trials, he could put away from him success of such a sort, and turn back into the wilderness of exile and ignominy for years, until he could find the milk and honey land of art, which only his own magnificent fanaticism and the unsurpassed friendship of one man, Liszt, inspired him with the hope of reaching.
To the woman, Minna Planer, who had cooked his meals, washed his clothes, and darned his socks, this refusal of prosperity was a final blow of disenchantment. She had understood him little enough before, but now she lost track of him altogether. Her feelings were those of Psyche, when she found that her lover was a god with wings and a mania for flight. So far as concerned the further marriage of their minds, he now disappeared for her into the blue empyrean; when she sought to embrace his soul, she clasped thin air.
As for Wagner's heroism for his art, has there ever been anything like it? Some of his operas he did not see performed for years and years. He saw hardly the hope of winning his crusade this side the grave of martyrdom. That he believed in presentiments will be understood in his powerful feeling throughout the composition of "Tannhãuser," that sudden death would prevent his finishing it. The world knows the value of these presentiments. Mendelssohn, too, in his letters tells of receiving on one occasion a letter which he feared to open, so strong was his feeling that it contained disastrous news. When at length he found courage to rip the envelope, the news was of the best. If, by chance, either of these presentiments had proved true, who would have been satisfied with the explanation of mere coincidence? The value, however, of Wagner's presentiment lies in the fact that, in spite of his despairful misgivings, he persevered in his ideals, and, if there has been never so great a triumph granted a musician, it is perhaps largely because no other musician so relentlessly worshipped his artistic ideals or sacrificed to them with such Druidic ruthlessness.