paris, so as to settle my affairs there in such a way as to suit the
execution of my latest project. I arrived here, after an absence of
only six days, and my sole occupation was to provide money for the
needs of the moment. Under these circumstances I could only feel
indifferent to the many sympathetic advances and assurances which
reached me with ever-growing cordiality, although at the same time they
filled me with apprehension.

In the meantime, the operations undertaken on a larger scale by
Princess Metternich to secure me some compensation dragged along with
mysterious slowness, and it was to a merchant named Sturmer, whom I had
previously known in Zurich, that I owed my deliverance from my present
troubles. He had constantly interested himself in my welfare while in
Paris, and now by his help I was enabled, first to set my household
affairs in order, and then to set off for Vienna.

Liszt had announced that he was coming to Paris some time before, and
during the recent disastrous time I had longed for his presence, as I
thought that, with his recognised position in the higher circles of
Parisian society, he would have been able to exert a very helpful
influence upon my hopelessly involved situation. A mysterious
epistolary 'shrug of the shoulders' had been the only answer I had
received to my various inquiries as to the cause of his delay. It
seemed like irony on the part of Fate that, just as I had arranged
everything for my journey to Vienna, news should come that Liszt would
reach Paris in a few days. But I could only yield to the pressure of my
necessities which sternly demanded that I should pick up new threads
for my plan of life, and I quitted Paris about the middle of May,
without awaiting my old friend's arrival.

I stopped first of all at Karlsruhe for another interview with the
Grand Duke, who received me as kindly as ever, and granted me
permission to engage in Vienna any singers I liked for a really fine
performance of Tristan in his theatre. Armed with this command I went
on to Vienna, where I stayed at the 'Erzherzog Karl,' and there waited
for Conductor Esser to fulfil the promises he had made by letter to
allow me to see a few performances of my operas. It was here that for
the first time I saw my own Lohengrin. Although the opera had already
been played very frequently, the entire company was present at the full
rehearsal, as I desired. The orchestra played the prelude with such
delightful warmth, the voices of the singers and many of their good
qualities were so conspicuously and surprisingly pleasing, that I was
too much overcome by the sensation created by them to have any desire
to criticise the general performance. My profound emotion seemed to
attract attention, and Dr. Hanslick probably thought this was a
suitable moment for being introduced to me in a friendly way as I sat
listening on the stage. I greeted him shortly, like a perfectly unknown
person; whereupon the tenor, Ander, presented him a second time with
the remark that Dr. Hanslick was an old acquaintance. I answered
briefly that I remembered Dr. Hanslick very well, and once more turned
my attention to the stage. It seems that exactly the same now happened
with my Vienna friends as once before in the case of my London
acquaintances, when the latter found me disinclined to respond to their
efforts to make me conciliate the dreaded critics. This man, who as a
budding young student had been present at the earliest performances of
Tannhauser in Dresden, and had written glowing reports on my work, had
since become one of my most vicious antagonists, as was proved on the
production of my operas in Vienna. The members of the opera company,
who were all well disposed towards me, seemed to have devoted their
whole attention to reconciling me, as best they could, with this
critic. As they failed to do so, those who ascribe, to the enmity thus
aroused, the subsequent failure of every attempt to launch my
enterprise in Vienna, may be right in their opinion.

But for the present it seemed as though the flood of enthusiasm would
bear down all opposition. The performance of Lohengrin, which I
attended, was made the occasion of a frantic ovation, such as I have
only experienced from the Viennese public. I was urged to have both my
other operas presented also, but felt a sort of shyness at the thought
of a repetition of that evening's occurrences. As I had now fully
realised the serious weaknesses in the performance of Tannhauser, I
only agreed to a revival of the Fliegender Hollander, for the reason
that I wished to hear the singer Beck, who excelled in that opera. On
this occasion also the public indulged in similar manifestations of
delight, so that, backed up by universal favour, I could begin to
consider the main business on which I had come. The students of the
University offered me the honour of a torchlight procession, which I
declined, thereby winning the hearty approval of Esser, who, together
with the chief officials of the Opera, asked me how these triumphs
could be turned to account. I then presented myself to Count
Lanckoronski, the Controller of the Emperor's household, who had been
described to me as a peculiar person, totally ignorant of art and all
its requirements. When I unfolded to him my request that he would
graciously grant leave of absence for a fairly long period to the chief
singers of his Opera, namely, Frau Dustmann (nee Luise Meyer), Herr
Beck, and probably also Herr Ander, for the proposed performance of
Tristan in Karlsruhe, the old gentleman dryly answered that it was
quite impossible. He thought it much more reasonable, seeing I was
satisfied with his company, that I should produce my new work in
Vienna, and the courage necessary to refuse this proposition melted
completely away.

As I descended the steps of the Hofburg, lost in meditation over this
new turn of affairs, a stately gentleman of unusually sympathetic mien
came to meet me at the door, and offered to accompany me in the
carriage to my hotel. This was Joseph Standhartner, a famous physician,
who was exceedingly popular in high circles, an earnest devotee of
music, thenceforth destined to be a faithful friend to me all my life.

Karl Tausig had also sought me out, and was now devoting his energies
to Vienna, with the express determination of conquering this field for
Liszt's compositions, and had opened his campaign there during the
previous winter with a series of orchestral concerts, started and
conducted by himself. He introduced me to Peter Cornelius, who had also
been drawn to Vienna, and whom I only knew from our meeting in Bale in
1853. They both raved about the recently published pianoforte
arrangement of Tristan, which Bulow had prepared. In my room at the
hotel, whither Tausig had transported a Bosendorff grand-piano, a
musical orgy was soon in full swing. They would have liked me to have
started rehearsing Tristan at once; and, in any case, I was now so bent
on securing the acceptance of the proposal that my work should first be
performed here, that I finally quitted Vienna with a promise to return
in a few months, in order to start the preliminary study at once.

I felt no little embarrassment at the prospect of communicating my
change of plan to the Grand Duke, and therefore readily yielded to the
impulse of only visiting Karlsruhe after a long detour. As my birthday
fell just at the time of this return journey, I resolved to celebrate
it at Zurich. I reached Winterthur, via Munich, without delay, and
hoped to meet my friend Sulzer there. Unfortunately he was away, and I
only saw his wife, who had a pathetic interest for me, and also their
little son, a lively and attractive boy. Sulzer himself, I learned, was
expected back the next day, the 22nd of the month, and I accordingly
spent most of the day in a small room at the inn. I had brought
Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Wanderjahre with me, and now for the first
time was enraptured by fuller comprehension of this wonderful
production. The spirit of the poet attracted me most profoundly to his
work by the impression left on my mind by his lively description of the
breaking-up of the players' company, in which the action almost becomes
a furious lyric. Next morning at early dawn I returned to Zurich. The
wonderfully clear air decided me to try the long and circuitous path
through the familiar haunts of the Sihlthal to Wesendonck's estate.
Here I arrived quite unannounced; and when I inquired what the habits
of the household were, I learned that about this time Wesendonck
usually came down to his dining-room to breakfast alone. There I
accordingly seated myself in a corner, where I awaited the tall,
good-tempered man, who, on entering quietly for his morning coffee,
broke out into joyous astonishment on beholding me. The day passed most
sociably; Sulzer, Semper, Herwegh, and Gottfried Keller were all sent
for, and I thoroughly enjoyed the satisfaction of a well-contrived
surprise, under such strange circumstances, as my recent fate had only
just been forming the daily topic of animated discussion among these

The next day I hurried back to Karlsruhe, where my announcement was
received by the Grand Duke with kindly acquiescence. I could truly
state that my request for leave of absence for the singers had been
refused, and the projected performance in Karlsruhe thereby rendered
impossible. Without any grief, but, on the contrary, with undisguised
satisfaction, Eduard Devrient yielded to this fresh turn of affairs,
and prophesied a splendid future for me in Vienna. Here Tausig overtook
me, having already decided in Vienna to pay a visit to Paris, where he
wished to see Liszt; and we accordingly continued our journey from
Karlsruhe together by way of Strasburg.

When I reached Paris, I found my household on the point of breaking up.
My only anxiety with regard to this was to procure means for getting
away from the city, and for the prompt settlement of a future which
seemed hopeless. Meanwhile Minna found an opportunity for exhibiting
her talents as a housewife. Liszt had already fallen back into his old
current of life, and even his own daughter, Blandine, could only manage
to get a word with him in his carriage, as he drove from one visit to
another. Nevertheless, impelled by his goodness of heart, he found time
once to accept an invitation to 'beef-steaks' at my house. He even
managed to spare me a whole evening, for which he kindly placed himself
at my disposal for the settlement of my small obligations. In the
presence of a few friends, who had remained true after the recent days
of trouble, he played the piano to us on this occasion, during which a
curious coincidence occurred. The day before poor Tausig had filled up
a spare hour by playing Liszt's 'Fantaisie' on the name of Bach,
[Footnote: The notes B, A, C, H, are equivalent to our English B flat,
A, C, B.--Editor.] and now when Liszt chanced to play us the same
piece, he literally collapsed with amazement before this wonderful
prodigy of a man.

Another day we met for lunch at Gounod's, when we had a very dull time,
which was only enlivened by poor Baudelaire, who indulged in the most
outrageous witticisms. This man, crible de dettes, as he told me, and
daily compelled to adopt the most extravagant methods for a bare
subsistence, had repeatedly approached me with adventurous schemes for
the exploitation of my notorious fiasco. I could not on any account
consent to adopt any of these, and was glad to find this really capable
man safe under the eagle-wing of Liszt's 'ascendency.' Liszt took him
everywhere where there was a possibility of a fortune being found.
Whether this helped him into anything or not, I never knew. I only
heard that he died a short time afterwards, certainly not from an
excess of good fortune.

In addition to this festive morning, I met Liszt again at a dinner at
the Austrian embassy, on which occasion he once more showed his kindly
sympathy by playing several passages from my Lohengrin on the piano to
Princess Metternich. He was also summoned to a dinner at the Tuileries,
to which, however, it was not thought necessary to invite me to
accompany him. With regard to this he related a conversation, which was
very much to the point, with the Emperor Napoleon about the episode of
my Tannhauser performances in Paris, the upshot of which appears to
have been that I was not in my right place at the Grand Opera House.
Whether Liszt ever discussed these matters with Lamartine I do not
know, I only heard that my old friend several times addressed him, to
try and arrange a meeting with him, for which I was very anxious.
Tausig, who at first had taken refuge chiefly with me, fell back later
into his natural dependence upon his master, so that in the end he
quite vanished from my sight, when he went with Liszt to visit Mme.
Street in Brussels.

I was now longing to leave Paris. I had fortunately managed to get rid
of my house in the Rue d'Aumale by sub-letting it, a transaction in
which I was helped by a present of a hundred francs to the concierge,
and was now merely waiting for news from my protectors. As I did not
wish to press them, my situation became most painfully prolonged,
though it was not altogether devoid of pleasant but tantalising
incidents. For instance, I had won the special favour of Mlle. Eberty,
Meyerbeer's elderly niece. She had been an almost rabid partisan of my
cause during the painful episode of the Tannhauser performances, and
now seemed earnestly desirous of doing something to brighten my
cheerless situation. With this object she arranged a really charming
dinner in a first-class restaurant in the Bois de Boulogne, to which we
and Kietz, of whom we were not yet rid, were invited, and which took
place in lovely spring weather. The Flaxland family also, with whom I
had had some differences over the publication of Tannhauser, now
exerted themselves in every possible way to show me kindness, but I
could only wish that they had had no reason for doing so.

It was now settled that we must at all costs leave Paris soon. It was
proposed that Minna should resume her treatment at the Soden baths and
also revisit her old friends in Dresden, while I was to wait until it
was time for me to return to Vienna for the preliminary study of my
Tristan. We decided to deposit all our household belongings, well
packed, with a forwarding-agent in Paris. While thus occupied with
thoughts of our painfully delayed departure, we also discussed the
difficulty of transporting our little dog Fips by rail. One day, the
22nd of June, my wife returned from a walk, bringing the animal back
with her, in some mysterious way dangerously ill. According to Minna's
account, we could only think that the dog had swallowed some virulent
poison spread in the street. His condition was pitiable. Though he
showed no marks of outward injury, yet his breathing was so convulsive
that we thought his lungs must be seriously damaged. In his first
frantic pangs he had bitten Minna violently in the mouth, so that I had
sent for a doctor immediately, who, however, soon relieved our fears
that she had been bitten by a mad dog.

But we could get no relief for the poor animal. He lay quietly curled
up, and his breathing grew steadily shorter and more violent. Towards
eleven o'clock at night he seemed to have fallen asleep under Minna's
bed, but when I drew him out he was dead. The effect of this melancholy
event upon Minna and myself was never expressed in words. In our
childless life together the influence of domestic pets had been very
important. The sudden death of this lively and lovable animal acted as
the final rift in a union which had long become impossible. For the
moment I had no more urgent care than to rescue the body from the usual
fate of dead dogs in Paris, that of being flung out into the street for
the scavengers to carry off in the morning. My friend Sturmer had a
small garden behind his house in the Rue de la Tour des Dames, where I
wished to bury Fips the next day. But it cost me a rare expenditure of
persuasion to induce the absent owner's housekeeper to give me
permission to do so. At last, however, with the help of the concierge
of our house, I dug a small grave, as deep as possible, among the
bushes of the garden, for the reception of our poor little pet. When
the sad ceremony was completed, I covered up the grave with the utmost
care and tried to make the spot as indistinguishable as possible, as I
had a suspicion that Herr Sturmer might object to harbouring the dog's
body, and have it removed, a misfortune which I strove to prevent.

At last Count Hatzfeld announced in the kindliest possible manner that
some friends of my art, who wished to remain unknown, sympathising with
my unmerited condition, had united to offer me the means of relieving
my burdensome position. I considered it fitting to express my thanks
for this happy consummation only to my patroness, Princess Metternich,
and now set about making arrangements for the final dissolution of my
Paris establishment. My first care, after concluding all these
necessary labours, was to see that Minna set out at once for Germany to
begin her treatment; while, as for myself, I had no better object there
for the present than to pay a visit to Liszt in Weimar, where in August
a German-music festival was to be celebrated with farewell performances
of Liszt's compositions. Moreover Flaxland, who had now taken courage
to issue my other operas in French, wished to retain me in Paris until,
in collaboration with Truinet, I had completed the translation of the
Fliegender Hollander. For this work I needed several weeks, which it
was impossible for me to spend in our apartments, now entirely stripped
of furniture. Count Pourtales, hearing of this, invited me to take up
my abode for this period in the Prussian embassy, a remarkable and
indeed in its way unprecedented act of kindness which I accepted with a
gratitude full of foreboding. On the 12th of July I saw Minna off to
Soden, and the same day went to reside at the embassy, where they
assigned me a pleasant little room looking out upon the garden, with a
view of the Tuileries in the distance. In a pool in the garden there
were two black swans, to which, in a dreamy sort of way, I felt
strangely attracted. When young Hatzfeld looked me up in my room, to
make inquiries about my needs in the name of my well-wishers, a strong
emotion overwhelmed me for the first time in many years, and I felt a
profound sense of well-being in the midst of a condition of complete
impecuniosity and detachment from everything usually considered as
necessary for permanent existence.

I asked permission to have my Erard brought to my room for the period
of my stay, as it had not been packed away with the rest of my
furniture, whereupon a handsome room was given up to me on the first
floor. Here I worked every morning at the translation of my Fliegender
Hollander, and also composed two musical album pieces, one of which,
intended for Princess Metternich, contained a pretty theme which had
long floated in my mind, and was afterwards published, while a similar
one, for Frau Pourtales, got somehow mislaid.

My intercourse with the family of my friend and host had not only a
soothing influence upon my spirit, but also filled me with calm
content. We dined together daily, and the midday meal often developed
into the well-known 'diplomatic dinner.' I here made acquaintance with
the former Prussian minister, Bethmann-Hollweg, the father of Countess
Pourtales, with whom I discussed in detail my ideas respecting the
relations between art and the state. When at last I had succeeded in
making them clear to the minister, our conversation closed with the
fatal assertion that such an understanding with the supreme head of the
state would always remain an impossibility, seeing that in his eyes art
belonged merely to the realm of amusement.

In addition to Count Hatzfeld, the two other attaches, Prince Reuss and
Count Donhoff, often shared these domestic gatherings. The former
seemed to be the politician of the company, and was particularly
commended to me on account of the great and able efforts he had made on
my behalf at the Imperial Court, while the latter simply appealed to me
by his looks and by his attractive and open-hearted friendliness. Here,
too, I was again frequently brought into social contact with Prince and
Princess Metternich, but I could not help noticing that a certain
embarrassment marked our demeanour. Owing to her energetic complicity
in the fate of Tannhauser, Princess Pauline had not only been subjected
to the coarsest handling by the press, but had also suffered the most
ungallant and ill-natured treatment at the hands of so-called higher
society. Her husband seems to have borne all this very well, though
doubtless he experienced many a bitter moment. It was difficult for me
now to understand what compensation the Princess could have found in a
genuine sympathy for my art for all she had been obliged to endure.

Thus I frequently spent the evenings in familiar intercourse with my
amiable hosts, and was even seduced into trying to instruct them about
Schopenhauer. On one occasion a larger evening assembly led to almost
intoxicating excitement. Selections from several of my works were
vivaciously played in a circle of friends all very much prepossessed in
my favour. Saint-Saens took the piano, and I had the unusual experience
of hearing the final scene of Isolde rendered by the Neapolitan
Princess Campo-Reale, who, to that excellent musician's accompaniment,
sang it with a beautiful German accent and an astounding faithfulness
of intonation.

I thus passed three weeks in peace and quiet. Meanwhile, Count
Pourtales had procured me a superior Prussian ministerial passport for
my projected visit to Germany, his attempt to get me a Saxon passport
having failed, owing to the nervousness of Herr von Seebach.

This time, before taking leave of Paris--for ever, as I supposed--I
felt impelled to bid an intimate farewell to the few French friends who
had stood by me loyally in the difficulties I had overcome. We met at a
cafe in Rue Lafitte--Gasperini, Champfleury, Truinet and I--and talked
until late in the night. When I was about to start on my homeward way
to the Faubourg St. Germain, Champfleury, who lived on the heights of
Montmartre, declared that he must take me home, because we did not know
whether we should ever see each other again. I enjoyed the exquisite
effect of the bright moonlight on the deserted Paris streets; only the
huge business firms, whose premises extend to the uppermost floors,
seemed to have turned night into day in a picturesque fashion,
particularly those houses which have been pressed into the service of
trade in the Rue Richelieu. Champfleury smoked his short pipe and
discussed with me the prospects of French politics. His father was, he
told me, an old Bonapartist of the first water, but had been moved to
exclaim, a short time before, after reading the papers day after day,
'Pourtant, avant de mourir je voudrais voir autre chose.' We parted
very affectionately at the door of the embassy.

I took leave in equally friendly fashion of a young Parisian friend,
who has not yet been mentioned--Gustave Dore--who had been sent to me
by Ollivier at the very outset of my Paris venture. He had proposed to
make a fantastic drawing of me in the act of conducting, without, it is
true, ever realising his intention. I do not know why, except, perhaps,
that I did not show any particular inclination for it. Dore remained
loyal to me, however, and was one of those who made a point of
demonstrating their friendship just now in their extreme indignation at
the outrage inflicted on me. This extraordinarily prolific artist
proposed to include the Nibelungen among his many subjects for
illustration, and I wished first to make him acquainted with my
interpretation of this cycle of legends. This was undoubtedly
difficult, but as he assured me he had a friend well versed in the
German language and German literature, I gave myself the pleasure of
presenting him with the recently published pianoforte score of
Rheingold, the text of which would give him the clearest idea of the
plan on which I had moulded the material. I thus returned the
compliment of his having sent me a copy of his illustrations to Dante,
which had just appeared.

Full of pleasant and agreeable impressions, which formed the only
actual gain of real worth that I reaped from my Paris enterprise, I
left the generous asylum offered by my Prussian friends the first week
in August to go, first, to Soden by way of Cologne. Here I found Minna
in the society of Mathilde Schiffner, who seemed to have become
indispensable to her as an easy victim for her tyranny. I spent two
extremely painful days there in trying to make the poor woman
understand that she was to establish herself at Dresden (where I was
not at present allowed to stay), while I looked about me in Germany--in
Vienna first--for a new centre of operations. She glanced at her friend
with peculiar satisfaction on hearing my proposal and my promise to
remember, under any circumstances, to provide her with three thousand
marks a year. This bargain set the standard of my relation to her for
the rest of her life. She went with me as far as Frankfort, where I
parted from her to go, for the time being, to Weimar--the town where
Schopenhauer had died a short time before.



AND so I again crossed Thuringia, passing the Wartburg which, whether I
visited it or merely saw it in the distance, seemed so strangely bound
up with my departures from Germany or my return thither. I reached
Weimar at two in the morning, and was conducted later in the day to the
rooms which Liszt had arranged for my use at the Altenburg. They were,
as he took good care to inform me, Princess Marie's rooms. This time,
however, there were no women to entertain us. Princess Caroline was
already in Rome, and her daughter had married Prince Constantin
Hohenlohe and gone to Vienna. There was only Miss Anderson, Princess
Marie's governess, left to help Liszt entertain his guests. Indeed, I
found the Altenburg was about to be closed, and that Liszt's youthful
uncle Eduard had come from Vienna for this purpose, and also to make an
inventory of all its contents. But at the same time there reigned an
unusual stir of conviviality in connection with the Society of Musical
Artists, as Liszt was putting up a considerable number of musicians
himself, first and foremost among his guests being Bulow and Cornelius.
Every one, including Liszt himself, was wearing a travelling cap, and
this strange choice of head-dress seemed to me typical of the lack of
ceremony attending this rural festival at Weimar. On the top floor of
the house Franz Brendel and his wife were installed with some
splendour, and a swarm of musicians soon filled the place, among them
my old acquaintance Drasecke and a certain young man called Weisheimer,
whom Liszt had once sent to see me at Zurich. Tausig put in an
appearance too, but excluded himself from most of our free and easy
gatherings to carry on a love-affair with a young lady. Liszt gave me
Emilie Genast as a companion on one or two short excursions, an
arrangement with which I found no fault, as she was witty and very
intelligent. I made the acquaintance of Damrosch too, a violinist and a
musician. It was a great pleasure to see my old friend Alwine Frommann,
who had come in spite of her somewhat strained relations with Liszt;
and when Blandine and Ollivier arrived from Paris and became my
neighbours on the Altenburg, the days which were lively before to begin
with, now became boisterously merry. Bulow, who had been chosen to
conduct Liszt's Faust Symphony, seemed to me the wildest of all. His
activity was extraordinary. He had learned the entire score by heart,
and gave us an unusually precise, intelligent, and spirited performance
with an orchestra composed of anything but the pick of German players.
After this symphony the Prometheus music had the greatest success,
while I was particularly affected by Emilie Genast's singing of a
song-cycle, composed by Bulow, called Die Entsagende. There was little
else that was enjoyable at the festival concert with the exception of a
cantata, Das Grab im Busento by Weisheimer, and a regular scandal arose
in connection with Drasecke's 'German March.' For some obscure reason
Liszt adopted a challenging and protecting attitude towards this
strange composition, written apparently in mockery by a man of great
talent in other directions. Liszt insisted on Bulow's conducting the
march, and ultimately Hans made a success of it, even doing it by
heart; but the whole thing ended in the following incredible scene. The
jubilant reception of Liszt's own works had not once induced him to
show himself to the audience, but when Drasecke's march, which
concluded the programme, was at last rejected by the audience in an
irresistible wave of ill-humour, Liszt came into the stage-box and,
stretching out his hands, clapped vigorously and shouted 'Bravos.' A
real battle set in between Liszt, whose face was red with anger, and
the audience. Blandine, who was sitting next to me, was, like me,
beside herself at this outrageously provocative behaviour on the part
of her father, and it was a long time before we could compose ourselves
after the incident. There was little in the way of explanation to be
got out of Liszt. We only heard him refer a few times, in terms of
furious contempt, to the audience, 'for whom the march was far and away
too good.' I heard from another quarter that this was a form of revenge
on the regular Weimar public, but it was a strange way of wreaking it,
as they were not represented on this occasion. Liszt thought it was a
good opportunity to avenge Cornelius, whose opera The Barber of Bagdad
had been hissed by the Weimar public when Liszt had conducted it in
person some time previously. Besides this, I could of course see that
Liszt had much to bear in other directions. He admitted to me that he
had been trying to induce the Grand Duke of Weimar to show me some
particular mark of distinction. He first wanted him to invite me, with
himself, to dine at court, but as the Duke had qualms about
entertaining a person who was still exiled from the kingdom of Saxony
as a political refugee, Liszt thought he could at least get me the
Order of the White Falcon. This too was refused him, and as his
exertions at court had been so fruitless, he was bent on making the
townsmen of the Residency do their part in celebrating my presence. A
torchlight procession was accordingly arranged, but when I heard of it
I took all possible pains to thwart the plan--and succeeded. But I was
not to get off without any ovation at all. One afternoon Justizrath
Gille of Jena and six students grouped themselves under my window, and
sang a nice little choral society song, for which attention I thanked
them most warmly. A contrast to this was presented by the great banquet
attended by all the musical artists. I sat between Blandine and
Ollivier, and the feast developed into a really hearty ovation for the
composer of Tannhauser and Lohengrin, whom they now 'welcomed back to
Germany after he had won their love and esteem during his banishment.'
Liszt's speech was short but vigorous, and I had to respond in greater
detail to another speaker. Very pleasant were the select gatherings
which on several occasions met round Liszt's own dinner-table, and I
thought of the absent hostess of Altenburg at one of them. Once we had
our meal in the garden, and I had the pleasure of seeing my good friend
Alwine Frommann there conversing intelligently with Ollivier, as a
reconciliation with Liszt had taken place.

The day for parting was drawing near for us all, after a week of very
varied and exciting experiences. A happy chance enabled me to make the
greater part of my prearranged journey to Vienna in the company of
Blandine and Ollivier, who had decided to visit Cosima at Reichenhall,
where she was staying for a 'cure.' As we were all saying good-bye to
Liszt on the railway platform, we thought of Bulow, who had
distinguished himself so remarkably in the past few days. He had
started a day in advance, and we exhausted ourselves in singing his
praises, though I added with jesting familiarity, 'There was no
necessity for him to marry Cosima.' And Liszt added, bowing slightly,
'That was a luxury.'

We travellers--Blandine and I, that is--soon fell into a frivolous mood
which was much intensified by Ollivier's query, repeated after each
burst of laughter, 'Qu'est-ce qu'il dit?' He had to submit
good-humouredly to our continuous joking in German, though we always
responded in French to his frequent demands for tonique or jambon cru,
which seemed to form the staple of his diet. It was long after midnight
when we reached Nuremberg, where we were obliged to halt for the night.
We got ourselves conveyed to an inn by dint of much effort, and were
kept waiting there some time before the door opened. A fat and elderly
innkeeper acceded to our entreaties to give us rooms, late as it was,
but to accomplish this he found it necessary--after much anxious
reflection--to leave us in the hall for a good long time while he
vanished down a back passage. There he stood outside a bedroom door,
and we heard him calling 'Margarethe' in bashful and friendly tones. He
repeated the name several times with the information that visitors had
arrived, and a woman answered him with oaths. After much pressing
entreaty on the innkeeper's part Margarethe at last appeared, in
neglige, and showed us, after various mysterious confabulations with
the host, the rooms selected for us. The odd part of the incident was
that the immoderate laughter in which we all three indulged seemed to
be noticed neither by the innkeeper nor by his chambermaid. The next
day we went to see some of the sights of the town, last of all the
Germanisches Museum, which was in such a wretched condition at that
time as to earn the contempt of my French companion particularly. The
large collection of instruments of torture, which included a box
studded with nails, filled Blandine with sympathetic horror.

We reached Munich that evening, and inspected it the next day (after
tonique and ham had again been obtained) with great satisfaction,
particularly on the part of Ollivier, who thought that the 'antique'
style in which King Ludwig I. had had the museums built contrasted most
favourably with the buildings with which, much to his indignation, it
had pleased Louis Napoleon to fill Paris. I here ran across an old
acquaintance, young Hornstein, whom I introduced to my friends as 'the
baron.' His comical figure and clumsy behaviour gave them food for
mirth, which degenerated into a positive orgy of merriment when 'the
baron' thought it necessary, before we started on our night journey to
Reichenhall, to take us to a Bier-Brauerei some distance away, so that
we should see that side of Munich life. It was pitch dark and there was
no light provided, except a stump of a candle to light 'the baron,' who
had to go down himself to fetch the beer from the cellar. The beer
certainly tasted particularly good, and Hornstein repeated his descent
into the cellar several times. When, being obliged to hurry, we set off
on our perilous journey across fields and ditches to the station, we
found that the unwonted refreshment had somewhat dazed us. Blandine
fell fast asleep as soon as she got into the carriage, only waking at
daybreak when we arrived at Reichenhall. Here Cosima met us, and took
us to the rooms that had been prepared for us.

We were first of all rejoiced to find Cosima's state of health much
less alarming than we--I in particular--had known it to be before. She
had been ordered a sour-milk cure, and we went to look on the next
morning when she took her walk to the institution. Cosima appeared to
lay less stress on the actual milk-drinking, however, than on the walks
and the sojourn in the splendid, bracing, mountain air. Ollivier and I
were generally excluded from the merriment which here too immediately
set in, as the two sisters, to secure more privacy for their
talks--they laughed so incessantly that they could be heard a long way
off--usually shut themselves away from us in their bedrooms, and almost
my only resource was to converse in French with my political friend. I
succeeded in gaining admission to the sisters once or twice, to
announce to them amongst other things my intention of adopting them, as
their father took no more notice of them--a proposition received with
more mirth than confidence. I once deplored Cosima's wild ways to
Blandine, who seemed unable to understand me, until she had persuaded
herself that I meant timidite d'un sauvage by my expression. After a
few days I had really to think of continuing my journey, which had been
so pleasantly interrupted. I said good-bye in the hall, and caught a
glimpse of almost timid inquiry from Cosima.

I first drove down the valley to Salzburg in a one-horse carriage. On
the Austrian frontier I had an adventure with the custom-house. Liszt
had given me at Weimar a box of the most costly cigars--a present to
him from Baron Sina. As I knew from my visit to Venice what incredible
formalities make it exceedingly difficult to introduce these articles
into Austria, I hit upon the plan of hiding the cigars singly among my
dirty linen and in the pockets of my clothes. The officer, who was an
old soldier, seemed to be prepared for precautionary measures of this
sort, and drew forth the corpora delicta skilfully from all the folds
of my little trunk. I tried to bribe him with a tip, which he actually
accepted, and I was all the more indignant when, in spite of this, he
denounced me to the authorities. I was made to pay a heavy fine, but
received permission to buy back the cigars. This I furiously declined
to do. With the receipt of the fine I had paid, however, I was also
given back the Prussian thaler which the old soldier had quietly tucked
away before, and when I got into my carriage to continue the journey I
saw the same officer sitting placidly before his beer and bread and
cheese. He bowed very politely, and I offered to give him his thaler
back, but this time he refused it. I have often been angry with myself
since for not asking the man's name, as I clung to the notion that he
must be a particularly faithful servant, in which capacity I should
like to have engaged him myself later on.

I touched at Salzburg, arriving soaked through by floods of rain, and
spent the night there, and on the following day at last reached my
place of destination--Vienna. I proposed to accept the hospitality of
Kolatschek, with whom I had been friendly in Switzerland. He had long
since been granted an amnesty by Austria, and had, on my last visit to
Vienna, called on me and offered me the use of his house, to avoid the
unpleasantness of an inn, in the event of my returning for a longer
stay. For reasons of economy alone--and these at the time were very
urgent--I had willingly accepted this offer, and now drove direct with
my hand luggage to the house described. To my surprise I at once
discovered that I was in an exceedingly remote suburb, practically cut
off from Vienna itself. The house was quite deserted, Kolatschek and
his family having gone to a summer resort at Hutteldorf. With some
difficulty I unearthed an old servant, who seemed to think she had been
warned of my arrival by her master. She showed me a small room in which
I could sleep if I liked, but was apparently unable to provide either
linen or service of any kind. Greatly discomfited by this
disappointment, I first drove back into town to wait for Kolatschek at
a certain cafe in Stephan's Platz, which, according to the servant, he
was likely to visit at a particular time. I had been sitting there a
good while, making repeated inquiries for the man I expected to see,
when suddenly I saw Standhartner come in. His extreme surprise at
finding me there was intensified, as he told me, by the fact that he
had never in his life entered this cafe. It had been quite a special
coincidence that had brought him there on that day and at that time. On
being made aware of my situation he at once became furious at the idea
of my living in the most deserted part of Vienna when I had such
pressing business in the city, and promptly offered me his own house
for temporary quarters, as he and all his family would be away for six
weeks. A pretty niece, who, with her mother and sister, lived in the
same house, was to see to all my wants, including breakfast, etc., and
I should be able to make use of the whole place with the greatest
freedom. He took me triumphantly home with him at once to a deserted
dwelling, as the family had already gone to their summer resort at
Salzburg. I let Kolatschek know, had my luggage brought in, and for a
few days had the pleasure of Standhartner's society and easy
hospitality. I realised, however, from information given me by my
friend, that my path was beset with new difficulties. The rehearsals
for Tristan und Isolde, which had been planned in the spring to take
place about this time (I had arrived in Vienna on 14th August), had
been postponed indefinitely as Ander, the tenor, had sent word that he
had injured his voice. On hearing this I at once concluded that my stay
in Vienna would be useless; but I knew that no one would be able to
suggest any other place where I could employ myself profitably.

My situation was, as I now saw plainly, quite hopeless, for every one
seemed to have deserted me. A few years back I might, in a similar
case, have flattered myself that Liszt would be pleased to have me at
Weimar during the period of waiting, but if I returned to Germany just
now I should only have to look on at the dismantling of the house--to
which I have already alluded. My chief concern, then, was to find a
friendly shelter somewhere. It was with this sole end in view that I
turned to the Grand Duke of Baden, who had shortly before greeted me
with such kindness and sympathy. I wrote him a beseeching letter,
urging him to consider my necessitous condition. I pointed out that
what I wanted, above all, was an asylum, however modest, and implored
him to provide me with one in or near Karlsruhe, by securing me a
pension of two thousand four hundred marks. Judge of my surprise on
receiving a reply, not in the Grand Duke's own hand, but only signed by
him, to the effect that if my request were granted, it would probably
mean that I would interfere with the management of the theatre, and, as
a very natural result, discussions would ensue with the director (my
old friend E. Devrient, who was now doing splendidly). As the Grand
Duke would in any such case feel obliged to act in the interests of
justice, 'possibly to my disadvantage,' as he put it, he must, after
mature consideration, regretfully decline to accede to my request.

Princess Meternich, who had suspected my embarrassment on that score
also when I left Paris, had given me a warm recommendation to Count
Nako and his family in Vienna, referring me with particular emphasis to
his wife. Now I had made the acquaintance through Standhartner, during
the short time before he left me, of young Prince Rudolph
Liechtenstein--known to his friends as Rudi. His doctor, with whom he
was very intimate, had spoken of him to me in the most flattering way
as being a passionate admirer of my music. I often met him at meal
times at the 'Erzherzog Karl,' after Standhartner had joined his
family, and we planned a visit to Count Nako on his estate at
Schwarzau, some distance away. The journey was made in the most
comfortable fashion, partly by rail, in the company of the Prince's
young wife. They introduced me to the Nakos at Schwarzau. The Count
proved to be a particularly handsome man, while his wife was more of a
cultured gipsy, whose talent for painting was evidenced in striking
fashion by the gigantic copies of Van Dyck resplendent on the walls. It
was more painful to hear her amuse herself at the piano, where she gave
faithful renderings of gipsy music, which, she said, Liszt failed to
do. The music to Lohengrin seemed to have prepossessed them all very
much in my favour, and this appreciation was confirmed by other
magnates who were visiting there, among them being Count Edmund Zichy,
whom I had known in Venice. I was thus able to observe the character of
unconstrained Hungarian hospitality, without being much edified by the
subjects of conversation, and I had soon, alas! to face the question as
to what I was to get from these people. I was given a decent room for
the night, and on the following day took an early opportunity of
looking round the beautifully kept precincts of the majestic castle,
wondering in which part of the building there might be found room for
me in case of a longer visit. But my remarks in praise of the size of
the building were met at breakfast with the assurance that it really
was hardly big enough for the family, as the young Countess in
particular lived in great style with her suite. It was a cold morning
in September, and we spent it out of doors. My friend Rudi seemed to be
out of humour. I felt cold, and very soon took leave of the great man's
board with the consciousness of having rarely found myself in the
company of such nice people without discovering the smallest subject in
common. This consciousness grew into a positive feeling of disgust when
I was driving with several of the cavalieri to the station at Modling,
for I was reduced to absolute silence during the hour's drive, as they
had literally only the one topic of conversation, by that time so
terribly familiar to me!--namely horses.

I got out at Modling to call on Ander the tenor, having invited myself
for that day with the intention of going through Tristan. It was still
very early on a bright morning, and the day was gradually growing
warmer. I decided to take a walk in the lovely Bruhl before looking up
Ander. There I ordered a lunch in the garden of the beautifully
situated inn, and enjoyed an extremely refreshing hour of complete
solitude. The wild birds had already ceased singing, but I shared my
meal with an army of sparrows, which assumed alarming proportions. As I
fed them with bread-crumbs, they finally became so tame that they
settled in swarms on the table in front of me to seize their booty. I
was reminded of the morning in the tavern with the landlord Homo in
Montmorency. Here again, after shedding many a tear, I laughed aloud,
and set off to Ander's summer residence. Unfortunately his condition
confirmed the statement that the injury to his voice was not merely an
excuse; but in any case I soon saw that this helpless person could
never under any circumstances be equal to the task of playing Tristan,
demi-god as he was, in Vienna. All the same I did my best, as I was
there, to show him the whole of Tristan in my own interpretation of the
part (which always excited me very much), after which he declared that
it might have been written for him. I had arranged for Tausig and
Cornelius, whom I had again met in Vienna, to come out to Ander's house
that day, and I returned with them in the evening.

I spent a good deal of time with these two, who were sincerely
concerned about me and did their best to cheer me. Tausig, it is true,
was rather more reserved, as he had aspirations in high quarters at
that time. But he, too, accepted Frau Dustmann's invitations to the
three of us. She was then at Hietzing for the summer, and there dinners
were given more than once, and also a few vocal rehearsals for Isolde,
for which part her voice seemed to possess some of the spiritual
susceptibility required. There, too, I read through the poem of Tristan
again, still thinking the prospect of its performance possible with the
exercise of patience and enthusiasm. For the present patience was the
quality most needed; certainly nothing was to be obtained by
enthusiasm. Ander's voice still failed him and did not improve, and no
doctor was prepared to fix a limit to his malady. I got through the
time as best I could, and hit upon the idea of translating back into
German the new scene to Tannhauser, written to a French text for the
performance in Paris. Cornelius had first to copy it from the original
score for me, as this was in a very defective condition. I accepted his
copy without inquiring further about the original left in his hands,
and we shall see the result of this later on.

A musician named Winterberger also joined our party. He was an old
acquaintance, and I found him in a position I much envied. Countess
Banfy, an old friend of Liszt's, had taken him into her very pleasant
house at Hietzing, and he was thus in excellent quarters, living at
ease, and with nothing to trouble about, as the kind lady thought it
her duty to keep this fellow--in other respects so
undeserving--supplied with everything. Through him I again had news of
Karl Ritter, and was told that he was now at Naples, where he lived in
the house of a piano-maker, whose children he had to teach in return
for board and lodging. It seems that Winterberger, after running
through everything, had on the strength of some of Liszt's
introductions started off to seek his fortune in Hungary. But things
did not fall out to his satisfaction, and he was now enjoying
compensation in the house of the worthy Countess. I met an excellent
harpist there--also one of the family--Fraulein Mossner. By the
Countess's orders she was made to betake herself and her harp to the
garden, where, either at or with her harp, she had a most pert air and
looked quite delightful, so that I gained an impression which lingered
pleasantly in my mind. Unfortunately I became involved in a quarrel
with the young lady because I would not compose a solo for her
instrument. From the time when I definitely refused to humour her
ambitions she took no more notice of me.

The poet Hebbel must be mentioned among the special acquaintances I
made in Vienna during this difficult epoch. As it seemed not unlikely
that I should have to make Vienna the scene of my labours for some
time, I thought it desirable to become better acquainted with the
literary celebrities living there. I prepared myself for meeting Hebbel
by taking considerable trouble to read his dramatic pieces beforehand,
doing my best to think that they were good and that a closer
acquaintance with the author was desirable. I was not to be deterred
from my purpose by my consciousness of the great weakness of his poems,
although I realised the unnaturalness of his conceptions and the
invariably affected and frequently vulgar form of expression. I only
visited him once, and did not have a particularly long talk with him
even then. I did not find any expression in the poet's personality of
the eccentric force which threatens to explode in the figures of his
dramas. When I heard, some years later, that Hebbel had died of
softening of the bones, I understood why he had affected me so
unpleasantly. He talked about the theatrical world in Vienna with the
air of an amateur who feels himself neglected but continues to work in
a businesslike fashion. I felt no particular desire to repeat my visit,
especially after his return call in my absence, when he left a card
announcing himself as 'Hebbel, chevalier de plusieurs ordres!'

My old friend Heinrich Laube had now long been established as director
of the Royal and Imperial Court Theatre. He had felt it his duty on my
previous visit to Vienna to introduce me to the literary celebrities,
among whom, being of a practical turn, he counted chiefly journalists
and critics. He invited Dr. Hanslick to a big dinner-party, thinking I
should be particularly interested in meeting him, and was surprised
that I had not a word to say to him. The conclusions Laube drew from
this led him to prophesy that I should find it hard to get on in Vienna
if I really hoped to make it the sphere of my artistic labours. On my
return this time he welcomed me simply as an old friend, and begged me
to dine with him as often as I cared to come. He was a passionate
sportsman, and was able to provide the luxury of fresh game for his
table. I did not avail myself very often of this invitation, however,
as the conversation, which was inspired solely by the dull business
routine of the stage, did not attract me. After dinner a few actors and
literary men would come in for coffee and cigars, sitting at a large
table where Laube's wife generally held her court, while Laube himself
enjoyed his rest and his cigar in silence. Frau Laube had consented to
become Theatre Directrice solely to please her husband, and now thought
herself obliged to make long and careful speeches about things of which
she had no understanding whatever. The only pleasure I had was in
renewed glimpses of the good-nature which I had admired in her of old;
for instance, when none of the company dared to oppose her, and I
intervened with some frank criticism, she usually accepted it with
unreserved merriment. To her and her husband I probably seemed a
good-natured sort of fool and nothing more, for my conversation was
generally in a joking strain, as I was utterly indifferent to their
earnestness. In fact, when I gave my concerts in Vienna later on, Frau
Laube remarked with the most friendly air of surprise that I was quite
a good conductor, contrary to what she had expected after reading some
newspaper report or other.

For one thing, Laube's practical knowledge was not without importance,
as he could tell me all about the character of the chief inspectors of
the Royal and Imperial Court Theatre. It now transpired that the
Imperial Councillor, von Raymond, was a most important personage, and
the aged Count Lanckoronski, the Lord High Marshall, who in other
respects was extremely tenacious of his authority, could not trust
himself to come to any decision in matters of finance without
consulting this exceedingly competent man.

Raymond himself, whom I soon got to know and regard as a model of
ignorance, took fright and felt bound to withhold his consent to my
performance of Tristan, mainly on account of the Vienna papers, which
always ran me down and scoffed at my proposal. Officially I was
referred to the actual manager of the Opera, Herr Salvi, who had
formerly been the singing-master of a lady-in-waiting to the Grand
Duchess Sophia. He was an absolutely incapable and ignorant man, who
was obliged to pretend in front of me that, according to the command of
the supreme authorities, nothing lay so near his heart as the
furtherance of the performance of Tristan. Accordingly he tried by
perpetual expressions of zeal and goodwill to conceal the increasing
spirit of doubt and hesitation with which even the staff was imbued.

I found out the state of affairs one day when a company of our singers
was invited with me to the country house of a certain Herr Dumba, who
was introduced to me as a most enthusiastic well-wisher. Herr Ander had
taken the score of Tristan with him, as if to show that he could not
part with it for a single day. Frau Dustmann grew very angry about it,
and accused Ander of trying to impose upon me by playing the hypocrite;
for he knew as well as any one else that he would never sing that part,
and that the management was only awaiting a chance of preventing the
performance of Tristan in some way or other, and then laying the blame
on her shoulders. Salvi tried most zealously to interfere in these
extremely awkward revelations. He recommended me to choose the tenor
Walter, and as I objected on the ground of my antipathy to the man, he
next referred me to certain foreign singers whom he was quite ready to

As a matter of fact, we tried a few outside players of whom the most
promising was a certain Signor Morini, and I really felt so depressed
and so desirous of furthering my work at any price that I attended a
performance of Luzia by Donizetti with my friend Cornelius to see if I
could extract from him a favourable judgment of the singer. Cornelius,
who was apparently absorbed in listening, whilst I attentively watched
him, suddenly started up in a passion and exclaimed, 'Horrible!
horrible!' which made us both laugh so heartily that we soon left the
theatre in quite a cheerful frame of mind.

At last I carried on my negotiations with the conductor Heinrich Esser
alone, as he was apparently the only honest man in the management.
Although he found Tristan very difficult, yet he worked at it with
great earnestness, and never really gave up the hope of making a
performance possible, if only I would accept Walter as the tenor; but,
in spite of my persistent refusal to make use of such help, we always
remained good friends. As he, like myself, was a keen walker, we often
explored the neighbourhood of Vienna, and our conversations during
these expeditions were enthusiastic on my part and thoroughly honest
and serious on his.

Whilst these Tristan matters were running their weary course like a
chronic disease, whose outcome it is impossible to foresee,
Standhartner returned at the end of September with his family.
Consequently the next thing I had to do was to look out for a
residence, which I chose in the Hotel Kaiserin Elizabeth. Through my
cordial intercourse with the family of this friend I became quite
intimate not only with his wife, but also with her three sons and a
daughter by her first marriage, and a younger daughter by the second
marriage with Standhartner. On looking back upon my former residence in
my friend's house, I greatly missed the presence and kindly care
bestowed upon me by his niece Seraphine, whom I have already mentioned,
as well as her untiring thoughtfulness and pleasant, amusing
companionship. On account of her natty figure and hair carefully curled
a I'enfant, I had given her the name of 'The Doll.' Now I had to look
after myself in the dull room of the hotel, and the expense of my
living increased considerably. I remember at that time that I had only
received twenty-five or thirty louis d'or for Tannhauser from
Brunswick. On the other hand, Minna sent me from Dresden a few leaves
of the silver-spangled wreath presented by some of her friends as a
souvenir of her silver wedding-day, which she had celebrated on the
24th of November. I could hardly wonder that there was no lack of
bitter reproach on her part when sending me this gift; however, I tried
to inspire her with the hope of having a golden wedding. For the
present, seeing that I was staying without any object in an expensive
Viennese hotel, I did my utmost to secure a chance of performing
Tristan. First I turned to Tichatschek in Dresden, but obtained no
promise from him. I then had recourse to Schnorr, with a similar
result, and I was at last obliged to acknowledge that my affairs were
in a bad way. Of this I made no secret in my occasional communications
to the Wesendoncks, who, apparently to cheer me up, invited me to meet
them in Venice, where they were just going for a pleasure trip. Heaven
knows what my intention was as I started off in a casual sort of way by
train, first to Trieste and then by steamer (which did not agree with
me at all) to Venice, where I again put up in my little room at the
Hotel Danieli.

My friends, whom I found in very flourishing circumstances, seemed to
be revelling in the pictures, and fully expected that a participation
in their enjoyment would drive away my 'blues.' They seemed to have no
desire to realise my position in Vienna. Indeed, after the ill-success
of my Paris under-taking, entered upon with such glorious
anticipations, I had learned to recognise among most of my friends a
tacitly submissive abandonment of all hope for my future success.

Wesendonck, who always went about armed with huge field-glasses, and
was ever ready for sight-seeing, only once took me with him to see the
Academy of Arts, a building which on my former visit to Venice I had
only known from the outside. In spite of all my indifference, I must
confess that the 'Assumption of the Virgin' by Titian exercised a most
sublime influence over me, so that, as soon as I realised its
conception, my old powers revived within me, as though by a sudden
flash of inspiration.

I determined at once on the composition of the Meistersinger.

After a frugal dinner with my old acquaintances Tessarin and the
Wesendoncks, whom I invited to the Albergo San Alarco, and once more
exchanging friendly greetings with Luigia, my former attendant at the
Palazzo Giustiniani, to the astonishment of my friends I suddenly left
Venice. I had spent four dreary days there, and now started by train on
my dull journey to Vienna, following the roundabout overland route. It
was during this journey that the music of the Meistersinger first
dawned on my mind, in which I still retained the libretto as I had
originally conceived it. With the utmost distinctness I at once
composed the principal part of the Overture in C major.

Under the influence of these last impressions I arrived in Vienna in a
very cheerful frame of mind. I at once announced my return to Cornelius
by sending him a small Venetian gondola, which I had bought for him in
Venice, and to which I added a canzona written with nonsensical Italian
words. The communication of my plan for the immediate composition of
the Meistersinger made him almost frantic with delight, and until my
departure from Vienna he remained in a state of delirious excitement.

I urged my friend to procure me material for mastering the subject of
the Meistersinger. My first idea was to make a thorough study of
Grimm's controversy on the Song of the Meistersinger; and the next
question was how to get hold of old Wagenseil's Nuremberg Chronicle.
Cornelius accompanied me to the Imperial Library, but in order to
obtain a loan of this book, which we were fortunate enough to find, my
friend was obliged to visit Baron Munch-Bellinghausen (Halm), a visit
which he described to me as very disagreeable. I remained at my hotel,
eagerly making extracts of portions of the Chronicle, which to the
astonishment of the ignorant I appropriated for my libretto.

But my most urgent task was to secure some means of livelihood during
the composition of my work. I applied first to the music publisher
Schott at Mayence, to whom I offered the Meistersinger if he would make
me the necessary advance. Being animated by the desire to provide
myself with money for as long a time as possible, I offered him not
only the literary rights, but also the rights of performance for my
work, for the sum of twenty thousand francs. A telegram from Schott
containing an absolute refusal at once destroyed all hope. As I was now
obliged to think of other means, I decided to turn to Berlin. Bulow,
who was always kindly exerting himself on my behalf, had hinted at the
possibility of being able to raise a considerable sum of money there by
means of a concert, which I should conduct; and as I was at the same
time longing to find a home amongst friends, Berlin seemed to beckon me
as a last refuge. At noon, just before the evening of my intended
departure, a letter came from Schott, following on his telegram of
refusal, which certainly held out some more consoling prospect. He
offered to undertake the publication of the pianoforte edition of the
Walkure at once and to advance me three thousand marks to be deducted
from a future account. The joy of Cornelius at what he called the
salvation of the Meistersinger knew no bounds. From Berlin Bulow, in
great indignation and evident low spirits, wrote to me of his dreadful
experiences in attempting to organise my concert. Herr von Hulsen
declared that he would not countenance my visit to Berlin, while as to
giving a concert at the great Kroll Restaurant, Bulow found after much
deliberation that it would be quite impracticable.

Whilst I was busily engaged on a detailed scenic sketch of the
Meistersinger, the arrival of Prince and Princess Metternich in Vienna
seemed to create a favourable diversion on my behalf.

The concern expressed by my Paris patrons about me and my position was
undoubtedly real; therefore, in order to show myself gratefully
disposed towards them, I induced the management of the Opera to allow
me to invite their splendid orchestra for a few hours one morning to
play some selections from Tristan in the theatre by way of rehearsal.
Both the orchestra and Frau Dustmann were quite ready to grant my
request in the most friendly manner, and Princess Metternich, with some
of her acquaintances, was invited to this rehearsal. With the orchestra
we played through two of the principal selections, namely, the prelude
to the first act, and the beginning of the second act, as far as the
middle, while the singing part was sustained by Frau Dustmann, the
whole being so brilliantly executed that I felt fully justified in
believing I had created a most excellent impression. Herr Ander, too,
had appeared on the scene, but without knowing a single note of the
music or attempting to sing it. Both my princely friends, as well as
Fraulein Couqui, the premiere danseuse, who singularly enough had
attended the rehearsal on the sly, overwhelmed me with enthusiastic
marks of admiration. Hearing of my ardent desire for retirement in
order to go on with the composition of a new work, the Metternichs one
day suggested that they were in a position to offer me just such a
quiet retreat in Paris. The Prince, who had now completely arranged his
spacious embassy, could place at my disposal a pleasant suite of rooms
looking on to a quiet garden, just like the one I had found in the
Prussian embassy. My Erard was still in Paris, and if I could arrange
to go there at the end of the year, I should find everything ready for
me to begin my work. With unconcealed joy I most gratefully accepted
this kind invitation, and my only care now was so to arrange my affairs
that I could take my departure from Vienna and effect my removal to
Paris in a proper manner. The arrangement that had been made through
Standhartner's mediation, that the management should pay me a part of
the stipulated fee for Tristan, would be a great help in this. But as I
was only to get one thousand marks, and even this was to be subject to
so many clauses and conditions as to suggest a desire to renounce the
whole transaction, I at once rejected the offer. This fact, however,
did not prevent the press, which was always in touch with the
theatrical management, from publishing that I had accepted an indemnity
for the non-performance of Tristan. Fortunately I was able to protest
against this calumny by producing proof of what I had actually done in
the matter. Meanwhile, the negotiations with Schott dragged out to some
length, because I would not agree at present to his suggestions about
the Walkure. I adhered to my first offer of a new opera, the
Meistersinger, and at last received three thousand marks as an
instalment on this work. As soon as I had received the cheque, I packed
up my things, when a telegram from Princess Metternich reached me, in
which she begged of me to put off my departure until the 1st of
January. I decided not give up my plan, being anxious to get away from
Vienna, so I determined to go straight to Mayence to pursue further
negotiations with Schott. My leavetaking at the station was made
particularly gay by Cornelius, who whispered to me with mysterious
enthusiasm a stanza of 'Sachs' which I had communicated to him. This
was the verse:

'Der Vogel der heut' sang, Dem war der Schnabel hold gewachsen; Ward
auch den Meistern dabei bang, Gar wohl gefiel er doch Hans Sachsen.'
[Footnote: 'The bird who sang this morn From Nature's self had learned
his singing; Masters that song may scorn, For aye Hans Sachs will hear
it singing.' (Translation of the Meistersinger, by Frederick

In Mayence I got to know the Schott family, with whom I had only had a
casual acquaintance in Paris, more intimately. The young musician
Weisheimer, who was just then beginning his career as musical director
at the local theatre, was a daily visitor at their house. At one of our
dinners another young man, Stadl, a lawyer, proposed a remarkable toast
in my honour in a most eloquent and astonishing speech. Notwithstanding
all this I had to recognise that in Franz Schott I was dealing with a
very singular man, and our negotiations proceeded with extraordinary
difficulty. I insisted emphatically on carrying out my first proposal,
namely, that he should provide me for two successive years with funds
necessary for the undisturbed execution of my work. He excused his
unwillingness to do this by pretending it was painful to his feelings
to drive a bargain with a man like myself by purchasing my work for a
certain sum of money, including also the profits of my author's rights
in the theatrical performances; that, in a word, he was a music
publisher, and did not want to be anything else. I represented to him
that he need only advance me the necessary amount in proper form, and
that I would guarantee him the repayment of that proportion of it which
might be considered due payment for the literary property, out of my
future theatrical takings, which would thus be his security.

After a long time he agreed to make advances on 'musical compositions
still to be delivered,' and to this suggestion I gladly acceded,
insisting, however, that I must be able to depend on a total gradual
payment of twenty thousand francs. As, after settling my Vienna hotel
bill, I was in immediate want of money, Schott gave me a draft on
Paris. From that city I now received a letter from Princess Metternich,
which mystified me, inasmuch as it merely announced the sudden death of
her mother, Countess Sandor, and the consequent change in her family
circumstances. Once more I deliberated whether it would not be better,
after all, to take at random a modest lodging in or near Karlsruhe,
which in time might develop into a peaceful and permanent dwelling.
Owing to my difficulty in providing Minna's allowance, which according
to our agreement was three thousand marks a year, it struck me as more
reasonable and certainly more economical to ask my wife to share my
home. But a letter which just then reached me from her, and the main
contents of which were nothing less than an attempt to incite me
against my own friends, scared me away from any thought of reunion with
her, and determined me to adhere to my Paris plans and keep as far away
from her as possible.

So towards the middle of December I started for Paris, where I alighted
at the dingy-looking Hotel Voltaire, situated on the quay of the same
name, and took a very modest room with a pleasant outlook. Here I
wished to remain unrecognised (preparing myself meanwhile for my work)
until I could present myself to Princess Metternich at the beginning of
the new year, according to her wish. In order not to embarrass the
Metternich's friends, Pourtales and Hatzfeld, I pretended that I was
not in Paris, and looked up only those of my old acquaintances who did
not know these gentlemen, such as Truinet, Gasperini, Flaxland, and the
painter Czermak. I met Truinet and his father regularly at supper time
in the Taverne Anglaise, to which I used to make my way unobserved
through the streets at dusk. One day, on opening one of the papers
there I read the news of the death of Count Pourtales. My grief was
great, and I felt particularly sorry that, out of my singular regard
for the Metternichs, I had neglected to visit this man who had been a
real friend to me. I at once called on Count Hatzfeld, who confirmed
the sad news and told me the circumstances of the sudden death, which
was the result of heart disease, the existence of which the doctor had
not discovered till the very last moment. At the same time I learned
the true significance of the events which had taken place at the Hotel
Metternich. The death of Countess Sandor, of which Princess Pauline had
informed me, had produced the following developments: the Count, who
was the famous Hungarian madman, had up to that time, in the general
interest of the family, been strictly guarded by his wife as an
invalid. At her death the family lived in fear of the most terrible
disturbances from her husband, now no longer under control, and the
Metternichs therefore thought it necessary to take him at once to
Paris, and keep him there under proper supervision. For that purpose
the Princess found that the only suitable suite of apartments at her
command was the one previously offered to me. I at once saw it was
useless to think any more of taking up my residence at the Austrian
embassy, and I was left to reflect on the strange freak of fortune that
had again cast me adrift in this ill-omened Paris.

At first the only course open to me was to stay in my inexpensive
lodging in the Hotel Voltaire until I had finished the libretto of the
Meistersinger, and meanwhile set to work to find the refuge so
earnestly sought for the completion of my new work. It was not an easy
matter; my name and person, which everybody involuntarily regarded in
the doubtful light of my Paris failure, seemed surrounded by a cloud of
mist, which made me unrecognisable even to my old friends. The
Olliviers also appeared to receive me with an air of distrust; at any
rate, they thought it very strange to see me again so soon in Paris. I
was obliged to explain the extraordinary circumstances that had brought
me back, and told them that I did not contemplate a long stay. Apart
from this probably deceptive impression, I soon noticed the great
change that had taken place in the home life of the family. The
grandmother was laid up with a broken leg, which at her age was
incurable. Ollivier had taken her into his very small flat for more
efficient nursing and care, and we all met for dinner at her bedside in
the tiny room. Blandine had greatly changed since the previous summer,
and wore a sad and serious expression, and I fancied that she was
enceinte. Emile, although dry and superficial, was the only one who
gave me any sound advice. When the fellow Lindau sent me a letter
through his lawyer demanding the compensation awarded him by the law
for his imaginary co-operation in the translation of Tannhauser, all
that Emile said on reading the letter was, 'Ne repondez pas,' and his
advice proved as useful as it was easy to follow, for I never heard
anything more of the matter. I sorrowfully made up my mind not to
trouble Ollivier any more, and it was with an inexpressibly sad look
that Blandine and I parted.

With Czermak, on the other hand, I entered into almost daily
intercourse. I used to join him and the Truinet family of an evening at
the Taverne Angiaise, or some other equally cheap restaurants which we
hunted out. Afterwards we generally went to one of the smaller
theatres, which, owing to pressure of work, I had not troubled about on
my former visits. The best of them all was the Gymnase, where all the
pieces were good and played by an excellent company. Of these pieces a
particularly tender and touching one-act play called Je dine chez ma
Mere remains in my memory. In the Theatre du Palais Royal, where things
were not now so refined as formerly, and also in the Theatre Dejazet, I
recognised the prototypes of all the jokes with which, in spite of poor
elaboration and unsuitable localisation, the German public is being
entertained all the year round. Besides this I occasionally dined with
the Flaxland family, who still refused to despair of my eventual
success with the Parisians. For the present my Paris publisher
continued to issue the Fliegender Hollander as well as Rienzi, for
which he paid me tifleen hundred francs as a small fee, which I had not
bargained for on the first edition.

The cause of the almost cheerful complacency with which I managed to
regard my adverse situation in Paris, and which enabled me afterwards
to look back on it as a pleasant memory, was that my libretto of the
Meistersinger daily increased its swelling volume of rhyme. How could I
help being filled with facetious thoughts, when on raising my eyes from
the paper, after meditating upon the quaint verses and sayings of my
Nuremberg Meistersinger, I gazed from the third-floor window of my
hotel on the tremendous crowds passing along the quays and over the
numerous bridges, and enjoyed a prospect embracing the Tuileries, the
Louvre, and even the Hotel de Ville!

I had already got far on into the first act when the momentous New
Year's Day of 1862 arrived, and I paid my long-delayed visit to
Princess Metternich. I found her very naturally embarrassed, but I
quite cheerfully accepted her assurances of regret at being obliged to
withdraw her invitation owing to circumstances with which I was already
acquainted, and I did my utmost to reassure her. I also begged Count
Hatzfeld to inform me when Countess Pourtales would feel equal to
receiving me.

Thus through the whole month of January I continued working on the
Meistersinger libretto, and completed it in exactly thirty days. The
melody for the fragment of Sachs's poem on the Reformation, with which
I make my characters in the last act greet their beloved master,
occurred to me on the way to the Taverne Anglaise, whilst strolling
through the galleries of the Palais Royal. There I found Truinet
already waiting for me, and asked him to give me a scrap of paper and a
pencil to jot down my melody, which I quietly hummed over to him at the
time. I usually accompanied him and his father along the boulevards to
his flat in the Faubourg St. Honore, and on that evening he could do
nothing but exclaim, 'Mais, quelle gaite d'esprit, cher maitre!'

The nearer my work approached its termination, the more earnestly had I
to think about a place of abode. I still imagined that something
similar to what I had lost by Liszt's abandonment of the Altenburg was
in store for me. I now remembered that in the previous year I had
received a most pressing invitation from Mme. Street, to pay her and
her father a long visit in Brussels; on the strength of which I wrote
to the lady and asked if she could put me up for a time without any
ceremony. She was en desolation at being obliged to deny my wish. I
next turned to Cosima, who was in Berlin, with a similar request, at
which she seemed to be quite alarmed, but I quite understood the reason
of this when, on visiting Berlin later on, I saw the style of Bulow's
quarters. It struck me as very strange, on the other hand, that my
brother-in-law Avenarius, who, I heard, was very comfortably settled in
Berlin, begged me most earnestly to go to him, and judge for myself
whether I could not pay him a long visit. My sister Cecilia, however,
forbade me to take Minna there, although she thought she could find her
a lodging in the immediate neighbourhood if she wanted to visit Berlin.
Unfortunately for herself, poor Minna could find nothing better to do
than to write me a furious letter about my sister's cruel behaviour to
her, so the possibility of a renewal of our old squabbles deterred me
at once from accepting my brother-in-law's proposal. At last I
bethought me of looking out for a quiet retreat in the neighbourhood of
Mayence, under the financial protection of Schott. He had spoken to me
about a pretty estate there belonging to the young Baron von Hornstein.
I thought I was conferring an honour upon the latter when I wrote to
him at Munich asking permission to take up my abode for a time at his
place in the Rhine district, and was therefore greatly perplexed when I
received an answer expressing terror at my suggestion. I now determined
to go at once to Mayence, and ordered all our furniture and household
goods, which had been stored in Paris for nearly a year, to be sent
there. Before leaving Paris, after coming to this decision, I had the
consolation of receiving a sublime exhortation to face everything with
resignation. I had previously informed Frau Wesendonck of my situation
and the chief source of my trouble, though of course only as one writes
to a sympathetic friend; she answered by sending me a small
letter-weight of cast-iron which she had bought for me in Venice. It
represented the lion of San Marco with his paw on the book, and was
intended to admonish me to imitate this lion in all things. On the
other hand, Countess Pourtales granted me the privilege of another
visit to her house. In spite of her mourning, this lady did not wish to
leave her sincere interest in me unexpressed on account of her sad
bereavement; and when I told her what I was then doing, she asked to
see my libretto. On my assuring her that in her present frame of mind
she could not enter into the lively character of my Meistersinger, she
kindly expressed a great wish to hear me read it, and invited me to
spend an evening with her. She was the first person to whom I had the
opportunity of reading my now completed work, and it made such a lively
impression upon us both, that we were many times compelled to burst out
into fits of hearty laughter.

On the evening of my departure on the first of February, I invited my
friends Gasperini, Czermak, and the Truinets to a farewell meal in my
hotel. All were in capital spirits, and my good-humour enhanced the
general cheerfulness, although no one quite understood what connection
it could have with the subject on which I had just completed a
libretto, and from the performance of which I anticipated so much.

In my anxiety to choose a suitable residence, which was now so
necessary to me, I directed my steps once more to Karlsruhe. I was
again received in the kindest manner by the Grand Duke and Duchess, who
inquired about my future plans. It turned out, however, that the
residence I so earnestly desired could not be provided for me in
Karlsruhe. I was much struck by the sympathetic concern of the Grand
Duke as to how I could meet the cost of my arduous life, or even my
travelling expenses. I cheerfully endeavoured to set his mind at rest
by telling him of the contract I had made with Schott, who had bound
himself to provide me with the necessary funds in the form of advances
on my Meistersinger. This seemed to reassure him. Later on I heard from
Alwine Frommann that the Grand Duke had once said that I had been
somewhat cold towards him, considering that he had been kind enough to
place his purse at my disposal. But I was certainly not conscious of
his having done so. The only point raised in our discussion had been
whether I should go to Karlsruhe again to rehearse one of my operas
there, possibly Lohengrin, and conduct it in person.

At any rate I started for Mayence, which I reached on the 4th February,
and found the whole place flooded. Owing to the early breaking up of
the ice, the Rhine had overflowed its banks to an unusual extent, and I
only reached Schott's house at some considerable risk. Nevertheless, I
had already arranged to read the Meistersinger on the evening of the
5th of that month, and had even made Cornelius promise to come from
Vienna, and had sent him a hundred francs from Paris for that purpose.
I had not received any answer from him, and as I now learned that the
floods had spread to all the river districts of Germany, and impeded
the railway traffic, I had already ceased to count upon him. I waited
until the last moment and--in fact, just as the clock struck
seven--Cornelius appeared. He had met with all sorts of adventures, had
even lost his overcoat on the way, and reached his sister's house in a
half-frozen condition only a few hours before. The reading of my
libretto put us all into excellent humour, but I was very sorry I could
not shake Cornelius's determination to start on his return journey the
next day. He wished me to understand that his sole object in coming to
Mayence was for this one reading of the Meistersinger, and as a matter
of fact, in spite of floods and floating ice, he left for Vienna on the
following day.

As we had already arranged, I began in company with Schott to search
for a residence on the opposite bank of the Rhine. We had had Biebrich
in our mind's eye; but as nothing suitable seemed to present itself
there, we thought of Wiesbaden. At last I decided to stay at the
'Europaischer Hof' at Biebrich, and continue my search from there. As I
had always been most particular to keep aloof as far as possible from
the noise of music, I decided to rent a small but very suitable flat in
a large summer residence newly built by the architect Frickhofer, and
situated close to the Rhine. I was obliged to await the arrival of my
furniture and household effects from Paris before I could get it in
order. At last they came, and at endless trouble and expense were duly
unloaded at the Biebrich custom-house, where I took possession only of
those things which I required most.

I kept only what was absolutely necessary in Biebrich, intending to
send the greater part to my wife in Dresden. I had already informed
Minna of this, whereupon she immediately assumed that with my clumsy
unpacking I should lose half the things or ruin them all. About a week
after I had fairly settled down with my newly arrived Erard grand,
Minna suddenly appeared in Biebrich. At first I felt nothing but
sincere pleasure at her healthy appearance and untiring energy in the
practical management of affairs, and even thought the best thing I
could do was to let her remain with me. Unfortunately my good
resolutions did not last long, as the old scenes were soon renewed.
When we went to the custom-house, intending to separate her things from
mine, she could not contain her anger that I had not waited for her
arrival before removing on my own account the articles I required for
myself. Nevertheless, she thought it only proper that I should be
provided with certain household effects, and gave me four sets of
knives, forks and spoons, a few cups and saucers, with plates to match.
She then superintended the packing of the remainder, which was not
inconsiderable, and, after arranging everything to her satisfaction,
took her departure to Dresden a week later.

She now flattered herself that her establishment there would be
sufficiently furnished to receive me, as she hoped, very shortly. With
this idea she had taken the necessary steps with regard to the superior
government officials, and these latter had been successful in obtaining
a declaration from the minister that I might now send in a formal
petition to the King to grant me an amnesty, and that nothing would
then stand in the way of my return to Dresden.

I deliberated with considerable hesitation as to what I should do in
this matter. Minna's presence had greatly increased the mental discord
arising from my recent anxieties. Rough weather, defective stoves, my
badly managed household, and my unexpectedly heavy expenses,
particularly for Minna's establishment, all combined to mar the
pleasure I had taken in pursuing the work I had started at the Hotel
Voltaire. Presumably to distract my thoughts, the Schott family invited
me to witness a performance of Rienzi at Darmstadt, with Niemann in the
title-role. The ex-minister, Herr von Dalwigk, fearing that a
demonstration at the theatre in my favour in the presence of the Grand
Duke, might wound the latter's susceptibilities, introduced himself to
me at the station and accompanied me to his own box, where he cleverly
thought he could play the part of presenting me to the public on behalf
of the Grand Duke. Thus everything went off pleasantly. The performance
itself, in which Niemann played one of his best parts, interested me
greatly; I also noticed that they cut out as much of the opera as they
could, presumably in deference to the tastes of the Grand Duke, so as
to extend the ballet as much as possible by repeating the lighter parts
of it.

From this excursion I had again to return home through the floating ice
on the Rhine. As I was still in very low spirits, I tried to introduce
a few comforts into my home, and for this purpose engaged a
maid-servant to prepare my breakfast; my other meals I took at the
'Europaischer Hof.'

When I found, however, that I could not recover my working mood, and
feeling somewhat restless, I offered to redeem my promise and pay
another visit to the Grand Duke of Baden, suggesting that I should give
him a reading of the Meistersinger. The Grand Duke replied by a very
kind telegram signed by himself, in response to which I went to
Karlsruhe on the 7th March and read my manuscript to him and his wife.
A drawing-room had been specially selected for this reading, in which
hung a great historical picture by my old friend Pecht, portraying
Goethe as a young man reading the first fragments of his Faust before
the Grand Duke's ancestors. My work received very kind attention, and
at the conclusion of the reading I was exceedingly pleased to hear the
Grand Duchess recommend me particularly to find a suitable musical
setting for the excellent part of Pogner, which was a friendly
admission of regret that a citizen should be more zealous in the
interests of art than many a prince. A performance of Lohengrin, under
my conductorship, was once more discussed, and I was advised to make
fresh terms with Eduard Devrient. Unfortunately the latter made a
terrible impression on me by his production of Tannhauser at the
theatre. I was obliged to witness this performance seated by his side,
and was astonished to realise that this 'Dramaturge,' whom I had
hitherto so highly recommended, had now sunk to the most vulgar
practices of the theatrical profession. To my amazement at the
monstrous mistakes made in the performance, he replied, with great
surprise and a certain haughty indignation, that he could not
understand why I made so much fuss about such trifles, as I must know
very well that in theatres it was impossible to do otherwise.
Nevertheless, a model performance of Lohengrin was arranged for the
following summer, with the co-operation of Herr Schnorr and his wife.

A much pleasanter impression was made upon me by a play I saw at the
Frankfort theatre, where, in passing through that town, I saw a pretty
comedy, in which the delicate and tender acting of Friederike Meyer,
the sister of my Vienna singer, Mme. Dustmann, impressed me more than
any German acting had ever done. I now began to calculate on the
possibility of making suitable friends in the neighbourhood of
Biebrich, so as not to be entirely dependent on the Schott family or on
my hotel-keeper for society. I had already looked up the Raff family in
Wiesbaden, where Frau Raff had an engagement at the court theatre. She
was a sister of Emilie Genast, with whom I had been on friendly terms
during my stay in Weimar. One excellent piece of information I heard
about her was that by extraordinary thrift and good management she had
succeeded in raising her husband's position of careless wastefulness to
a flourishing and prosperous one. Raff himself, who by his own accounts
of his dissipated life under Liszt's patronage, had led me to regard
him as an eccentric genius, at once disabused me of this idea when, on
a closer acquaintance, I found him an uncommonly uninteresting and
insipid man, full of self-conceit, but without any power of taking a
wide outlook on the world.

Taking advantage of the prosperous condition to which he had attained,
thanks to his wife, he considered he was entitled to patronise me by
giving me some friendly advice in regard to my position at the time. He
thought it advisable to tell me that I ought in my dramatic
compositions to pay more attention to the reality of things, and to
illustrate his meaning he pointed to my score of Tristan as an abortion
of idealistic extravagances.

In the course of my rambles on foot to Wiesbaden I sometimes liked to
call on Raff's wife, a rather insignificant woman, but Raff himself was
a person to whom I soon became perfectly indifferent. Still, when he
came to know me a little better, he lowered the tone of his sagelike
maxims, and even appeared to be rather afraid of my chaffing humour,
against the shafts of which he knew he was defenceless.

Wendelin Weisheimer, whom I had known slightly before, often called on
me in Biebrich. He was the son of a rich peasant of Osthofen, and to
the astonishment of his father refused to give up the musical
profession. He was particularly anxious to introduce me to his parent,
that I might influence the old man's mind in favour of his son's choice
of an artistic career. This involved me in excursions into their
district, and I had an opportunity of witnessing young Weisheimer's
talent as an orchestral conductor at a performance of Offenbach's
Orpheus in the theatre at Mayence, where he had hitherto occupied a
subordinate position. I was horrified that my sympathy for this young
man should make me descend so low as to be present at such an
abomination, and for a long time I could not refrain from letting
Weisheimer see the annoyance I felt.

In my search for a more dignified entertainment I wrote to Friedericke
Meyer in Frankfort and asked her to let me know when the performance of
Calderon's comedy, Das offentliche Geheimniss, would be repeated, as
the last time I had seen an announcement of it, I had been too late.
She was much pleased at my sympathetic inquiry, and informed me that
the comedy was not likely to be revived in the immediate future, but
that there was a prospect of Calderon's Don Gutierre being produced. I
again paid a visit to Frankfort to see this play, and made the personal
acquaintance of this interesting actress for the first time. I had
every reason to be highly satisfied with the performance of Calderon's
tragedy, although the talented actress who played the leading part was
thoroughly successful only in the tenderer passages, her resources
being insufficient to depict the more passionate scenes. She told me
she very often visited some friends of hers in Mayence, and I followed
up this communication by expressing a wish that when doing so she would
look me up at Biebrich, to which she replied that I might hope on some
future occasion for the fulfilment of my wish.

A grand soiree given by the Schotts to their Mayence acquaintances was
the occasion of my making friends with Mathilde Maier, whom Frau
Schott, at least so she informed me, had specially selected for her
'cleverness' to be my companion at the supper table; her highly
intelligent, sincere manner and her peculiar Mayence dialect
distinguished her favourably from the rest of the company; nor was this
distinction accompanied by anything outre. I promised to visit her, and
thus became acquainted with an idyllic home such as I had never met
before. This Mathilde, who was the daughter of a lawyer who had died
leaving only a small fortune behind, lived with her mother, two aunts
and a sister in a neat little house, while her brother, who was
learning business in Paris, was a continual source of trouble to her.
Mathilde, with her practical common-sense, attended to the affairs of
the whole family, apparently to every one's complete satisfaction. I
was received among them with remarkable warmth whenever, in the pursuit
of my business, I chanced to come to Mayence. This happened about once
a week, and on each occasion I was made to accept their hospitality.
But as Mathilde had a large circle of acquaintances, among others an
old gentleman in Mayence who had been Schopenhauer's only friend, I
frequently met her in other people's houses, as for instance at the
Raffs in Wiesbaden. From there she and her old friend Luise Wagner
would often accompany me on my way home, and I would sometimes go with
them further on the way to Mayence.

These meetings were full of agreeable impressions, to which frequent
walks in the beautiful park of Biebrich Castle contributed. The fair
season of the year was now approaching, and I was once more seized with
a desire for work. As from the balcony of my flat, in a sunset of great
splendour, I gazed upon the magnificent spectacle of 'Golden' Mayence,
with the majestic Rhine pouring along its outskirts in a glory of
light, the prelude to my Meistersinger again suddenly made its presence
closely and distinctly felt in my soul. Once before had I seen it rise
before me out of a lake of sorrow, like some distant mirage. I
proceeded to write down the prelude exactly as it appears to-day in the
score, that is, containing the clear outlines of the leading themes of
the whole drama. I proceeded at once to continue the composition,
intending to allow the remaining scenes to follow in due succession. As
I was feeling in a good temper I thought I would like to pay a visit to
the Duke of Nassau. He was my neighbour, and I had so often met him on
my lonely walks in the park, that I considered it polite to call on
him. Unfortunately there was not much to be got out of the interview
which took place. He was a very narrow-minded but amiable man, who
excused himself for continuing to smoke his cigar in my presence
because he could not get on without it, and he thereupon proceeded to
describe to me his preference for Italian opera, which I was quite
content he should retain. But I had an ulterior motive in trying to
prepossess him in my favour. At the back of his park stood a tiny
castle of ancient appearance on the borders of a lake. It had grown
into a sort of picturesque ruin, and at the time served as a studio for
a sculptor. I was filled with a bold desire to acquire this small,
half-tumbledown building for the rest of my life; for I had already
become a prey to alarming anxiety as to whether I should be able to
hold out in the quarters I had so far tenanted, as the greater part of
the storey, on which I occupied only two small rooms, had been let to a
family for the approaching summer, and I heard that they would enter
into possession, armed with a piano. I was soon dissuaded, however,
from further attempts to induce the Duke of Nassau to favour my views,
for he told me that this little castle, on account of its damp
situation, would be thoroughly unhealthy.

Nevertheless, I did not allow myself to be deterred from setting to
work to find some lonely little house with a garden, for which I still
longed. In the excursions I repeatedly undertook for this purpose I was
frequently accompanied not only by Weisheimer but also by Dr. Stadl,
the young lawyer who at Schott's house had proposed the charming toast
which I have already mentioned. He was an extraordinary man, and I
could only explain his very excitable nature by the fact that he was a
passionate gambler at the roulette tables in Wiesbaden. He it was who
had introduced me to another friend, a practised musician, Dr. Schuler
from Wiesbaden. With both these gentlemen I now weighed all the
possibilities of acquiring, or at least of discovering, my little
castle for the future. On one occasion we visited Bingen with this
object, and ascended the celebrated old tower there in which the
Emperor Henry IV. was imprisoned long ago. After going for some
distance up the rock on which the tower was built, we reached a room on
the fourth storey occupying the entire square of the building, with a
single projecting window looking out upon the Rhine.

I recognised this room as the ideal of everything I had imagined in the
way of a residence for myself. I thought I could arrange for the
necessary smaller apartments in the flat by means of curtains, and thus
prepare for myself a splendid place of refuge for ever. Stadl and
Schuler thought it possible they might help me in the fulfilment of my
wishes, as they were both acquainted with the proprietor of this ruin.
Shortly afterwards, in fact, they informed me that the owner had no
objection to letting me this large room at a low rent, but at the same
time they pointed out the utter impracticability of carrying out my
plan; nobody, they said, would be either able or willing to act as my
servant there, for, amongst other things, there was no well, and the
only water obtainable was from a cistern lying at a frightful depth
down in the keep, and even this was not good. Under such circumstances
it did not require more than one such obstacle to deter me from the
pursuit of such an extravagant scheme. I had a similar experience with
a property in Rheingau belonging to Count Schonborn. My attention had
been drawn to it, because it was unoccupied by the proprietor. Here I
certainly found a number of empty rooms, out of which I should have
been able to arrange something suitable for my purpose. After obtaining
further details from the land agent, who wrote on my behalf to Count
Schonborn, I had to content myself with a refusal.

A strange incident that occurred about this time seriously threatened
to interrupt me to some extent in the work I had begun. Friederike
Meyer kept her promise and called on me one afternoon on her return
from her usual excursion to Mayence. She was accompanied by a lady
friend. Shortly after her arrival she was suddenly overwhelmed with
fear, and to the terror of all present declared she was afraid she had
caught scarlet fever. Her condition soon became alarming, and she had
to find accommodation immediately in the 'Europaischer Hof' hotel and
send for a doctor. The certainty with which she had immediately
recognised the symptoms of a disease, which in most cases can only be
caught from children, could not fail to impress me strangely. But my
amazement was increased when on the following morning, at a very early
hour, Herr von Guaita, the manager of the Frankfort theatre, who had
heard of her illness, paid a visit to the patient and expressed for her
an anxiety, the intensity of which it was impossible to ascribe
entirely to his interest as a theatrical manager. He took Friederike at
once under his protection, and treated her with the greatest care, thus
relieving me from the pangs of anxiety aroused by this strange case. I
spent some time with Herr von Guaita, talking with him about the
possibility of producing one of my operas in Frankfort. On the second
day I was present when the sick lady was conveyed to the railway
station by Guaita, who evinced towards her what appeared to me the most
tender paternal solicitude. Soon after this, Herr Burde (the husband of
Madame Ney, a famous singer), who was at that time an actor at the
Frankfort theatre, paid me a call. This gentleman, with whom amongst
other things I discussed Friederike Meyer's talents, informed me that
she was supposed to be the mistress of Herr von Guaita, a man who was
held in great respect in the town on account of his noble rank, and
that he had presented her with a house in which she was now living. As
Herr von Guaita had not made an agreeable impression upon me, but on
the contrary had struck me as a strange creature, this news filled me
with a certain uneasiness. My other acquaintances who lived near my
place of refuge in Biebrich were kind and friendly when, on the evening
of my birthday on the 22nd of May, I entertained this little company in
my flat. Mathilde Maier with her sister and her lady friend were very
clever in utilising my small stock of crockery, and in a certain sense
she did the honours as mistress of the house.

But my peace of mind was soon disturbed by an interchange of letters
with Minna, which grew more and more unsatisfactory. I had settled her
in Dresden, but wanted to spare her the humiliation of a permanent
separation from me. In pursuance of this idea I had at last found
myself compelled to adopt the plan she had initiated, by communicating
with the Saxon Minister of Justice; and I finally petitioned for a
complete amnesty from the government, and received permission to settle
in Dresden. Minna now thought herself authorised to take a large flat,
in which it would be easy to arrange the furniture allotted to her,
assuming that after a little while I would share the abode with her, at
least periodically. I had to try to meet cheerfully her demands for the
wherewithal to carry out her wishes, and especially to procure the two
thousand seven hundred marks she required for the purpose. The more
calmly I acted in this matter, the more deeply she seemed to be
offended by the quiet frigidity of my letters. Reproaches for supposed
injuries in the past and recriminations of every kind now poured in
from her faster than ever. At last I turned to my old friend Pusinelli.
Out of affection for me he had always been a loyal helper of my
intractable spouse. Through his mediation I now prescribed the strong
medicine which my sister Clara a short while ago had recommended as the
best remedy for the patient, and asked him to impress upon Minna the
necessity for a legal separation. It seemed to be no easy task for my
poor friend to carry out this proposal in earnest, but he had been
asked to do it, and obeyed. He informed me that she was very much
alarmed, but that she definitely refused to discuss an amicable
separation, and, as my sister had foreseen, Minna's conduct now changed
in a very striking manner; she ceased to annoy me and seemed to realise
her position and abide by it. To relieve her heart trouble, Pusinelli
had prescribed for her a cure at Reichenhall. I obtained the money for
this, and apparently she spent the summer in tolerable spirits in the
very place in which a year ago I had met Cosima undergoing a cure.

Once more I turned to my work, to which I always had recourse as the
best means of raising my spirits so soon as interruptions were removed.
One night I was disturbed by a strange event. The evening had been
pleasant, and I had sketched out the pretty theme for Pogner's Anrede,
'Das schone Fest Johannistag,' etc., when, while I was dozing off and
still had this tune floating in my mind, I was suddenly awakened to
full consciousness by an unrestrained outburst of a woman's laughter
above my room. This laughter, growing madder and madder, at last turned
into a horrible whimpering and frightful howling. I sprang out of bed
in a terrified condition, to discover that the sound proceeded from my
servant Lieschen, who had been attacked with hysterical convulsions as
she lay in bed in the room overhead. My host's maid went to help her,
and a doctor was summoned. While I was horrified at the thought that
the girl would soon die, I could not help wondering at the curious
tranquillity of the others who were present. I was told that such fits
were of common occurrence in young girls, especially after dances.
Without heeding this, I was riveted to the spot for a long time by the
spectacle, with the horrible symptoms it presented. Several times I saw
what resembled a childish fit of merriment pass, like the ebb and flow
of the tide, through all the different stages, up to the most impudent
laughter, and then to what seemed like the screams of the damned in
torture. When the disturbance had somewhat subsided, I went to bed
again, and once more Pogner's 'Johannistag' rose to my memory, and
gradually banished the fearful impressions that I had undergone.

One day, when I was watching young Stadl at the gambling-table in
Wiesbaden, I thought he was rather like the poor servant-girl. I had
taken coffee with him and Weisheimer in the Kur garden, and we had
enjoyed one another's company, when Stadl disappeared for a time.
Weisheimer led me to the gambling-table to find him. Seldom have I
witnessed a more horrible change of expression than that now stamped on
the man who was a prey to the gambling mania. As a demon had possessed
poor Lieschen, so now a demon possessed this man. As folk say, the
devils 'pursued their evil lusts in him.' No appeal, no humiliating
admonitions could prevail upon the man tortured by his losses in the
game to summon up his moral powers. As I remembered my own experiences
of the gambling passion, to which I had succumbed for a time when I was
a youth, I spoke to young Weisheimer on the subject, and offered to
show him how I was not afraid to make a stake on pure chance, but that
I had no belief in my luck. When a new round of roulette began, I said
to him in a voice of quiet certainty, 'Number 11 will win'; and it did.
I added fuel to the fire of his astonishment at this stroke of good
luck by predicting Number 27 for the next round. Certainly I remember
being overcome by a spell as I spoke, and my number was in fact again
victorious. My young friend was now in a state of such astonishment,
that he vehemently urged me to stake something on the numbers which I
foretold. Again I cannot but call to mind the curious, quiet feeling of
being spellbound which possessed me as I said, 'As soon as I introduce
my own personal interests into the game, my gift of prophecy will
disappear at once.' I then drew him away from the gambling-table, and
we took our way back to Biebrich in a fine sunset.

I now came into very painful relations with poor Friederike Meyer. She
wrote and told me of her recovery and requested me to visit her,
because she felt it her duty to apologise to me for the trouble in
which she had involved me. As the short drive to Frankfort often helped
to entertain me and distract my thoughts, I gladly fulfilled her
wishes, and found her in a state of convalescence but still weak, and
obviously preoccupied with the effort to fortify my mind against all
disagreeable surmises about herself. She said that Herr von Guaita was
like an anxious, almost hypersensitive father to her. She told me that
she was very young when she left her family, and that with her sister
Luise in particular she had severed all connection. She had thus come
quite friendless to Frankfort, where the chance protection of Herr von
Guaita, a man of mature age, had been very welcome to her.
Unfortunately she had to suffer much that was painful under this
arrangement, for she was most bitterly persecuted, chiefly on the score
of her reputation, by her patron's family, who feared he might want to
marry her. As she told me this, I could not refrain from drawing her
attention to some of the consequences of the antagonism I had noticed,
and I went so far as to speak of the house which people said had been
given her as a present. This seemed to produce an extraordinary effect
upon Friederike, who was still an invalid. She expressed the greatest
annoyance at these rumours, although, as she admitted, she had long
been obliged to suspect that slander of this kind would be disseminated
about her; more than once she had considered the advisability of giving
up the Frankfort stage, and now she was more determined than ever to do
so. I saw nothing in her demeanour to shake my confidence in the truth
of her story; moreover, as Herr von Guaita became more and more
unintelligible to me both as a man and in the light of his incredible
conduct on the occasion of Friederike's illness, my attitude towards
this highly gifted girl was henceforth unconditionally on the side of
her interests, which were being prejudiced by an obvious injustice. To
facilitate her recovery I advised her, without delay, to take a long
holiday for a tour on the Rhine.

In accordance with the instructions conveyed to him by the Grand Duke,
Eduard Devrient now addressed me in reference to the appointed
performance of Lohengrin in Karlsruhe under my superintendence. The
angry and arrogant disgust expressed in his letter at my desire to see
that Lohengrin was produced without 'cuts,' served admirably to expose
to me the profound antipathy of this man whom I had once so blindly
overestimated. He wrote that one of the first things he had done was to
have a copy of the score made for the orchestra with the 'cuts'
introduced by Conductor Rietz for the Leipzig performance, and that it
would consequently be a tiresome business to put back all the passages
which I wished to have restored. He regarded my request in this
particular as merely malicious. I now remembered that the only
performance of Lohengrin, which had been taken off almost immediately
on account of its complete failure, was the one in Leipzig produced by
Conductor Rietz. Devrient, regarding Rietz as Mendelssohn's successor
and the most solid musician of 'modern times,' had concluded that this
mutilation of my work was a suitable one for production in Karlsruhe.
But I shuddered at the misguided light in which I had so long persisted
in regarding this man. I informed him briefly of my indignation and of
my decision to have nothing to do with Lohengrin in Karlsruhe. I also
expressed my intention to make my excuses to the Grand Duke at a
suitable time. Soon after this I heard that Lohengrin was, after all,
to be produced in Karlsruhe in the usual way, and that the newly wedded
Schnorrs had been specially engaged for it. A great longing at last
filled me to make the acquaintance of Schnorr and his achievements.
Without announcing my intentions, I travelled to Karlsruhe, obtained a
ticket through Kaliwoda, and heedless of all else went to the
performance. In my published Memoirs I have described more accurately
the impressions I received on this occasion, more particularly of
Schnorr. I fell in love with him at once, and after the performance I
sent him a message to come and see me in my room at the hotel and have
a little chat. I had heard so much of his delicate state of health that
I was genuinely delighted to see him enter the room with a lively step
and a look of joy in his eyes. Although it was late at night, and he
had undergone a considerable strain, he met my anxiety to avoid all
dissipation out of regard to his welfare, by willingly accepting my
offer to celebrate our new acquaintance with a bottle of champagne. We
spent the greater part of the night in the best of spirits, and among
our discussions those on Devrient's character were especially
instructive to me. I undertook to stay another day, so as to avail
myself of an invitation to lunch with Schnorr and his wife. As by this
lengthy stay in Karlsruhe I knew my presence would become known to the
Grand Duke, I took advantage on the following day to inform him of my
arrival, and he made an appointment to meet me in the afternoon. After
talking at lunch to Frau Schnorr, in whom I had recognised a great and
well-developed theatrical talent, and after making the most astonishing
discoveries about Devrient's behaviour in the Tristan affair, I had my
interview at the ducal palace. It was marked by uneasiness on both
sides. I openly stated my reasons for withdrawing my promise with
regard to the Lohengrin performance, and also my unalterable conviction
that a conspiracy to interfere with the production of Tristan
originally proposed had been the work of Devrient. As Devrient, by his
ingenious attitude, had led the Grand Duke to believe in his profound
and genuinely solicitous friendship for me, my communications obviously
pained the Grand Duke a great deal. Still, he seemed eager to assume
that the matter turned on artistic differences of opinion between me
and his theatrical manager, and in bidding me good-bye he expressed the
hope of seeing these apparent misunderstandings give way to a
satisfactory explanation. I replied with indifference that I did not
think it likely I should ever come to an agreement with Devrient. The
Grand Duke now gave vent to genuine indignation; he had not thought, he
said, that I could so easily treat an old friend with such ingratitude.
To meet the keenness of this reproach I could at first only tender my
apologies for not having expressed my decision with the emphasis he had
a right to expect, but as the Grand Duke had taken this matter so
seriously and had thereby seemed to justify me in expressing my real
opinion of this supposed friend with equal seriousness, I was bound,
with all the earnestness at my command, to assure him that I did not
wish to have anything more to do with Devrient. At this the Grand Duke
told me, with renewed gentleness, that he declined to regard my
assurance as irrevocable, for it lay in his power to propitiate me by
other means. I took my departure with an expression of serious regret
that I could not help regarding as fruitless any effort made in the
direction contemplated by my patron. Later on I ascertained that
Devrient, who, of course, was informed by the Grand Duke of what had
taken place, looked upon my behaviour as an attempt on my part to ruin
and supplant him. The Grand Duke had not abandoned his desire to
arrange for the performance of a concert consisting of selections from
my most recent works. Devrient had afterwards to write to me again in
his official capacity on this subject. In his letter he took occasion
to make it clear that he regarded himself as victorious over the
intrigues I had practised against him, assuring me at the same time
that his distinguished patron nevertheless wished to carry out the
concert in question, as from his lofty point of view he knew very well
how to distinguish 'the art from the artist.' My answer was a simple

I had many a conversation with the Schnorrs over the episode, and I
made an arrangement with them to visit me soon in Biebrich. I returned
there now, to be in time for Bulow's visit, of which I had already been
informed. He arrived at the beginning of July to look for lodgings for
himself and Cosima, who followed two days later. We were immensely
pleased to meet again, and utilised the occasion to make excursions of
all sorts for the benefit of our health in the pleasant Rheingau
country. We took our meals together regularly in the public dining-room
of the Europaischer Hof (where the Schnorrs also came to stay), and we
were generally as merry as possible. In the evening we had music in my
rooms. Alwine Frommann, on her way through Biebrich, also came to the
reading of the Meistersinger. All present seemed to be struck with
surprise on hearing my latest libretto, and especially by the
vernacular gaiety of the style, of which until now I had not availed
myself. Frau Dustmann also, who had a special engagement for a
performance at Wiesbaden, paid me a visit. Unfortunately I noticed in
her a lively antipathy to her sister Friederike, a fact which, among
others, strengthened my conviction that it was high time for Friederike
to dissociate herself from all ties in Frankfort. After I had been
enabled, with Bulow's support, to play my friends the completed parts
of the composition of the Meistersinger, I went through most of
Tristan, and in this process the Schnorrs had an opportunity of showing
the extent to which they had already made themselves acquainted with
their task. I found that both were a good deal lacking in clearness of

The summer now brought more visitors into our neighbourhood, and
amongst them several of my acquaintances. David, the Leipzig concert
director, called on me with his young pupil, August Wilhelmj, the son
of a Wiesbaden lawyer. We now had music in the true sense of the word,
and Conductor Alois Schmitt from Schwerin contributed an odd share by
performing what he called a worthless old composition of his. One
evening we had a crowded party, the Schotts joining the rest of my
friends, and both the Schnorrs delighted us keenly with a performance
of the so-called love-scene in the third act of Lohengrin. We were all
deeply moved by the sudden apparition of Rockel in our common
dining-room at the hotel. He had been released from Waldheimer prison
after thirteen years. I was astounded to find absolutely no radical
change in the appearance of my old acquaintance, except for the faded
colour of his hair. He himself explained this to me by observing that
he had stepped out of something like a shell in which he had been
ensconced for his own preservation. As we were deliberating about the
field of activity on which he ought now to enter, I advised him to seek
some useful employment in the service of a benevolent and
liberal-minded man like the Grand Duke of Baden. He did not think he
would succeed in any ministerial capacity, owing to his want of legal
knowledge; on the other hand, he was eminently qualified to undertake
the supervision of a house of correction, as he had obtained not only
the most accurate information on this subject, but at the same time had
noted what reforms were necessary. He went off to the German shooting
competition taking place at Frankfort. There, in recognition of his
martyrdom and his unwavering conduct, he was accorded a flattering
ovation, and he stayed in Frankfort and its neighbourhood for some time.

Casar Willig, a painter who had received a commission from Otto
Wesendonck to paint my portrait at his expense, worried me and my
intimate friends at this time. Unfortunately the painter was utterly
unsuccessful in his attempt to make a good likeness of me. Although
Cosima was present at nearly all the sittings, and tried her utmost to
put the artist on the right track, the end of it was that I had to sit
for a sharp profile, to enable him to produce anything that could be in
the least recognisable as a likeness. After he had performed this task
to his satisfaction, he painted another copy for me out of gratitude. I
sent this at once to Minna in Dresden, through whom it ultimately went
to my sister Louisa. It was a horrible picture, and I was confronted
with it once afterwards when it was exhibited by the artist in

I made a pleasant excursion with the Bulows and the Schnorrs to Bingen
one evening, and availed myself of the opportunity to cross over to
Rudesheim to bring back Friederike Meyer, who had been enjoying her
holiday there. I introduced her to my friends, and Cosima especially
took a friendly interest in this uncommonly gifted woman. Our gaiety as
we sat over a glass of wine in the open air was heightened by our being
unexpectedly accosted by a traveller who approached us respectfully
from a distant table; he held his glass filled, and at once greeted me
politely and with the utmost warmth. He was a native of Berlin and a
great enthusiast of my work. He spoke not only for himself, but also on
behalf of two of his friends, who joined us at our table; and our
good-humour led us ultimately to champagne. A splendid evening with a
wonderful moon-rise shed its influence over the gladness of our spirits
as we returned home late in the evening after this delightful
excursion. When we visited Schlangenbad (where Alwine Frommann was
staying) in equally high spirits, our reckless humour beguiled us into
making an even longer excursion to Rolandseck. We made our first halt
at Remagen, where we visited the handsome church, in which a young monk
was preaching to an immense crowd, and we afterwards lunched in a
garden on the bank of the Rhine. We remained that night in Rolandseck,
and next morning we went up the Drachenfels. In connection with this
ascent, an adventure happened which had a merry sequel. On the return
journey, after getting out of the train at the railway station and
crossing the Rhine, I missed my letter-case containing a note for two
hundred marks; it had slipped out of my overcoat pocket. Two gentlemen
who had joined us on the way from the Drachenfels immediately offered
to retrace their steps, a somewhat arduous undertaking, to hunt for the
lost object. After a few hours they returned, and handed me the
letter-case with its contents intact. Two stone-cutters at work on the
summit of the mountain had found it. They restored it at once, and the
honest fellows were presented with a handsome reward. The happy issue
to this adventure had, of course, to be celebrated by a good dinner
with the best wine. The story was not completed for me until a long
time afterwards. In 1873, on my entering a restaurant in Cologne, the
host introduced himself to me as the man who, eleven years previously,
had catered for us at the inn on the Rhine, and had changed that very
two-hundred-mark note for me. He then told me what had happened to that
note. An Englishman, to whom he had related the adventure of the note
on the same day, offered to buy it from him for double its value. The
host declined any such transaction, but allowed the Englishman to have
the note on the promise of the latter to stand champagne to all those
present at the time. The promise was fulfilled to the letter.

An invitation to Osthofen from the Weisheimer family was the origin of
a less satisfactory excursion than the one described above. We put up
there for one night after being compelled on the previous day to take
part at all hours in the frolics of a peasant wedding-feast which was
simply interminable. Cosima was the only one who managed to keep in a
good temper throughout the proceedings. I supported her to the best of
my abilities. But Bulow's depression, which had increased during the
preceding days, grew deeper and deeper, was aggravated by every
possible incident, until at last it developed into an outbreak of fury.
We tried to console ourselves with the reflection that a similar
infliction could never again fall to our lot. The following day, while
I was preparing for my departure, and brooding over other sources of
dissatisfaction at my position, Cosima induced Hans to continue the
journey as far as Worms in the hope of finding something refreshing and
cheering in a visit to the ancient cathedral there, and from that place
they followed me later to Biebrich.

One little adventure we had at the gaming-table at Wiesbaden still
lingers in my memory. Within the last few days I had received a royalty
of twenty louis d'or from the theatre for an opera. Not knowing what to
do with so small a sum (as my situation, on the whole, was growing
worse and worse), I ventured to ask Cosima to risk half the sum at
roulette in our joint interest. I observed with astonishment how,
without even the smallest knowledge of the game, she staked one gold
piece after another on the table, throwing it down so that it never
definitely covered any particular number or colour. In this way it
gradually disappeared behind the croupier's rake. I grew alarmed, and
hurriedly went to another table in the hope of counteracting the effect
of Cosima's unguided and misguided efforts. In this very economical
pursuit luck befriended me so substantially, that I at once recovered
the ten louis d'or which my fair friend had lost at the other table.
This soon put us into a very merry mood. Less cheering than this
adventure was our visit to a performance of Lohengrin in Wiesbaden.
After we had been pretty well satisfied and put into a fairly good
humour by the first act, the representation turned, as it proceeded,
into a current of maddening misrepresentation such as I should never
have believed possible. In a fury I left the theatre before the end,
while Hans, urged by Cosima's reminder of the proprieties (though they
were both as much infuriated as I was), endured the martyrdom of
witnessing the performance to a close.

On another occasion I heard that the Metternichs had arrived at their
Castle Johannisberg. Still preoccupied with my main anxiety to obtain a
peaceful domicile in which to conclude the Meistersinger, I kept an eye
on this castle, which was generally unoccupied, and announced my
intention of calling on the Prince. An invitation soon followed, and
the Bulows accompanied me to the railway station. I could not fail to
be satisfied with the friendly reception accorded to me by my patrons.
They, too, had been considering the question of finding a temporary
resting-place for me in the Johannisberg Castle, and found they could
give me a small flat in the house of the keeper of the castle for my
sole use, only they drew my attention to the difficulty of obtaining my
board. The Prince, however, had busied himself more actively with
another matter, that of creating a permanent position for me in Vienna.
He said that on his next stay in Vienna he would have a discussion
about my affairs with Schmerling the minister, whom he thought it was
most suitable to consult on such a matter. He was a man who would
understand me, and perhaps be able to discover a proper position for me
in the higher sense of the word, and arouse the Emperor's interest in
me. If I went to Vienna again, I was simply to call on Schmerling, and
he would receive me as a matter of course on account of the Prince's
introduction. As the result of an invitation to the ducal court, the
Metternichs had repaired without loss of time to Wiesbaden, to which
city I accompanied them, and again fell in with the Bulows.

Schnorr had left us after a fortnight's stay, and now the time had also
come for the Bulows to depart. I accompanied them as far as Frankfort,
where we spent two more days together to see a performance of Goethe's
Tasso. Liszt's symphonic poem Tasso was to precede the play. It was
with odd feelings that we witnessed this performance. Friederike Meyer
as the Princess and Herr Schneider as Tasso appealed to us greatly, but
Hans could not get over the shameful execution of Liszt's work by the
conductor, Ignaz Lachner. Before going to the theatre Friedrike gave us
a luncheon at the restaurant in the Botanical Gardens. In the end the
mysterious Herr von Guaita also joined us there. We now noticed with
astonishment that all further conversation was carried on between them
as a duologue which was quite unintelligible to us. All that we could
make out was the furious jealousy of Herr von Guaita and Friederike's
witty, scornful defence. But the excited man became more composed when
he suggested I should arrange for a performance of Lohengrin in
Frankfort under my own direction. I was favourably disposed to the
suggestion, as I saw in it an opportunity for another meeting with the
Bulows and the Schnorrs. The Bulows promised to come, and I invited the
Schnorrs to be in the cast. This time we could take leave of one
another cheerfully, although the increasing and often excessive
ill-humour of poor Hans had drawn many an involuntary sigh from me. He
seemed to be in perpetual torment. On the other hand, Cosima appeared
to have lost the shyness she had evinced towards me when I visited
Reichenhall in the previous year, and a very friendly manner had taken
its place. While I was singing 'Wotan's Abschied' to my friends I
noticed the same expression on Cosima's face as I had seen on it, to my
astonishment, in Zurich on a similar occasion, only the ecstasy of it
was transfigured into something higher. Everything connected with this
was shrouded in silence and mystery, but the belief that she belonged
to me grew to such certainty in my mind, that when I was under the
influence of more than ordinary excitement my conduct betrayed the most
reckless gaiety. As I was accompanying Cosima to the hotel across a
public square, I suddenly suggested she should sit in an empty
wheelbarrow which stood in the street, so that I might wheel her to the
hotel. She assented in an instant. My astonishment was so great that I
felt all my courage desert me, and was unable to carry out my mad

On returning to Biebrich I was at once confronted with grave
difficulties, for Schott, after keeping me some time in suspense, now
definitely refused to pay me any further subsidies. The advances I had
already received from my publisher had, it is true, until quite
recently, served to defray all my expenses since leaving Vienna,
including my wife's removal to Dresden and my own migration to Biebrich
by way of Paris, where I had to satisfy more than one lurking creditor.
But in spite of these initial difficulties, which, I suppose, took
about half the money I was to have for the Meistersinger by agreement,
I had counted upon finishing my work in peace with the remainder of the
sum stipulated. But since then Schott had put me off with vain promises
about a fixed date for balancing accounts with the bookseller. I had
already been put to great straits, and now everything seemed to depend
on my being able to hand over a complete act of the Meistersinger to
Schott quickly. I had got as far as the scene where Pogner is about to
introduce Walther von Stolzing to the meistersingers, when--about the
middle of August, while Bulow was still there--an accident occurred
which, though slight in itself, made me incapable of writing for two
whole months.

My surly host kept a bulldog named Leo chained up, and neglected him so
cruelly that it excited my constant sympathy. I therefore tried one day
to have him freed from vermin, and held his head myself, so that the
servant who was doing it should not be frightened. Although the dog had
learned to trust me thoroughly, he snapped at me once involuntarily and
bit me--apparently very slightly--in the upper joint of my right-hand
thumb. There was no wound visible, but it was soon evident that the
periosteum had become inflamed from the contusion. As the pain
increased more and more with the use of the thumb, I was ordered to do
no writing until my hand was quite healed. If my plight was not quite
so terrible as the newspapers--which announced that I had been bitten
by a mad dog--made out, it was still conducive to serious reflection on
human frailty. To complete my task, therefore, I needed, not only a
sound mind and good ideas, irrespective of any required skill, but also
a healthy thumb to write with, as my work was not a libretto I could
dictate, but music which no one but myself could write down.

On the advice of Raff, who considered a volume of my songs to be worth
one thousand francs, I decided to offer my publisher, by way of
temporary compensation, five poems by my friend Frau Wesendonck which I
had set to music (consisting chiefly of studies for Tristan with which
I was occupied at the time), so that he should at least have something
on the market. The songs were accepted and published, but they seemed
to have produced no softening effect on Schott's mood. I was obliged to
conclude that he was acting on some one else's instigation, and I
betook myself to Kissingen (where he was staying for his 'cure') in
order to get to the bottom of it and shape my next moves accordingly.
An interview with him was obstinately denied me, and Frau Schott, who
was posted outside his door in the role of guardian angel, informed me
that a bad liver attack prevented him from seeing me. I now realised my
position with regard to him. For the moment I drew on young Weisheimer
for some money, which he gave me most willingly, supported as he was by
a wealthy father, and then set to work to consider what I could do
next. I could no longer count on Schott, and had in consequence lost
all prospect of an unopposed performance of the Meistersinger.

At this juncture I was much surprised to receive a renewed official
invitation to Vienna for the performance of Tristan at the Opera, where
I was informed all obstacles had been removed, as Ander had completely
recovered his voice. I was genuinely astonished to hear this, and on
further inquiry arrived at the following elucidation of the
transactions that had been taking place on my behalf in Vienna during
the interval. Before I left there the last time Frau Luise Dustmann,
who seemed to take a real pleasure in the part of Isolde, had tried to
clear away the real impediment to my undertaking by persuading me to go
to an evening party, where she intended to introduce me again to Dr.
Hanslick. She knew that unless this gentleman could be brought round to
my side nothing could be accomplished in Vienna. As I was in a good
temper that evening I found it easy to treat Hanslick as a superficial
acquaintance, until he drew me aside for an intimate talk, and with
sobs and tears assured me he could not bear to be misunderstood by me
any longer. The blame for anything that might have been extraordinary
in his judgment of me was to be laid, not on any malicious intention,
but solely on the narrow-mindedness of an individual who desired
nothing more ardently than to learn from me how to widen the boundaries
of his knowledge. All this was said in such a burst of emotion that I
could do nothing but soothe his grief and promise him my unreserved
sympathy with his work in future. Just before leaving Vienna I actually
heard that Hanslick had launched forth into unmeasured praise of myself
and my amiability. This change had so affected both the singers at the
Opera and also Councillor Raymond (the Lord High Steward's adviser)
that at last, working from high circles downwards, it came to be
regarded as a point of honour with the Viennese to have Tristan
performed in their city. Hence my summons!

I heard at the same time from young Weisheimer, who had betaken himself
to Leipzig, that he was sure he could arrange a good concert there if I
could assist him by conducting my new prelude to the Meistersinger as
well as the Tannhauser Overture. He believed it would make so great a
sensation that the probable sale of all the tickets would enable him to
place a not inconsiderable sum at my disposal after the bare expenses
had been deducted. In addition to this, I could hardly go back on my
promise to Herr von Guaita with respect to a performance of Lohengrin
at Frankfort, although the Schnorrs had been obliged to decline to take
part in it. After weighing all these offers I decided to put the
Meistersinger aside, and try to earn enough by enterprises abroad to
enable me in the following spring to take up and finish my interrupted
work on the spot, unaffected by Schott's humours. I therefore decided
at all costs to keep on the house at Biebrich, which I really liked.
Minna, on the other hand, had been pressing me to send some of the
furniture which I had kept, to complete her own establishment at
Dresden, namely, my bed and a few other things to which I was
accustomed, 'so that when I went to see her,' she said, 'I should find
everything in proper order.' I did not want to act contrary to the
established fiction which was to make the parting from me easier for
her; I therefore sent her what she wanted, and bought new furniture for
my home on the Rhine with the assistance of a Wiesbaden manufacturer,
who allowed me fairly long credit.

At the end of September I went to Frankfort for a week to take over the
rehearsals of Lohengrin. Here again I went through the same experience
as I had so often done before. I no sooner came into contact with the
members of the opera company than I felt a desire to throw up the
undertaking on the spot; then the general consternation and the
entreaties that I would persevere caused a reaction, under the
influence of which I held out until I at last became interested in
certain things for their own sake, and quite apart from any
consideration of the wretched singers. The things that pleased me were
the effect of an uncurtailed performance, and the employment of correct
tempi and correct staging. Yet I suppose Friederike Meyer was the only
one who completely realised these effects. The usual 'animation' of the
audience was not lacking, but I was told later on that the subsequent
performances fell off, so that the opera had to be curtailed in the old
way to keep it going. (They were conducted by Herr Ignaz Lachner of
Frankfort, a smart, sleek man, but a wretchedly bad, muddle-headed

I was the more prostrated by the effect of all this because even the
Bulows had failed to pay me their expected visit. Cosima, as I was now
informed, had passed me by in haste on her way to Paris to offer her
support for a short time to her grandmother, who was suffering from a
tedious illness, and had now received a most painful blow by the news
of the death of Blandine after her confinement, which had taken place
at St. Tropez.

I now shut myself up for some time in my house at Biebrich, the weather
having suddenly turned cold, and prevailed on my thumb to prove itself
capable of writing down the instrumentation of some extracts for
immediate concert purposes from the Meistersinger, which was now
complete. I sent the prelude to Weisheimer at once to be copied at
Leipzig, and also set the Versammlung dor Meistersinger and Pogner's
Anrede for orchestra.

By the end of October I was at last ready to start on my journey to
Leipzig, in the course of which I was induced in a strange way to enter
the Wartburg once more. I had alighted for a few minutes at Eisenach,
and the train had just begun to move as I was hurriedly trying to catch
it. I ran after the vanishing train involuntarily with a sharp cry to
the guard, but naturally without being able to stop it. A considerable
crowd, which had gathered on the station to watch the departure of a
prince, thereupon broke into loud outbursts of laughter, and when I
said to them, 'I suppose you are glad that this happened to me?' they
replied, 'Yes, it was very funny.' On this incident I based my axiom
that you can please the German public by your misfortunes if by nothing
else. As there was no other train to Leipzig for five hours I
telegraphed to my brother-in-law, Hermann Brockhaus (whom I had asked
to put me up), telling him of my delay, and allowed a man who
introduced himself as a guide to persuade me to visit the Wartburg.
There I saw the partial restoration made by the Grand Duke, and also
the hall containing Schwind's pictures, to all of which I was quite
indifferent. I then turned into the restaurant of this show-place of
Eisenach, and found several women there engaged in knitting stockings.
The Grand Duke of Weimar assured me some time afterwards that
Tannhauser enjoyed great popularity throughout the whole of Thuringia
down to the lowest peasant boy, but neither the host nor my guide
seemed to know anything about it. However, I signed the visitors' book
with my full name, and described in it the pleasant greeting I had
received at the station, though I have never heard that any one noticed

Hermann Brockhaus, who had aged rather and grown stout, gave me a most
cheerful reception when I arrived, late at night, at Leipzig. He took
me to his house, where I found Ottilie and her family, and was
installed in comfort. We had much to talk about, and my
brother-in-law's remarkably good-natured way of entering into our
conversation often kept us up fascinated until all hours of the
morning. My connection with Weisheimer, a young and quite unknown
composer, aroused some misgivings. His concert programme was in fact
filled with a great number of his own compositions, including a
symphonic poem, just completed, entitled Der Ritter Toggenburg. I
should probably have raised a protest against carrying out this
programme in its entirety had I attended the rehearsals in an
undisturbed frame of mind, but it so happened that the hours I spent in
the concert-room proved to be among the most intimate and pleasant
recollections of my life, for there I met the Bulows again. Hans seemed
to have felt it his duty to join me in celebrating Weisheimer's debut,
his contribution being a new pianoforte concerto by Liszt. To enter the
old familiar hall of the Gewandhaus at Leipzig was enough in itself to
cause me an uneasy feeling of depression, which was increased by my
reception by the members of the orchestra--of whose estrangement I was
keenly conscious--and to whom I had to introduce myself as an entire
stranger. But I felt myself suddenly transported when I discovered
Cosima sitting in a corner of the hall, in deep mourning and very pale,
but smiling cheerfully at me. She had returned shortly before from
Paris--where her grandmother now lay hopelessly bedridden--filled with
grief at the inexplicably sudden death of her sister, and she now
seemed, even to my eyes, to be leaving another world to approach me.
Our emotions were so genuinely deep and sincere that only an
unconditional surrender to the enjoyment of meeting again could bridge
the chasm. All the incidents of the rehearsal affected us like a
magic-lantern show of peculiarly enlivening character, at which we
looked on like merry children. Hans, who was in an equally happy
mood--for we all seemed to each other to be embarked on some Quixotic
adventure--called my attention to Brendel, who was sitting not far from
us, and seemed to be expecting me to recognise him. I found it
entertaining to prolong this suspense thus occasioned, by pretending
not to know him, whereat, as it appears, the poor man was much
offended. Recalling my unjust behaviour on this occasion, I therefore
made a point of alluding specially to Brendel's services when speaking
in public some time afterwards on Judaism in Music, by way of
atonement, as it were, to this man, who had died in the meantime. The
arrival of Alexander Ritter with my niece Franziska helped to enliven
us. My niece, indeed, found constant entertainment and excitement in
the enormity of Weisheimer's compositions, while Ritter, who was
acquainted with the text of my Meistersinger, described a highly
unintelligible melody given to the basses in Ritter Toggenburg as 'the
lonely gormandiser mode.' [Footnote: Meistersinger (English version),
Act 1, scene ii.] Our good-humour might have failed us in the end,
however, had we not been refreshed and uplifted by the happy effect
which the prelude to the Meistersinger (which had at last been
successfully rehearsed) and Bulow's glorious rendering of Liszt's new
work produced. The actual concert itself gave a final ghostly touch to
an adventure to which we had looked forward so contentedly till then.
To Weisheimer's horror the Leipzig public stayed away en masse, in
response apparently to a sign from the leaders of the regular
subscription concerts. I have never seen any place so empty on an
occasion of this sort; besides the members of my family--among whom my
sister Ottilie was conspicuous in a very eccentric cap--there was no
one to be seen but a few visitors, who had come into town for the
occasion, occupying one or two benches. I noticed in particular my
Weimar friends, Conductor Lassen, Councillor Franz Muller, the
never-failing Richard Pohl, and Justizrath Gille, who had all nobly put
in an appearance. I also recognised with a shock of surprise old
Councillor Kustner, the former manager of the Court Theatre in Berlin,
and I had to respond amiably to his greeting and his astonishment at
the incomprehensible emptiness of the hall. The people of Leipzig were
represented solely by special friends of my family, who never went to a
concert in the ordinary way, among them being my devoted friend, Dr.
Lothar Muller, the son of Dr. Moritz Muller, an allopath whom I had
known very well in my earliest youth. In the middle of the hall there
were only the concert-giver's fiancee and her mother. At a little
distance away, and facing this lady, I took a seat next to Cosima while
the concert was in progress. My family, observing us from a distance,
were offended by the almost incessant laughter which possessed us, as
they themselves were in the depths of depression.

As regards the prelude to the Meistersinger, its successful performance
affected the few friends who formed the audience so favourably that we
had to repeat it there and then--to the satisfaction even of the
orchestra. Indeed, their artificially nurtured distrust of me, which
had been like a coating of ice, now seemed to have melted, for when I
brought the concert to a close with the Tannhauser Overture the
orchestra celebrated my recall with a tremendous flourish of
instruments. This delighted my sister Ottilie beyond measure, as she
maintained that such an honour had never been accorded before except to
Jenny Lind. My friend Weisheimer, who had really tired every one's
patience in the most inconsiderate way, afterwards developed a feeling
of dissatisfaction towards me which dated from this period. He felt
bound to confess to himself that he would have done much better without
my brilliant orchestral pieces, in which case he might have offered the
public a concert at a cheaper rate, consisting exclusively of his own
works. As it was, he had to bear the costs--to his father's great
disappointment--and also to overcome the unnecessary humiliation of
being unable to give me any profits.

My brother-in-law was not to be deterred by these painful impressions
from carrying out the household festivities, which had been arranged
beforehand in celebration of my expected triumphs. The Bulows were also
invited to one of the banquets, and there was an evening party at which
I read the Meistersinger to an imposing array of professors, and met
with much appreciation. I renewed my acquaintance with Professor Weiss,
too, who interested me very much, for I remembered him from my young
days as a friend of my uncle's. He expressed himself as particularly
surprised by my skill in reading aloud.

The Bulows had now unfortunately returned to Berlin. We had met once
more on a very cold day in the street (under unpleasant conditions, for
they were paying duty calls), but the general depression which had
settled on us seemed more noticeable, during our short leave-taking,
than the fleeting good-humour of the last few days. My friends were
well aware of the terrible and utterly forlorn condition in which I
found myself. I had been idiotic enough to count on the proceeds from
the Leipzig concert to provide at least the needs of the moment, and I
was, in the first place, put into the awkward position of being unable
to pay my landlord punctually (the house rent at Biebrich being now
due). But I was ready to stake everything on keeping this asylum for
another year, and I had to deal with an obstinate, bad-tempered
creature whom I thought it necessary to pay in advance for the sake of
securing the place. As I had just then to supply Minna with her
quarterly allowance also, the money which Regierungsrath Muller
forwarded to me from the Grand Duke seemed, indeed, a heaven-sent
windfall. For after giving up Schott entirely I had, in my distress,
turned to this old acquaintance and begged him to explain my situation
to the Grand Duke and induce him to send me some help--to be regarded
possibly as payment in advance for my new operas. In response to this I
received the startling and unexpected sum of fifteen hundred marks
through Muller's instrumentality. It was not until some time after that
I accounted for this generosity by the supposition that the Grand
Duke's amiable behaviour towards me had been a deliberate attempt to
make an impression upon his friend Liszt, whom he wished to entice back
to Weimar at all costs. He was certainly not mistaken in counting on
the excellent effect his binding generosity to me would have on our
common friend.

I was therefore in a position to go to Dresden for a few days at once,
to renew my provision for Minna, and at the same time to honour her
with one of the visits deemed necessary to support her in her difficult
situation. Minna conducted me from the station to the flat which she
had taken and furnished in Walpurgisstrasse, a street which had not
been built at the time I left Dresden. She had as usual arranged her
home very tastefully, and with the aim evidently of making me
comfortable. I was greeted on the threshold by a little mat embroidered
with the word Salve, and I recognised our Paris drawing-room at once in
the red silk curtains and the furniture. I was to have a majestic
bedroom, an exceedingly comfortable study on the other side, as well as
the drawing-room at my entire disposal, while she installed herself in
one little room with recesses looking on to the yard. The study was
adorned by the magnificent mahogany bureau which had originally been
made for my house when I was conductor at Dresden. It had been bought
in by the Ritter family, after my flight from that city, and presented
to Kummer, the son-in-law, from whom Minna had hired it temporarily,
leaving me the option of buying it back for one hundred and eighty
marks. As I showed no desire to do so her mood became gloomier.
Oppressed by the fearful embarrassment which she experienced on being
alone with me, she had invited my sister Clara to come on a visit from
Chemnitz, and was now sharing the small room at her disposal with Her.
Clara proved herself extraordinarily wise and sympathetic on this as on
former occasions. She pitied Minna of course, and was anxious to help
her at this difficult period, though always with a view to
strengthening her in the conviction that our parting was unavoidable.
An exact knowledge of my extremely awkward position now seemed called
for. My financial difficulties were so crushing that the only excuse
for telling Minna was to silence her uneasy suspicions about me. I did,
however, succeed in avoiding all explanations with her--the more easily
as my meetings with Fritz Brockhaus and his family (including the
married daughter Clara Kessinger), the Pusinellis, old Heine, and
lastly the two Schnorrs, provided a pretext for our spending most of
the time in the society of others.

I filled the mornings by making calls, and it was when I set out to pay
my respects and thanks to Minister Bar for my amnesty that I trod the
familiar streets of Dresden again. My first impression was one of
extraordinary boredom and emptiness, for I had last seen them filled
with barricades, in which fantastic condition they had looked so
unusually interesting. I did not see a single familiar face on the way.
Even the glover, whom I had always patronised and whose shop I now had
occasion to revisit, did not seem to know me, until an oldish man
rushed across the street to me and greeted me with great excitement and
tears in his eyes. It turned out to be Karl Kummer of the court
orchestra (looking much older), the most inspired oboist I ever met. I
had taken him almost tenderly to my heart on account of his playing,
and we embraced joyfully. I asked whether he still played his
instrument as beautifully as before, whereupon he assured me that since
I had left his oboe had failed to give real satisfaction, and it was
now a long time since he had had himself pensioned off. He told me in
response to my inquiries that all my old military bandsmen--including
Dietz, the tall double-bass player--were either dead or pensioned off.
Our manager Luttichau and Conductor Reissiger were among those who had
died, Lipinsky had returned to Poland long before, Schubert, the
leader, was unfit for work, and everything seemed to me sad and
strange. Minister Bar expressed to me the grave qualms he still felt
about the amnesty granted me. True, he had ventured to sign it himself,
but was still troubled to think that my great popularity as a composer
of opera would make it easy for me to raise annoying demonstrations. I
comforted him at once by promising only to remain a few days and to
refrain from visiting the theatre, upon which he dismissed me with a
deep sigh and an exceedingly grave face.

Very different was my reception from Herr von Beust, who with smiling
elegance of manner implied by his conversation that I was perhaps not
so innocent after all as I now seemed to think myself. He drew my
attention to a letter of mine which had been found in Rockel's pocket,
at the time. This was new to me, and I willingly gave him to understand
that I felt myself bound to look on the amnesty accorded me as a pardon
for my incautious behaviour in the past, and we parted with the
liveliest manifestations of friendship.

We invited some friends one evening in Minna's drawing-room, where I
read out the Meistersinger once more to the people who did not know it.
After Minna had been provided with enough money to last some time, she
accompanied me back to the station on the fourth day; but she was
filled with such fearful presentiments of never seeing me again that
her farewell was made in positive anguish.

At Leipzig I put up at an inn for one day. There I met Alexander
Ritter, and we spent a pleasant evening together over our punch. The
reason that had induced me to make this short stay was the assurance
given me that if I gave a concert of my own it would not be one of the
regular series. I had weighed this information with reference to the
much-needed money it might bring in, but I now realised that the
undertaking rested on no security. I returned in haste to Biebrich,
where I had to get my household affairs into order. To my great
annoyance I found my landlord in a more impossible temper than ever. He
seemed unable to forget my having blamed him for his treatment of the
dog, and also of my servant, whom I had been obliged to protect against
him when she had had a love-affair with a tailor. In spite of receiving
payment and promises he remained peevish, and insisted that he would
have to move into my part of the house on account of his health in the
coming spring. So while I forced him, by paying advance, to leave my
household goods untouched until Easter at least, I went about trying to
find a suitable house for the following year, visiting various places
in the Rheingau under the guidance of Dr. Schuler and Mathilde Maier. I
had no success, however, the time being so short, but my friends
promised to search untiringly for what I wanted.

At Mayence I met Friederike Meyer again. Her situation in Frankfort
seemed to have grown more and more difficult. When she heard that I had
turned away Herr von Guaita's manager, who had been sent to Biebrich
with instructions to pay me fifteen louis d'or for conducting
Lohengrin, she upheld my action strongly. As for herself, she had
broken with that gentleman entirely, insisting on being released from
her contract, and was now about to enter upon a special engagement at
the Burgtheater. She won my sympathy once more by her conduct and
determination, which I had to consider as a powerful refutation of the
calumnies brought up against her. As I too was in the act of starting
for Vienna, she was glad to be able to make part of the journey in my
company. She proposed to stop a day at Nuremberg, where I could pick
her up for the next stage of the journey. This we did and arrived in
Vienna together, where my friend went to Hotel Munsch, while I chose
the Kaiserin Elizabeth, where I now felt at home. This was on the 15th
of November. I went to see Conductor Esser at once, and heard from him
that Tristan was really being studied vigorously. With Frau Dustmann,
on the other hand, I became immediately involved in very unpleasant
disagreements through my relation to her sister Friederike, which it
was easy to misunderstand. It was impossible to make her see how things
really stood. In her eyes her sister was involved in a liaison, and had
been cast off by her family, so that her arrival in Vienna was
compromising to them. In addition to this Friederike's own condition
soon caused me the greatest anxiety. She had made an engagement to
appear three times at the Burgtheater without considering that just
then she was not likely to make a good appearance on the stage,
particularly before the Viennese public. Her serious illness, the
recovery from which had been attended by the most exciting
circumstances, had disfigured her and made her very thin. She had also
gone almost entirely bald, but nevertheless persisted in her great
objection to wearing a wig. Her sister's hostility had estranged her
colleagues at the theatre, and as a result of all this, and also on
account of her unfortunate choice of a role, her appearance was a
failure. There could be no question of her being taken on at that
theatre. Although her weakness increased, and she suffered from
constant insomnia, she still tried, in her magnanimity and her shame,
to hide from me the awkwardness of her situation. She went to a cheaper
inn, the 'Stadt Frankfurt,' where she intended to wait and see the
result of sparing her nerves as far as possible. She seemed to be in no
embarrassment as far as money was concerned, but at my request
consulted Standhartner, who did not seem to know how to help her much.
As open-air exercise had been strongly recommended, and as the weather
was at present bitterly cold (from the end of November to the beginning
of December), I hit on the idea of advising her to go to Venice for a
prolonged stay. Once again there seemed no lack of means, and she
followed my advice. One icy morning I accompanied her to the station,
and there for the present I left her, as I hoped, to a kinder fate. She
had a faithful maid with her, and I soon had the satisfaction of
receiving reassuring accounts--of her health especially--from Venice.

While my relations with her had brought me troublesome complications, I
still kept up my old Viennese acquaintances. A curious incident
occurred at the very beginning of my visit. I had to read the
Meistersinger aloud to the Standhartner family, as I had done
everywhere else. As Dr. Hanslick was now supposed to be well disposed
towards me, it was considered the right thing to invite him too. We
noticed that as the reading proceeded the dangerous critic became more
and more pale and depressed, and it was remarked by everyone that it
was impossible to persuade him to stay on at the close, but that he
took his leave there and then in an unmistakably vexed manner. My
friends all agreed in thinking that Hanslick looked on the whole
libretto as a lampoon aimed at himself, and had felt an invitation to
the reading to be an insult. And undoubtedly the critic's attitude
towards me underwent a very remarkable change from that evening. He
became uncompromisingly hostile, with results that were obvious to us
at once.

Cornelius and Tausig had again been to see me, but I had to work off my
resentment against them both for the fit of real ill-humour their
behaviour had caused me in the previous summer. This had happened when
I expected the Bulows and the Schnorrs to stay with me together at
Biebrich, and my warm interest in these two young friends, Cornelius
and Tausig, led me to invite them too. I received Cornelius's
acceptance immediately, and was the more surprised to get a letter from
Geneva, whither Tausig (who appeared to have funds at his disposal all
of a sudden) had carried him off on a summer excursion--no doubt of a
more important and pleasanter nature. Without the least mention of any
regret at not being able to meet me that summer, they simply announced
to me that 'a glorious cigar had just been smoked to my health.' And
now, when I met them again in Vienna, I found it impossible to refrain
from pointing out to them the insulting nature of their behaviour; but
they seemed unable to understand how I could object to their preferring
the beautiful tour into French Switzerland to paying me a visit at
Biebrich. I was obviously a tyrant to them. Besides this, I thought
Tausig's curious conduct at my hotel suspicious. I was told that he
took his meals in the downstairs restaurant, after which he climbed up
past my floor to the fourth storey, to pay long visits to Countess
Krockow. When I asked him about it, and learned that the lady in
question was also a friend of Cosima's, I expressed my surprise at his
not introducing me. He continued to evade this suggestion with
singularly vague phrases, and when I ventured to tease him by the
supposition of a love-affair, he said there could be no question of
such a thing, as the lady was old. So I let him alone, but the
amazement which his peculiar behaviour then caused me was intensified
some years later when I at last learned to know Countess Krockow very
well, and was assured of her deep interest in me. It seemed that she
had desired nothing more than to make my acquaintance also at that
time, but that Tausig had always refused to find an opportunity, and
had made the excuse that I did not care about women's society.

But we eventually resumed our lively and sociable habits when I began
seriously to carry out my project of giving concerts in Vienna.
Although the piano rehearsals for the principal solo parts of Tristan
had been put in hand diligently--I had left them to Conductor Esser,
who took them zealously in hand--my mistrust as to the real success of
these studies was unshaken, and the point which I doubted most was not
so much the capabilities of the singers as their goodwill. Moreover,
Frau Dustmann's absurd behaviour disgusted me on my frequent attendance
at the rehearsals. On the other hand, I now set my hopes on making a
good impression, on the score of novelty alone, by performing
selections from my own works still unknown to the Viennese public. In
this way I could show my secret enemies that there were other means
open to me of bringing my more recent compositions before the public
than by the medium of the stage, where they could so easily stop me.
For all the practical details of the performance Tausig now proved
himself particularly useful. We agreed to hire the Theatre on the Wien
for three evenings, the idea being to give one concert at the end of
December and to repeat the experiment twice after a week's interval.
The first thing was to copy out the orchestral parts from the sections
which I cut out from my scores for the concert. There were two
selections from Rheingold and two from the Walkure and the
Meistersinger, but I kept back the prelude to Tristan for the present,
so as not to clash with the performance of the whole work at the Opera
which was still being advertised. Cornelius and Tausig, with some
assistant copyists, now started on the work, which could only be
carried out by experienced score-readers if it was to be done
correctly. They were joined by Weisheimer, who had arrived in Vienna,
having in the end decided to come to the concert. Tausig also mentioned
Brahms to me, recommending him as a 'very good fellow,' who, although
he was so famous himself, would willingly take over a part of their
work, and a selection from the Meistersinger was accordingly allotted
to him. And, indeed, Brahms's behaviour proved unassuming and
good-natured, but he showed little vivacity and was often hardly
noticed at our gatherings. I also came across Friedrich Uhl again, an
old acquaintance who was now editing a political paper called Der
Botschafter with Julius Frobel under Schmerling's auspices. He placed
his journal at my disposal, and made me give him the first act of the
libretto of Meistersinger for his feuilleton. Whereupon my friends
chose to think that Hanslick grew more and more venomous.

While I and my companions were overwhelmed by the preparations for the
concert, there came in one day a certain Herr Moritz, whom Bulow had
introduced to me in Paris as a ridiculous person. His clumsy and
importunate behaviour and the idiotic messages--evidently of his own
invention--which he brought me from Bulow drove me in the end to show
him the door with great emphasis, for I too was carried away by
Tausig's lively annoyance at this very officious intruder. He reported
on this to Cosima in a manner so insulting to Bulow that she in return
found it necessary to express to me in writing her intense indignation
at my inconsiderate behaviour towards my best friends. I was really so
surprised and dumbfounded by this strange and inexplicable event that I
handed Cosima's letter to Tausig without comment, merely asking him.
what could be done in the face of such nonsense. He at once undertook
to show Cosima the incident in a correct light and clear up the
misunderstanding, and I soon had the pleasure of hearing that he had
met with success.

We had now come to the point of rehearsing for the concert. The Royal
Opera had supplied me with the singers needed for the selections from
Rheingold, the Walkure, and Siegfried ('Schmiede-Lieder'), and also for
Pogner's Anrede from the Meistersinger. I had only to fall back on
amateurs for the three Rhine maidens. The concert director
Hellmesberger was a great help to me in this matter as in every other
way, and his fine playing and enthusiastic demonstrations when leading
the orchestra never failed in any circumstances. After the deafening
preliminary rehearsals in a small music-room in the opera house, which
had perplexed Cornelius by the great noise they made, we arrived at the
stage itself. In addition to the expense of hiring the place, I had to
bear the cost of the requisite extension of the orchestra. The room,
which was lined all round with theatrical scenery, was still
extraordinarily unfavourable for sound. I hardly felt like running the
risk of providing an acoustic wall and ceiling on my own account,
however. Although the first performance on 26th December drew a large
audience, it brought me in nothing but outrageously heavy expenses and
great distress at the dismal effect of the orchestra owing to the bad
acoustics. In spite of the dark outlook I decided to bear the cost of
building a sound-screen, in order to enhance the effect of the two
following concerts, when I flattered myself I might count on the
success of the efforts that were being made to arouse interest in the
highest circles.

My friend Prince Liechtenstein thought this was by no means impossible,
and believed he might manage to interest the Imperial Court through
Countess Zamoiska, one of the ladies-in-waiting, and he one day
accompanied me through the interminable corridors of the Imperial
Castle on a visit to this lady. I afterwards learned that Mme. Kalergis
had also been at work here on my behalf, but she had apparently only
succeeded in winning over the young Empress, for she alone was present
at the performance, and without any retinue. But at the second concert
I had to endure all kinds of disillusionment. In spite of all warnings
to the contrary, I had fixed it for the New Year's Day of 1863. The
hall was exceedingly badly filled, and my sole satisfaction was to know
that by improving the acoustic properties of the place the orchestra
sounded extremely well. In consequence of this the reception of the
various pieces was so favourable that at the third concert, on 8th
January, I was able to perform before an overflowing house, and thus
obtained very gratifying testimony to the fine musical taste of the
Viennese public. The by no means startling prelude to Pogner's Anrede
from the Meistersinger was enthusiastically encored, in spite of the
fact that the singer had already risen to his feet for the next part.
At this moment I chanced to see in one of the boxes a most comforting
omen for my present position; for I recognised Mme. Kalergis, who had
just arrived for a prolonged stay in Vienna, to which I fondly imagined
she was prompted by some idea of helping me here also. As she too was
on friendly terms with Standhartner, she at once entered into
consultation with him as to how I could be helped out of the critical
situation in which I was once more placed by the expenses of my
concerts. She confessed to our mutual friend that she had no means at
her disposal, and would only be able to meet our extraordinary
expenditure by contracting fresh debts. It was therefore necessary to
secure wealthier patrons, among whom she mentioned Baroness von
Stockhausen, the wife of the Hanoverian ambassador. This lady, who was
a great friend of Standhartner's, was most kind to me, and won me the
sympathy of Lady Bloomfield and her husband, the English ambassador. A
soiree was given in the house of the latter, and at Frau von
Stockhausen's there were also several evening assemblies. One day
Standhartner brought me a thousand marks as an instalment towards my
expenses, saying that they came from an anonymous donor. Meanwhile Mme.
Kalergis had managed to procure two thousand marks, which were also
placed at my disposal, through Standhartner, for further needs. But all
her efforts to interest the court on my behalf remained entirely
fruitless, in spite of her intimacy with Countess Zamoiska; for
unfortunately a member of that Konneritz family from Saxony, which was
everywhere turning up for my discomfiture, had now appeared as
ambassador here also. He succeeded in suppressing any inclination the
all-powerful Archduchess Sophie might have had towards me, by
pretending that during his time I had burnt down the King of Saxony's

But my patroness, undaunted still, endeavoured to helpme in every
conceivable way demanded by my necessities. In order to gratify my most
earnest longing for a peaceful home where I could stay for a while, she
managed to secure the house of the English attache, a son of the famous
Bulwer Lytton, who had been called away, but was keeping up his
establishment for some time longer. Thus through her I was introduced
to this exceedingly amiable young man. I dined with him one evening,
together with Cornelius and Mme. Kalergis, and after dinner began to
read them my Gotterdammerung. I did not seem to have secured a very
attentive audience, however, and when I noticed this I stopped and
withdrew with Cornelius. We found it very cold as we went home, and
Bulwer's rooms seem also to have been insufficiently heated, so that we
took refuge in a restaurant to drink a glass of hot punch. The incident
has remained fixed in my memory because here for the first time I saw
Cornelius in an ungovernably eccentric humour. While we thus took our
pleasure, Mine. Kalergis used her influence--so I was afterwards
informed--as an exceedingly powerful and irresistible female advocate
to inspire Bulwer with a definite interest in my fate. In this she so
far succeeded, that he unconditionally placed his house at my disposal
for nine mouths. On considering the matter more deeply, however, I did
not see what advantage this would be to me, seeing that I had no
further prospect of earning any income in Vienna for my sustenance.

On the other hand, my plans were decided for me by an offer which
reached me from St. Petersburg to conduct two concerts there in the
month of March for the Philharmonic Society for a fee of two thousand
silver roubles. For this also I had to thank Mme. Kalergis, who
urgently counselled me to accept the invitation, holding out at the
same time a prospect of further increasing my receipts by giving an
additional concert on my own account, from which very important
material results might be expected. The only thing which could have
induced me to decline this invitation would have been an assurance that
my Tristan would be staged in Vienna during the next few months; but a
fresh indisposition on the part of the tenor Ander had once more
brought our preparations to a standstill, and moreover I had completely
lost all faith in those promises which had lured me again to Vienna. To
this the effect of my visit to the minister Schmerling immediately on
my return to Vienna had certainly contributed. This man had been much
astonished at my referring to a recommendation by Prince Metternich,
for the latter, so the minister declared, had never spoken a word to
him about me. Nevertheless, he very politely assured me that it needed
no such recommendation to interest him in a man of my merit. When,
therefore, I mentioned the idea suggested by Prince Metternich's
kindness that the Emperor might assign me some special position in
Vienna, he hastened at once to inform me that he was completely
powerless to influence any of the Emperor's decisions. This admission
on the part of Herr von Schmerling certainly helped to explain Prince
Metternich's behaviour, and I concluded that the latter had preferred
an attempt to win the Chief Chamberlain for a serious revival of
Tristan to a fruitless effort with the minister.

As these prospects were therefore thrust into the uncertain future, I
now agreed to the St. Petersburg proposal, but first of all sought
about for means to provide the necessary funds. For these I relied on a
concert which Heinrich Porges had already arranged for me in Prague.
Consequently early in February I set out for that city, and had every
reason to be satisfied with my reception there. Young Forges, an
out-and-out partisan of Liszt and myself, pleased me greatly, not only
personally, but by his obvious enthusiasm. The concert took place at
the hall on the Sophia Island, and was crowned with great success.
Besides one of Beethoven's symphonies, several selections from my newer
works were given, and when next day Porges paid me about two thousand
marks, with the reservation of a few smaller supplementary payments, I
laughingly assured him that this was the first money I had ever earned
by my own exertions. He also gave me some very pleasant introductions
to several exceedingly devoted and intelligent young people, belonging
both to the German and Czech parties, and among them to a teacher of
mathematics called Lieblein, and an author whose name was Musiol. It
was with a certain pathetic interest that, after so many years, I here
discovered a friend of my earliest youth, named Marie Lowe, who had
given up singing and taken to the harp instead, and was now engaged to
play this instrument in the orchestra, in which capacity she assisted
at my concert. On the occasion of the first performance of Tannhauser
in Prague, she had sent me a most enthusiastic report about it. Her
admiration was now intensified, and for many years afterwards she
remained tenderly attached to me. Well satisfied then, and filled with
newly awakened hope. I hurried back to Vienna again in order to put the
arrangement for Tristan on as firm a basis as possible. It was found
feasible to arrange another pianoforte rehearsal in my presence of the
two first acts, and I was astonished at the really passable performance
of the tenor, while from Frau Dustmann I could not withhold my
sincerest congratulations on her admirable execution of her difficult
part. It was therefore decided that my work should be produced a little
after Easter, which would fit in very well with the expected date of my
return from Russia.

The hope of being now able to count on earning a large income decided
me to revive my former idea of settling for good in the peace and quiet
of Biebrich. As there was still time before I had to start for Russia,
I returned to the Rhine to arrange matters there as rapidly as
possible. Once more I lodged in Frickhofer's house, and in the company
of Mathilde Maier and her friend Luise Wagner once more hunted through
the Rheingau in search of a suitable house. Not finding what I wanted,
I finally entered into treaty with Frickhofer for the erection of a
small cottage on a plot of land I proposed to buy near his villa. Dr.
Schuler, the man who had been introduced to me by young Stadl, was to
take the matter in hand, as he had both legal and business experience.
Estimates were prepared, and it now depended entirely on the amount of
my Russian receipts as to whether the undertaking could be begun in the
following spring or not. As in any case I had to give up my rooms in
Frickhofer's house at Easter, I removed all my furniture and sent it
packed to the furniture-dealer in Wiesbaden, to whom I was still
indebted for the greater part of it.

Thus in the best of spirits I went first to Berlin, where I called at
once on Bulow. Cosima, who was expecting an early confinement, seemed
delighted to see me again, and insisted on accompanying me at once to
the music-school, where we should find Hans. I entered a long room, at
one end of which Bulow was giving a music-lesson. As I stood for some
time in silence in the doorway, he gave an exclamation of anger at
being disturbed, only to burst out into joyful laughter on recognising
who it was. Our midday meal together was lively, and in excellent
humour I set out with Cosima alone for a drive in a fine carriage
(belonging to the Hotel de Russie), whose grey satin lining and
cushions provided us with endless fun. Bulow seemed troubled that I
should see his wife in a condition of advanced pregnancy, as I had once
expressed my aversion from such a sight when speaking of another woman
of our acquaintance. It put us into a good-humour to be able to set his
mind at rest in this case, for nothing could possibly put me out of
sympathy with Cosima. So, sharing my hopes and heartily rejoicing in
the turn of my fortune, these two friends accompanied me to the
Konigsburg railway station and saw me off on my long night journey.

In Konigsburg I had to wait half a day and a night. As I had no desire
to revisit my haunts in a place which had once been so fatal to me, I
spent the time quietly in the room of an hotel, the position of which I
did not even try to fix, and early in the morning continued my journey
towards the Russian frontier. With certain uneasy memories of my former
illegal passage of this frontier, I carefully scanned the faces of my
fellow-passengers during the long hours of travel. Among these I was
especially struck by one, a Livland nobleman of German descent, who, in
the haughtiest German Tory tone, proclaimed his disgust at the Tsar's
emancipation of the serfs. He wished me clearly to understand that any
efforts on the part of the Russians to obtain their freedom would
receive but scant support from the German nobles settled in their
midst. But as we approached St. Petersburg I was genuinely frightened
to find our train suddenly stopped and examined by the police. They
were apparently searching for various persons suspected of complicity
in the latest Polish insurrection, which had just broken out. Not far
from the capital itself the empty seats in our carriage were filled by
several people, whose high Russian fur caps aroused my suspicions,
which were not allayed by the attention which their wearers bestowed
upon me in particular. But suddenly the face of one of them brightened
up, and he impulsively turned towards me and saluted me as the man whom
he and several other musicians of the Imperial orchestra had come out
on purpose to meet. They were all Germans, and on our arrival at the
St. Petersburg railway station they joyfully introduced me to a further
large contingent from the orchestra, headed by the committee of the
Philharmonic Society. I had been recommended to a German boarding-house
on the Newsky Prospect as a suitable residence. There I was very
graciously and flatteringly received by Frau Kunst, the wife of a
German merchant, in a drawing-room whose windows commanded a view of
the wide and busy street, and where I was very well served. I dined in
common with the other boarders and visitors, and often invited
Alexander Seroff, whom I had formerly known in Lucerne, to be my guest
at table. He had called on me immediately on my arrival, and I learned
that he held a very poor appointment as censor of German newspapers.
His person bore signs of much neglect and ill-health, and proved that
he had had a hard struggle for existence; but he speedily won my
respect by the great independence and truthfulness of his opinions,
whereby, combined with an excellent understanding, I soon learned that
he had won himself a reputation as a most influential and much-dreaded
critic. I appreciated this better later on when advances were made to
me from high quarters to use my influence with Seroff to assuage the
bitterness of his persecution of Anton Rubinstein, who just at that
time was being somewhat offensively patronised. On my mentioning the
matter to him, he explained his reasons for believing Rubinstein's
influence in Russia to be pernicious, whereupon I begged him, for my
sake at least, to hold his hand a little, as I did not wish, during my
brief stay in St. Petersburg, to pose as Rubinstein's rival. To this he
replied with all the violence of a sickly man, 'I hate him, and cannot
make any concessions.' With me, on the contrary, he entered into the
most intimate understanding, as he had so perfect an appreciation of me
and my art that our intercourse became almost one of mere pleasantry,
for on all serious points we were in entire agreement. Nothing could
equal the care with which he sought to help me at every opportunity. He
provided the necessary translation into Russian, both of the songs
contained in the selections taken from my operas and of my explanatory
programme for the concerts. He also displayed the utmost judgment in
choosing the most suitable singers for me, and for this he appeared to
find abundant recompense in attending the rehearsals and performances.
His radiant face beamed everywhere upon me with encouragement and fresh
inspiration. I was eminently satisfied with the orchestra which I
managed to gather around me in the large and handsome hall of the
Society of Nobles. It contained one hundred and twenty picked players
from the Imperial orchestras, who were for the most part excellent
musicians, usually employed in accompanying Italian opera and ballets.
They now seemed delighted to be allowed to breathe more freely in thus
occupying themselves with nobler music under a method of conducting
which I had made peculiarly my own.

After the great success of my first concert advances were made to me
from those circles to which, as I could very well understand, I had
been secretly but influentially recommended by Mme. Kalergis. With
great circumspection my unseen protectress had prepared the way for my
presentation to the Grand Duchess Helene. I was instructed, in the
first place, to make use of a recommendation from Standhartner to Dr.
Arneth, the Grand Duchess's private physician, whom he had known in
Vienna, in order through him to be introduced to Fraulein von Rhaden,
her most confidential lady-in-waiting. I should have been well content
with the acquaintance of this lady alone, for in her I learned to know
a woman of wide culture, great intelligence, and noble bearing, whose
ever-growing interest in me I perceived to be mingled with a certain
timidity, apparently concerned chiefly with the Grand Duchess. She gave
me the impression that she felt something more important ought to
happen for me than, from the spirit and character of her mistress, she
could expect. I was, however, not taken to pay my respects to the Grand
Duchess at once, but received first of all an invitation to an evening
party in the apartments of the lady-in-waiting, at which, among others,
the Grand Duchess herself was to be present. Here Anton Rubinstein did
the musical honours, and after the hostess had introduced me to him,
she ventured to present me to the Grand Duchess herself. The ceremony
went off fairly well, and, as a result, I shortly afterwards received a
direct invitation to a friendly evening tea-party at the Grand
Duchess's house. Here, in addition to Fraulein von Rhaden, I met the
lady next to her in rank, Fraulein von Stahl, as well as a genial old
gentleman, who was introduced to me as General von Brebern, for many
years one of the Grand Duchess's closest friends. Fraulein von Rhaden
appeared to have made extraordinary efforts on my behalf, which for the
present resulted in the Grand Duchess expressing a wish that I should
make her better acquainted with the text of my Nibelungen Ring. As I
had no copy of the work with me, although Weber of Leipzig ought by
this time to have finished printing it, they insisted that I should at
once telegraph to him in Leipzig to send the finished sheets with the
utmost despatch to the Grand Duchess's address. Meanwhile my patrons
had to be content with hearing me read the Meistersinger. To this
reading the Grand Duchess Marie was also induced to come--a very
stately and still beautiful daughter of the Tsar Nicholas, who was
notorious for the passion she had shown throughout her life. As to the
impression made upon this lady by my poem, Fraulein von Rhaden only
told me that she had been seriously alarmed lest Hans Sachs might end
by marrying Eva.

In the course of a few days the loose proof-sheets of my Nibelungen
work duly arrived, and the Grand Duchess's intimates met at four
tea-parties to hear me read it, and listened with sympathetic
attention. General von Brebern was present at them all, but only, as
Fraulein von Rhaden said, 'to blush like the rose' in profoundest
slumber, a habit which always afforded a subject for merriment to
Fraulein von Stahl, a very lively and beautiful woman, when each night
I accompanied the two court ladies from the spacious salons along
endless corridors and staircases to their distant apartments.

The only other person in the great world whom I learned to know here
was Count Wilohorsky, who occupied a high position of trust at the
Imperial court, and was chiefly esteemed as a patron of music, and
considered himself a distinguished violoncello-player. The old
gentleman appeared well disposed towards me, and altogether satisfied
with my musical performances. Indeed, he assured me that he had first
learned to understand Beethoven's Eighth Symphony (in F major) through
my interpretation. He also considered that he had fully grasped my
overture to the Meistersinger, and said the Grand Duchess Marie was
affected because she had found this piece incomprehensible, but had
expressed herself enraptured by the overture to Tristan, which he
himself only managed to understand by the exertion of all his musical
knowledge. When I told Seroff of this, he exclaimed enthusiastically,
'Ah, that beast of a Count! That woman knows what love is!'

The Count arranged a splendid dinner in my honour, at which both Anton
Rubinstein and Mme. Abaza were present. As I begged Rubinstein to play
something after dinner, Mme. Abaza insisted on singing his Persian
songs, which seemed greatly to annoy the composer, as he knew very well
that he had produced much finer work. Nevertheless both the composition
and its execution gave me a very favourable opinion of the talents of
both artists. Through this singer, who had originally had a
professional engagement in the Grand Duchess's household, and was now
married to a wealthy and cultured Russian gentleman of rank, I obtained
an entry into the house of M. Abaza, who received me with great
ceremony. About the same time a certain Baron Vittinghof had also made
himself known to me as an enthusiastic lover of music, and honoured me
with an invitation to his house, where I met once more with Ingeborg
Stark, the beautiful Swedish pianist and composer of sonatas, whom I
had formerly known in Paris. She amazed me by the impertinent outburst
of laughter with which she accompanied the performance of one of the
Baron's compositions. On the other hand, she assumed a more serious air
when she informed me that she was engaged to Hans von Bronsart.

Rubinstein, with whom I exchanged friendly visits, behaved very
creditably, although, as I had expected, he felt himself somewhat
injured by me. He told me that he was thinking of resigning his
position in St. Petersburg, as it had been made difficult by Seroff's
antagonism. It was also thought advisable to introduce me to the
commercial circles of St. Petersburg, with a view to my coming benefit
concert, and a visit was consequently arranged to a concert in the hall
of the Merchants' Guild. Here I was met on the staircase by a drunken
Russian, who announced himself as the conductor. With a small selection
of Imperial musicians and others, he conducted the overtures of
Rossini's Tell and Weber's Oberon, in which the kettledrums were
replaced by a small military drum, which produced a wonderful effect,
especially in the lovely transfiguration part of the Oberon Overture.

Although I was admirably equipped for my own concerts as far as the
orchestra was concerned, yet I had much trouble in procuring the
requisite singers. The soprano was very passably represented by Mlle.
Bianchi; but for the tenor parts I had to make shift with a M. Setoff,
who, although possessing plenty of courage, had very little voice. But
he managed to help me through the 'Schmiede-Lieder' in Siegfried, for
his presence at least gave an appearance of song, while the orchestra
alone undertookthe effective reality. On the conclusion of my two
concerts for the Philharmonic Society, I set seriously to work on my
own concert, which was to be held in the Imperial Opera House, in the
material arrangements for which I was helped by a retired musician.
This man often spent hours with Seroff in my well-heated rooms without
laying aside his enormous fur coat, and as his incapacity gave us a
great deal of trouble, we agreed that he was like 'the sheep in wolf's
clothing.' The concert, however, succeeded beyond all my expectations,
and I do not think I was ever so enthusiastically received by any
audience as on this occasion. Indeed, their greeting when I first
appeared was so loudly prolonged that I felt quite touched, a rare
occurrence with me. To this wild abandonment on the part of the
audience the ardent devotion of my orchestra naturally contributed, as
my one hundred and twenty musicians renewed the frantic acclamations
again and again, a procedure which appeared to be quite novel in St.
Petersburg. From some of them I heard such exclamations as, 'We must
admit we have never known what music is till now.'

Conductor Schuberth, who, with a certain amount of condescension, had
helped me with advice on business matters, now utilised this favourable
turn of affairs to ask for my co-operation at a concert to be given
shortly for his own benefit. Although I was fully aware that by this
means he reckoned on conjuring a handsome profit out of my pocket into
his own, yet on the advice of my friends I thought it best to comply
with his request, albeit much against the grain. So a week later I
repeated the most  popular items of my programme before an equally
numerous audience and with the same success, but this time the handsome
receipts of three thousand roubles were destined for an invalid man,
who as a retribution for this encroachment on my rights was suddenly
summoned to another world in the same year.

To balance this, I now had a prospect of further artistic and material
successes from a contract concluded with General Lwoff, the manager of
the Moscow theatre. I was to give three concerts in the Grand Theatre,
of which I was to have half the receipts, guaranteed in each case at a
minimum of one thousand roubles. I arrived there suffering from a cold,
miserable and ill at ease, in weather which was a mixture of frost and
thaw, and put up at a badly situated German boarding-house. My
preliminary arrangements were made with the manager, who, in spite of
the orders hanging from his neck, looked a very insignificant person,
and the difficult selection of the vocal items had to be arranged with
a Russian tenor and a superannuated Italian lady-singer. Having settled
these, I entered upon the task of orchestral rehearsals. It was here
that I first met the younger Rubinstein, Anton's brother Nicholas, who,
as director of the Russian Musical Society, was the leading authority
in his profession in Moscow; his demeanour towards me was characterised
throughout by modesty and consideration. The orchestra consisted of the
hundred musicians who provided the Imperial household with Italian
opera and ballet. It was, on the whole, far inferior to that of St.
Petersburg, yet among them I found a small number of excellent
quartette players, all devotedly attached to me. Among these was one of
my old Riga acquaintances, the 'cellist von Lutzau, who in those days
had a great reputation as a wag. But I was particularly pleased with a
certain Herr Albrecht, a violinist, a brother of the Albrecht who was
one of the party whose Russian fur caps had so scared me on my way to
St. Petersburg. But even these men could not dispel my feeling that in
dealing with this Moscow orchestra I had descended in the artistic
scale. I gave myself a great deal of trouble without deriving any
compensating satisfaction, and my bile was not a little stirred by the
Russian tenor, who came to rehearsal in a red shirt, to show his
patriotic aversion from my music, and sang the 'Schmiede-Lieder' of
Siegfried in the insipid style acquired from the Italians. On the very
morning of the first concert I was obliged, to cancel it, and declare
myself on the sick-list, with a bad, feverish cold. In the slush and
snow which inundated the streets of Moscow it seems to have been
impossible to announce this fact to the public, and I heard that angry
disturbances resulted when many splendid equipages arrived on a
fruitless errand and had to be turned away. After three days' rest I
insisted on giving the three concerts I had contracted for within six
days, an exertion to which I was spurred by a desire to have done with
an undertaking I felt was not worthy of me. Although the Grand Theatre
was filled on each occasion with a brilliant audience such as I had
never before seen, yet, according to the calculations of the Imperial
manager, the receipts did not exceed the amount of the guarantee. With
this, however, I was content, considering the magnificent reception
accorded to my efforts, and above all the fervid enthusiasm of the
orchestra, which was expressed here as it had been in St. Petersburg. A
deputation of members of the orchestra begged me to give a fourth
concert, and on my refusal, they tried to persuade me to remain for
another 'rehearsal,' but this too I was compelled to decline with a
smile. However, the orchestra honoured me with a banquet, at which,
after N. Rubinstein had made a very enthusiastic and appropriate
speech, which was greeted with hearty and tumultuous applause, one of
the company hoisted me on to his shoulders and carried me round the
hall; whereupon there was a great outcry, and every one wanted to
render me the same kindly service. I was presented on this occasion
with a gold snuff-box from the members of the orchestra, on which was
engraved the words 'Doch Einer kam,' from Siegmund's song in the
Walkure. I returned the compliment by presenting to the orchestra a
large photograph of myself, on which I wrote the words 'Keiner ging,'
from the same song.

In addition to these musical circles I also became acquainted with
Prince Odoiewsky, as the result of an introduction and strong
recommendation by Mme. Kalergis. She had told me that in the Prince I
should meet one of the noblest of men, who would fully understand me.
After a most arduous drive of many hours, I reached his modest
dwelling, and was received with patriarchal simplicity at his family
mid-day dinner, but I found it exceedingly difficult to convey to him
any particulars as to myself and my plans. With regard to any
impressions I might be expected to gather respecting himself, he seemed
to rely on the effect produced by the contemplation of a large
instrument resembling an organ, which he had had designed and erected
in one of his principal rooms. Unluckily there was no one there who
could play it; but I could not help thinking it must have been intended
for some specially devised form of divine worship, which he held there
on Sundays for the benefit of his household, relatives and
acquaintances. Ever mindful of my kindly patroness, I attempted to give
the genial Prince some idea of my position and my aspirations. With
apparent emotion he exclaimed, 'J'ai ce qu'il vous faut; parlez a
Wolffsohn.' On further inquiry I learned that the guardian spirit thus
commended to me was not a banker, but a Russian Jew who wrote romances.

All these events seemed to justify the conclusion that my receipts,
especially if I included what I might still derive from St. Petersburg,
would amply suffice to carry out my project of building a house at
Biebrich. I therefore sent a telegram about it to my authorised agent
in Wiesbaden from Moscow, and left there after a stay of only ten days.
I also forwarded one thousand roubles to Minna, who was complaining
that her expenses for settling down in Dresden were very heavy.

But, unfortunately, on reaching St. Petersburg I met with serious
disappointments. Every one advised me to relinquish the idea of giving
my second concert on Easter Monday, the date I had fixed, as it was the
general custom in Russian society to reserve that day for private
gatherings. On the other hand, I could not well refuse to give a
concert, on the third day after the date announced for my own, on
behalf of those imprisoned for debt in St. Petersburg, seeing that this
was to be given at the urgent request of the Grand Duchess Helene
herself. In this latter function all St. Petersburg was already
interested for the sake of their own credit, as it was under the most
distinguished patronage; so that, while every seat was sold in advance
for this function, I had to be content with a very empty house at the
Nobles' Casino, and with proceeds which luckily did at least cover
expenses. By way of contrast, the debtors' concert went off with the
greatest success, and General Suwarof, the governor of the city, a
strikingly handsome man, handed me a very beautifully wrought silver
drinking-horn as a thank-offering from the imprisoned debtors.

I now set about paying my farewell calls, one of which was on Fraulein
von Rhaden, who distinguished herself by the warmth of her sympathy and
interest. By way of compensating me for the loss of the receipts I had
reckoned upon, the Grand Duchess sent me through this lady the sum of
one thousand roubles, coupled with a promise that, until my
circumstances improved, she would repeat the gift annually. On
discovering this friendly interest, I could not help regretting that
the connection thus formed was not likely to have more stable and
profitable results. I addressed a petition through Fraulein von Rhaden
to the Grand Duchess, praying that she would permit me to come to St.
Petersburg for a few months every year, to place my talents at her
disposal, both for concerts and theatrical performances, in return for
which she would only have to pay me a suitable yearly salary. To this I
received an evasive reply. On the day before my departure I informed my
amiable guardian of my plan for settling at Biebrich, and in doing so I
made no secret of my fear that after spending the money I had earned
here in carrying out my building plan, my condition might be very much
the same as of yore, a fear which made me wonder whether it would not
be better to abandon it altogether. Whereupon I received the spirited
reply: 'Build and hope!' At the last moment before starting I
gratefully answered her in the same manner, and said that I now knew
what to do. Thus at the end of April I departed, carrying with me the
hearty good wishes of Seroff and the enthusiastic members of the
orchestra, and steamed away across the Russian wilderness without
calling at Riga, where I had been invited to give a concert. The long
and weary road brought me at last to the frontier station of Wirballen,
where I received a telegram from Fraulein von Rhaden: 'Not too rash.'
This was in reference to a few lines I had left behind for her, and it
conveyed quite enough to revive my doubts as to the wisdom of carrying
out my house-building plans.

I reached Berlin without further delay, and at once made for Bulow's
house. During the last few months I had heard no news of Cosima's
condition, and it was, therefore, with some trepidation that I stood at
the door, through which the maid did not seem disposed to let me pass,
saying that 'her mistress was not well.' 'Is she seriously ill?' I
asked, and receiving a smilingly evasive reply, at once realised to my
joy the true situation, and hastened in to greet Cosima. She had been
some time delivered of her daughter Blandine, and was now on the
highroad to complete recovery. It was only from casual callers that she
remained secluded. Everything seemed well, and Hans was quite gay, the
more so that he now thought me freed from all care for some time to
come, owing to the success of my Russian trip. But I could not regard
this assumption as justified, unless my wish to be invited for some
months every year to St. Petersburg for renewed activity there met with
a ready response. On this point I was enlightened in a more detailed
letter from Fraulein von Rhaden following the above telegram, in which
she told me on no account to rely upon this invitation. This distinct
statement compelled me to reckon up the balance of my Russian receipts
very seriously, and after deducting hotel and travelling expenses, the
money sent to Minna, and certain payments to the furniture dealer at
Wiesbaden, I found I had very little more than twelve thousand marks
left. So the scheme of buying land and building a house had to be
relinquished. But Cosima's excellent health and high spirits dispelled
all anxious thought for the present. We drove out again in a splendid
carriage, and in the most extravagant of good humours, through the
avenues of the Tiergarten, dined to our hearts' content at the Hotel de
Russie, and made up our minds that bad times had fled for ever.

For the immediate present my plans were directed towards Vienna. I had
recently heard that Tristan had once more been abandoned, this time
owing to the indisposition of Frau Dustmann. In order to have this
important matter more directly under my own supervision, and also
because I had formed no such intimate artistic ties with any other
German city as with Vienna, I clung to this as the most suitable place
in which to settle. Tausig, whom I now met there in excellent health
and spirits, entirely confirmed me in this opinion, and still further
strengthened it by undertaking to find me precisely the pleasant and
quiet dwelling in the neighbourhood of Vienna that I had set my mind
upon, and through his own landlord he succeeded in getting something
exactly to my taste. In what had been the pleasant abode of old Baron
von Rackowitz at Penzing, I was offered the most delightful
accommodation for a yearly rent of two thousand four hundred marks. I
could have the entire upper part of the house and the exclusive use of
a shady and fairly large garden. In the housekeeper, Franz Mrazek, I
found a very obliging man, whom I at once took into my service,
together with his wife Anna, an exceedingly gifted and obliging woman.
For many years, amid ever-changing fortunes, this couple remained
faithful to me. I now had to begin spending money in order to make my
long-desired asylum fit and cosy both for rest and work. The remnant of
my household belongings, including iny Erard grand, was sent on from
Biebrich, as well as the new furniture I had found it necessary to buy.
On the 12th of May, in lovely spring weather, I took possession of my
pleasant home, and for a while wasted much time over the exciting cares
connected with the fitting up of my comfortable apartments. It was at
this period that my connection with Phillip Haas and Sons was first
established, which was destined with the lapse of time to give me some
cause for anxiety. For the moment every exertion expended on a domicile
associated with so many hopes only helped to put me into the best of
spirits. The grand-piano arrived in due course, and with the addition
of various engravings after Raphael, which had fallen to my lot in the
Biebrich division, my music-room was completely furnished in readiness
for the 22nd of May, when celebrated my fiftieth birthday. In honour of
the occasion the Merchants' Choral Society gave me an evening serenade
with Chinese-lantern illuminations, in which a deputation of students
also joined and greeted me with an enthusiastic oration. I had laid in
a supply of wine, and everything passed off excellently. The Mrazeka
looked after my housekeeping fairly well, and thanks to the culinary
arts of Anna, I was able to invite Tausig and Cornelius to dine with me
pretty frequently.

But I was soon in great trouble again, on account of Minna, who
bitterly reproached me for everything I did. Having made up my mind
never to answer her again, I wrote this time to her daughter
Nathalie--who was still in ignorance of the relationship between
them--referring her to my decision of the previous year. On the other
hand, the fact that I sadly stood in need just now of some womanly
attentions and care in the management of the household became
abundantly clear to me when I expressed to Mathilde Maier of Mayence
the ingenuous wish that she would come and supply the deficiency.

I had certainly thought that my good friend was sensible enough to
interpret my meaning correctly without feeling put to the blush, and I
was very likely right, but I had not made sufficient allowance for her
mother and her bourgeois surroundings generally. She appears to have
been thrown into the greatest excitement by my proposal, while her
friend Louise Wagner was in the end so powerfully influenced that she
frankly advised me, with homely shrewdness and precision, to obtain a
legal separation from my wife first of all, after which everything else
would be easily arranged. Grievously shocked, I at once withdrew my
offer, as having been made without due deliberation, and strove as far
as possible to allay the excitement thus produced. On the other hand,
Friederike Meyer's inexplicable fate still caused me much involuntary
anxiety. After she had spent several months of the previous winter in
Venice, apparently to her benefit, I had written to her from St.
Petersburg suggesting that she should meet me at the Bulows' in Berlin.
I had taken into mature consideration the kindly interest which Cosima
had conceived for her, with a view to discussing what steps we could
take to bring order into our friend's flagrantly disorganised
circumstances. She did not appear, however, but wrote instead to inform
me that she had taken up her abode with a lady friend at Coburg, as her
very delicate state of health seriously interfered with her theatrical
career, and was endeavouring to maintain herself by occasional
appearances at the small theatre there. It was obvious that for many
reasons I could not send her an invitation such as that sent to
Mathilde Maier, though she expressed a violent desire to see me once
more for a short time, assuring me that afterwards she would for ever
leave me in peace. I could only regard it as purposeless and risky to
accede to this wish just then, though I kept the idea in reserve for
the future. During the course of the summer she repeated the same
request from several places, until, as I was engaged late in the autumn
for a concert at Karlsruhe, I at last appointed that time and place for
the desired meeting. From that time forth I never received the
slightest communication from this most singular and attractive friend
of mine, and as, moreover, I did not know where she was, I looked upon
our connection as severed. Not until many years later was the secret of
her position--certainly a very difficult one--revealed to me, and from
the facts then stated I could only conclude that she shrank from
telling me the truth concerning her connection with Herr von Guaita. It
appeared that this man had much more serious claims upon her than I had
suspected, and she had apparently been compelled by the necessities of
her situation to accept his protection, as he was the only friend left
to her, while his devotion was undeniably genuine. I heard that she was
then living in complete retirement both from the stage and from society
on a tiny estate on the Rhine with her two children, being, it was
believed, secretly married to Herr von Guaita.

But my careful and elaborate preparations for a quiet spell of work had
not yet been successful. A burglary in the house, which robbed me of
the golden snuff-box presented by the Moscow musicians, renewed my old
longing to have a dog. My kind old landlord consequently handed over to
me an old and somewhat neglected hound named Pohl, one of the most
affectionate and excellent animals that ever attached itself to me. In
his company I daily undertook long excursions on foot, for which the
very pleasant neighbourhood afforded admirable opportunities.
Nevertheless I was still rather lonely, as Tausig was confined to bed
for a long time by severe illness, while Cornelius was suffering from
an injured foot, the result of a careless descent from an omnibus when
visiting Penzing. Meanwhile I was in constant friendly intercourse with
Standhartner and his family. Fritz, the younger brother of Heinrich
Porges, had also begun to visit me. He was a doctor who had just set up
practice, a really nice fellow, whose acquaintance with me dated from
the serenade of the Merchants' Glee Club, of which he had been the

I was now convinced that there was no longer any chance of having
Tristan produced at the Opera, as I had found out that Frau Dustmann's
indisposition was merely a feint, Herr Ander's complete loss of voice
having been the real cause of the last interruption. Good old Conductor
Esser tried hard to persuade me to assign the part of Tristan to
another tenor of the theatre named Walter, but the very idea of him was
so odious to me that I could not even bring myself to hear him in
Lohengrin. I therefore let the matter sink into oblivion, and
concentrated myself exclusively on getting into touch with the
Meistersinger again. I first set to work on the instrumentation of the
completed portion of the first act, of which I had only arranged
detached fragments as yet. But as summer approached, the old anxiety as
to my future subsistence began to pervade all my thoughts and
sensations in the present. It was clear that, if I were to fulfil all
my responsibilities, particularly with regard to Minna, I should soon
have to think of undertaking some lucrative enterprise again.

It was therefore most opportune when a quite unexpected invitation from
the management of the National Theatre in Buda-Pesth reached me to give
two concerts there, in compliance with which I went at the end of July
to the Hungarian capital, and was received by the manager Radnodfay.
There I met a really very talented violinist named Remenyi, who at one
time had been a protege of Liszt, and showed boundless admiration for
me, even declaring that the invitation to me had been given entirely on
his initiative. Although there was no prospect of large earnings here,
as I had professed myself content to accept a thousand marks for each
of the two concerts, I had reason to be pleased both with their success
and with the great interest manifested by the audience. In this city,
where the Magyar opposition to Austria was still at its strongest, I
made the acquaintance of some exceedingly gifted and
distinguished-looking young men, among them Herr Rosti, of whom I have
a pleasant recollection. They organised a truly idyllic festivity for
me, in the form of a feast, held by a few intimates on an island in the
Danube, where we gathered under an ancient oak tree, as though for a
patriarchal ceremony. A young lawyer, whose name I have unfortunately
forgotten, had undertaken to propose the toast of the evening, and
filled me with amazement and deep emotion, not only by the fire of his
delivery, but also by the truly noble earnestness of his ideas, which
he based upon a perfect knowledge of all my works and undertakings. We
returned home down the Danube in the small boats of the Rowing Club, of
which my hosts were members, and on our way had to face a hurricane,
which lashed the mighty stream into the wildest tumult. There was only
one lady in our party, Countess Bethlen-Gabor, who was seated with me
in a narrow boat. Rosti and a friend of his who had the oars were
concerned solely with the fear that our boat would be shivered against
one of the timber-rafts, towards which the flood was carrying us, and
therefore exerted themselves to the utmost to avoid them; whereas I
could see no other way of escape, especially for the lady sitting
beside me, than by boarding one of these very rafts. In order to effect
this (against the wish of our two oarsmen) I seized with one hand a
projecting peg on a raft we were passing and held our little vessel
fast, and, while the two rowers screamed that the Ellida would be lost,
quickly hoisted the lady out of the skiff on to the raft, across which
we walked to the shore, calmly leaving our friends to save the Ellida
as best they could. We two then continued our way along the bank
through a terrific storm of rain, but yet on safe and sure ground,
towards the city. My conduct in presence of this danger did not fail to
increase the respect in which my friends held me, as was proved by a
banquet given in a public garden at which a great number of my admirers
were present. Here they treated me quite in Hungarian style. An
enormous band of gipsy musicians was drawn up, and greeted me with the
Rakoczy March as I approached, while the assembled guests joined in
with impetuous shouts of 'Eljen!' There were also fiery orations with
appreciative allusions to myself and my influence which extended far
and wide throughout Germany. The introductory parts of these speeches
were always in Hungarian, and were meant to excuse the fact that the
main oration would be delivered in German for the sake of their guest.
Here I noticed that they never spoke of me as 'Richard Wagner,' but as
'Wagner Richard.'

Even the highest military officials were not behindhand in offering me
their homage, through the medium of Field-Marshal Coronini. The Count
invited me to a performance by the military bands in the castle at
Ofen, where I was graciously received by him and his family, treated to
ices, and then conducted to a balcony whence I listened to a concert
given by the massed bands. The effect of all these demonstrations was
exceedingly refreshing, and I almost regretted having to leave the
rejuvenating atmosphere of Buda-Pesth, and return to my dull and musty
Viennese asylum.

On the homeward journey, in the beginning of August, I travelled part
of the way with Herr von Seebach, the amiable Saxon Ambassador, whom I
had known in Paris. He complained of the enormous losses he had
incurred through the difficulty of administering the South Russian
estates he had acquired by marriage, and from which he was just
returning. On the other hand, I was able to reassure him as to my own
position, which seemed to give him genuine pleasure.

The small receipts from my Buda-Pesth concerts, of which, moreover, I
had only been able to carry away half, were not calculated to afford me
any effectual relief as to the future. Having now staked my all on what
I trusted might be a permanent establishment, the first question was
how best to secure a salary, which should at least be certain though
not necessarily over-large. Meanwhile I did not consider myself bound
to abandon my St. Petersburg connection, nor the plans I had founded
upon it. Nor did I entirely disbelieve the assurances of Remenyi, who
boasted that he had great influence with the Magyar magnates, and
assured me it would be no great matter to obtain a pension in
Buda-Pesth, such as I had thought of securing in St. Petersburg and
involving similar obligations. He did, in fact, visit me soon after my
return to Penzing, accompanied by his adopted son, young Plotenyi,
whose extraordinary good looks and amiability made a very favourable
impression on me. As for the father himself, although he won my warm
approbation by his brilliant performance of the Rakoczy March on the
violin, yet I quickly perceived that his glowing promises had been
meant rather to create an immediate impression on me than to ensure any
permanent result. In accordance with his own desire, I very soon
afterwards lost sight of him altogether.

While still obliged to busy myself with plans for concert tours, I was
able meantime to enjoy the pleasant shade of my garden during the
intense heat, and I used to go for long rambles every evening with my
faithful dog Pohl, the most refreshing of these being by way of the
dairy-farm at St. Veit, where delicious milk was available. My small
social circle was still restricted to Cornelius and Tausig, who was at
last restored to health, although he disappeared from my sight for some
time owing to his intercourse with wealthy Austrian officers. But I was
frequently joined on my excursions by the younger Porges, and for a
time by the elder also. My niece Ottilie Brockhaus too, who was living
with the family of her mother's friend Heinrich Laube, occasionally
delighted me with a visit.

But whenever I settled down seriously to work, I was goaded afresh by
an uneasy apprehension as to the means of subsistence. As another
journey to Russia was out of the question until the following Easter,
only German towns could serve my purpose for the present. From many
quarters, as for instance from Darmstadt, I received unfavourable
replies; and from Karlsruhe, where I had applied direct to the Grand
Duke, the answer was indefinite. But the severest blow to my confidence
was a direct refusal which came in response to the application I had at
last made to St. Petersburg, the acceptance of which would have ensured
a regular salary. This time the excuse made was that the Polish
revolution of that summer had paralysed the spirit of artistic

Pleasanter news, however, came from Moscow, where they held out
prospects of some good concerts for the coming year. I next bethought
me of a very sound suggestion about Kieff made to me by Setoff the
singer, who thought there was a prospect of a highly profitable
engagement there. I entered into correspondence on the matter, and was
again put off until the following Easter, when all the smaller Russian
nobility congregated at Kieff. These were all plans for the future
which, if I then had considered them in detail at that time, would have
been enough to rob me of all peace of mind for my work. In any case
there was a long interval during which I must provide, not only for
myself, but also for Minna. Any prospect of a position in Vienna had to
be handled most warily, so that, with the approach of autumn, there was
nothing left me but to raise money on loan, a business in which Tausig
was able to help me, as he possessed extraordinary experience in such

I could not help wondering whether I should have to give up my Penzing
establishment, but, on the other hand, what alternative was open to me?
Every time I was seized with the desire to compose, these cares
obtruded themselves on my mind, until, seeing that it was only a
question of putting things off from day to day, I was driven to take up
the study of Dunker's Geschichte des Alterthums. In the end my
correspondence about concerts swallowed up the whole of my time. I
first asked Heinrich Porges to see what he could arrange in Prague. He
also held out a reasonable prospect of a concert at Lowenberg, relying
upon the favourable disposition of the Prince of Hohenzollern, who
lived there. I was also advised to apply to Hans von Bronsart, who at
this time was conductor to a private orchestral society in Dresden. He
responded loyally to my proposition, and between us we settled the date
and programme of a concert to be conducted by me in Dresden. As the
Grand Duke of Baden had also placed his theatre at Karlsruhe at my
disposal for a concert to be given in November, I thought I had now
done enough in this direction to be entitled to take up something
different. I therefore wrote a fairly long article for Uhl-Frobel's
paper Der Botschafter on the Imperial Grand Opera House in Vienna, in
which I made suggestions for a thorough reform of this very badly
managed institution. The excellence of this article was at once
acknowledged on all sides, even by the press; and I appear to have made
some impression in the highest administrative circles, for I shortly
afterwards heard from my friend Rudolf Liechtenstein, that tentative
advances had been made to him with a view to his accepting the position
of manager, associated with which there was certainly an idea of asking
me to become conductor of the Grand Opera. Among the reasons which
caused this proposal to fall through was the fear, Liechtenstein
informed me, that under his direction people would hear nothing but
'Wagner operas.'

In the end it was a relief to escape from the anxieties of my position
by starting on my concert tour. First I went to Prague, in the
beginning of November, to try my luck again in the matter of big
receipts. Unfortunately Heinrich Porges had not been able to take the
arrangements in hand this time, and his deputies, who were very busy
schoolmasters, were not at all his equals for the task. Expenses were
increased, while receipts diminished, for they had not ventured to ask
such high prices as before. I wished to repair this deficiency by a
second concert a few days later, and insisted on the point, although my
friends urgently dissuaded me, and, as the event proved, they were
quite right. This time the receipts hardly covered the costs, and as I
had been obliged to send away the proceeds of the first concert to
redeem an old bill in Vienna, I had no other means of paying my hotel
expenses and my fare home than by accepting the offer of a banker, who
posed as a patron, to help me out of my embarrassment.

In the chastened mood induced by these occurrences I pursued my journey
to Karlsruhe, via Nuremberg and Stuttgart, under wretched conditions of
severe cold and constant delays. At Karlsruhe I was at once surrounded
by various friends, who had come there on hearing of my project.
Richard Pohl from Baden, who never failed me, Mathilde Maier, Frau
Betty Schott, the wife of my publisher; even Raff from Wiesbaden and
Emilie Genast were there, as well as Karl Eckert, who had recently been
appointed conductor at Stuttgart. Trouble began at once with the
vocalists for my first concert, fixed for 14th November, as the
baritone, Hauser, who was to sing 'Wotan's Farewell' and Hans Sachs's
'Cobbler Song,' was ill and had to be replaced by a voiceless though
well-drilled vaudeville singer. In Eduard Devrient's opinion this made
no difference. My relations with him were strictly official, but he
certainly carried out my instructions for the arrangement of the
orchestra very correctly. From an orchestral point of view the concert
went off so well that the Grand Duke, who received me very graciously
in his box, desired a repetition in a week's time. To this proposal I
raised serious objections, having learned by experience that the large
attendances at such concerts, particularly at special prices, were
mainly accounted for by the curiosity of the hearers, who often came
from long distances; whereas the number of genuine students of art,
whose interest was chiefly in the music, was but small. But the Grand
Duke insisted, as he wished to give his mother-in-law, Queen Augusta,
whose arrival was expected within a few days, the pleasure of hearing
my production. I should have found it dreadfully wearisome to have to
spend the intervening time in the solitude of my Karlsruhe hotel, but I
received a kind invitation to Baden-Baden from Mme. Kalergis, who had
just become Mme. Moukhanoff, and had gone to live there. She had, to my
delight, been one of those who came over for the concert, and was now
on the station to meet me when I arrived. I felt I ought to decline her
proffered escort into the town, not considering myself sufficiently
smart in my 'brigand-hat,' but with the assurance, 'We all wear these
brigand-hats here,' she took my arm, and thus we reached Pauline
Viardot's villa, where we were to dine, as my friend's own house was
not yet quite ready. Seated by my old acquaintance, I was now
introduced to the Russian poet Turgenieff. Mme. Moukhanoff presented me
to her husband with some hesitation, wondering what I should think of
her marriage. Supported by her companions, who were all society people,
she exerted herself to maintain a fairly lively conversation during the
time we were together. Well satisfied by the admirable intention of my
friend and benefactress, I again left Baden to fill up my time by a
little trip to Zurich, where I again tried to get a few days' rest in
the house of the Wesendonck family. The idea of assisting me did not
seem even to dawn on these friends of mine, although I frankly informed
them of my position. I therefore returned to Karlsruhe, where, on the
22nd of November, as I had foreseen, I gave my second concert to a
poorly filled house. But, in the opinion of the Grand Duke and his
wife, Queen Augusta's appreciation should have dispelled any unpleasant
impressions I might have received. I was again summoned to the royal
box, where I found all the court gathered round the Queen, who wore a
blue rose on her forehead as an ornament. The few complimentary
observations she had to offer were listened to by the members of the
court with breathless attention; but when the royal lady had made a few
general remarks, and was about to enter into details, she left all
further demonstration to her daughter, who, as she said, knew more
about it. The next day I received my share of the takings, half the net
profits, which amounted to two hundred marks, and with this I at once
bought myself a fur coat. The sum asked for it was two hundred and
twenty marks, but when I explained that my receipts had only been two
hundred marks, I managed to get the extra twenty knocked off the price.
There was still the Grand Duke's private gift, consisting of a gold
snuff-box with fifteen louis d'or, for which I, of course, returned my
thanks in writing. I next had to face the question whether, after the
toilsome fatigue of the past weeks, I would add to my disappointments
by attempting to give the proposed concert in Dresden. Many
considerations, practically everything indeed that I had to weigh in
connection with a visit to Dresden, moved me to have the courage to
write and tell Hans von Bronsart at the last moment to cancel all
arrangements and not expect me there, a decision which, although it
must have caused him much inconvenience after all the preparations he
had kindly made, he accepted with a very good grace.

I still wanted to see what I could do with the firm of Schott, and
travelled by night to Mayence, where Mathilde Maier's family insisted
on my spending the day at their little house, where I was entertained
in a simple and friendly fashion. During the day and night I spent here
in the narrow Karthausergasse, I was waited upon with the greatest
care, and from this outpost I assaulted the publishing house of Schott,
though without securing much booty. This was because I refused my
consent to a separate issue of the various selections from my new works
which had been picked out and prepared for concert use.

As my only remaining source of profit now seemed to be the concert at
Lowenberg, I turned my face thither; but, in order to avoid passing
Dresden, I made a short detour by way of Berlin, where, after
travelling all night, I arrived, very tired, early on the 28th of
November. In compliance with my request the Bulows took me in, and at
once began urging me to break my intended journey to Silesia by giving
them a day in Berlin. Hans was particularly anxious for me to be
present at a concert to be given that evening under his direction, a
factwhich finally decided me to remain. In defiance of the cold, raw
and gloomy weather, we discussed as cheerfully as we could my
unfortunate position. By way of increasing my capital, it was resolved
to hand over the Grand Duke of Baden's gold snuff-box to our good old
friend Weitzmann for sale. The sum of two hundred and seventy marks
realised by this was brought to me at the Hotel Brandenburg, where I
was dining with the Bulows, and was an addition to my reserves that
furnished us with many a jest. As Bulow had to complete the
preparations for his concert, I drove out alone with Cosima on the
promenade, as before, in a fine carriage. This time all our jocularity
died away into silence. We gazed speechless into each other's eyes; an
intense longing for an avowal of the truth mastered us and led to a
confession--which needed no words--of the boundless unhappiness which
oppressed us. The experience brought relief to us both, and the
profound tranquillity which ensued enabled us to attend the concert in
a cheerful, unembarrassed mood. I was actually able to fix my attention
clearly on an exquisitely refined and elevated performance of
Beethoven's smaller Concert Overture (in C major), and likewise on
Hans's very clever arrangement of Gluck's overture to Paris and Helen.
We noticed Alwine Frommann in the audience, and during the interval met
her on the grand staircase of the concert-hall. After the second part
had begun and the stairs were empty, we sat for some time on one of the
steps chatting gaily with our old friend. After the concert we were due
at my friend Weitzmann's for supper, the length and abundance of which
reduced us, whose hearts yearned for profound peace, to almost frantic
despair. But the day came to an end at last, and after a night spent
under Bulow's roof, I continued my journey. Our farewell reminded me so
vividly of that first exquisitely pathetic parting from Cosima at
Zurich, that all the intervening years vanished like a dream of
desolation separating two days of lifelong moment and decision. If on
the first occasion our presentiment of something mysterious and
inexplicable had compelled silence, it was now no less impossible to
give words to that which we silently acknowledged.

I was met at one of the stations in Silesia by Conductor Seifriz, who
accompanied me in one of the Prince's carriages to Lowenberg. The old
Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was already very well disposed towards
me on account of his great friendship for Liszt, and had, moreover,
been fully informed of my position by Heinrich Porges, who had been
engaged by him for a short time. He had invited me to give a concert in
his small castle to an audience composed exclusively of invited guests.
I was very comfortably accommodated in apartments on the ground floor
of his house, whither he frequently came on his wheeled chair from his
own rooms directly opposite. Here I could not only feel at ease, but be
to some extent hopeful. I at once began rehearsing the pieces I had
chosen from my operas with the Prince's by no means ill-equipped
private orchestra, during which my host was invariably present and
seemed well satisfied. Meals were all taken very sociably in common;
but on the day of the concert there was a kind of gala-dinner, at which
I was astonished to meet Henriette von Bissing, the sister of Mme.
Wille of Marienbad, with whom I had been intimate at Zurich. As she had
an estate near Lowenberg, she had also been invited by the Prince, and
now gave me proof of her faithful and enthusiastic devotion. Being both
intelligent and witty, she at once became my favourite companion. After
the concert had passed off with reasonable success, I had to fulfil
another wish of the Prince's next day, by privately playing to him
Beethoven's Symphony in C minor, when Frau von Bissing was also
present. She had now been for some time a widow. She promised to come
to Breslau, when I gave my concert there. Before my departure Conductor
Seifriz brought me a fee of four thousand two hundred marks from the
Prince, with an expression of regret that for the present it was
impossible for him to be more liberal. After all my previous
experiences I was truly astonished and contented, and it was with
pleasure I returned the gallant Prince my heartfelt thanks with all the
eloquence at my command.

Thence I travelled to Breslau, where the concert director, Damrosch,
had arranged a concert for me. I had made his acquaintance on my last
visit to Weimar, and had also heard of him through Liszt. Unfortunately
the conditions here struck me as extraordinarily dismal and desperate.
The whole affair had been planned on the meanest scale, as indeed I
might have expected. A perfectly horrible concert-room, which usually
served as a beer-restaurant, had been engaged. At the rear of this, and
separated from it by a dreadfully vulgar curtain, was a small 'Tivoli'
theatre, for which I was obliged to procure an elevated plank-floor for
the orchestra, and the whole concern so disgusted me that my first
impulse was to dismiss the seedy-looking musicians on the spot. My
friend Damrosch, who was very much upset, had to promise me that at
least he would have the horrible reek of tobacco in the place
neutralised. As he could offer no guarantee as to the amount of the
receipts, I was only induced in the end to go on with the enterprise by
my desire not to compromise him too severely. To my amazement I found
almost the entire room, at all events the front seats, filled with
Jews, and in fact I owed such success as I obtained to the interest
excited in this section of the population, as I learned the next day,
when I attended a mid-day dinner arranged in my honour by Damrosch, at
which again only Jews were present.

It was like a ray of light from a better world when, on leaving the
concert-hall, I perceived Fraulein Marie von Buch, who had hurried
hither with her grandmother from the Hatzfeld estate to be present at
my concert, and was waiting in a boarded compartment dignified by the
name of box, for me to come out after the audience had left; the young
lady came up to me once more in travelling costume after Damrosch's
dinner and attempted by kindly and sympathetic assurances somewhat to
assuage my evident anxiety respecting the future. I thanked her once
more by letter for her sympathy after my return to Vienna, to which she
replied by a request for a contribution to her album. In memory of the
emotions which had convulsed me on leaving Berlin, and also as an
indication of my mental mood to one worthy of the confidence, I added
Calderon's words, 'Things impossible to conceal, yet impossible of
utterance.' By this I felt I had conveyed to a kindly disposed person,
though with a happy vagueness, some idea of the secret knowledge which
was my sole inspiration.

But the results of my meeting with Henriette von Bissing in Breslau
were very different. She had followed me thither, and put up at the
same hotel. Influenced, no doubt, by my sickly appearance, she seemed
to give her sympathy for myself and my situation full play. I placed
the latter before her without reserve, telling her how, ever since the
upset following on my departure from Zurich in 1858, I had been unable
to secure the regular income necessary for the steady pursuit of my
calling; and also of my invariably vain attempts to bring my affairs
into any settled and definite order. My friend did not shrink from
attributing some blame to the relationship between Frau Wesendonck and
my wife, and declared that she felt it her mission to conciliate them.
She approved my settling down at Penzing, and only hoped that I might
not spoil its beneficial effect upon me by distant enterprises. She
would not listen to my plan of touring in Russia, in the coming winter,
in order to earn money for my absolute necessities, and herself
undertook to provide from her own very considerable fortune the not
unimportant sum requisite to maintain me in independence for some time
to come. But she explained to me that for a short while longer I was to
try and get along through thick and thin, as she would have some
difficulty--possibly a good deal--in placing the promised money at my

Greatly cheered by the impressions of this meeting I returned to Vienna
on the 9th December. At Lowenberg I had been obliged to remit to Vienna
the greater portion of the Prince's gift, part of it for Minna, and
part for the payment of debts. Though I had but little cash I felt
thoroughly sanguine; I could now greet my few friends with tolerable
good-humour, and among them Peter Cornelius, who looked in on me every
evening. As Heinrich Porges and Gustav Schonaich sometimes joined us,
we founded an intimate little circle and met regularly. On Christmas
Eve I invited them all to my house, where I had the Christmas tree
lighted up, and gave each one an appropriate trifle. Some work also
came my way again, for Tausig asked me to help him with a concert which
he was to give in the great Redouten-Saal. In addition to a few
selections from my new operas, I also conducted the Freischutz
Overture, for my own particular satisfaction and entirely according to
my own interpretation. Its effect, even upon the orchestra, was truly

But there did not seem the slightest prospect of any official
recognition of my abilities; I was, and continued to be, ignored by the
great. Frau von Biasing's communications revealed by degrees the
difficulties which she had encountered in the fulfilment of her
promise; but as they were still hopeful in tone, I was able to spend
New Year's Eve at the Standhartner's in good spirits, and to enjoy a
poem specially written by Cornelius for the occasion, which was as
humorous as it was solemnly appropriate.

The new year 1864 assumed for me an aspect of gravity which soon became
intensified. I fell ill with a painful and increasing malady due to a
chill, which often made demands on Standhartner's care. But I was yet
more seriously threatened by the turn of Frau von Bissing's
communications. It seemed she could only raise the promised money with
the help of her family, the Slomans, who were shipowners in Hamburg,
and from them she was meeting with violent opposition, mingled, as it
seemed, with slanderous charges against me. These circumstances upset
me so much that I wished I could renounce all help from this friend,
and I began once more to turn my serious attention to Russia. Fraulein
von Rhaden, to whom I again applied, felt she must vigorously dissuade
me from any attempt to visit St. Petersburg, in the first place
because, owing to the military disturbances in the Polish provinces, I
should find the route blocked, and secondly because, roughly speaking,
I should attract no notice in the Russian capital. On the other hand, a
visit to Kieff, with a chance of five thousand roubles profit, was
represented as undoubtedly feasible. Keeping my thoughts fixed on this,
I arranged with Cornelius, who was to accompany me, a plan for crossing
the Black Sea to Odessa, and going from there to Kieff, with a view to
which we both resolved to procure the indispensable fur coats at once.
Meanwhile, the only course open to me was to see about raising money by
fresh bills at short dates, wherewith to pay all my other bills, which
were also short-dated. Thus I became launched upon a business system
which, leading, as it did, to obvious and inevitable ruin, could only
be finally resolved by the acceptance of prompt and effectual help. In
these straits I was at last compelled to request a clear declaration
from my friend, not as to whether she COULD help me at once, but
whether she really WISHED to help me at all, as I could no longer stave
off ruin. She must have been in the highest degree wounded by some
notion or other, of which I was ignorant, before bringing herself to
reply in the following tone: 'You wish to know finally whether I WILL
or not? Well, then, in God's name, NO!' Not long after this I received
from her sister, Mme. Wille, a very surprising explanation of her
conduct, which seemed at the time perfectly inexplicable, and only to
be accounted for by the weakness of her not very reliable character.

Amid all these vacillations the month of February had run to an end,
and while Cornelius and I were busy on our Russian plans, I received
news from Kieff and Odessa that it would be unwise to attempt any
artistic enterprises there during the present year. By this time it had
become clear that, under the conditions thus developed, I could no
longer reckon on maintaining my position in Vienna, or my establishment
at Penzing. Not only did there seem no prospect of even a temporary
nature of earning money, but my debts had mounted up, in the usual
style of such usury, to so great a sum, and assumed so threatening an
aspect, that, failing some extraordinary relief, my very person was in
danger. In this perplexity I addressed myself with perfect
frankness--at first only for advice--to the judge of the Imperial
Provincial Court, Eduard Liszt, the youthful uncle of my old friend
Franz. During my first stay in Vienna this man had shown himself a
warmly devoted friend, always ready to help me. For the discharge of my
bill-debts he could naturally suggest no other method than the
intervention of some wealthy patron, who should settle with my
creditors. For some time he believed that a certain Mme. Scholler, the
wife of a rich merchant and one of my admirers, not only possessed the
means, but was willing to use them on my behalf. Standhartner also,
with whom I made no pretence of secrecy, thought he could do something
for me in this way. Thus my position was for some weeks again most
uncertain, until at last it became clear that all my friends could
procure me was the means for flight to Switzerland--which was now
deemed absolutely necessary--where, having saved my skin so far, I
should have to raise money for my bills. To the lawyer, Eduard Liszt,
this way of escape seemed specially desirable, because he would then be
in a position to punish the outrageous usury practised against me.

During the anxious time of the last few months, through which,
nevertheless, there had run an undercurrent of indefinite hope, I had
kept up a lively intercourse with my few friends. Cornelius turned up
regularly every evening, and was joined by O. Bach, little Count
Laurencin, and, on one occasion, by Rudolph Liechtenstein. With
Cornelius alone I began reading the Iliad. When we reached the
catalogue of ships I wished to skip it; but Peter protested, and
offered to read it out himself; but whether we ever came to the end of
it I forget. My reading by myself consisted of Chateaubriand's La Vie
de Rance, which Tausig had brought me. Meanwhile, he himself vanished
without leaving any trace, until after some time he reappeared engaged
to a Hungarian pianist. During the whole of this time I was very ill
and suffered exceedingly from a violent catarrh. The thought of death
took such hold on me that I at last lost all desire to shake it off,
and even set about bequeathing my books and manuscripts, of which a
portion fell to the lot of Cornelius.

I had taken the precaution some time before of commending into
Standhartner's keeping my remaining--and now, alas! exceedingly
doubtful--assets which were in the house at Penzing. As my friends were
most positive in recommending preparation for immediate flight, I had
written to Otto Wesendonck requesting to be taken into his house, as
Switzerland was to be my destination. He refused point-blank, and I
could not resist sending him a reply to prove the injustice of this.
The next thing was to make my absence from home a short one and to
count upon a speedy return. Standhartner made me go and dine at his
house in his great anxiety to cover up my departure, and my servant
Franz Mrazek brought my trunk there too. My farewell to Standhartner,
his wife Anna, and the good dog Pohl was very depressing.
Standhartner's stepson Karl Schonaich and Cornelius accompanied me to
the station, the one in grief and tears, the other inclining to a
frivolous mood. It was on the afternoon of 23rd March that I left for
Munich, my first stopping-place, where I hoped to rest for two days
after the terrible disturbances I had gone through, without attracting
any notice. I stayed at the 'Bayerischer Hof' and took a few walks
through the city at my leisure. It was Good Friday and the weather was
bitterly cold. The mood proper to the day seemed to possess the whole
population, whom I saw going from one church to another dressed in
deepest mourning. King Maximilian II.--of whom the Bavarians had become
so fond--had died a few days before, leaving as heir to the throne a
son aged eighteen and a half, whose extreme youth was no bar to his
accession. I saw a portrait of the young king, Ludwig II. in a shop
window, and experienced the peculiar emotion which is aroused by the
sight of youth and beauty placed in a position presumed to be unusually
trying. After writing a humorous epitaph for myself, I crossed Lake
Constance unmolested and reached Zurich--once more a refugee in need of
an asylum--where I at once betook myself to Dr. Wille's estate at

I had already written to my friend's wife to ask her to put me up for a
few days, which she very kindly agreed to do. I had got to know her
very well during my last stay at Zurich, while my friendship with him
had somewhat cooled. I wanted to have time to find what seemed suitable
quarters in one of the places bordering on Lake Zurich. Dr. Wille
himself was not there, as he had gone to Constantinople on a pleasure
trip. I had no difficulty in making my friend understand my situation,
which I found her most willing to relieve. First of all she cleared one
or two living rooms in Frau von Bissing's old house next door, from
which, however, the fairly comfortable furniture had been removed. I
wanted to cater for myself, but had to yield to her request to take
over that responsibility. Only furniture was lacking, and for this she
ventured to apply to Frau Wesendonck, who immediately sent all she
could spare of her household goods, as well as a cottage piano. The
good woman was also anxious that I should visit my old friends at
Zurich to avoid any appearance of unpleasantness, but I was prevented
from doing so by serious indisposition, which was increased by the
badly heated rooms, and finally Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck came over
to us at Mariafeld. The very uncertain and strained attitude apparent
in these two was not entirely incomprehensible to me, but I behaved as
if I did not notice it. My cold, which rendered me incapable of looking
about for a house in the neighbouring districts, was continually
aggravated by the bad weather and my own deep depression. I spent these
dreadful days sitting huddled in my Karlsruhe fur coat from morning
till night, and addled my brain with reading one after another of the
volumes which Mme. Wille sent me in my seclusion. I read Jean Paul's
Siebenkas, Frederick the Great's Tagebuch, Tauser, George Sand's novels
and Walter Scott's, and finally Felicitas, a work from my sympathetic
hostess's own pen. Nothing reached me from the outside world except a
passionate lament from Mathilde Maier, and a most pleasant surprise in
the shape of royalties (seventy-five francs), which Truinet sent from
Paris. This led to a conversation with Mme. Wille, half in anger and
half with condemned-cell cynicism, as to what I could do to obtain
complete release from my wretched situation. Among other things we
touched upon the necessity of obtaining a divorce from my wife in order
to contract a rich marriage. As everything seemed right and nothing
inexpedient in my eyes, I actually wrote and asked my sister Luise
Brockhaus whether she could not, by talking sensibly to Minna, persuade
her to depend on her settled yearly allowance without making any claims
on my person in future. In reply I received a deeply pathetic letter
advising me first to think of establishing my reputation and to create
for myself an unassailable position by some new work. In this way I
might very probably reap some benefit without taking any foolish step;
and in any case I should do well to apply for the post of conductor
which was now vacant in Darmstadt.

I had very bad news from Vienna. Standhartncr, to make sure of the
furniture I had left in the house, sold it to a Viennese agent, with
the option of re-purchase. I wrote back in great indignation,
particularly as I realised the prejudicial effect of this on my
landlord, to whom I had to pay rent within the next few days. Through
Mme. Wille I succeeded in getting placed at my disposal the money
required for the rent, which I forwarded at once to Baron Raokowitz.
Unfortunately, however, I found that Standhartner had already cleared
up everything with Eduard Liszt, paying the rent with the proceeds from
the furniture, and thereby cutting off my return to Vienna, which they
both considered would be positive ruin to me. But when I heard at the
same time from Cornelius that Tausig, who was then in Hungary and who
had added his signature to one of the bills of exchange, felt himself
prevented by me from returning to Vienna as he desired, I was so
sensibly wounded that I decided to go back on the spot, however great
the danger might be. I announced my intention to my friends there
immediately, but decided first to try and provide myself with enough
money to be in a position to suggest a composition with my creditors.
To this end I had written most urgently to Schott at Mayence, and did
not refrain from reproaching him bitterly for his behaviour to me. I
now decided to leave Mariafeld for Stuttgart to await the result of
these efforts, and to prosecute them from a nearer vantage-ground. But
I was also, as will be seen, moved to carry out this change by other

Dr. Wille had returned, and I could see at once that my stay at
Mariafeld alarmed him. He probably feared I might rely on his help
also. In some confusion, occasioned by the attitude I had adopted in
consequence, he made this confession to me in a moment of agitation. He
was, he said, overpowered by a sentiment with regard to me which
amounted to this--that a man wanted, after all, to be something more
than a cipher in his own house, where, if anywhere, it is not pleasant
to serve as a mere foil to some one else. This sentiment was merely
excusable, he thought, in a man who, though he might reasonably suppose
himself of some account among his fellows, had been brought into close
contact with another to whom he felt himself in the strangest manner
subordinate. Mme. Wille, foreseeing her husband's frame of mind, had
come to an agreement, with the Wesendonck family by which they were to
provide me with one hundred francs a month during my stay at Mariafeld.
When this came to my knowledge, I could do nothing but announce to Frau
Wesendonck my immediate departure from Switzerland, and request her in
the kindest possible way to consider herself relieved of all anxiety
about me, as I had arranged my affairs quite in accordance with my
wishes. I heard later that she had returned this letter--which,
possibly, she considered compromising--to Mme. Wille unopened.

My next move was to go to Stuttgart on 30th April. I knew that Karl
Eckert had been settled there some time as conductor at the Royal Court
Theatre, and I had reason to believe the good-natured fellow to be
unprejudiced and well disposed towards me, judging by his admirable
behaviour when he had been director of the opera in Vienna, and also by
the enthusiasm he exhibited in coming to my concert at Karlsruhe the
year before. I expected nothing further of him than a little assistance
in looking for a quiet lodging for the coming summer at Cannstadt or
some such place near Stuttgart. I wanted, above all, to finish the
first act of the Meistersinger with all possible despatch, so as to
send Schott part of the manuscript at last. I had told him that I was
going to send it to him almost immediately when I attacked him about
the advances which had so long been withheld from me. I then intended
to collect the means wherewith to meet my obligations in Vienna, while
living in complete retirement and, as I hoped, in concealment. Eckert
welcomed me most kindly. His wife--one of the greatest beauties in
Vienna--had, in her fantastic desire to marry an artist, given up a
very profitable post, but was still rich enough for the conductor to
live comfortably and show hospitality, and the impression I now
received was very pleasant. Eckert felt himself absolutely bound to
take me to see Baron von Gall, the manager of the court theatre, who
alluded sensibly and kindly to my difficult position in Germany, where
everything was likely to remain closed to me as long as the Saxon
ambassadors and agents--who were scattered everywhere--were allowed to
attempt to injure me by all kinds of suspicions. After getting to know
me better, he considered himself authorised to act on my behalf through
the medium of the court of Wurtemberg. As I was talking over these
matters rather late on the evening of 3rd May at the Eckerts', a
gentleman's card with the inscription 'Secretary to the King of
Bavaria' was handed to me. I was disagreeably surprised that my
presence in Stuttgart should be known to passing travellers, and sent
word that I was not there, after which I retired to my hotel, only to
be again informed by the landlord that a gentleman from Munich desired
to see me on urgent business. I made an appointment for the morning at
ten o'clock, and passed a disturbed night in my constant anticipation
of misfortune. I received Herr Pfistermeister, the private secretary of
H.M. the King of Bavaria, in my room. He first expressed great pleasure
at having found me at last, thanks to receiving some happy directions,
after vainly seeking me in Vienna and even at Mariafeld on Lake Zurich.
He was charged with a note for me from the young King of Bavaria,
together with a portrait and a ring as a present. In words which,
though few, penetrated to the very core of my being, the youthful
monarch confessed his great partiality for my work, and announced his
firm resolve to keep me near him as his friend, so that I might escape
any malignant stroke of fate. Herr Pfistermeister informed me at the
same time that he was instructed to conduct me to Munich at once to see
the King, and begged my permission to inform his master by telegram
that I would come on the following day. I was invited to dine with the
Eckerts, but Herr Pfistermeister was obliged to decline to accompany
me. My friends, who had been joined by young Weisheimer from Osthofen,
were very naturally amazed and delighted at the news I brought them.
While we were at table Eckert was informed by telegram of Meyerbeer's
death in Paris, and Weisheimer burst out in boorish laughter to think
that the master of opera, who had done me so much harm, had by a
strange coincidence not lived to see this day. Herr von Gall also made
his appearance, and had to admit in friendly surprise that I certainly
did not need his good services any more. He had already given the order
for Lohengrin, and now paid me the stipulated sum on the spot. At five
o'clock that afternoon I met Herr Pfistermeister at the station to
travel with him to Munich, where my visit to the King was announced for
the following morning.

On the same day I had received the most urgent warnings against
returning to Vienna. But my life was to have no more of these alarms;
the dangerous road along which fate beckoned me to such great ends was
not destined to be clear of troubles and anxieties of a kind unknown to
me heretofore, but I was never again to feel the weight of the everyday
hardships of existence under the protection of my exalted friend.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "My Life — Volume 2" ***

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