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Jean-Christophe, Vol. I by Romain Rolland

Part 8 out of 12

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sacrilege to question his beloved masters. But in vain did he shut his eyes
to it: he had seen it. And, in spite of himself, he went on seeing it: like
the _Vergognosa_ at Pisa he looked: between his fingers.

He saw German art stripped. All of them--the great and the idiots--laid
bare their souls with a complacent tenderness. Emotion overflowed, moral
nobility trickled down, their hearts melted in distracted effusions: the
sluice gates were opened to the fearful German tender-heartedness: it
weakened the energy of the stronger, it drowned the weaker under its
grayish waters: it was a flood: in the depths of it slept German thought.
And, what thoughts were those of a Mendelssohn, a Brahms, a Schumann, and,
following them, the whole legion of little writers of affected and tearful
_Lieder_! Built on sand. Never rock. Wet and shapeless clay.--It was all
so foolish, so childish often, that Christophe could not believe that it
never occurred to the audience. He looked about him: but he saw only gaping
faces, convinced in advance of the beauties they were hearing and the
pleasure that they ought to find in it. How could they admit their own
right to judge for themselves? They were filled with respect for these
hallowed names. What did they not respect? They were respectful before
their programmes, before their glasses, before themselves. It was clear
that mentally they dubbed everything excellent that remotely or nearly
concerned them.

Christophe passed in review the audience and the music alternately: the
music reflected the audience, the audience reflected the music. Christophe
felt laughter overcoming him and he made faces. However, he controlled
himself. But when the Germans of the South came and solemnly sang the
_Confession_ that reminded him of the blushes of a girl in love, Christophe
could not contain himself. He shouted with laughter. Indignant cries of
"Ssh!" were raised. His neighbors looked at him, scared: their honest,
scandalized faces filled him with joy: he laughed louder than ever, he
laughed, he laughed until he cried. Suddenly the audience grew angry. They
cried: "Put him out!" He got up, and went, shrugging his shoulders, shaking
with suppressed laughter. His departure caused a scandal. It was the
beginning of hostilities between Christophe and his birthplace.

* * * * *

After that experience Christophe shut himself up and set himself to read
once more the works of the "hallowed" musicians. He was appalled to find
that certain of the masters whom he loved most had _lied_. He tried hard
to doubt it at first, to believe that he was mistaken.--But no, there was
no way out of it. He was staggered by the conglomeration of mediocrity and
untruth which constitutes the artistic treasure of a great people. How many
pages could bear examination!

From that time on he could begin to read other works, other masters, who
were dear to him, only with a fluttering heart.... Alas! There was some
spell cast upon him: always there was the same discomfiture. With some of
them his heart was rent: it was as though he had lost a dear friend, as if
he had suddenly seen that a friend in whom he had reposed entire confidence
had been deceiving him for years. He wept for it. He did not sleep at
night: he could not escape his torment. He blamed himself: perhaps he had
lost his judgment? Perhaps he had become altogether an idiot?--No, no. More
than ever he saw the radiant beauty of the day and with more freshness and
love than ever he felt the generous abundance of life: his heart was not
deceiving him....

But for a long time he dared not approach those who were the best for him,
the purest, the Holy of Holies. He trembled at the thought of bringing his
faith in them to the test. But how resist the pitiless instinct of a brave
and truthful soul, which will go on to the end, and see things as they are,
whatever suffering may be got in doing so?--So he opened the sacred works,
he called upon the last reserve, the imperial guard.... At the first glance
he saw that they were no more immaculate than the others. He had not the
courage to go on. Every now and then he stopped and closed the book: like
the son of Noah, he threw his cloak about his father's nakedness....

Then he was prostrate in the midst of all these ruins. He would rather have
lost an arm, than have tampered with his blessed illusions. In his heart he
mourned. But there was so much sap in him, so much reserve of life, that
his confidence in art was not shaken. With a young man's naive presumption
he began life again as though no one had ever lived it before him.
Intoxicated by his new strength, he felt--not without reason, perhaps--that
with a very few exceptions there is almost no relation between living
passion and the expression which art has striven to give to it. But he was
mistaken in thinking himself more happy or more true when he expressed it.
As he was filled with passion it was easy for him to discover it at the
back of what he had written: but no one else would have recognized it
through the imperfect vocabulary with which he designated its variations.
Many artists whom he condemned were in the same case. They had had, and had
translated profound emotions: but the secret of their language had died
with them.

Christophe was no psychologist: he was not bothered with all these
arguments: what was dead for him had always been so. He revised his
judgment of the past with all the confident and fierce injustice of youth.
He stripped the noblest souls, and had no pity for their foibles. There
were the rich melancholy, the distinguished fantasy, the kindly thinking
emptiness of Mendelssohn. There were the bead-stringing and the affectation
of Weber, his dryness of heart, his cerebral emotion. There was Liszt, the
noble priest, the circus rider, neo-classical and vagabond, a mixture in
equal doses of real and false nobility, of serene idealism and disgusting
virtuosity. Schubert, swallowed up by his sentimentality, drowned at the
bottom of leagues of stale, transparent water. The men of the heroic ages,
the demi-gods, the Prophets, the Fathers of the Church, were not spared.
Even the great Sebastian, the man of ages, who bore in himself the past
and the future,--Bach,--was not free of untruth, of fashionable folly, of
school-chattering. The man who had seen God, the man who lived in God,
seemed sometimes to Christophe to have had an insipid and sugared religion,
a Jesuitical style, rococo. In his cantatas there were languorous and
devout airs--(dialogues of the Soul coquetting with Jesus)--which sickened
Christophe: then he seemed to see chubby cherubim with round limbs, and
flying draperies. And also he had a feeling that the genial _Cantor_
always wrote in a closed room: his work smacked of stuffiness: there was
not in his music that brave outdoor air that was breathed in others,
not such great musicians, perhaps, but greater men--more human--than
he. Like Beethoven or Haendel. What hurt him in all of them, especially
in the classics, was their lack of freedom: almost all their works
were "constructed." Sometimes an emotion was filled out with all the
commonplaces of musical rhetoric, sometimes with a simple rhythm,
an ornamental design, repeated, turned upside down, combined in
every conceivable way in a mechanical fashion. These symmetrical and
twaddling constructions--classical, and neo-classical sonatas and
symphonies--exasperated Christophe, who, at that time, was not very
sensible of the beauty of order, and vast and well-conceived plans. That
seemed to him to be rather masons' work than musicians'.

But he was no less severe with the romantics. It was a strange thing, and
he was more surprised by it than anybody,--but no musicians irritated him
more than those who had pretended to be--and had actually been--the most
free, the most spontaneous, the least constructive,--those, who, like
Schumann, had poured drop by drop, minute by minute, into their innumerable
little works, their whole life. He was the more indignantly in revolt
against them as he recognized in them his adolescent soul and all the
follies that he had vowed to pluck out of it. In truth, the candid Schumann
could not be taxed with falsity: he hardly ever said anything that he had
not felt. But that was just it: his example made Christophe understand that
the worst falsity in German art came into it not when the artists tried to
express something which they had not felt, but rather when they tried to
express the feelings which they did in fact feel--_feelings which were
false_. Music is an implacable mirror of the soul. The more a German
musician is naive and in good faith, the more he displays the weaknesses
of the German soul, its uncertain depths, its soft tenderness, its want of
frankness, its rather sly idealism, its incapacity for seeing itself, for
daring to come face to face with itself. That false idealism is the secret
sore even of the greatest--of Wagner. As he read his works Christophe
ground his teeth. _Lohengrin_ seemed to him a blatant lie. He loathed the
huxtering chivalry, the hypocritical mummery, the hero without fear and
without a heart, the incarnation of cold and selfish virtue admiring itself
and most patently self-satisfied. He knew it too well, he had seen it in
reality, the type of German Pharisee, foppish, impeccable, and hard, bowing
down before its own image, the divinity to which it has no scruple about
sacrificing others. The _Flying Dutchman_ overwhelmed him with its massive
sentimentality and its gloomy boredom. The loves of the barbarous decadents
of the _Tetralogy_ were of a sickening staleness. Siegmund carrying off
his sister sang a tenor drawing-room song. Siegfried and Bruennhilde, like
respectable German married people, in the _Goetterdaemmerung_ laid bare
before each other, especially for the benefit of the audience, their
pompous and voluble conjugal passion. Every sort of lie had arranged to
meet in that work: false idealism, false Christianity, false Gothicism,
false legend, false gods, false humans. Never did more monstrous convention
appear than in that theater which was to upset all the conventions. Neither
eyes, nor mind, nor heart could be deceived by it for a moment: if they
were, then they must wish to be so.--They did wish to be so. Germany was
delighted with that doting, childish art, an art of brutes let loose, and
mystic, namby-pamby little girls.

And Christophe could do nothing: as soon as he heard the music he was
caught up like the others, more than the others, by the flood, and the
diabolical will of the man who had let it loose. He laughed, and he
trembled, and his cheeks burned, and he felt galloping armies rushing
through him! And he thought that those who bore such storms within
themselves might have all allowances made for them. What cries of joy
he uttered when in the hallowed works which he could not read without
trembling he felt once more his old emotion, ardent still, with nothing
to tarnish the purity of what he loved! These were glorious relics that
he saved from the wreck. What happiness they gave him! It seemed to him
that he had saved a part of himself. And was it not himself? These great
Germans, against whom he revolted, were they not his blood, his flesh, his
most precious life? He was only severe with them because he was severe with
himself. Who loved them better than he? Who felt more than he the goodness
of Schubert, the innocence of Haydn, the tenderness of Mozart, the great
heroic heart of Beethoven? Who more often than he took refuge in the
murmuring of the forests of Weber, and the cool shade of the cathedrals of
John Sebastian, raising against the gray sky of the North, above the plains
of Germany, their pile of stone, and their gigantic towers with their
sun-tipped spires?--But he suffered from their lies, and he could not
forget them. He attributed them to the race, their greatness to themselves.
He was wrong. Greatness and weaknesses belong equally to the race whose
great, shifting thought flows like the greatest river of music and poetry
at which Europe comes to drink.--And in what other people would he have
found the simple purity which now made it possible for him to condemn it so

He had no notion of that. With the ingratitude of a spoiled child he turned
against his mother the weapons which he had received from her. Later,
later, he was to feel all that he owed to her, and how dear she was to

But he was in a phase of blind reaction against all the idols of his
childhood. He was angry with himself and with them because he had believed
in them absolutely and passionately--and it was well that it was so. There
is an age in life when we must dare to be unjust, when we must make a
clean sweep of all admiration and respect got at second-hand, and deny
everything--truth and untruth--everything which we have not of ourselves
known for truth. Through education, and through everything that he sees and
hears about him, a child absorbs so many lies and blind follies mixed with
the essential verities of life, that the first duty of the adolescent who
wishes to grow into a healthy man is to sacrifice everything.

* * * * *

Christophe was passing through that crisis of healthy disgust. His instinct
was impelling him to eliminate from his life all the undigested elements
which encumbered it.

First of all to go was that sickening sweet tenderness which sucked away
the soul of Germany like a damp and moldy riverbed. Light! Light! A rough,
dry wind which should sweep away the miasmas of the swamp, the misty
staleness of the _Lieder, Liedchen, Liedlein_, as numerous as drops of rain
in which inexhaustibly the Germanic _Gemuet_ is poured forth: the countless
things like _Sehnsucht_ (Desire), _Heimweh_ (Homesickness), _Aufschwung_
(Soaring), _Trage_ (A question), _Warum_? (Why?), _an den Mond_ (To
the Moon), _an die Sterne_ (To the Stars), _an die Nachtigall_ (To the
Nightingale), _an den Fruehling_ (To Spring), _an den Sonnenschein_ (To
Sunshine): like _Fruehlingslied_ (Spring Song), _Fruehlingslust_ (Delights of
Spring), _Fruehlingsgruss_ (Hail to the Spring), _Fruelingsfahrt_ (A Spring
Journey), _Fruelingsnacht_ (A Spring Night), _Fruehlingsbotschaft_ (The
Message of Spring): like _Stimme der Liebe_ (The Voice of Love), _Sprache
der Liebe_ (The Language of Love), _Trauer der Liebe_ (Love's Sorrow),
_Geist der Liebe_ (The Spirit of Love), _Fuelle der Liebe_ (The Fullness
of Love): like _Blumenlied_ (The Song of the Flowers), _Blumenbrief_ (The
Letter of the Flowers), _Blumengruss_ (Flowers' Greeting): like _Herzeleid_
(Heart Pangs), _Mein Herz ist schwer_ (My Heart is Heavy), _Mein Herz ist
betruebt_ (My Heart is Troubled), _Mein Aug' ist trueb_ (My Eye is Heavy):
like the candid and silly dialogues with the _Roeselein_ (The Little Rose),
with the brook, with the turtle dove, with the lark: like those idiotic
questions: _"If the briar could have no thorns?"--"Is an old husband like
a lark who has built a nest?"--"Is she newly plighted?"_: the whole deluge
of stale tenderness, stale emotion, stale melancholy, stale poetry.... How
many lovely things profaned, rare things, used in season or out! For the
worst of it was that it was all useless: a habit of undressing their hearts
in public, a fond and foolish propensity of the honest people of Germany
for plunging loudly into confidences. With nothing to say they were always
talking! Would their chatter never cease?--As well bid frogs in a pond be

It was in the expression of love that Christophe was most rawly conscious
of untruth: for he was in a position to compare it with the reality. The
conventional love songs, lacrymose and proper, contained nothing like the
desires of man or the heart of woman. And yet the people who had written
them must have loved at least once in their lives! Was it possible that
they could have loved like that? No, no, they had lied, as they always did,
they had lied to themselves: they had tried to idealize themselves....
Idealism! That meant that they were afraid of looking at life squarely,
were incapable of seeing things like a man, as they are.--Everywhere the
same timidity, the same lack of manly frankness. Everywhere the same chilly
enthusiasm, the same pompous lying solemnity, in their patriotism, in
their drinking, in their religion. The _Trinklieder_ (Drinking Songs) were
prosopopeia to wine and the bowl: _"Du, herrlich Glas ..."_ ("Thou, noble
glass ..."). Faith--the one thing in the world which should be spontaneous,
springing from the soul like an unexpected sudden stream--was a
manufactured article, a commodity of trade. Their patriotic songs were made
for docile flocks of sheep basking in unison.... Shout, then!--What! Must
you go on lying--"_idealizing_"--till you are surfeited, till it brings you
to slaughter and madness!...

Christophe ended by hating all idealism. He preferred frank brutality to
such lying. But at heart he was more of an idealist than the rest, and he
had not--he could not have--any more real enemies than the brutal realists
whom he thought he preferred.

He was blinded by passion. He was frozen by the mist, the anaemic lying,
"the sunless phantom Ideas." With his whole being he reached upwards to
the sun. In his youthful contempt for the hypocrisy with which he was
surrounded, or for what he took to be hypocrisy, he did not see the high,
practical wisdom of the race which little by little had built up for itself
its grandiose idealism in order to suppress its savage instincts, or to
turn them to account. Not arbitrary reasons, not moral and religious codes,
not legislators and statesmen, priests and philosophers, transform the
souls of peoples and often impose upon them a new nature: but centuries of
misfortune and experience, which forge the life of peoples who have the
will to live.

* * * * *

And yet Christophe went on composing: and his compositions were not
examples of the faults which he found in others. In him creation was an
irresistible necessity which would not submit to the rules which his
intelligence laid down for it. No man creates from reason, but from
necessity.--It is not enough to have recognized the untruth and affectation
inherent in the majority of the feelings to avoid falling into them: long
and painful endeavor is necessary: nothing is more difficult than to be
absolutely true in modern society with its crushing heritage of indolent
habits handed down through generations. It is especially difficult for
those people, those nations who are possessed by an indiscreet mania for
letting their hearts speak--for making them speak--unceasingly, when most
generally it had much better have been silent.

Christophe's heart was very German in that: it had not yet learned the
virtue of silence: and that virtue did not belong to his age. He had
inherited from his father a need for talking, and talking loudly. He
knew it and struggled against it: bat the conflict paralyzed part of his
forces.--And he had another gift of heredity, no less burdensome, which
had come to him from his grandfather: an extraordinary difficulty--in
expressing himself exactly.--He was the son of a _virtuoso_. He was
conscious of the dangerous attraction of virtuosity: a physical pleasure,
the pleasure of skill, of agility, of satisfied muscular activity, the
pleasure of conquering, of dazzling, of enthralling in his own person
the many-headed audience: an excusable pleasure, in a young man almost
an innocent pleasure, though none the less destructive of art and soul:
Christophe knew it: it was in his blood: he despised it, but all the same
he yielded to it.

And so, torn between the instincts of his race and those of his genius,
weighed down by the burden of a parasitical past, which covered him with
a crust that he could not break through, he floundered along, and was
much nearer than he thought to all that he shunned and banned. All his
compositions were a mixture of truth and turgidness, of lucid strength and
faltering stupidity. It was only in rare moments that his personality could
pierce the casing of the dead personality which hampered his movements.

He was alone. He had no guide to help him out of the mire. When he thought
he was out of it he slipped back again. He went blindly on, wasting his
time and strength in futile efforts. He was spared no trial: and in the
disorder of his creative striving he never knew what was of greatest worth
in what he created. He tied himself up in absurd projects, symphonic poems,
which pretended to philosophy and were of monstrous dimensions. He was too
sincere to be able to hold to them for long together: and he would discard
them in disgust before he had stretched out a single movement. Or he would
set out to translate into overtures the most inaccessible works of poetry.
Then he would flounder about in a domain which was not his own. When
he drew up scenarios for himself--(for he stuck at nothing)--they were
idiotic: and when he attacked the great works of Goethe, Hebbel, Kleist, or
Shakespeare, he understood them all wrong. It was not want of intelligence
but want of the critical spirit: he could not yet understand others, he was
too much taken up with himself: he found himself everywhere with his naive
and turgid soul.

But besides these monsters who were not really begotten, he wrote a
quantity of small pieces, which were the immediate expression of passing
emotions--the most eternal of all: musical thoughts, _Lieder_. In this as
in other things he was in passionate reaction against current practices.
He would take up the most famous poems, already set to music, and was
impertinent enough to try to treat them differently and with greater truth
than Schumann and Schubert. Sometimes he would try to give to the poetic
figures of Goethe--to Mignon, the Harpist in _Wilhelm Meister_, their
individual character, exact and changing. Sometimes he would tackle certain
love songs which the weakness of the artists and the dullness of the
audience in tacit agreement had clothed about with sickly sentimentality:
and he would unclothe them: he would restore to them their rough, crude
sensuality. In a word, he set out to make passions and people live for
themselves and not to serve as toys for German families seeking an easy
emotionalism on Sundays when they sat about in some _Biergarten_.

But generally he would find the poets, even the greatest of them, too
literary: and he would select the simplest texts for preference: texts of
old _Lieder_, jolly old songs, which he had read perhaps in some improving
work: he would take care not to preserve their choral character: he would
treat them with a fine, lively, and altogether lay audacity. Or he would
take words from the Gospel, or proverbs, sometimes even words heard by
chance, scraps of dialogues of the people, children's thoughts: words often
awkward and prosaic in which there was only pure feeling. With them he was
at his ease, and he would reach a depth with them which was not in his
other compositions, a depth which he himself never suspected.

Good or bad, more often bad than good, his works as a whole had abounding
vitality. They were not altogether new: far from it. Christophe was often
banal, through his very sincerity: he repeated sometimes forms already used
because they exactly rendered his thought, because he also felt in that way
and not otherwise. Nothing would have induced him to try to be original: it
seemed to him that a man must be very commonplace to burden himself with
such an idea. He tried to be himself, to say what he felt, without worrying
as to whether what he said had been said before him or not. He took a pride
in believing that it was the best way of being original and that Christophe
had only been and only would be alive once. With the magnificent impudence
of youth, nothing seemed to him to have been done before: and everything
seemed to him to be left for doing--or for doing again. And the feeling
of this inward fullness of life, of a life stretching endless before him,
brought him to a state of exuberant and rather indiscreet happiness. He
was perpetually in a state of jubilation, which had no need of joy: it
could adapt itself to sorrow: its source overflowed with life, was, in its
strength, mother of all happiness and virtue. To live, to live too much!...
A man who does not feel within himself this intoxication of strength, this
jubilation in living--even in the depths of misery,--is not an artist.
That is the touchstone. True greatness is shown in this power of rejoicing
through joy and sorrow. A Mendelssohn or a Brahms, gods of the mists of
October, and of fine rain, have never known the divine power.

Christophe was conscious of it: and he showed his joy simply, impudently.
He saw no harm in it, he only asked to share it with others. He did not
see how such joy hurts the majority of men, who never can possess it and
are always envious of it. For the rest he never bothered about pleasing
or displeasing: he was sure of himself, and nothing seemed to him simpler
than to communicate his conviction to others,--to conquer. Instinctively he
compared his riches with the general poverty of the makers of music: and he
thought that it would be very easy to make his superiority recognized. Too
easy, even. He had only to show himself.

He showed himself.

* * * * *

They were waiting for him.

Christophe had made no secret of his feelings. Since he had become aware
of German Pharisaism, which refuses to see things as they are, he had
made it a law for himself that he should be absolutely, continually,
uncompromisingly sincere in everything without regard for anything or
anybody or himself. And as he could do nothing without going to extremes,
he was extravagant in his sincerity: he would say outrageous things and
scandalize people a thousand times less naive than himself. He never
dreamed that it might annoy them. When he realized the idiocy of some
hallowed composition he would make haste to impart his discovery to
everybody he encountered: musicians of the orchestra, or amateurs of his
acquaintance. He would pronounce the most absurd judgments with a beaming
face. At first no one took him seriously: they laughed at his freaks. But
it was not long before they found that he was always reverting to them,
insisting on them in a way that was really bad taste. It became evident
that Christophe believed in his paradoxes: and they became less amusing. He
was a nuisance: at concerts he would make ironic remarks in a loud voice,
or would express his scorn for the glorious masters in no veiled fashion
wherever he might be.

Everything passed from mouth to mouth in the little town: not a word was
lost. People were already affronted by his conduct during the past year.
They had not forgotten the scandalous fashion in which he had shown himself
abroad with Ada and the troublous times of the sequel. He had forgotten,
it himself: one day wiped out another, and he was very different from what
he had been two months before. But others had not forgotten: those who, in
all small towns, take upon themselves scrupulously to note down all the
faults, all the imperfections, all the sad, ugly, and unpleasant happenings
concerning their neighbors, so that nothing is ever forgotten. Christophe's
new extravagances were naturally set, side by side with his former
indiscretions, in the scroll. The former explained the latter. The outraged
feelings of offended morality were now bolstered up by those of scandalized
good taste. The kindliest of them said:

"He is trying to be particular."

But most alleged:

_"Total verrueckt!"_ (Absolutely mad.)

An opinion no less severe and even more dangerous was beginning to find
currency--an opinion assured of success by reason of its illustrious
origin: it was said that, at the Palace, whither Christophe still went upon
his official duties, he had had the bad taste in conversation with the
Grand Duke himself, with revolting lack of decency, to give vent to his
ideas concerning the illustrious masters: it was said that he had called
Mendelssohn's _Elijah_ "a clerical humbug's paternoster," and he had called
certain _Lieder_ of Schumann "_Backfisch Musik_": and that in the face of
the declared preference of the august Princess for those works! The Grand
Duke had cut short his impertinences by saying dryly:

"To hear you, sir, one would doubt your being a German." This vengeful
utterance, coming from so lofty an eminence, reached the lowest depths: and
everybody who thought he had reason to be annoyed with Christophe, either
for his success, or for some more personal if not more cogent reason, did
not fail to call to mind that he was not in fact pure German. His father's
family, it was remembered, came originally from Belgium. It was not
surprising, therefore, that this immigrant should decry the national
glories. That explained everything and German vanity found reasons therein
for greater self-esteem, and at the same time for despising its adversary.

Christophe himself most substantially fed this Platonic vengeance. It is
very imprudent to criticise others when you are yourself on the point of
challenging criticism. A cleverer or less frank artist would have shown
more modesty and more respect for his predecessors. But Christophe could
see no reason for hiding his contempt for mediocrity or his joy in his
own strength, and his joy was shown in no temperate fashion. Although
from childhood Christophe had been turned in upon himself for want of any
creature to confide in, of late he had come by a need of expansiveness. He
had too much joy for himself: his breast was too small to contain it: he
would have burst if he had not shared his delight. Failing a friend, he had
confided in his colleague in the orchestra, the second _Kapellmeister_,
Siegmund Ochs, a young Wurtemberger, a good fellow, though crafty, who
showed him an effusive deference. Christophe did not distrust him: and,
even if he had, how could it have occurred to him that it might be harmful
to confide his joy to one who did not care, or even to an enemy? Ought they
not rather to be grateful to him? Was it not for them also that he was
working? He brought happiness for all, friends and enemies alike.--He had
no idea that there is nothing more difficult than to make men accept a new
happiness: they almost prefer their old misery: they need food that has
been masticated for ages. But what is most intolerable to them is the
thought that they owe such happiness to another. They cannot forgive that
offense until there is no way of evading it: and in any case, they do
contrive to make the giver pay dearly for it.

There were, then, a thousand reasons why Christophe's confidences should
not be kindly received by anybody. But there were a thousand and one
reasons why they should not be acceptable to Siegmund Ochs. The first
_Kapellmeister_, Tobias Pfeiffer, was on the point of retiring: and, in
spite of his youth, Christophe had every chance of succeeding him. Ochs
was too good a German not to recognize that Christophe was worthy of the
position, since the Court was on his side. But he had too good an opinion
of himself not to believe that he would have been more worthy had the Court
known him better. And so he received Christophe's effusions with a strange
smile when, he arrived at the theater in the morning with a face that he
tried hard to make serious, though it beamed in spite of himself.

"Well?" he would say slyly as he came up to him, "another masterpiece?"

Christophe would take his arm.

"Ah! my friend. It is the best of all ... If you could hear it!... Devil
take me, it is too beautiful! There has never been anything like it. God
help the poor audience! They will only long for one thing when they have
heard it: to die."

His words did not fall upon deaf ears. Instead of smiling, or of chaffing
Christophe about his childish enthusiasm--he would have been the first
to laugh at it and beg pardon if he had been made to feel the absurdity
of it--Ochs went into ironic ecstasies: he drew Christophe on to further
enormities: and when he left him made haste to repeat them all, making them
even more grotesque. The little circle of musicians chuckled over them: and
every one was impatient for the opportunity of judging the unhappy
compositions.--They were all judged beforehand.

At last they appeared--Christophe had chosen from the better of his works
an overture to the _Judith_ of Hebbel, the savage energy of which had
attracted him, in his reaction against German atony, although he was
beginning to lose his taste for it, knowing intuitively the unnaturalness
of such assumption of genius, always and at all costs. He had added a
symphony which bore the bombastic title of the Basle Boecklin, "_The Dream
of Life_," and the motto: "_Vita somnium breve_." A song-cycle completed
the programme, with a few classical works, and a _Festmarsch_ by Ochs,
which Christophe had kindly offered to include in his concert, though he
knew it to be mediocre.

Nothing much happened during the rehearsals. Although the orchestra
understood absolutely nothing of the composition it was playing and
everybody was privately disconcerted by the oddities of the new music, they
had no time to form an opinion: they were not capable of doing so until
the public had pronounced on it. Besides, Christophe's confidence imposed
on the artists, who, like every good German orchestra, were docile and
disciplined. His only difficulties were with the singer. She was the
blue lady of the _Townhalle_ concert. She was famous through Germany:
the domestic creature sang Bruennhilde Kundry at Dresden and Bayreuth
with undoubted lung-power. But if in the Wagnerian school she had
learned the art of which that school is justly proud, the art of good
articulation, of projecting the consonants through space, and of
battering the gaping audience with the vowels as with a club, she had not
learned--designedly--the art of being natural. She provided for every word:
everything was accentuated: the syllables moved with leaden feet, and there
was a tragedy in every sentence. Christophe implored her to moderate her
dramatic power a little. She tried at first graciously enough: but her
natural heaviness and her need for letting her voice go carried her away.
Christophe became nervous. He told the respectable lady that he had tried
to make human beings speak with his speaking-trumpet and not the dragon
Fafner. She took his insolence in bad part--naturally. She said that,
thank Heaven! she knew what singing was, and that she had had the honor of
interpreting the _Lieder_ of Maestro Brahms, in the presence of that great
man, and that he had never tired of hearing her.

"So much the worse! So much the worse!" cried Christophe.

She asked him with a haughty smile to be kind enough to explain the meaning
of his energetic remark. He replied that never in his life had Brahms
known what it was to be natural, that his eulogies were the worst possible
censure, and that although he--Christophe--was not very polite, as she had
justly observed, never would he have gone so far as to say anything so

The argument went on in this fashion: and the lady insisted on singing in
her own way, with heavy pathos and melodramatic effects--until one day when
Christophe declared coldly that he saw the truth: it was her nature and
nothing could change it: but since the _Lieder_ could not be sung properly,
they should not be sung at all: he withdrew them from the programme.--It
was on the eve of the concert and they were counting on the _Lieder_: she
had talked about them: she was musician enough to appreciate certain of
their qualities: Christophe insulted her: and as she was not sure that the
morrow's concert would not set the seal on the young man's fame, she did
not wish to quarrel with a rising star. She gave way suddenly: and during
the last rehearsal she submitted docilely to all Christophe's wishes. But
she had made up her mind--at the concert--to have her own way.

* * * * *

The day came. Christophe had no anxiety. He was too full of his music to
be able to judge it. He realized that some of his works in certain places
bordered on the ridiculous. But what did that matter? Nothing great can be
written without touching the ridiculous. To reach the heart of things it
is necessary to dare human respect, politeness, modesty, the timidity of
social lies under which the heart is stifled. If nobody is to be affronted
and success attained, a man must be resigned all his life to remain bound
by convention and to give to second-rate people the second-rate truth,
mitigated, diluted, which they are capable of receiving: he must dwell in
prison all his life. A man is great only when he has set his foot on such
anxieties. Christophe trampled them underfoot. Let them hiss him: he was
sure of not leaving them indifferent. He conjured up the faces that certain
people of his acquaintance would make as they heard certain rather bold
passages. He expected bitter criticism: he smiled at it already. In any
case they would have to be blind--or deaf--to deny that there was force
in it--pleasant or otherwise, what did it matter?--Pleasant! Pleasant!...
Force! That is enough. Let it go its way, and bear all before it, like the

He had one setback. The Grand Duke did not come. The royal box was only
occupied by Court people, a few ladies-in-waiting. Christophe was irritated
by it. He thought: "The fool is cross with me. He does not know what to
think of my work: he is afraid of compromising himself." He shrugged his
shoulders, pretending not to be put out by such idiocy. Others paid more
attention to it: it was the first lesson for him, a menace of his future.

The public had not shown much more interest than the Grand Duke: quite a
third of the hall was empty. Christophe could not help thinking bitterly of
the crowded halls at his concerts when he was a child. He would not have
been surprised by the change if he had had more experience: it would have
seemed natural to him that there were fewer people come to hear him when
he made good music than when he made bad: for it is not music but the
musician in which the greater part of the public is interested: and it is
obvious that a musician who is a man and like everybody else is much less
interesting than a musician in a child's little trowsers or short frock,
who tickles sentimentality or amuses idleness.

After waiting in vain for the hall to fill, Christophe decided to begin.
He tried to pretend that it was better so, saying, "A few friends but
good."--His optimism did not last long.

His pieces were played in silence.--There is a silence in an audience
which seems big and overflowing with love. But there was nothing in this.
Nothing. Utter sleep. Blankness. Every phrase seemed to drop into depths
of indifference. With his back turned to the audience, busy with his
orchestra, Christophe was fully aware of everything that was happening in
the hall, with those inner antennae which every true musician is endowed, so
that he knows whether what he is playing is waking an echo in the hearts
about him. He went on conducting and growing excited while he was frozen by
the cold mist of boredom rising from the stalls and the boxes behind him.

At last the overture was ended: and the audience applauded. It applauded
coldly, politely, and was then silent. Christophe would rather have had
them hoot.... A hiss! One hiss! Anything to give a sign of life, or at
least of reaction against his work!... Nothing.--He looked at the audience.
The people were looking at each other, each trying to find out what the
other thought. They did not succeed and relapsed into indifference.

The music went on. The symphony was played.--Christophe found it hard to
go on to the end. Several times he was on the point of throwing down his
baton and running away. Their apathy overtook him: at last he could not
understand what he was conducting: he could not breathe: he felt that he
was falling into fathomless boredom. There was not even the whispered
ironic comment which he had anticipated at certain passages: the audience
were reading their programmes. Christophe heard the pages turned all
together with a dry rustling: and then, once more there was silence until
the last chord, when the same polite applause showed that they had not
understood that the symphony was finished.--And yet there were four pairs
of hands went on clapping when the others had finished: but they awoke no
echo, and stopped ashamed: that made the emptiness seem more empty, and the
little incident served to show the audience how bored it had been.

Christophe took a seat in the middle of the orchestra: he dared not look to
right or left. He wanted to cry: and at the same time he was quivering with
rage. He was fain to get up and shout at them: "You bore me! Ah! How you
bore me! I cannot bear it!... Go away! Go away, all of you!..."

The audience woke up a little: they were expecting the singer,--they were
accustomed to applauding her. In that ocean of new music in which they were
drifting without a compass, she at least was sure, a known land, and a
solid, in which there was no danger of being lost. Christophe divined their
thoughts exactly, and he laughed bitterly. The singer was no less conscious
of the expectancy of the audience: Christophe saw that in her regal airs
when he came and told her that it was her turn to appear. They looked at
each other inimically. Instead of offering her his arm, Christophe thrust
his hands into his pockets and let her go on alone. Furious and out of
countenance she passed him. He followed her with a bored expression. As
soon as she appeared the audience gave her an ovation: that made everybody
happier: every face brightened, the audience grew interested, and glasses
were brought into play. Certain of her power she tackled the _Lieder_, in
her own way, of course, and absolutely disregarded Christophe's remarks of
the evening before. Christophe, who was accompanying her, went pale. He had
foreseen her rebellion. At the first change that she made he tapped on the
piano and said angrily:


She went on. He whispered behind her back in a low voice of fury:

"No! No! Not like that!... Not that!"

Unnerved by his fierce growls, which the audience could not hear, though
the orchestra caught every syllable, she stuck to it, dragging her notes,
making pauses like organ stops. He paid no heed to them and went ahead: in
the end they got out of time. The audience did not notice it: for some time
they had been saying that Christophe's music was not made to seem pleasant
or right to the ear: but Christophe, who was not of that opinion, was
making lunatic grimaces: and at last he exploded. He stopped short in the
middle of a bar:

"Stop," he shouted.

She was carried on by her own impetus for half a bar and then stopped:

"That's enough," he said dryly.

There was a moment of amazement in the audience. After a few seconds he
said icily:

"Begin again!"

She looked at him in stupefaction: her hands trembled: she thought for a
moment of throwing his book at his head: afterwards she did not understand
how it was that she did not do so. But she was overwhelmed by Christophe's
authority and his unanswerable tone of voice: she began again. She sang the
song-cycle, without changing one shade of meaning, or a single movement:
for she felt that he would spare her nothing: and she shuddered at the
thought of a fresh insult.

When she had finished the audience recalled her frantically. They were not
applauding the _Lieder_--(they would have applauded just the same if she
had sung any others)--but the famous singer who had grown old in harness:
they knew that they could safely admire her. Besides, they wanted to make
up to her for the insult she had just received. They were not quite sure,
but they did vaguely understand that the singer had made a mistake: and
they thought it indecent of Christophe to call their attention to it. They
encored the songs. But Christophe shut the piano firmly.

The singer did not notice his insolence: she was too much upset to think
of singing again. She left the stage hurriedly and shut herself up in her
box: and then for a quarter of an hour she relieved her heart of the flood
of wrath and rage that was pent up in it: a nervous attack, a deluge of
tears, indignant outcries and imprecations against Christophe,--she omitted
nothing. Her cries of anger could be heard through the closed door. Those
of her friends who had made their way there told everybody when they left
that Christophe had behaved like a cad. Opinion travels quickly in a
concert hall. And so when Christophe went to his desk for the last piece
of music the audience was stormy. But it was not his composition: it
was the _Festmarsch_ by Ochs, which Christophe had kindly included in
his programme. The audience--who were quite at their ease with the dull
music--found a very simple method of displaying their disapproval of
Christophe without going so far as to hiss him: they acclaimed Ochs
ostentatiously, recalled the composer two or three times, and he appeared
readily. And that was the end of the concert.

The Grand Duke and everybody at the Court--the bored, gossiping little
provincial town--lost no detail of what had happened. The papers which were
friendly towards the singer made no allusion to the incident: but they
all agreed in exalting her art while they only mentioned the titles of
the _Lieder_ which she had sung. They published only a few lines about
Christophe's other compositions, and they all said almost the same things:
"... Knowledge of counterpoint. Complicated writing. Lack of inspiration.
No melody. Written with the head, not with the heart. Want of sincerity.
Trying to be original...." Followed a paragraph on true originality, that
of the masters who are dead and buried, Mozart, Beethoven, Loewe, Schubert,
Brahms, "those who are original without thinking of it."--Then by a natural
transition they passed to the revival at the Grand Ducal Theater of the
_Nachtlager von Granada_ of Konradin Kreutzer: a long account was given of
"the delicious music, as fresh and jolly as when it was first written."

Christophe's compositions met with absolute and astonished lack of
comprehension from the most kindly disposed critics: veiled hostility from
those who did not like him, and were arming themselves for later ventures:
and from the general public, guided by neither friendly nor hostile
critics, silence. Left to its own thoughts the general public does not
think at all: that goes without saying.

* * * * *

Christophe was bowled over.

And yet there was nothing surprising in his defeat. There were reasons,
three to one, why his compositions should not please. They were immature.
They were, secondly, too advanced to be understood at once. And,
lastly, people were only too glad to give a lesson to the impertinent
youngster.--But Christophe was not cool-headed enough to admit that his
reverse was legitimate. He had none of that serenity which the true artist
gains from the mournful experience of long misunderstanding at the hands of
men and their incurable stupidity. His naive confidence in the public and
in success which he thought he could easily gain because he deserved it,
crumbled away. He would have thought it natural to have enemies. But what
staggered him was to find that he had not a single friend. Those on whom he
had counted, those who hitherto had seemed to be interested in everything
that he wrote, had not given him a single word of encouragement since the
concert. He tried to probe them: they took refuge behind vague words. He
insisted, he wanted to know what they really thought: the most sincere of
them referred back to his former works, his foolish early efforts.--More
than once in his life he was to hear his new works condemned by comparison,
with the older ones,--and that by the same people who, a few years before,
had condemned his older works when they were new: that is the usual
ordering of these things. Christophe did not like it: he exclaimed loudly.
If people did not like him, well and good: he accepted that: it even
pleased him since he could not be friends with everybody. But that people
should pretend to be fond of him and not allow him to grow up, that they
should try to force him all his life to remain a child, was beyond the
pale! What is good at twelve is not good at twenty: and he hoped not
to stay at that, but to change and to go on changing always.... These
idiots who tried to stop life!... What was interesting in his childish
compositions was not their childishness and silliness, but the force in
them hungering for the future. And they were trying to kill his future!...
No, they had never understood what he was, they had never loved him, never
then or now: they only loved the weakness and vulgarity in him, everything
that he had in common with others, and not _himself_, not what he really
was: their friendship was a misunderstanding....

He was exaggerating, perhaps. It often happens with quite nice people who
are incapable of liking new work which they sincerely love when it is
twenty years old. New life smacks too strong for their weak senses--the
scent of it must evaporate in the winds of Time. A work of art only becomes
intelligible to them when it is crusted over with the dust of years.

But Christophe could not admit of not being understood when he was
_present_ and of being understood when he was _past_. He preferred to think
that he was not understood at all, in any case, even. And he raged against
it. He was foolish enough to want to make himself understood, to explain
himself, to argue. Although no good purpose was served thereby: he would
have had to reform the taste of his time. But he was afraid of nothing. He
was determined by hook or by crook to clean up German taste. But it was
utterly impossible: he could not convince anybody by means of conversation,
in which he found it difficult to find words, and expressed himself with an
excess of violence about the great musicians and even about the men to whom
he was talking: he only succeeded in making a few more enemies. He would
have had to prepare his ideas beforehand, and then to force the public to
hear him....

And just then, at the appointed hour, his star--his evil star--gave him the
means of doing so.

* * * * *

He was sitting in the restaurant of the theater in a group of musicians
belonging to the orchestra whom he was scandalizing by his artistic
judgments. They were not all of the same opinion: but they were all ruffled
by the freedom of his language. Old Krause, the alto, a good fellow
and a good musician, who sincerely loved Christophe, tried to turn the
conversation: he coughed, then looked out for an opportunity of making a
pun. But Christophe did not hear him: he went on: and Krause mourned and

"What makes him say such things? God bless him! You can think these things:
but you must not say them."

The odd thing was that he also thought "these things": at least, he had a
glimmering of them, and Christophe's words roused many doubts in him: but
he had not the courage to confess it, or openly to agree--half from fear of
compromising himself, half from modesty and distrust of himself.

Weigl, the cornet-player, did not want to know anything: he was ready to
admire anything, or anybody, good or bad, star or gas-jet: everything was
the same to him: there were no degrees in his admiration: he admired,
admired, admired. It was a vital necessity to him: it hurt him when anybody
tried to curb him.

Old Kuh, the violoncellist, suffered even more. He loved bad music with
all his heart. Everything that Christophe hounded down with his sarcasm
and invective was infinitely dear to him: instinctively his choice pitched
on the most conventional works: his soul was a reservoir of tearful and
high-flown emotion. Indeed, he was not dishonest in his tender regard for
all the sham great men. It was when he tried to pretend that he liked the
real great men that he was lying to himself--in perfect innocence. There
are "Brahmins" who think to find in their God the breath of old men of
genius: they love Beethoven in Brahms. Kuh went one better: he loved Brahms
in Beethoven.

But the most enraged of all with. Christophe's paradoxes was Spitz, the
bassoon. It was not so much his musical instinct that was wounded as his
natural servility. One of the Roman Emperors wished to die standing. Spitz
wished to die, as he had lived, crawling: that was his natural position:
it was delightful to him to grovel at the feet of everything that was
official, hallowed, "arrived": and he was beside himself when anybody tried
to keep him from playing the lackey, comfortably.

So, Kuh groaned, Weigl threw up his hands in despair, Krause made jokes,
and Spitz shouted in a shrill voice. But Christophe went on imperturbably
shouting louder than the rest: and saying monstrous things about Germany
and the Germans.

At the next table a young man was listening to him and rocking with
laughter. He had black curly hair, fine, intelligent eyes, a large nose,
which at its end could not make up its mind to go either to right or left,
and rather than go straight on, went to both sides at once, thick lips,
and a clever, mobile face: he was following everything that Christophe
said, hanging on his lips, reflecting every word with a sympathetic and
yet mocking attention, wrinkling up his forehead, his temples, the corners
of his eyes, round his nostrils and cheeks, grimacing with laughter,
and every now and then shaking all over convulsively. He did not join in
the conversation, but he did not miss a word of it. He showed his joy
especially when he saw Christophe, involved in some argument and heckled by
Spitz, flounder about, stammer, and stutter with anger, until he had found
the word he was seeking,--a rock with which to crush his adversary. And his
delight knew no bounds when Christophe, swept along by his passions far
beyond the capacity of his thought, enunciated monstrous paradoxes which
made his hearers snort.

At last they broke up, each of them tired out with feeling and alleging his
own superiority. As Christophe, the last to go, was leaving the room he was
accosted by the young man who had listened to his words with such pleasure.
He had not yet noticed him. The other politely removed his hat, smiled, and
asked permission to introduce himself:

"Franz Mannheim."

He begged pardon for his indiscretion in listening to the argument, and
congratulated Christophe on the _maestria_ with which he had pulverized his
opponents. He was still laughing at the thought of it. Christophe was glad
to hear it, and looked at him a little distrustfully:

"Seriously?" he asked. "You are not laughing at me?"

The other swore by the gods. Christophe's face lit up.

"Then you think I am right? You are of my opinion?"

"Well," said Mannheim, "I am not a musician. I know nothing of music. The
only music I like--(if it is not too flattering to say so)--is yours....
That may show you that my taste is not so bad...."

"Oh!" said Christophe skeptically, though he was flattered all the same,
"that proves nothing."

"You are difficult to please.... Good!... I think as you do: that proves
nothing. And I don't venture to judge what you say of German musicians.
But, anyhow, it is so true of the Germans in general, the old Germans, all
the romantic idiots with their rancid thought, their sloppy emotion, their
senile reiteration which we are asked to admire, '_the eternal Yesterday,
which has always been, and always will be, and will be law to-morrow
because it is law to-day._' ...!"

He recited a few lines of the famous passage in Schiller:

"... _Das ewig Gestrige,
Das immer war imd immer wiederkehrt_...."

"Himself, first of all!" He stopped in the middle of his recitation.

"Who?" asked Christophe.

"The pump-maker who wrote that!"

Christophe did not understand. But Mannheim went on:

"I should like to have a general cleaning up of art and thought every fifty
years--nothing to be left standing."

"A little drastic," said Christophe, smiling.

"No, I assure you. Fifty years is too much: I should say thirty.... And
even less!... It is a hygienic measure. One does not keep one's ancestors
in one's house. One gets rid of them, when they are dead, and sends, them
elsewhere,--there politely to rot, and one places stones on them to be
quite sure that they will not come back. Nice people put flowers on them,
too. I don't mind if they like it. All I ask is to be left in peace. I
leave them alone! Each for his own side, say I: the dead and the living."

"There are some dead who are more alive than the living."

"No, no! It would be more true to say that there are some living who are
more dead than the dead."

"Maybe. In any case, there are old things which are still young."

"Then if they are still young we can find them for ourselves.... But I
don't believe it. What has been good once never is good again. Nothing is
good but change. Before all we have to rid ourselves of the old men and
things. There are too many of them in Germany. Death to them, say I!"

Christophe listened to these squibs attentively and labored to discuss
them: he was in part in sympathy with them, he recognized certain of his
own thoughts in them: and at the same time he felt a little embarrassed at
having them so blown out to the point of caricature. But as he assumed that
everybody else was as serious as himself, he thought that perhaps Mannheim,
who seemed to be more learned than himself and spoke more easily, was
right, and was drawing the logical conclusions from his principles. Vain
Christophe, whom so many people could not forgive for his faith in himself,
was really most naively modest often tricked by his modesty when he was
with those who were better educated than himself,--especially, when they
consented not to plume themselves on it to avoid an awkward discussion.
Mannheim, who was amusing himself with his own paradoxes, and from one
sally to another had reached extravagant quips and cranks, at which he
was laughing immensely, was not accustomed to being taken seriously: he
was delighted with the trouble that Christophe was taking to discuss his
nonsense, and even to understand it: and while he laughed, he was grateful
for the importance which Christophe gave him: he thought him absurd and

They parted very good friends: and Christophe was not a little surprised
three hours later at rehearsal to see Mannheim's head poked through the
little door leading to the orchestra, smiling and grimacing, and making
mysterious signs at him. When the rehearsal was over Christophe went to
him. Mannheim took his arm familiarly.

"You can spare a moment?... Listen. I have an idea. Perhaps you will think
it absurd.... Would not you like for once in a way to write what you think
of music and the musicos? Instead of wasting your breath in haranguing four
dirty knaves of your band who are good for nothing but scraping and blowing
into bits of wood, would it not be better to address the general public?"

"Not better? Would I like?... My word! And when do you want me to write? It
is good of you!..."

"I've a proposal for you.... Some friends and I: Adalbert von Waldhaus,
Raphael Goldenring, Adolf Mai, and Lucien Ehrenfeld,--have started a
Review, the only intelligent Review in the town: the _Dionysos_.--(You must
know it....)--We all admire each other and should be glad if you would join
us. Will you take over our musical criticism?"

Christophe was abashed by such an honor: he was longing to accept: he was
only afraid of not being worthy: he could not write.

"Oh! come," said Mannheim, "I am sure you can. And besides, as soon as you
are a critic you can do anything you like. You've no need to be afraid of
the public. The public is incredibly stupid. It is nothing to be an artist:
an artist is only a sort of comedian: an artist can be hissed. But a critic
has the right to say: 'Hiss me that man!' The whole audience lets him do
its thinking. Think whatever you like. Only look as if you were thinking
something. Provided you give the fools their food, it does not much matter
what, they will gulp down anything."

In the end Christophe consented, with effusive thanks. He only made it a
condition that he should be allowed to say what he liked.

"Of course, of course," said Mannheim. "Absolute freedom! We are all free."

He looked him up at the theater once more after the performance to
introduce him to Adalbert von Waldhaus and his friends. They welcomed him

With the exception of Waldhaus, who belonged to one of the noble families
of the neighborhood, they were all Jews and all very rich: Mannheim
was the son of a banker: Mai the son of the manager of a metallurgical
establishment: and Ehrenfeld's father was a great jeweler. Their fathers
belonged to the older generation of Jews, industrious and acquisitive,
attached to the spirit of their race, building their fortunes with keen
energy, and enjoying their energy much more than their fortunes. Their sons
seemed to be made to destroy what their fathers had builded: they laughed
at family prejudice and their ant-like mania for economy and delving: they
posed as artists, affected to despise money and to fling it out of window.
But in reality they hardly ever let it slip through their fingers: and in
vain did they do all sorts of foolish things: they never could altogether
lead astray their lucidity of mind and practical sense. For the rest, their
parents kept an eye on them, and reined them in. The most prodigal of them,
Mannheim, would sincerely have given away all that he had: but he never had
anything: and although he was always loudly inveighing against his father's
niggardliness, in his heart he laughed at it and thought that he was right.
In fine, there was only Waldhaus really who was in control of his fortune,
and went into it wholeheartedly and reckless of cost, and bore that of the
Review. He was a poet. He wrote "_Polymetres_" in the manner of Arno Holz
and Walt Whitman, with lines alternately very long and very short, in which
stops, double and triple stops, dashes, silences, commas, italics and
italics, played a great part. And so did alliteration and repetition--of
a word--of a line--of a whole phrase. He interpolated words of every
language. He wanted--(no one has ever known why)--to render the _Cezanne_
into verse. In truth, he was poetic enough and had a distinguished taste
for stale things. He was sentimental and dry, naive and foppish: his
labored verses affected a cavalier carelessness. He would have been a
good poet for men of the world. But there are too many of the kind in the
Reviews and artistic circles: and he wished to be alone. He had taken it
into his head to play the great gentleman who is above the prejudices of
his caste. He had more prejudices than anybody. He did not admit their
existence. He took a delight in surrounding himself with Jews in the Review
which he edited, to rouse the indignation of his family, who were very
anti-Semite, and to prove his own freedom of mind to himself. With his
colleagues, he assumed a tone of courteous equality. But in his heart he
had a calm and boundless contempt for them. He was not unaware that they
were very glad to make use of his name and money: and he let them do so
because it pleased him to despise them.

And they despised him for letting them do so: for they knew very well that
it served his turn. A fair exchange, Waldhaus lent them his name and
fortune: and they brought him their talents, their eye for business and
subscribers. They were much more intelligent than he. Not that they had
more personality. They had perhaps even less. But in the little town they
were, as the Jews are everywhere and always,--by the mere fact of their
difference of race which for centuries has isolated them and sharpened
their faculty for making observation--they were the most advanced in mind,
the most sensible of the absurdity of its moldy institutions and decrepit
thought. Only, as their character was less free than their intelligence,
it did not help them, while they mocked, from trying rather to turn those
institutions and ideas to account than to reform them. In spite of their
independent professions of faith, they were like the noble Adalbert, little
provincial snobs, rich, idle young men of family, who dabbled and flirted
with letters for the fun of it. They were very glad to swagger about as
giant-killers: but they were kindly enough and never slew anybody but a few
inoffensive people or those whom they thought could never harm them. They
cared nothing for setting by the ears a society to which they knew very
well they would one day return and embrace all the prejudices which they
had combated. And when they did venture to make a stir on a little scandal,
or loudly to declare war on some idol of the day,--who was beginning to
totter,--they took care never to burn their boats: in case of danger they
re-embarked. Whatever then might be the issue of the campaign,--when it
was finished it was a long time before war would break out again: the
Philistines could sleep in peace. All that these new _Davidsbuendler_ wanted
to do was to make it appear that they could have been terrible if they had
so desired: but they did not desire. They preferred to be on friendly terms
with artists and to give suppers to actresses.

Christophe was not happy in such a set. They were always talking of women
and horses: and their talk was not refined. They were stiff and formal.
Adalbert spoke in a mincing, slow voice, with exaggerated, bored, and
boring politeness. Adolf Mai, the secretary of the Review, a heavy,
thick-set, bull-necked, brutal-looking young man, always pretended to be
in the right: he laid down the law, never listened to what anybody said,
seemed to despise the opinion of the person he was talking to, and also
that person. Goldenring, the art critic, who had a twitch, and eyes
perpetually winking behind his large spectacles,--no doubt in imitation
of the painters whose society he cultivated, wore long hair, smoked in
silence, mumbled scraps of sentences which he never finished, and made
vague gestures in the air with his thumb. Ehrenfeld was little, bald, and
smiling, had a fair beard and a sensitive, weary-looking face, a hooked
nose, and he wrote the fashions and the society notes in the Review. In a
silky voice he used to talk obscurely: he had a wit, though of a malignant
and often ignoble kind.--All these young millionaires were anarchists, of
course: when a man possesses everything it is the supreme luxury for him to
deny society: for in that way he can evade his responsibilities. So might a
robber, who has just fleeced a traveler, say to him: "What are you staying
for? Get along! I have no more use for you."

Of the whole bunch Christophe was only in sympathy with Mannheim: he was
certainly the most lively of the five: he was amused by everything that
he said and everything that was said to him: stuttering, stammering,
blundering, sniggering, talking nonsense, he was incapable of following an
argument, or of knowing exactly what he thought himself: but he was quite
kindly, bearing no malice, having not a spark of ambition. In truth, he was
not very frank: he was always playing a part: but quite innocently, and he
never did anybody any harm.

He espoused all sorts of strange Utopias--most often generous. He was too
subtle and too skeptical to keep his head even in his enthusiasms, and he
never compromised himself by applying his theories. But he had to have
some hobby: it was a game to him, and he was always changing from one to
another. For the time being his craze was for kindness. It was not enough
for him to be kind naturally: he wished to be thought kind: he professed
kindness, and acted it. Out of reaction against the hard, dry activity of
his kinsfolk, and against German austerity, militarism, and Philistinism,
he was a Tolstoyan, a Nirvanian, an evangelist, a Buddhist,--he was not
quite sure what,--an apostle of a new morality that was soft, boneless,
indulgent, placid, easy-living, effusively forgiving every sin, especially
the sins of the flesh, a morality which did not conceal its predilection
for those sins and much less readily forgave the virtues--a morality
which was only a compact of pleasure, a libertine association of mutual
accommodations, which amused itself by donning the halo of sanctity. There
was in it a spice of hypocrisy which was a little offensive to delicate
palates, and would have even been frankly nauseating if it had taken itself
seriously. But it made no pretensions towards that: it merely amused
itself. His blackguardly Christianity was only meant to serve until some
other hobby came along to take its place--no matter what: brute force,
imperialism, "laughing lions."--Mannheim was always playing a part, playing
with his whole heart: he was trying on all the feelings that he did not
possess before becoming a good Jew like the rest and with all the spirit
of his race. He was very sympathetic, and extremely irritating. For some
time Christophe was one of his hobbies. Mannheim swore by him. He blew his
trumpet everywhere. He dinned his praises into the ears of his family.
According to him Christophe was a genius, an extraordinary man, who made
strange music and talked about it in an astonishing fashion, a witty
man--and a handsome: fine lips, magnificent teeth. He added that Christophe
admired him.--One evening he took him home to dinner. Christophe found
himself talking to his new friend's father, Lothair Mannheim, the banker,
and Franz's sister, Judith.

It was the first time that he had been in a Jew's house. Although there
were many Jews in the little town, and although they played an important
part in its life by reason of their wealth, cohesion, and intelligence,
they lived a little apart. There were always rooted prejudices in the minds
of the people and a secret hostility that was credulous and injurious
against them. Christophe's family shared these prejudices. His grandfather
did not love Jews: but the irony of fate had decreed that his two best
pupils should be of the race--(one had become a composer, the other a
famous _virtuoso_): for there had been moments when he was fain to embrace
these two good musicians: and then he would remember sadly that they
had crucified the Lord: and he did not know how to reconcile his two
incompatible currents of feeling. But in the end he did embrace them. He
was inclined to think that the Lord would forgive them because of their
love for music.--Christophe's father, Melchior, who pretended to be
broad-minded, had had fewer scruples about taking money from the Jews: and
he even thought it good to do so: but he ridiculed them, and despised
them.--As for his mother, she was not sure that she was not committing a
sin when she went to cook for them. Those whom she had had to do with were
disdainful enough with her: but she had no grudge against them, she bore
nobody any ill-will: she was filled with pity for these unhappy people whom
God had damned: sometimes she would be filled with compassion when she saw
the daughter of one of them go by or heard the merry laughter of their

"So pretty she is!... Such pretty children!... How dreadful!..." she would

She dared not say anything to Christophe, when he told her that he was
going to dine with the Mannheims: but her heart sank. She thought that
it was unnecessary to believe everything bad that was said about the
Jews--(people speak ill of everybody)--and that there are honest people
everywhere, but that it was better and more proper to keep themselves to
themselves, the Jews on their side, the Christians on theirs.

Christophe shared none of these prejudices. In his perpetual reaction
against his surroundings he was rather attracted towards the different
race. But he hardly knew them. He had only come in contact with the more
vulgar of the Jews: little shopkeepers, the populace swarming in certain
streets between the Rhine and the cathedral, forming, with the gregarious
instinct of all human beings, a sort of little ghetto. He had often
strolled through the neighborhood, catching sight of and feeling a sort of
sympathy with certain types of women with hollow cheeks, and full lips,
and wide cheek-bones, a da Vinci smile, rather depraved, while the coarse
language and shrill laughter destroyed this harmony that was in their faces
when in repose. Even in the dregs of the people, in those large-headed,
beady-eyed creatures with their bestial faces, their thick-set, squat
bodies, those degenerate descendants of the most noble of all peoples, even
in that thick, fetid muddiness there were strange phosphorescent gleams,
like will-o'-the-wisps dancing over a swamp: marvelous glances, minds
subtle and brilliant, a subtle electricity emanating from the ooze which
fascinated and disturbed Christophe. He thought that hidden deep were fine
souls struggling, great hearts striving to break free from the dung: and he
would have liked to meet them, and to aid them: without knowing them, he
loved them, while he was a little fearful of them. And he had never had any
opportunity of meeting the best of the Jews.

His dinner at the Mannheims' had for him the attraction of novelty and
something of that of forbidden fruit. The Eve who gave him the fruit
sweetened its flavor. From the first moment Christophe had eyes only for
Judith Mannheim. She was utterly different from all the women he had known.
Tall and slender, rather thin, though solidly built, with her face framed
in her black hair, not long, but thick and curled low on her head, covering
her temples and her broad, golden brow; rather short-sighted, with large
pupils, and slightly prominent eyes: with a largish nose and wide nostrils,
thin cheeks, a heavy chin, strong coloring, she had a fine profile showing
much energy and alertness: full face, her expression was more changing,
uncertain, complex: her eyes and her cheeks were irregular. She seemed to
give revelation of a strong race, and in the mold of that race, roughly
thrown together, were manifold incongruous elements, of doubtful and
unequal quality, beautiful and vulgar at the same time. Her beauty lay
especially in her silent lips, and in her eyes, in which there seemed to be
greater depth by reason of their short-sightedness, and darker by reason of
the bluish markings round them.

It needed to be more used than Christophe was to those eyes, which are
more those of a race than of an individual, to be able to read through the
limpidity that unveiled them with such vivid quality, the real soul of the
woman whom he thus encountered. It was the soul of the people of Israel
that he saw in her sad and burning eyes, the soul that, unknown to them,
shone forth from them. He lost himself as he gazed into them. It was only
after some time that he was able, after losing his way again and again, to
strike the track again on that oriental sea.

She looked at him: and nothing could disturb the clearness of her gaze:
nothing in his Christian soul seemed to escape her. He felt that. Under the
seduction of the woman's eyes upon him he was conscious of a virile desire,
clear and cold, Which stirred in him brutally, indiscreetly. There was
no evil in the brutality of it. She took possession of him: not like a
coquette, whose desire is to seduce without caring whom she seduces. Had
she been a coquette she would have gone to greatest lengths: but she knew
her power, and she left it to her natural instinct to make use of it in
its own way,--especially when she had so easy a prey as Christophe.--What
interested her more was to know her adversary--(any man, any stranger, was
an adversary for her,--an adversary with whom later on, if occasion served,
she could sign a compact of alliance).--She wished to know his quality.
Life being a game, in which the cleverest wins, it was a matter of reading
her opponent's cards and of not showing her own. When she succeeded she
tasted the sweets of victory. It mattered little whether she could turn
it to any account. It was purely for her pleasure. She had a passion for
intelligence: not abstract intelligence, although she had brains enough,
if she had liked, to have succeeded in any, branch of knowledge and would
have made a much better successor to Lothair Mannheim, the banker, than
her brother. But she preferred intelligence in the quick, the sort of
intelligence which studies men. She loved to pierce through to the soul and
to weigh its value--(she gave as scrupulous an attention to it as the
Jewess of Matsys to the weighing of her gold)--with marvelous divination
she could find the weak spot in the armor, the imperfections and foibles
which are the key to the soul,--she could lay her hands on its secrets: it
was her way of feeling her sway over it. But she never dallied with her
victory: she never did anything with her prize. Once her curiosity and
her vanity were satisfied she lost her interest and passed on to another
specimen. All her power was sterile. There was something of death in her
living soul. She had the genius of curiosity and boredom.

* * * * *

And so she looked at Christophe and he looked at her. She hardly spoke. An
imperceptible smile was enough, a little movement of the corners of her
mouth: Christophe was hypnotized by her. Every now and then her smile would
fade away, her face would become cold, her eyes indifferent: she would
attend to the meal or speak coldly to the servants: it was as though she
were no longer listening. Then her eyes would light up again: and a few
words coming pat would show that she had heard and understood everything.

She coldly examined her brother's judgment of Christophe: she knew Franz's
crazes: her irony had had fine sport when she saw Christophe appear, whose
looks and distinction had been vaunted by her brother--(it seemed to her
that Franz had a special gift for seeing facts as they are not: or perhaps
he only thought it a paradoxical joke).--But when she looked at Christophe
more closely she recognized that what Franz had said was not altogether
false: and as she went on with her scrutiny she discovered in Christophe a
vague, unbalanced, though robust and bold power: that gave her pleasure,
for she knew, better than any, the rarity of power. She was able to
make Christophe talk about whatever she liked, and reveal his thoughts,
and display the limitations and defects of his mind: she made him play
the piano: she did not love music but she understood it: and she saw
Christophe's musical originality, although his music had roused no sort of
emotion in her. Without the least change in the coldness of her manner,
with a few short, apt, and certainly not flattering, remarks she showed her
growing interest in Christophe.

Christophe saw it: and he was proud of it: for he felt the worth of such
judgment and the rarity of her approbation. He made no secret of his desire
to win it: and he set about it so naively as to make the three of them
smile: he talked only to Judith and for Judith: he was as unconcerned with
the others as though they did not exist.

Franz watched him as he talked: he followed his every word, with his lips
and eyes, with a mixture of admiration and amusement: and he laughed aloud
as he glanced at his father and his sister, who listened impassively and
pretended not to notice him.

Lothair Mannheim,--a tall old man, heavily built, stooping a little,
red-faced, with gray hair standing straight up on end, very black mustache
and eyebrows, a heavy though energetic and jovial face, which gave the
impression of great vitality--had also studied Christophe during the first
part of the dinner, slyly but good-naturedly: and he too had recognized
at once that there was "something" in the boy. But he was not interested
in music or musicians: it was not in his line: he knew nothing about it
and made no secret of his ignorance: he even boasted of it--(when a man
of that sort confesses his ignorance of anything he does so to feed his
vanity).--As Christophe had clearly shown at once, with a rudeness in which
there was no shade of malice, that, he could without regret dispense with
the society of the banker, and that the society of Fraeulein Judith Mannheim
would serve perfectly to fill his evening, old Lothair in some amusement
had taken his seat by the fire: he read his paper, listening vaguely and
ironically to Christophe's crotchets and his queer music, which sometimes
made him laugh inwardly at the idea that there could be people who
understood it and found pleasure in it. He did not trouble to follow the
conversation: he relied on his daughter's cleverness to tell him exactly
what the newcomer was worth. She discharged her duty conscientiously.

When Christophe had gone Lothair asked Judith:

"Well, you probed him enough: what do you think of the artist?"

She laughed, thought for a moment, reckoned up, and said:

"He is a little cracked: but he is not stupid."

"Good," said Lothair. "I thought so too. He will succeed, then?"

"Yes, I think so. He has power,"

"Very good," said Lothair with the magnificent logic of the strong who are
only interested in the strong, "we must help him."

* * * * *

Christophe went away filled with admiration for Judith Mannheim. He was not
in love with her as Judith thought. They were both--she with her subtlety,
he with his instinct which took the place of mind in him,--mistaken
about each other. Christophe was fascinated by the enigma and the
intense activity of her mind: but he did not love her. His eyes and his
intelligence were ensnared: his heart escaped.--Why?--It were difficult to
tell. Because he had caught a glimpse of some doubtful, disturbing quality
in her?--In other circumstances that would have been a reason the more
for loving: love is never stronger than when it goes out to one who will
make it suffer.--If Christophe did not love Judith it was not the fault of
either of them. The real reason, humiliating enough for both, was that he
was still too near his last love. Experience had not made him wiser. But he
had loved Ada so much, he had consumed so much faith, force, and illusion
in that passion that there was not enough left for a new passion. Before
another flame could be kindled he would have to build a new pyre in his
heart: short of that there could only be a few flickerings, remnants of the
conflagration that had escaped by chance, which asked only to be allowed to
burn, cast a brief and brilliant light and then died down for want of food.
Six months later, perhaps, he might have loved Judith blindly. Now he saw
in her only a friend,--a rather disturbing friend in truth--but he tried to
drive his uneasiness back: it reminded him of Ada: there was no attraction
in that memory: he preferred not to think of it. What attracted him in
Judith was everything in her which was different from other women, not that
which she had in common with them. She was the first intelligent woman
he had met. She was intelligent from head to foot. Even her beauty--her
gestures, her movements, her features, the fold of her lips, her eyes, her
hands, her slender elegance--was the reflection of her intelligence: her
body was molded by her intelligence: without her intelligence she would
have passed unnoticed: and no doubt she would even have been thought plain
by most people. Her intelligence delighted Christophe. He thought it larger
and more free than it was: he could not yet know how deceptive it was. He
longed ardently to confide in her and to impart his ideas to her. He had
never found anybody to take an interest in his dreams: he was turned in
upon, himself: what joy then to find a woman to be his friend! That he had
not a sister had been one of the sorrows of his childhood: it seemed to
him that a sister would have understood him more than a brother could have
done. And when he met Judith he felt that childish and illusory hope of
having a brotherly love spring up in him. Not being in love, love seemed to
him a poor thing compared with friendship.

Judith felt this little shade of feeling and was hurt by it. She was not in
love with Christophe, and as she had excited other passions in other young
men of the town, rich young men of better position, she could not feel
any great satisfaction in knowing Christophe to be in love with her. But
it piqued her to know that he was not in love. No doubt she was pleased
with him for confiding his plans: she was not surprised by it: but it
was a little mortifying for her to know that she could only exercise an
intellectual influence over him--(an unreasoning influence is much more
precious to a woman).--She did not even exercise her influence: Christophe
only courted her mind. Judith's intellect was imperious. She was used to
molding to her will the soft thoughts of the young men of her acquaintance.
As she knew their mediocrity she found no pleasure in holding sway over
them. With Christophe the pursuit was more interesting because more
difficult. She was not interested in his projects: but she would have liked
to direct his originality of thought, his ill-grown power, and to make them
good,--in her own way, of course, and not in Christophe's, which she did
not take the trouble to understand. She saw at once that she could not
succeed without a struggle: she had marked down in Christophe all sorts of
notions and ideas which she thought childish and extravagant: they were
weeds to her: she tried hard to eradicate them. She did not get rid of
a single one. She did not gain the least satisfaction for her vanity.
Christophe was intractable. Not being in love he had no reason for
surrendering his ideas to her.

She grew keen on the game and instinctively tried for some time to overcome
him. Christophe was very nearly taken in again in spite of his lucidity of
mind at that time. Men are easily taken in by any flattery of their vanity
or their desires: and an artist is twice as easy to trick as any other man
because he has more imagination. Judith had only to draw Christophe into a
dangerous flirtation to bowl him over once more more thoroughly than ever.
But as usual she soon wearied of the game: she found that such a conquest
was hardly worth while: Christophe was already boring her: she did not
understand him.

She did not understand him beyond a certain point. Up to that she
understood everything. Her admirable intelligence could not take her beyond
it: she needed a heart, or in default of that the thing which could give
the illusion of one for a time: love. She understood Christophe's criticism
of people and things: it amused her and seemed to her true enough: she
had thought much the same herself. But what she did not understand was
that such ideas might have an influence on practical life when it might
be dangerous or awkward to apply them. The attitude of revolt against
everybody and everything which Christophe had taken up led to nothing: he
could not imagine that he was going to reform the world.... And then?... It
was waste of time to knock one's head against a wall. A clever man judges
men, laughs at them in secret, despises them a little: but he does as they
do--only a little better: it is the only way of mastering them. Thought is
one world: action is another. What boots it for a man to be the victim of
his thoughts? Since men are so stupid as not to be able to bear the truth,
why force it on them? To accept their weakness, to seem to bow to it, and
to feel free to despise them in his heart, is there not a secret joy in
that? The joy of a clever slave? Certainly. But all the world is a slave:
there is no getting away from that: it is useless to protest against it:
better to be a slave deliberately of one's own free will and to avoid
ridiculous and futile conflict. Besides, the worst slavery of all is to be
the slave of one's own thoughts and to sacrifice everything to them. There
is no need to deceive one's self.--She saw clearly that if Christophe
went on, as he seemed determined to do, with his aggressive refusal to
compromise with the prejudices of German art and German mind, he would turn
everybody against him, even his patrons: he was courting inevitable ruin.
She did not understand why he so obstinately held out against himself, and
so took pleasure in digging his own ruin.

To have understood him she would have had to be able to understand that
his aim was not success but his own faith. He believed in art: he believed
in _his_ art: he believed in himself, as realities not only superior to
interest, but also to his own life. When he was a little out of patience
with her remarks and told her so in his naive arrogance, she just shrugged
her shoulders: she did not take him seriously. She thought he was using
big words such as she was accustomed to hearing from her brother when
he announced periodically his absurd and ridiculous resolutions, which
he never by any chance put into practice. And then when she saw that
Christophe really believed in what he said, she thought him mad and lost
interest in him.

After that she took no trouble to appear to advantage, and she showed
herself as she was: much more German, and average German, than she seemed
to be at first, more perhaps than she thought.--The Jews are quite
erroneously reproached with not belonging to any nation and with forming
from one end of Europe to the other a homogeneous people impervious to the
influence of the different races with which they have pitched their tents.
In reality there is no race which more easily takes on the impress of the
country through which it passes: and if there are many characteristics in
common between a French Jew and a German Jew, there are many more different
characteristics derived from their new country, of which with incredible
rapidity they assimilate the habits of mind: more the habits than the mind,
indeed. But habit, which is a second nature to all men, is in most of them
all the nature that they have, and the result is that the majority of the
autochthonous citizens of any country have very little right to reproach
the Jews with the lack of a profound and reasonable national feeling of
which they themselves possess nothing at all.

The women, always more sensible to external influences, more easily
adaptable to the conditions of life and to change with them--Jewish women
throughout Europe assume the physical and moral customs, often exaggerating
them, of the country in which they live,--without losing the shadow and the
strange fluid, solid, and haunting quality of their race.--This idea came
to Christophe. At the Mannheims' he met Judith's aunts, cousins, and
friends. Though there was little of the German in their eyes, ardent and
too close together, their noses going down to their lips, their strong
features, their red blood coursing under their coarse brown skins: though
almost all of them seemed hardly at all fashioned to be German--they
were all extraordinarily German: they had the same way of talking, of
dressing,--of overdressing.--Judith was much the best of them all: and
comparison with them made all that was exceptional in her intelligence, all
that she had made of herself, shine forth. But she had most of their faults
just as much as they. She was much more free than they morally--almost
absolutely free--but socially she was no more free: or at least her
practical sense usurped the place of her freedom of mind. She believed in
society, in class, in prejudice, because when all was told she found them
to her advantage. It was idle for her to laugh at the German spirit: she
followed it like any German. Her intelligence made her see the mediocrity
of some artist of reputation: but she respected him none the less because
of his reputation: and if she met him personally she would admire him: for
her vanity was flattered. She had no love for the works of Brahms and she
suspected him of being an artist of the second rank: but his fame impressed
her: and as she had received five or six letters from him the result was
that she thought him the greatest musician of the day. She had no doubt as
to Christophe's real worth, or as to the stupidity of Lieutenant Detlev von
Fleischer: but she was more flattered by the homage the lieutenant deigned
to pay to her millions than by Christophe's friendship: for a dull officer
is a man of another caste: it is more difficult for a German Jewess to
enter that caste than for any other woman. Although she was not deceived
by these feudal follies, and although she knew quite well that if she did
marry Lieutenant Detlev von Fleischer she would be doing him a great honor,
she set herself to the conquest: she stooped so low as to make eyes at
the fool and to flatter his vanity. The proud Jewess, who had a thousand
reasons for her pride--the clever, disdainful daughter of Mannheim the
banker lowered herself, and acted like any of the little middle-class
German women whom she despised.

* * * * *

That experience was short. Christophe lost his illusions about Judith
as quickly as he had found them. It is only just to say that Judith did
nothing to preserve them. As soon as a woman of that stamp has judged a
man she is done with him: he ceases to exist for her: she will not see
him again. And she no more hesitates to reveal her soul to him, with calm
impudence, that to appear naked before her dog, her cat, or any other
domestic animal. Christophe saw Judith's egoism and coldness, and the
mediocrity of her character. He had not had time to be absolutely caught.
But he had been enough caught to make him suffer and to bring him to a sort
of fever. He did not so much love Judith as what she might have been--what
she ought to have been. Her fine eyes exercised a melancholy fascination
over him: he could not forget them: although he knew now the drab soul that
slumbered in their depths he went on seeing them as he wished to see them,
as he had first seen them. It was one of those loveless hallucinations
of love which take up so much of the hearts of artists when they are not
entirely absorbed by their work. A passing face is enough to create it:
they see in it all the beauty that is in it, unknown to its indifferent
possessor. And they love it the more for its indifference. They love it as
a beautiful thing that must die without any man having known its worth or
that it even had life.

Perhaps he was deceiving himself, and Judith Mannheim could not have been
anything more than she was. But for a moment Christophe had believed in
her: and her charm endured: he could not judge her impartially. All her
beauty seemed to him to be hers, to be herself. All that was vulgar in her
he cast back upon her twofold race, Jew and German, and perhaps he was more
indignant with the German than with the Jew, for it had made him suffer
more. As he did not yet know any other nation, the German spirit was for
him a sort of scapegoat: he put upon it all the sins of the world. That
Judith had deceived him was a reason the more for combating it: he could
not forgive it for having crushed the life out of such a soul.

Such was his first encounter with Israel. He had hoped much from it. He
had hoped to find in that strong race living apart from the rest an ally
for his fight. He lost that hope. With the flexibility of his passionate
intuition, which made him leap from one extreme to another, he persuaded
himself that the Jewish race was much weaker than it was said to be, and
much more open--much too open--to outside influence. It had all its own
weaknesses augmented by those of the rest of the world picked up on its
way. It was not in them that he could find assistance in working the lever
of his art. Rather he was in danger of being swallowed with them in the
sands of the desert.

Having seen the danger, and not feeling sure enough of himself to brave it,
he suddenly gave up going to the Mannheims'. He was invited several times
and begged to be excused without giving any reason. As up till then he had
shown an excessive eagerness to accept, such a sudden change was remarked:
it was attributed to his "originality": but the Mannheims had no doubt
that the fair Judith had something to do with it: Lothair and Franz joked
about it at dinner. Judith shrugged her shoulders and said it was a fine
conquest, and she asked her brother frigidly not to make such a fuss about
it. But she left no stone unturned in her effort to bring Christophe back.
She wrote to him for some musical information which no one else could
supply: and at the end of her letter she made a friendly allusion to the
rarity of his visits and the pleasure it would give them to see him.
Christophe replied, giving the desired information, said that he was
very busy, and did not go. They met sometimes at the theater. Christophe
obstinately looked away from the Mannheims' box: and he would pretend not
to see Judith, who held herself in readiness to give him her most charming
smile. She did not persist. As she did not count on him for anything she
was annoyed that the little artist should let her do all the labor of their
friendship, and pure waste at that. If he wanted to come, he would. If
not--oh, well, they could do without him....

They did without him: and his absence left no very great gap in the
Mannheims' evenings. But in spite of herself Judith was really annoyed
with Christophe. It seemed natural enough not to bother about him when
he was there: and she could allow him to show his displeasure at being
neglected: but that his displeasure should go so far as to break off their
relationship altogether seemed to her to show a stupid pride and a heart
more egoistic than in love.--Judith could not tolerate her own faults in

She followed the more attentively everything that Christophe did and wrote.
Without seeming to do so, she would lead her brother to the subject of
Christophe: she would make him tell her of his intercourse with him: and
she would punctuate the narrative with clever ironic comment, which never
let any ridiculous feature escape, and gradually destroyed Franz's
enthusiasm without his knowing it.

At first all went well with the Review. Christophe had not yet perceived
the mediocrity of his colleagues: and, since he was one of them, they
hailed him as a genius. Mannheim, who had discovered him, went everywhere
repeating that Christophe was an admirable critic, though he had never
read anything he had written, that he had mistaken his vocation, and that
he, Mannheim, had revealed it to him. They advertised his articles in
mysterious terms which roused curiosity: and his first effort was in fact
like a stone falling into a duck-pond in the atony of the little town. It
was called: _Too much music_.

"Too much music, too much drinking, too much eating," wrote Christophe.
"Eating, drinking, hearing, without hunger, thirst, or need, from sheer
habitual gormandizing. Living like Strasburg geese. These people are sick
from a diseased appetite. It matters little what you give them: _Tristram_
or the _Trompeter von Saekkingen_, Beethoven or Mascagni, a fugue or a
two-step, Adam, Bach, Puccini, Mozart, or Marschner: they do not know what
they are eating: the great thing is to eat. They find no pleasure in it.
Look at them at a concert. Talk of German gaiety! These people do not know
what gaiety means: they are always gay! Their gaiety, like their sorrow,
drops like rain: their joy is dust: there is neither life nor force in it.
They would stay for hours smilingly and vaguely drinking in sounds, sounds,
sounds. They think of nothing: they feel nothing: they are sponges. True
joy, or true sorrow--strength--is not drawn out over hours like beer from
a cask. They take you by the throat and have you down: after they are gone
there is no desire left in a man to drink in anything: he is full!...

"Too much music! You are slaying each other and it. If you choose to murder
each other that is your affair: I can't help it. But where music is
concerned,--hands off! I will not suffer you to debase the loveliness of
the world by heaping up in the same basket things holy and things shameful,
by giving, as you do at present, the prelude to _Parsifal_ between a
fantasia on the _Daughter of the Regiment_ and a saxophone quartette, or an
adagio of Beethoven between a cakewalk and the rubbish of Leoncavallo. You
boast of being a musical people. You pretend to love music. What sort of
music do you love? Good or bad? You applaud both equally. Well, then,
choose! What exactly do you want? You do not know yourselves. You do
not want to know: you are too fearful of taking sides and compromising
yourselves.... To the devil with your prudence!--You are above party, do
you say?--Above? You mean below...."

And he quoted the lines of old Gottfried Keller, the rude citizen of
Zurich--one of the German writers who was most dear to him by reason of his
vigorous loyalty and his keen savor of the soil:

"_Wer ueber den Parlein sich waehnt mit stolzen Mienen Der steht zumeist
vielmehr betraechtlich unter ihnen._"

("He who proudly preens himself on being above parties is rather
immeasurably beneath them.")

"Have courage and be true," he went on. "Have courage and be ugly. If you
like bad music, then say so frankly. Show yourselves, see yourselves as you
are. Kid your souls of the loathsome burden of all your compromise and
equivocation. Wash it in pure water. How long is it since you have seen.
yourselves in a mirror? I will show you yourselves. Composers, _virtuosi_,
conductors, singers, and you, dear public. You shall for once know
yourselves.... Be what you like: but, for any sake, be true! Be true even
though art and artists--and I myself--have to suffer for it! If art and
truth cannot live together, then let art disappear. Truth is life. Lies are

Naturally, this youthful, wild outburst, which was all of a piece, and in
very bad taste, produced an outcry. And yet, as everybody was attacked and
nobody in particular, its pertinency was not recognized. Every one is, or
believes himself to be, or says that he is the best friend of truth: there
was therefore no danger of the conclusions of the article being attacked.
Only people were shocked by its general tone: everybody agreed that it
was hardly proper, especially from an artist in a semi-official position.
A few musicians began to be uneasy and protested bitterly: they saw that
Christophe would not stop at that. Others thought themselves more clever
and congratulated Christophe on his courage: they were no less uneasy about
his next articles.

Both tactics produced the same result. Christophe had plunged: nothing
could stop him: and as he had promised, everybody was passed in survey,
composers and interpreters alike.

The first victims were the _Kapellmeisters_. Christophe did not confine
himself to general remarks on the art of conducting an orchestra. He
mentioned his colleagues of his own town and the neighboring towns by name:
or if he did not name them his allusions were so transparent that nobody
could be mistaken. Everybody recognized the apathetic conductor of the
Court, Alois von Werner, a cautious old man, laden with honors, who was
afraid of everything, dodged everything, was too timid to make a remark to
his musicians and meekly followed whatever they chose to do,--who never
risked anything on his programme that had not been consecrated by twenty
years of success, or, at least, guaranteed by the official stamp of some
academic dignity. Christophe ironically applauded his boldness: he
congratulated him on having discovered Gade, Dvorak, or Tschaikowsky: he
waxed enthusiastic over his unfailing correctness, his metronomic equality,
the always _fein-nuanciert_ (finely shaded) playing of his orchestra:
he proposed to orchestrate the _Ecole de la Velocite_ of Czerny for his
next concert, and implored him not to try himself so much, not to give
rein to his passions, to look after his precious health.--Or he cried
out indignantly upon the way in which he had conducted the _Eroica_ of

"A cannon! A cannon! Mow me down these people!... But have you then no idea
of the conflict, the fight between human stupidity and human ferocity,--and
the strength which tramples them underfoot with a glad shout of
laughter?--How could you know it? It is you against whom it fights! You
expend all the heroism that is in you in listening or in playing the
_Eroica_ of Beethoven without a yawn--(for it bores you.... Confess that it
bores you to death!)--or in risking a draught as you stand with bare head
and bowed back to let some Serene Highness pass."

He could not be sarcastic enough about the pontiffs of the Conservatories
who interpreted the great men of the past as "classics."

"Classical! That word expresses everything. Free passion, arranged and
expurgated for the use of schools! Life, that vast plain swept by the
winds,--inclosed within the four walls of a school playground! The fierce,
proud beat of a heart in anguish, reduced to the tic-tacs of a four-tune
pendulum, which goes its jolly way, hobbling and imperturbably leaning on
the crutch of time!... To enjoy the Ocean you need to put it in a bowl with
goldfish. You only understand life when you have killed it."

If he was not kind to the "bird-stuffers" as he called them, he was even
less kind to the ringmen of the orchestra, the illustrious _Kapellmeisters_
who toured the country to show off their flourishes and their dainty hands,
those who exercised their virtuosity at the expense of the masters, tried
hard to make the most familiar works unrecognizable, and turned somersaults
through the hoop of the _Symphony in C minor_. He made them appear as old
coquettes, _prima donnas_ of the orchestra, gipsies, and rope-dancers.

The _virtuosi_ naturally provided him with splendid material. He declared
himself incompetent when he had to criticise their conjuring performances.
He said that such mechanical exercises belonged to the School of Arts and
Crafts, and that not musical criticism but charts registering the duration,
and number of the notes, and the energy expended, could decide the merit of
such labors. Sometimes he would set at naught some famous piano _virtuoso_
who during a two hours' concert had surmounted the formidable difficulties,
with a smile on his lips and his hair hanging down into his eyes--of
executing a childish _andante_ of Mozart.--He did not ignore the pleasure
of overcoming difficulties. He had tasted it himself: it was one of the
joys of life to him. But only to see the most material aspect of it,
and to reduce all the heroism of art to that, seemed to him grotesque
and degrading. He could not forgive the "lions" or "panthers" of the
piano.--But he was not very indulgent either towards the town pedants,
famous in Germany, who, while they are rightly anxious not to alter the
text of the masters, carefully suppress every flight of thought, and, like
E. d'Albert and H. von Buelow, seem to be giving a lesson in diction when
they are rendering a passionate sonata.

The singers had their turn. Christophe was full to the brim of things to
say about their barbarous heaviness and their provincial affectations. It
was not only because of his recent misadventures with the enraged lady, but
because of all the torture he had suffered during so many performances. It
was difficult to know which had suffered most, ears or eyes. And Christophe
had not enough standards of comparison to be able to have any idea of the
ugliness of the setting, the hideous costumes, the screaming colors. He was
only shocked by the vulgarity of the people, their gestures and attitudes,
their unnatural playing, the inability of the actors to take on other souls
than their own, and by the stupefying indifference with which they passed
from one role to another, provided they were written more or less in
the same register. Matrons of opulent flesh, hearty and buxom, appeared
alternately as Ysolde and Carmen. Amfortas played Figaro.--But what most
offended Christophe was the ugliness of the singing, especially in the
classical works in which the beauty of melody is essential. No one in
Germany could sing the perfect music of the eighteenth century: no one
would take the trouble. The clear, pure style of Gluck and Mozart which,
like that of Goethe, seems to be bathed in the light of Italy--the style
which begins to change and to become vibrant and dazzling with Weber--the
style ridiculed by the ponderous caricatures of the author of
_Crociato_--had been killed by the triumph of Wagner. The wild flight of
the Valkyries with their strident cries had passed over the Grecian sky.
The heavy clouds of Odin dimmed the light. No one now thought of singing
music: they sang poems. Ugliness and carelessness of detail, even false
notes were let pass under pretext that only the whole, only the thought
behind it mattered....

"Thought! Let us talk of that. As if you understood it!... But whether or
no you do understand it, I pray you respect the form that thought has
chosen for itself. Above all, let music be and remain music!"

And the great concern of German artists with expression and profundity of
thought was, according to Christophe, a good joke. Expression? Thought?
Yes, they introduced them into everything--everything impartially. They
would have found thought in a skein of wool just as much--neither more nor
less--as in a statue of Michael Angelo. They played anything, anybody's
music with exactly the same energy. For most of them the great thing in
music--so he declared--was the volume of sound, just a musical noise. The
pleasure of singing so potent in Germany was in some sort a pleasure of
vocal gymnastics. It was just a matter of being inflated with air and
then letting it go vigorously, powerfully, for a long time together and
rhythmically.--And by way of compliment he accorded a certain great singer
a certificate of good health. He was not content with flaying the artists.
He strode over the footlights and trounced the public for coming, gaping,
to such performances. The public was staggered and did not know whether
it ought to laugh or be angry. They had every right to cry out upon his
injustice: they had taken care not to be mixed up in any artistic conflict:
they stood aside prudently from any burning question: and to avoid making
any mistake they applauded everything! And now Christophe declared that
it was a crime to applaud!... To applaud bad works?--That would have been
enough! But Christophe went further: he stormed at them for applauding
great works:

"Humbugs!" he said. "You would have us believe that you have as much
enthusiasm as that?... Oh! Come! Spare yourselves the trouble! You only
prove exactly the opposite of what you are trying to prove. Applaud if you
like those works and passages which in some measure deserve applause.
Applaud those loud final movements which are written, as Mozart said, 'for
long ears.' Applaud as much as you like, then: your braying is anticipated:
it is part of the concert.--But after the _Missa Solemnis_ of Beethoven!...
Poor wretches!... It is the Last Judgment. You have just seen the maddening
_Gloria_ pass like a storm over the ocean. You have seen the waterspout of
an athletic and tremendous well, which stops, breaks, reaches up to the
clouds clinging by its two hands above the abyss, then plunging once more
into space in full swing. The squall shrieks and whirls along. And when
the hurricane is at its height there is a sudden modulation, a radiance of
sound which cleaves the darkness of the sky and falls upon the livid sea
like a patch of light. It is the end: the furious flight of the destroying
angel stops short, its wings transfixed by these flashes of lightning.
Around you all is buzzing and quivering. The eye gazes fixedly forward in
stupor. The heart beats, breathing stops, the limbs are paralyzed.... And
hardly has the last note sounded than already you are gay and merry. You
shout, you laugh, you criticise, you applaud.... But you have seen nothing,
heard nothing, felt nothing, understood nothing, nothing, nothing,
absolutely nothing! The sufferings of an artist are a show to you. You
think the tears of agony of a Beethoven are finely painted. You would cry
'Encore' to the Crucifixion. A great soul struggles all its life long in
sorrow to divert your idleness for an hour!..."

So, without knowing it, he confirmed Goethe's great words: but he had not
yet attained his lofty serenity:

"The people make a sport of the sublime. If they could see it as it is,
they would be unable to bear its aspect."

If he had only stopped at that!--But, whirled along by his enthusiasm, he
swept past the public and plunged like a cannon ball into the sanctuary,
the tabernacle, the inviolable refuge of mediocrity: Criticism. He
bombarded his colleagues. One of them had taken upon himself to attack
the most gifted of living composers, the most advanced representative of
the new school, Hassler, the writer of programme symphonies, extravagant
in truth, but full of genius. Christophe who--as perhaps will be
remembered--had been presented to him when he was a child, had always had a
secret tenderness for him in his gratitude for the enthusiasm and emotion
that he had had then. To see a stupid critic, whose ignorance he knew,
instructing a man of that caliber, calling him to order, and reminding him
of set principles, infuriated him:

"Order! Order!" he cried. "You do not know any order but that of the
police. Genius is not to be dragged along the beaten track. It creates
order, and makes its will a law."

After this arrogant declaration he took the unlucky critic, considered all
the idiocies he had written for some time past, and administered

All the critics felt the affront. Up to that time they had stood aside
from the conflict. They did not care to risk a rebuff: they knew
Christophe, they knew his efficiency, and they knew also that he was not
long-suffering. Certain of them had discreetly expressed their regret that
so gifted a composer should dabble in a profession not his own. Whatever
might be their opinion (when they had one), and however hurt they might be
by Christophe, they respected in him their own privilege of being able to
criticise everything without being criticised themselves. But when they saw
Christophe rudely break the tacit convention which bound them, they saw in
him an enemy of public order. With one consent it seemed revolting to them
that a very young man should take upon himself to show scant respect for
the national glories: and they began a furious campaign against him. They
did not write long articles or consecutive arguments--(they were unwilling
to venture upon such ground with an adversary better armed than themselves:
although a journalist has the special faculty of being able to discuss
without taking his adversary's arguments into consideration, and even
without having read them)--but long experience had taught them that, as the
reader of a paper always agrees with it, even to appear to argue was to
weaken its credit with him: it was necessary to affirm, or better still,
to deny--(negation is twice as powerful as affirmation: it is a direct
consequence of the law of gravity: it is much easier to drop a stone than
to throw it up).--They adopted, therefore, a system of little notes,
perfidious, ironic, injurious, which were repeated day by day, in an easily
accessible position, with unwearying assiduity. They held the insolent
Christophe up to ridicule, though they never mentioned him by name, but
always transparently alluded to him. They twisted his words to make them
look absurd: they told anecdotes about him, true for the most part, though
the rest were a tissue of lies, nicely calculated to set him at loggerheads
with the whole town, and, worse still, with the Court: even his physical
appearance, his features, his manner of dressing, were attacked and
caricatured in a way that by dint of repetition came to be like him.

* * * * *

It would have mattered little to Christophe's friends if their Review had
not also come in for blows in the battle. In truth, it served rather as an
advertisement: there was no desire to commit the Review to the quarrel:
rather the attempt was made to cut Christophe off from it: there was
astonishment that it should so compromise its good name, and they were
given to understand that if they did not take care steps would be taken,
however unpleasant it might be, to make the whole editorial staff
responsible. There were signs of attack, gentle enough, upon Adolf Mai and
Mannheim, which stirred up the wasps' nest. Mannheim only laughed at it: he
thought that it would infuriate his father, his uncles, cousins, and his
innumerable family, who took upon themselves to watch everything he did and
to be scandalized by it. But Adolf Mai took it very seriously and blamed
Christophe for compromising the Review. Christophe sent him packing. The
others who had not been attacked found it rather amusing that Mai, who was
apt to pontificate over them, should be their scapegoat. Waldhaus was
secretly delighted: he said that there was never a fight without a few
heads being broken. Naturally he took good care that it should not be his
own: he thought he was sheltered from onslaught by the position of his
family; and his relatives: and he saw no harm in the Jews, his allies,
being mauled a little. Ehrenfeld and Goldenring, who were so far untouched,
would not have been worried by attack: they could reply. But what did touch
them on the raw was that Christophe should go on persistently putting them
in the wrong with their friends, and especially their women friends. They
had laughed loudly at the first articles and thought them good fun: they
admired Christophe's vigorous window-smashing: they thought they had only
to give the word to check his combativeness, or at least to turn his attack
from men and women whom they might mention.--But no. Christophe would
listen to nothing: he paid no heed to any remark and went on like a madman.
If they let him go on there would be no living in the place. Already their
young women friends, furious and in tears, had come and made scenes at
the offices of the Review. They brought all their diplomacy to bear on
Christophe to persuade him at least to moderate certain of his criticisms:
Christophe changed nothing. They lost their tempers: Christophe lost his,
but he changed nothing. Waldhaus was amused by the unhappiness of his
friends, which in no wise touched him, and took Christophe's part to
annoy them. Perhaps also he was more capable than they of appreciating
Christophe's extravagance, who with head down hurled himself upon
everything without keeping any line of retreat, or preparing any refuge for
the future. As for Mannheim he was royally amused by the farce: it seemed
to him a good joke to have introduced this madman among these correct
people, and he rocked with laughter both at the blows which Christophe
dealt and at those which he received. Although under his sister's influence
he was beginning to think that Christophe was decidedly a little cracked,
he only liked him the more for it--(it was necessary for him to find those
who were in sympathy with him a little absurd).--And so he joined Waldhaus
in supporting Christophe against the others.

As he was not wanting in practical sense, in spite of all his efforts to
pretend to the contrary, he thought very justly that it would be to his
friend's advantage to ally himself with the cause of the most advanced
musical party in the country.

As in most German towns, there was in the town a _Wagner-Verein_, which
represented new ideas against the conservative element.--In truth, there
was no great risk in defending Wagner when his fame was acknowledged
everywhere and his works included in the repertory of every Opera House
in Germany. And yet his victory was rather won by force than by universal
accord, and at heart the majority were obstinately conservative, especially
in the small towns such as this which have been rather left outside the
great modern movements and are rather proud of their ancient fame. More
than anywhere else there reigned the distrust, so innate in the German
people, of anything new, the sort of laziness in feeling anything true or
powerful which has not been pondered and digested by several generations.
It was apparent in the reluctance with which--if not the works of Wagner
which are beyond discussion--every new work inspired by the Wagnerian
spirit was accepted. And so the _Wagner-Vereine_ would have had a useful
task to fulfil if they had set themselves to defend all the young and
original forces in art. Sometimes they did so, and Bruckner or Hugo Wolf
found in some of them their best allies. But too often the egoism of
the master weighed upon his disciples: and just as Bayreuth serves only
monstrously to glorify one man, the _offshoots_ of Bayreuth were little
churches in which Mass was eternally sung in honor of the one God. At
the most the faithful disciples were admitted to the side chapels, the
disciples who applied the hallowed doctrines to the letter, and, prostrate
in the dust, adored the only Divinity with His many faces: music, poetry,
drama, and metaphysics.

The _Wagner-Verein_ of the town was in exactly this case.--However, they
went through the form of activity: they were always trying to enroll young
men of talent who looked as though they might be useful to it: and they had
long had their eyes on Christophe. They had discreetly made advances to
him, of which Christophe had not taken any notice, because he felt no need
of being associated with anybody: he could not understand the necessity
which drove his compatriots always to be banding themselves together in
groups, being unable to do anything alone: neither to sing, nor to walk,
nor to drink. He was averse to all _Vereinswesen_. But on the whole he was
more kindly disposed to the _Wagner-Verein_ than to any other _Verein_: at
least they did provide an excuse for fine concerts: and although he did
not share all the Wagnerian ideas on art, he was much nearer them than
to those of any other group in music. He could he thought find common
ground with a party which was as unjust as himself towards Brahms and
the "Brahmins." So he let himself be put up for it. Mannheim introduced
him: he knew everybody. Without being a musician he was a member of the
_Wagner-Verein_.--The managing committee had followed the campaign which
Christophe was conducting in the Review. His slaughter in the opposing camp
had seemed to them to give signs of a strong grip which it would be as well
to have in their service. Christophe had also let fly certain disrespectful
remarks about the sacred fetish: but they had preferred to close their eyes
to that: and perhaps his attacks, not yet very offensive, had not been
without their influence, unconsciously, in making them so eager to enroll
Christophe before he had time to deliver himself manfully. They came and
very amiably asked his permission to play some of his compositions at one
of the approaching concerts of the Association. Christophe was flattered,
and accepted: he went to the _Wagner-Verein_, and, urged by Mannheim, he
was made a member.

At that time there were at the head of the _Wagner-Verein_ two men, of whom
one enjoyed a certain notoriety as a writer, and the other as a conductor.
Both had a Mohammedan belief in Wagner. The first, Josias Kling, had
compiled a Wagner Dictionary--_Wagner Lexikon_--which made it possible in a
moment to know the master's thoughts _de omni re scibili_: it had been his
life's work. He was capable of reciting whole chapters of it at table, as
the French provincials used to troll the songs of the Maid. He used also
to publish in the _Bayreuther Blaetter_ articles on Wagner and the Aryan
Spirit. Of course, Wagner was to him the type of the pure Aryan, of whom
the German race had remained the last inviolable refuge against the
corrupting influences of Latin Semitism, especially the French. He declared
that the impure French spirit was finally destroyed, though he did not
desist from attacking it bitterly day by day as though the eternal enemy
were still a menace. He would only acknowledge one great man in France:
the Count of Gobineau. Kling was a little man, very little, and he used to
blush like a girl.--The other pillar of the _Wagner-Verein_, Erich Lauber,
had been manager of a chemical works until four years before: then he had
given up everything to become a conductor. He had succeeded by force of
will, and because he was very rich. He was a Bayreuth fanatic: it was said
that he had gone there on foot, from Munich, wearing pilgrim's sandals. It
was a strange thing that a man who had read much, traveled much, practised
divers professions, and in everything displayed an energetic personality,
should have become in music a sheep of Panurge: all his originality was
expended in his being a little more stupid than the others. He was not
sure enough of himself in music to trust to his own personal feelings,
and so he slavishly followed the interpretations of Wagner given by the
_Kapellmeisters_, and the licensees of Bayreuth. He desired to reproduce
even to the smallest detail the setting and the variegated costumes which
delighted the puerile and barbarous taste of the little Court of Wahnfried.

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