The Vagabond


One night while the Revolution of 1848 was spreading over the German states, a great organizer, founder, artist, poet, and musician sat on a luxurious couch in great anxiety, not over the political situation, but over his financial affairs. He had piled one debt upon the other, and the climax had come when all his friends refused to advance him any more credit. "Men should be glad to lend to a genius like me," he thought, getting up and pacing the room.

His life had been full of excesses. When he was not involving himself with various women, he wrote operas and attacked critics who had been particularly bitter against his revolutionary music. Any unfavorable criticism was unfair and the man responsible was either intentionally malicious or else bribed. Few of his friends lasted long, their friendship often depending on whether they were willing and able to lend him money. An egoist through and through, he hated men who disagreed with him, and accepted those who flattered him. Nothing outside his own life, his own problems, interested him--the music of others was not worth listening to.

Thinking over the past, he did not doubt that he was an extraordinary individual, one that stood high above the rest of the world. Yet the world seemed to be getting the better of him before his career was half over. The financial situation had become intolerable when a letter arrived from his friend Liszt saying that he had no cash on hand.

"Richard Wagner, you are a great man," squawked the well-trained parrot from the corner of the room. The genius nodded approval. "The bird must be right." In the future he would do greater things: he would build his own opera house, acquire wealth, lampoon the critics, devastate his enemies. But for the present he must evade the enemy. Quickly packing his most valuable possessions, he slipped quietly downstairs and fled from the City of Dresden.

Today at ten o'clock the Vagabond will go over to the Music Building to listen to Dr. Davison lecture on Wagner.