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WAGNER AND WAGNERISM.'

In bunten Bildern wenig Klarheit,
Viel Irrthum und ein Fünkchen Wahrheit.

GOETHE,

THERE is no more characteristic page in the whole of Rousseau's Confessions than the one where he describes a summer day in the woods, passed, without the faintest approach to love-making or flirtation, in the society of two young ladies whom he met riding there, and with whom he made friends by helping them to ford a brook. He left them in the evening after sharing their picnic meal, and never saw them again; but he asserts without the slightest doubt that, on examination, he finds this to have been the happiest day of his life. Not a very striking or creditable discovery after all, it will be said. But not one in a thousand of Rousseau's congeners in habits and temperament would have

The following pages on Wagner were written some months before death closed his career--a career which, whatever criticism it may demand, at least demands from every candid critic the homage due to rare genius and dauntless consistency. VOL. II.

B

had the originality to make it or the honesty to avow it. And the moral of the incident, though most immediately applicable to those who confound satiety with enjoyment, has in reality a far wider scope. The instinct of going straight for information as to what we really like to the best authority, namely ourselves, is truly a rare one. It would be a blow to most of us, could our feelings towards very much that we reckon among the pleasures of life be suddenly viewed from a standpoint as determinedly individual as Rousseau's, and divested of all reference to what we are expected to like, or vaguely suppose that other people like. So viewed, the various scenes which figure in novels as types of complete well-rounded enjoyment might often startle us with their patchy and scrappy appearance. Balls, parties, art-galleries, the Opera—the things the world says that it likes and then believes what it says—what flaws might not each in turn reveal to one and another of us? What vistas of weariness might we not look back along and recognise for our own?

It is naturally in the domain of Art that this thought becomes most oppressive. For social fictions much may always be said ; on the whole, probably, the world would be worse instead of

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