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    Beyond Good and Evil

    The lyrical work was abandoned. At moments Friedrich Nietzsche was to regret and wish to resume it; but these were brief velleities. "Henceforth," he wrote (this time the assurance is exact), "I shall speak, and not Zarathustra."

    The work remained in an incomplete condition. Nietzsche knew it, and the mass of thoughts which he had not expressed saddened him like a remorse. He was about to attempt another test. It was without joy that he returned to philosophy and strove to express in abstract terms what, as poet, he had failed to utter. He opened new notebooks, he essayed titles: The Will to Power, a new interpretation of Nature  The Will to Power, an essay towards a new interpretation of the universe  These formulas, the first that he had found, were to stand. Nietzsche resumed and developed here the Schopenhauerian datum. The foundation of things, he thinks, is not a blind will to live; to live is to expand, it is to grow, to conquer: the foundation of things may be better defined as a blind will to power, and all the phenomena that arise in the human soul may be interpreted as a function of this will.

    [Pg 299]

    It was an immense work of prudent reflection which Nietzsche envisaged with fear. How should one discern in the soul of men what is power and what is, without doubt, weakness? Perhaps the anger of Alexander is weakness, and the mystic's exaltation power. Nietzsche had hoped that disciples, philosophers or physiologists, would have made the necessary analyses for him. Heinrich von Stein's help would have been precious. But, being alone, he had to assume every task. He grew sad. Denuded of lyricism, thought had no attraction for him. What does he love? Instinctive strength, finesse, grace, ordered and rhythmical soundshe loves Venice and dreams of the fine weather which will allow him to fly from this Nice pension where the food and the company are so bad. On the 30th of March he writes to Peter Gast:

    "DEAR FRIEND,It seldom happens that I consider a removal with pleasure. Bat on this occasion:when I think that I shall soon be at Venice, and near you, I grow animated, am ravished; it is like the hope of cure after a long and terrible sickness. I have made this discovery: Venice remains till to-day the only place which is always sweet and good to me Sils-Maria as a place of passage suits me very well; but not as a residence. Ah! if I could contrive to live there worthily as a hermit or solitary! ButSils-Maria becomes fashionable!

    "My dear friend and maestro, you and Venice are linked for me. Nothing gives me more pleasure than your persistent taste for this town. How much I have thought of you in these times! I was reading the memoirs of old De Bross (1739-40) on Venice and on the maestro who was then admired there, Hasse (il detto Sassonne). Do not get angry, I haven't the least intention of making disrespectful comparisons between you.

    [Pg 300]

    "I have just written to Malvida: thanks to Peter Gast, our friends the low comedians, the self-styled geniuses of music, gone hence very soon, will cease to corrupt taste. 'Gone hence very soon'is, perhaps, a gross exaggeration. In a democratic period few men discern beauty: pulchrum paucorum est hominum, I rejoice that for you I am one of these 'few.' The profound and joyous men who please me, avec des ames mlancoliques et folles[1] like my defunct friends Stendhal and the Abb Galiani, could not have stayed on the earth if they had not loved some musician of joy (Galiani without Puccini, Stendhal without Cimarosa and Mozart).

    "Ah, if you knew how alone I am in the world at present! and how I must play a comedy to prevent myself from spitting, now and again, in some one's face, out of satiety. Happily some of the courteous manners of my son Zarathustra exist also in his rather crazed father.

    "But when I shall be with you, and in Venice, then, for a time, there will be an end of 'courtesy' and 'comedy' and 'satiety' and of all the malediction of Nice, won't there, my good friend?

    "Not to be forgotten: we shall eat ba?coli!


    "F. N."

    In April and May Nietzsche sojourned at Venice, and found the joy for which he had hoped. He wandered through the little sheltered and murmurous streets, he contemplated the beautiful town. He listened to the music of his friend. The galleries of St. Mark's Square shaded his walks and he compared them to those porticoes of Ephesus whither Heraclitus went to forget the agitation of the Greeks and the sombre menace of the Persian Empire. "How easily," he thinks, "one here[Pg 301] forgets the sombre Empireour own; let us not defame our Europe; she still offers us beautiful refuges! It is my finest workroom, this Piazza San Marco" This shortlived happiness awoke the poetic impulse in him. He wished to chant the triumph and death of Zarathustra, now for some hours drawn from oblivion. He wrote out a sketch, but soon abandoned it; it was his last.

    June brought him back to the Engadine. The chances of hotel life procured him a secretary; a certain Madame R?der, otherwise unknown, offered to help him. He dictated and tried to grasp his problem more closely. What was his end? To criticise that multitude of moral judgments, prejudices and routines which fetter modern Europeans; to appraise their vital value, that is to say, the quantity of energy which they express, and thus to fix a hierarchy of virtues. He wished finally to realise the Umwerthung aller Werthe (he found this formula), "the transvaluation of all values." "All," he writes; his pride was not content with less. He then recognised, and succeeded in defining, certain modes of virtue which the professional moralists knew not how to observe: mastery over oneself, dissimulation of one's intimate sentiments, politeness, gaiety, exactitude in obedience and command, deference, exigence of respect, taste for responsibilities and for dangers. Such were the usages, the tendencies, to-day depreciated, of the old aristocratic life, the sources of a morality more virile than our own.

    It is probable that he then undertook some serious enough readings. He studied the Biological Problems of Rolph, where he could find the analysis of that vital growth which was the basis of his metaphysic. Perhaps he then read again some book by Gobineau (he admired the man and his works); one may hazard this conjecture. But what mattered his readings? Nietzsche was forty-two years old. He had passed the age of learning, he[Pg 302] had gathered in all his ideas. Reading helped, nourished his meditations, but never directed them.

    The difficulty of his work was great and insomnia overcame him. Nevertheless he persevered, and denied himself the sad joy of a final embrace of his sister Lisbeth, who was about to follow her husband to South America. "You will live down there then," he wrote to her, "and I here, in a solitude more unattainable than all the Paraguays. My mother will have to live alone and we must all be courageous. I love you and I weep.FRIEDRICH."

    A week passed, and he had formed other projects. He was negotiating with his publisher in regard to the repurchase of his books and their republication. It was a pretext that he grasped for going to Germany. "A business matter, which makes my presence of use, comes to the aid of my desire," he wrote, and set out for Naumburg without delay.

    The meeting was a grave one: brother and sister conversed tenderly on the eve of a separation which they knew to be definitive. Nietzsche made no secret of the difficulties of his life. "Alone I confront a tremendous problem," he said; "it is a forest in which I lose myself, a virgin forestWald und Urwald. I need help. I need disciples, I need a master. To obey would be sweet! If I had lost myself on a mountain, I would obey the man who knew that mountain; sick, I would obey a doctor; and if I should meet a man capable of enlightening me on moral ideas, I would listen to him, I would follow him; but I find no one, no disciples and fewer masters. " I am alone." His sister repeated the advice which she had constantly given: that Friedrich should return to some University; young men had always listened to him, they would listen to him, they would understand him. "Young men are so stupid!" answered Nietzsche, "and professors still more stupid! Besides, all the German Universities repel me; where could I teach?" "In[Pg 303] Zrich," his sister suggested. "There is only one town that I can tolerate, and it is Venice."

    He went to Leipsic to negotiate with his publisher, who received him without much attention; his books did not sell. He returned to Naumburg, said a final farewell, and left.

    Where was he to find a refuge for the winter? On the last occasion he had been irritated by the noisy swarms of Nice. He thinks of Vallombrosa. Lanzky had recommended this beautiful forest in the Tuscan Apennines, and was waiting for him at Florence. Before leaving Germany, Nietzsche, passing through Munich, visited a former friend, the Baron von Seydlitz, who introduced him to his wife and showed him his Japanese collection. The wife was young and charming, the Japanese things pleased Nietzsche; he discovered this art, he liked these stamps, these little gay objects which conformed so little to the sad modern taste, so very little to the sad taste of the Germans. Seydlitz understood beautiful things, and knew how to live; Nietzsche envied him a little. "Perhaps it is time, dear Lisbeth," he wrote to his sister, "for you to find me a wife. Let us say, still young, pretty, gay; in short, a courageous little being  la Irne von Seydlitz (we almost 'thee and thou' each other)."

    He reached Tuscany. Lanzky received him, accompanied him, and brought him to the observatory of Arcetri, on the heights of San Miniato, where lived a man of a rare kinda reader of his books. Leberecht Tempel kept on his table, near his bizarre instruments, the works of Herr Friedrich Nietzsche, many passages of which he knew by heart and willingly recited. Leberecht Tempel was a singularly noble, sincere, and disinterested nature. The two men talked for half an hour and, it seems, understood each other. When Nietzsche left he was deeply moved.

    [Pg 304]

    "I wish that this man had never known my books," said he to Lanzky. "He is too sensible, too good. I shall harm him."

    For he knew the terrible consequences of his thoughts and feared for those who read them suffering similar to his own.

    He did not stay in Tuscany: the harsh, cold air which descended from the mountains upon Florence incommoded him. He was recaptured by memories of Nice, the town with two hundred and twenty days of full sunshineit was from Nice that he wrote to his sister, on the 15th of November, 1885:

    "Do not be astonished, dear sister, if your brother, who has some of the blood of the mole and of Hamlet in his veins, writes to you not from Vallombrosa, but from Nice. It has been very precious to me to experiment almost simultaneously with the air of Leipsic, of Munich, of Florence, of Genoa, and of Nice. You would never believe how much Nice has triumphed in this group. I have put up, as last year, at the Pension de Genve, Petite Rue Saint-Etienne. I find it recarpeted, refurnished, repainted, become very comely. My neighbour at table is a bishop, a Monsignor who speaks German. I think of you a great deal. Your


    "Here I am returned to Nice," he wrote in another letter, "that is to say to reason." His pleasure is such that he observes with some indulgence the cosmopolitan city, and is amused by it. "My window looks out on the square of the Ph?nicians," he wrote to Peter Gast. "What a prodigious cosmopolitanism in this alliance of words! Don't you laugh? And it's true, Ph?nicians lived here. I hear sounding in the air something of the conqueror and the Super-European, a voice which gives[Pg 305] me confidence and says to me: Here thou art in thy place  How far one is from Germany here'Ausserdeutsch!' I cannot say it with force enough."

    He returned to his habit of walking in the sun over the white roads which overlook the waves. The memories of seven years linked his thought with this sea, these strands, these mountains; his fantasy awoke, he listened to it and followed it. Not an hour passed vainly; each one was happy, and left, as the souvenir and witness of the gladness which it brought, an epigram, a poem in prose, a maxim, some lied or song.

    He defamed the moderns; it was his pleasure, and, as he thought, his duty as a philosopher, who, speaking for coming times, must contradict his own period. In the sixteenth century a philosopher did well to praise obedience and kindliness. In the nineteenth century, in our Europe impaired by Parisian decadents and Wagnerian Germans, in this feeble Europe which is ever seeking the co-operation of the masses, the line of least effort and the least pain, a philosopher had to praise other virtues. He had to affirm: "That man is great who knows how to be the most solitary, the most hidden, the most distant; who knows how to live beyond good and evil, the master of his virtues, powerful in his will. Greatness is there. And he must urgently ask: Is greatness possible to-day?"Ist Veredlung m?glich? We never cease to hear this question which he first put at twenty-six.

    He defamed the Germans; this was his other pleasure, a more intimate and lively one. Germanised Europe had unlearned freedom. She dissimulated her spites, her immodesties, her cunning. She needed to recover the spirit of the old world, of those Frenchmen of former times who lived in so fine a liberty, with so fine a clear-sightedness and force. "We must mediterraneanise music," wrote[Pg 306] he, "and our taste, our manners also." Across these pages of Nietzsche, it is easy to hear the counsels of his "defunct friends," Stendhal and the Abb Galiani.

    "Men of profound melancholy," he wrote, "betray themselves when they are happy: they seize upon their happiness as though they would strangle it and stifle it out of jealousy Alas, they know too well that happiness flies before them!" December neared its end, and those festivals, the memories of which moved his faithful heart, approached; Nietzsche had seen his happiness in flight before him. The pleasure of lively thoughts, of beautiful images, did not entirely satisfy him. He was no longer amused by the crowd at Nice, the square of the Ph?nicians diverted him no more. What mattered to him the Gai Saber and its preceptssunlight, wind and Proven?al song? He was a German, the son of a pastor, and it was with an oppressed heart that he watched Christmas and Saint Sylvester's day approachthat venerated time.

    He took a disgust for the poor pension in which he lodged: its furniture was touched by too many hands, its sitting-room degraded by being common property. Then the cold weather came. Being poor, he could not get the warmth he needed; he froze, bitterly regretting the stoves of Germany. Wretched places where he cannot ever be alone! To the right, a child is clattering its scales; above, two amateurs are practising on the trumpet and violin. Friedrich Nietzsche, yielding to bitterness, wrote to his sister, who was spending a last Christmas at Naumburg:

    "How stupid it is that I have no one here who might laugh with me! If I were stronger, and if I were richer, I should set up in Japan, to know a little gaiety. At Venice I am happy because there one can live in the Japanese manner without too great difficulty. All the rest of Europe is pessimist and mournful; Wagner's horrible[Pg 307] perversion of music is a particular case of the perversion, of the universal trouble.

    "Here is Christmas again, and it is sad to think that I must continue to live, as I have done for seven years, like a man proscribed, like a cynical contemner of men. No one bothers about my existence any more; the Lama has 'better to do,' and in any case enough to do Isn't it fine, my Christmas letter? Long live the Lama!

    "Your F.

    "Why do you not go to Japan? It is the most sensible life, and so gay."

    Eight days later he wrote a better letter; perhaps he had reproached himself for his confession.

    "Chrie, the weather is magnificent to-day, and your Fritz must afresh put on a good face for you, though in these latter times he has had nights and days that were most melancholy. By chance my Christmas was a real festival day. At noon, I receive your kind presents; very quickly I pass round my neck your watch-chain, and slide your pretty little calendar into my waistcoat pocket. As to the 'money,' if there was money in the letter (our mother wrote me that there was), it escaped my fingers. Excuse your blind animal who undid his packet in the road; something no doubt fell from it, as I opened your letters very impatiently. Let us hope that a poor old woman, passing there, found her 'little child Jesus' on the pavement. Then I go on foot to my peninsula of Saint Jean, I walk a great round along the coast, and finally install myself not far from the young soldiers who are playing at skittles. Fresh-blown roses, geraniums in the hedges, everything green, everything warm: nothing of the north! There, your Fritz drinks three glasses of a sweet wine of the country, and perhaps gets a trifle tipsy; at least he begins to talk to the waves, and, when they[Pg 308] foam as they break too strongly against the shore, he says to them, as one does to fowl: 'Butsch! Butsch! Butsch!' Finally, I re-enter Nice and, in the evening, dine at my pension in princely style in the glitter of a great Christmas-tree. Would you believe it, I have found a baker de luxe who knows what 'Quackkuchen' is; he told me that the King of Wrtemburg had ordered some of it, similar to the kind I like, for his birthday. I remembered this while I was writing 'in princely style.'  In alter liebe,

    "Your F.

    "N.B.I have begun to sleep again (without narcotics)."

    In January, February, and March, 1886, his melancholy appeared to be less acute. He gave a form to his work, to those notes which his fantasy had dictated to him. For four years he had ceased to publish his aphorisms, his short essays. The matter with which his notebooks supplied him was immense. He proposed to extract a volume from it; his whole task was to arrange and select.

    Had he forgotten the systematic work of which he had thought the previous winter? No, for he always felt the heavy necessity and the reproach of it. He wished to make peace with his own conscience in regard to the delay: he needed a little pleasure, the amusement of a lively book, before commencing the immense work. He found a title, Beyond Good and Evil; a sub-title, Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Thus he announced the more important and always deferred work. He deceived himself in connecting by an artificial tie his pleasure and his duty.

    Remember how joyously he used to announce the completion of the book; how communicative he was and how[Pg 309] confident! Confidence and joy are gone. He knows that he will not be read. But his ill-fortune always exceeds his expectation, and Nietzsche, once again, has not foreseen the ordeal which he must endure: Beyond Good and Evil finds no publisher. He negotiates with a house in Leipsic which declines his proposals. He writes to Berlin without better success. Everywhere his book is refused. What is he to do with it? He thinks of cutting it up into pamphlets which will perhaps reach the public more easily. He writes an experimental preface.

    "These pamphlets," he is to say, "form a sequel to the 'Thoughts out of Season' which I published some ten years ago in the hope of drawing to me 'my fellows.' I was then young enough to go fishing for associates with an impatient hope. To-dayafter a hundred years: I measure the time by my measureI am not yet old enough to have lost all hope and confidence."

    But he soon abandoned this idea too. "There is nothing else for me to do," he wrote to his sister, "but to tie up my manuscript with a string and put it in a drawer."

    In the spring he stayed at Venice, as his custom was, but did not meet his friend, who was visiting the German towns in the vain hope of "placing" his music. Peter Gast had composed an opera, The Lion of Venice, which was being rejected by one theatre after another. Nietzsche wrote to comfort and encourage him. Like Nietzsche, Gast was a German by birth, a Mediterranean in taste. The one lived at Nice, the other at Venice; they had the same ambition, the same unhappy destiny.

    "Come back," he wrote to him, "come back to the solitude in which we both know how to live, in which we alone know how to live! It is Wagnerism which bars your road, and it's also that German grossness and thickness which, since the 'Empire,' goes growing, growing. We must be circumspect and march under arms, you and[Pg 310] I, to prevent ourselves from being forced to die of silence"

    Friedrich Nietzsche felt his solitude alleviated by this comradeship in a difficult lot. Peter Gast's distress was similar to his own; he spoke to him as to a brother. Peter Gast was poor: "Let us share my purse," said Nietzsche; "let us share the little that I have." Peter Gast grew discouraged and lost confidence in himself: Nietzsche knew this agony; he knew the great necessity of confidence to the man who worked, and how quickly the contempt of the public must overwhelm him. "Courage," he wrote; "do not let yourself be cast down; be sure that I, at least, believe in you; I need your music; without it I could not live." We need not doubt that Nietzsche was sincere when he thus expressed himself. All his power of love and admiration, which was immense, he brought to bear upon this last companion who remained to him, and his friendship transfigured the music of Peter Gast.

    He was unhappy, even at Venice; the light hurt the delicate nerves of his eyes. As at Basle in former times, he was obliged to shut himself up behind closed shutters, and deny himself the pleasure of the fine Italian days. What refuge could he find? He recalled the vast German forests, so shady and beneficent to his eyes, and he took to regretting his country. Though she angered him, though he revolted against her, he loved Germany; how could he help loving her? Without her divine music, which had governed the impulses of his first desires, his soul would have been other; without her tongue, that splendid and difficult instrument, his thought would have been other. Schopenhauer and Wagner, two Germans, were his real masters, and remained so (he secretly avowed it); his true disciples, if ever they were to[Pg 311] exist, would be born in Germany, that cruel Fatherland which he could not abjure.

    Thence he received a piece of news which moved him: Rohde was appointed professor in the University of Leipsic. Nietzsche was happy for his friend, and congratulated him in exquisite terms. Nevertheless, he could not prevent himself from sadly drawing a personal moral. "At present," he wrote to Peter Gast, "the Faculty of Philosophy is half composed of my 'good friends' (Zarncke, Heinze, Leskien, Windisch, Rohde, &c.)." Suddenly he wished to depart; he wanted to see his mother, whom her two children had left; he wished to attend his old comrade's course; lastly, he wished to confront those famous publishers who printed twenty thousand volumes a year, and refused his own. He left Venice and went straight to Leipsic.

    He stepped up to Rohde's rooms; the time was badly chosen. He found a busy and preoccupied man, who received this unexpected visitor, this too singular personage who had failed in life, with vexation and constraint. "I saw Nietzsche," Rohde wrote later in a few lines in which he explained his cold welcome. "All his person was marked with an indescribable strangeness, and it disquieted me. There was about him something that I had never known, and of the Nietzsche whom I had known many features were effaced. He seemed to have come from an uninhabited land." Nietzsche said: "I would like to hear you speak." Rohde brought him, and put him to sit among young men who were ignorant of his work and of his very name. Nietzsche listened, then went away. "I have heard Rohde at the University," he wrote to his sister briefly. "I can no longer communicate with any one. Leipsic is, it is clear, no place of refuge or of repose for me."

    He would have fled from Leipsic, as he had fled from Venice and Nice; but the difficulty of his negotiations[Pg 312] obliged him to remain there. He applied to various publishers, and applied in vain. Finally, his dignity revolted. He wished his book to appear, and, however heavy the cost, he resolved to pay out of his own pocket the cost of the printing.

    His mother was waiting for him at Naumburg, where since Lisbeth's departure she lived alone. Nietzsche felt a very lively pity for her; he knew her to be desolated by the loss of her family, and in despair over the impieties which he published in his books. "Don't read them, ignore them," he told her ceaselessly: "it is not for you that I write." Nevertheless, she could not repress her curiosity, and her discontent was never appeased. Nietzsche did not wish to leave without giving her a little happiness. He went to spend a week at home; but he had not the strength to keep the secret of his vexations to himself; he bewailed himself, he grew exalted; he saddened the poor woman, whom finally he left in a more unhappy condition than ever.

    Passing through Munich, he called on the Baron and Baroness von Seydlitz. He wished to snatch a brief repose under the roof of his amiable host; but Seydlitz was away from home, and his house was shut up.

    Nietzsche, having left this Germany which he was never again to see, continued on his road towards the Upper Engadine, from which he always expected some benefit. Here in July he found himself among icy fogs, and felt the first symptoms of a long crisis of neuralgia and melancholy.


    The Will to Power

    Shall we say that he met friends? Is the word suitable to those vague figures, to those Russian, English, Jewish, and Swiss women who, seeing this charming[Pg 313] man return each season, did not refuse him their quick sympathy? We set down their names: Mesdames R?der and Marasoff; Miss Zimmern and Fr?ulein von Salis Marschlins (this last a friend of Fr?ulein von Meysenbug); others, whose names remain unknown, may be guessed.

    How did they judge him? Carefully he avoided any speech that might have pained or surprised them. He kept his dangerous thoughts to himself. So far as they were concerned, he wished to be, and knew how to be, an amiable companion  learned, refined, and reserved. Still, whatever secret he made of his work, his friends did not fail to get an inkling into the mystery of his reserve. One of them, an Englishwoman in delicate health, whom he often went to visit and distract, broached the subject.

    "I know, Herr Nietzsche, why you won't let us see your books. If one were to believe what you say in them, a poor, suffering creature like myself would have no right to live."

    Nietzsche was apologetic, and warded off the accusation as best he could.

    Another, having said to him one day: "I have been told about your books. You've written in one of them, 'If thou goest among women, do not forget thy whip.'"

    "Dear lady, dear friend," answered Nietzsche, in a pained voice, taking the hands of her who reproached him in his own; "do not misunderstand me; it is not thus that I am to be understood."

    Did they admire him? To dare to admire an unrecognised author a very sure judgment is needed; and no doubt they lacked in necessary daring. They esteemed, they liked their hotel companion, and recognised his singular genius in conversation; at the table d'h?te they looked to have the place near his: little enough it seems[Pg 314] if one consider his present fame; then it was a great deal to him. He recovered in the Engadine, thanks to them, a little of the confidence which was necessary to his soul and which he had been losing in Germany. During the summer of 1886, some good musicians passed through Sils. In Nietzsche they discovered a very rare listener, and they liked to be heard by him. This courtesy touched him: "I notice," he wrote to Peter Gast, "that our artists only sing and play for me. I should be greatly spoilt if this continued."

    A certain Oriental story narrates the adventures of a masked sovereign who travels in his provinces; he is not recognised but divined; an instinct of respect awakes at his approach. In this mountain hotel, does not Nietzsche appear as a masked, a half-divined sovereign?

    Nevertheless it was but a poor comfort. Could these women lighten a distress which they could not measure? Nietzsche was traversing that grave moment of life in which a man, however unwilling to be taught, must learn at last what his fate with inexorable constancy gives and refuses him; he had to tear his last hopes from his heart. "I have been unspeakably sad in these latter days," he wrote to Peter Gast, "and cares have deprived me of sleep." The information is brief. To his sister he avows more; he addresses to her pages upon pages that are terrible in their power and monotony.

    "Where are they, those old friends, with whom I formerly felt so closely bound? We inhabit different worlds, we no longer speak the same tongue! As a stranger, a proscribed man, I wander among them; never a word, never a look now reaches me. I hold my peacefor none understands my speechah, I can say it, they have never understood me! It is terrible to be condemned to silence, when one has so many things to say. Am I created for solitude, never to find any one[Pg 315] with whom I may make myself understood? Incommunicability is in truth the most awful of solitudes, to be different, to wear a mask of brass harder than any mask of brassperfect friendship is only possible inter pares. Inter pares! a phrase which intoxicates me: what confidence, what hope, what perfume, what beatitude it promises the man who necessarily and constantly lives alone; to a man who is differentwho has never met any one of his race. And nevertheless he is a good seeker; he has sought much. Ah, the swift folly of those hours in which the solitary thinks he has found a friend, embraces him and holds him in his arms; it is a present from heaven, an inestimable gift. An hour later he rejects him with disgust, he rejects himself with disgust, as though soiled, diminished, sick from his own society. A profound man needs friends, unless indeed he has a God. And I have neither God nor friend! Ah, my sister, those whom you call by this name, once they were friendsbut now?

    "Excuse this burst of passion; my last journey is the cause

    "My health is neither good nor bad; it is only the poor soul which is wounded and thirsting. Give me a little circle of men who will listen to me and understandand I am in good health.

    "Here everything takes its course; the two English-women and the old Russian lady, the musician, have come back; the latter very ill"

    Nietzsche now went on with his labours on the Wille zur Macht. His unfortunate passage through Germany had modified his arrangements. He thought: "What use is it my writing warlike books? Without allies, without readers, I cannot prevent the abasement of Europe; let it be brought about then. One day it will find its goala day which I shall not see. Then my books will be[Pg 316] discovered, then I shall have my readers. For them I should write, for them I should determine my fundamental ideas. To-day, I cannot fight, for I have not enemies even" At the beginning of July, when leaving the Germany which had tried him so hardly, he drew up a detailed plan. In September he wrote:

    "I announce, for the next four years, the completion of my work in four volumes. The title alone is alarming: The Will to Power, an essay towards a Transvaluation of all Values. For this all is necessary to mehealth, solitude, good humourperhaps a wife (eine Frau) also."

    In what retirement should he compose this new work? Genoa had inspired the two books which he wrote as a convalescent, The Dawn of Day and The Gay Science; Rapallo, Nice, had inspired Zarathustra. He now thought of Corsica. For long he had been curious about this savage island, and, in the island itself, of a town, Corte

    "There Napoleon was not born butwhat is perhaps more importantconceived, and is it not the clearly indicated spot in which I should undertake the transvaluation of all values? For me, too, it is a conception that is in question."

    Alas! this Napoleonic work, the title of which alone should strike terror, thus struck its author. Nietzsche was not unaware whither that "via mala des consequences" which he had been long following led him. Since a covetous, conquering force is at the heart of nature, every act which does not correspond precisely with this force is inexact and feeble. He said this, he wrote it, and such indeed was his thought: man is never so great as when he combines an alertness and refinement[Pg 317] of mind with a certain native brutality and cruelty of instinct. Thus the Greeks understood virtu, and the Italians virt. The French politicians, and, after them, Frederick II., Napoleon and Bismarck, acted in accordance with these maxims. Troubled by his doubts, lost in his problem, Nietzsche firmly grasped this fragmentary but certain truth: one must have the courage of psychological nudity, he was to write. He trained himself to it, but remained dissatisfied. His mind was too clear, his soul too pensive, and this definition of the strongest men was too curt and icy for his dreams. Formerly he had chosen Schiller and Mazzini for masters. Did he admire them no longer? No soul was ever as constant as his. Only he feared that, in following them, he would gratify a certain feebleness, and the masters whom he now wished to prefer were called Napoleon and C?sar Borgia.

    On this occasion, too, he turned away from his task, shunning harsh affirmations. The publisher Fritsch consented, on the condition that he received pecuniary aid, to publish a second edition of the Origin of Tragedy, The Dawn of Day, and The Gay Science. This had long been one of Nietzsche's desires: he wished to add prefaces to these old works, to touch them up, and perhaps to add to them. He undertook this new work and became absorbed in it.

    Instead of going to Corsica he returned to the Genoese coast, to Ruta, not far from Rapallo, above Portofino, which thrusts its wooded crest out into the sea. Again he found the walks and familiar places in which Zarathustra had spoken to him. How sad he had then been! He had just lost his two last friends, Lou Salom and Paul Re. Nevertheless he had continued his task and, indeed, created, at the moment of his profoundest sorrow, his bravest book. Friedrich Nietzsche let himself be stirred by these memories of the past.

    [Pg 318]

    He now received a letter which was the first sign of his coming fame. In August, 1886, in despair of being listened to by his compatriots, he had sent his book, Beyond Good and Evil, to two foreign readers, to the Dane Georges Brandes, and to the Frenchman Hippolyte Taine. Georges Brandes did not reply. Hippolyte Taine wrote (October 17, 1886) a letter which gave Nietzsche some joy.

    "On my return from a voyage, I found the book which you were good enough to send me; as you say, it is full of 'thoughts from behind' ('penses de derrire'); the form, which is so lively, so literary, the impassioned style, the often paradoxical turn, will open the eyes of the reader who wants to understand; I will in particular recommend to philosophers your first piece on philosophers and philosophy (pp. 14, 17, 20, 25); but the historians and critics will also have their share in the booty of new ideas (for example 41, 75, 76, 149, 150, &c). What you say of national genius and character in your eighth essay is infinitely suggestive, and I shall re-read this piece, although I find there a far too flattering word relative to myself. You do me a great honour in your letter by putting me by the side of M. Burckhardt of Basle, whom I greatly admire; I think that I was the first man in France to announce in the press his great work upon the Culture of the Renaissance in Italy With best thanks, I am,

    "Yours sincerely,

    "H. TAINE."

    Paul Lanzky rejoined Friedrich Nietzsche at Ruta. Not having seen him for eighteen months, he was struck by the change which he observed in him. The body was weighed down, the features altered. But the man remained the same; however bitter his life had become,[Pg 319] he was still affectionate and na?ve, quick to laughter like a child. He brought Lanzky up the mountain which gives at every instant such magnificent views over the snowy Alps and the sea. The two rested in the most beautiful spots; then they gathered up bits of old timber and twigs from the autumn vines and lit fires, Nietzsche saluting the flames and the rising smoke with cries of joy.

    It was then, it was in this inn at Ruta, that Nietzsche drew up the prefaces to The Dawn of Day and The Gay Science, in which he recounted with so strange a vivacity his spiritual Odyssey: Triebschen and Wagner's friendship; Metz and the discovery of war; Bayreuth, hope and mishap; the rupture with Richard Wagner; the bruising of his love; the cruel years which he spent deprived of poetry and of art; finally Italy, which gave him back both; Venice and Genoa, the two towns which saved him, and the Ligurian coast, Zarathustra's cradle.

    While Nietzsche wrote thus and struggled against depression, may it not be that he was taking drugs to excite himself to work? There is some evidence to suggest it. But we shall never have exact information on this point. We know that he was absorbing chloral and an extract of Indian hemp which, in small doses, produced an inward calm; in large doses, excitement. Perhaps he handled a more complicated pharmacopoeia in secret; it is the habit of nervous persons.

    Friedrich Nietzsche liked this coast. "Imagine," he wrote to Peter Gast, "a little island in the Greek archipelago, pushed down here by the winds. It is a coast of pirates, swift, deceitful, dangerous" He proposed to pass the winter there. But soon he modified his plans, and wished to return to Nice. Lanzky sought in vain to keep him back.

    "You complain of being abandoned," he said to him. "Whose fault is it? You have disciples and you[Pg 320] discourage them. You call me here, you call Peter Gast; and you leave."

    "I need the light, the air of Nice," answered Nietzsche; "I need the Bay of the Angels."

    He went alone. During this winter, he completed his prefaces, he re-read and touched-up his books. He lived, it seems, in a singular condition of relaxation, indecision and melancholy. He sent his manuscripts to Peter Gast, as he always did, but his requests for advice have an unusual accent of unrest and humility. "Bead me," he wrote in February, 1887, "with more distrust than you generally do; say simply: this will do, this won't do I like this, why not alter that, &c., &c."

    He read, and his readings seemed guided by a queer curiosity and less under the rigorous sway of his prejudices.

    He familiarised himself with the works of the French decadents. He appreciated Baudelaire's writings on Richard Wagner, Paul Bourget's Essais de Psychologie Contemporaine. He read the Contes of Maupassant and admired this "great Latin." He ran through some volumes by Zola and did not allow himself to be seduced by a merely popular style of thought, by a merely decorative art. He bought, and commented in pencil on the margin, the Esquisse d'une Morale sans obligation ni sanction. Guyau, like Nietzsche and at the same moment, had had the idea of founding a system of morals on the expansive modalities of life. But he understood them in another sense and interpreted as a force of love what Nietzsche understood as a conquering force. Nevertheless the initial agreement was certain. Nietzsche valued highly the purity and intelligence of idea which he found in the work of the French philosopher. The vogue of the Russian novelists was then beginning. Nietzsche took an interest in these poets of a young, violent, and sensitive race, whose charm he always felt. "Do you know Dostoievsky?" he wrote to Peter Gast. "No one, with the[Pg 321] exception of Stendhal, has so satisfied and ravished me. There is a psychologist with whom I am in agreement!" He indicated the new author to all his correspondents. The religious fervour of the Slavs interested him and found him indulgent. It was not a symptom of weakness, he thought; it was the return of an energy which could not accept the cold constraints of modern society and whose insubordination took the form of a revolutionary Christianity. These barbarians, thwarted in their instincts, were disconcerted and self-accusatory; they had precipitated a crisis which was still undecided, and Nietzsche wrote: "This bad conscience is a malady, but a malady of the nature of pregnancy." For, hoping always, he obstinately defended his thoughts against his disgusts. He wished his thoughts to remain free, kindly and confident, and when there rose within him and towards them a hatred of Europe and of its debased peoples; when he feared that he might yield to his bitter humour, he corrected himself at once: "No," he kept on saying, "Europe is at present richer than ever in men, in ideas, in aspirations, better prepared for great tasks, and we must, contrary to all semblance, hope everything from these multitudes, though their ugly disposition seems to forbid hope."

    During these early months of 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche became intimate with a certain Madame V. P. They went together to San Remo and Monte Carlo. We do not know this woman's name; we have no letter, either written by her or addressed to her. We may infer some mystery, perhaps a mystery of love.

    Madame V. P. was no doubt Nietzsche's companion[2][Pg 322] when he heard the prelude to Parsifal at the concerts in the Casino at Monte Carlo. He listened without any bitterness, with the sudden indulgence of a worn-out adversary. "I loved Wagner," he wrote in September to Peter Gast; "I still love him." Assuredly he still loved him, when he could speak as he did of this symphony which he had just heard.

    "I do not seek to know whether this art can or should serve some end," he wrote to Peter Gast, "I ask myself: Has Wagner ever done better? And I find this: the most exact conscience and psychological precision in the manner of relating, expressing, and communicating emotion; the shortest and most direct form; every nuance of sentiment defined with an almost epigrammatical brevity: such descriptive clearness that in listening to this music one thinks of some buckler of marvellous workmanship; lastly, a sentiment, a musical experience of a soul which is extraordinary and sublime; a "haughtiness," in the formidable meaning of the word; a sympathy, a penetration, which enters like a knife into the souland a pity for what he has discovered and judged at the bottom of that soul. Such beauties one finds in Dante and nowhere else. What painter has ever painted so melancholy a look of love as Wagner in the last accents of his prelude?"

    How easy it would have been for him to be a great critic, equal in his delicacy, superior in the largeness of his views, to that Sainte-Beuve whom he esteemed so highly! He knew it, and found it hard to resist the seductions of that "dilettantism of analysis"the expression is his own. His best readers of ten remarked this. "What a historian you are!" Burckhardt used to say, and Hippolyte Taine repeated it. It did not satisfy Nietzsche. He despised the calling of historian or of critic. He was informed by[Pg 323] a young German whom he met at Nice that the professors of Tbingen took him as a merely dissolvent mind, radical and nihilistic; it saddened him. He had not torn himself from the romanticism of pity and love to sink at last in the inverse romanticism of violence and energy. He admired Stendhal, but did not intend to be a Stendhalian. The Christian belief had nourished his infancy, the disciplines of Pforta had ripened it, Pythagoras, Plato, Wagner had increased, elevated his desires. He wished to be a poet and a moralist, an inventor of virtues, venerations, and serenities: none of his readers, none of his friends, had understood this intention. In correcting the proofs of The Dawn of Day, he re-read this old page, the truth of which still held good.

    "We are still on our knees before poweraccording to the old custom of slavesand yet, when the degree of venerability shall have to be fixed, only the degree of rationality in power will be decisive; we have to investigate to what extent power has indeed been overcome by something higher of which it is now the tool and instrument. But as yet there is an absolute lack of eyes for such investigations; nay, in most cases the appraisement of genius is even considered a crime. And thus perhaps the most beautiful of all spectacles still takes place in the dark and, after bursting into bloom, soon fades into perpetual nightI mean the spectacle of that power which a man of genius employs, not in his works, but in the development of himself, regarded as a work, that is, in the task of self-mastery, in the purification of his imagination, in his deliberate choice and ordering of the course of his tasks and inspirations. And yet the great man is still invisible in the greatest thing which claims worship, invisible like a distant star; his triumph over power continues to be without eyes, hence also without[Pg 324] song and poets. As yet the order of greatness has not been settled for the sum total of human history"

    Alas, for victory over force, one must possess some exterior force, reason or faith. Nietzsche, denying to the one or to the other all their rights, has disarmed himself for the combat.

    At the beginning of March a violent earthquake terrified the cosmopolitan flaneurs of Nice. Friedrich Nietzsche admired these movements of nature which reminded man of his nothingness. Two years earlier the catastrophe of Krakatoa, which destroyed two thousand human beings in Java, had filled him with enthusiasm. "It's grand," he said to Lanzky, whom he had asked to read the telegrams to him; "two thousand human beings annihilated at a stroke! It's magnificent. This is how humanity should come to its endhow one day it will end." And he hoped that a tidal wave would at least do away with Nice and its peoples. "But," observed Lanzky, "we should be done away with ourselves." "What matter!" answered Nietzsche. His almost realised desire amused him. He did not advance his departure by a single day.

    "Hitherto," he wrote on March 7th, "among these thousands of people in a condition of folly, I have lived with a sentiment of irony and cold curiosity. But one cannot answer for oneself; perhaps to-morrow I shall be as unreasonable as any one. Here there is an imprvu which has its charm."

    By the middle of March he would have ended his work on the prefaces; and, as he says in one of them: "What do Herr Nietzsche, his illnesses and recoveries, matter to us? Let us speak frankly, let us go straight[Pg 325] to the problem." Yes, surely, let us go straight to the problem; determine, among the many ends which men propose to themselves, those which truly elevate and ennoble them; succeed at last in gaining our triumph over power. On March 17th he sketched out a plan:

    First Book: European Nihilism.

    Second Book: Criticism of Superior Values.

    Third Book: Principle of a New Evaluation.

    Fourth Book: Discipline and Selection.

    He had sketched a very similar programme in July, 1886: two books of analysis and criticism; two books of doctrine and affirmation; in all four booksfour volumes.

    Every springtime brought him back to a condition of uncertainty and uneasiness; between Nice and the Engadine; he did not know where to find an air which should be bright enough and not too warm; a fine light that would not hurt his eyes. In this year, 1887, he let himself be tempted by the Italian lakes, and, leaving Nice, set out for Lake Maggiore. This midget Mediterranean, enclosed in the mountains, pleased him infinitely at first. "This place strikes me as more beautiful than any part of the Mediterranean," he wrote, "and more movinghow is it that I took so many years to discover it? The sea, like all huge things, has something stupid and indecent which will not be found here." He corrected the proofs of the Gaya Scienza; he re-read Human, Too Human, and again paused to contemplate with pity his unrecognised work.

    But he recovered possession of himself. The coming work alone mattered. He forced himself to recommence his meditations, and at once became enervated and exhausted. He had planned a visit to Venice; suddenly[Pg 326] he gave it up. "My health is against it," he wrote to Peter Gast. "I am unworthy of seeing such beautiful things."

    From aggravation of ennui, an epistolary quarrel arose between Erwin Rohde and himself. He had occasion to write a word to the most intimate friend of past days, and could not resist the pleasure of adding a malicious touch. "I suit old people only," he wrote; "Taine, Burckhardt, and even you are not old enough for me" Erwin Rohde did not like this touch. A professor, whereas Nietzsche was nothing; a scholar with a reputation among European scholars, whereas Nietzsche was still unknown despite his eccentric books, he would not permit irreverence, and defended his dignity. His letter must have been strongly worded, for he had it restored to him later, and destroyed it.

    This misadventure tried Nietzsche. His health was in every respect impaired; he resolved to follow a rgime of waters, massage and baths, in a special establishment in Switzerland, at Coire. He went there, and surrendered himself to the doctors.

    He kept on working, however, and made an energetic effort to discover and define the moral values which he wished to propound. But in vain; do what he would, the problem of his third bookPrinciple of a New Evaluationremained unsolved. "We may here transcribe the more precise definition with which we are furnished by another draft.

    "Third Book: the problem of the legislator. To bind anew the unregulated energies in such a manner that they are not mutually annihilated by running foul of one another; to mark the real augmentation of force."

    What does this mean? What real augmentation, what real direction of things is indicated us by these[Pg 327] words? Is it an augmentation of intensity? Then every shade of energy, provided it be intense, will be good. But we must not take it in this sense. Nietzsche selected, preferred, excluded. This augmentation is then the sign of an order, of a natural hierarchy. But in every hierarchy there must be a criterion by which the ranks are distributed; what should this criterion be? Nietzsche would formerly have said: It will be my logical affirmation, the beliefs which I shall have given. Does he still think it? Doubtless; his thoughts hardly vary. But his audacity was lessened by his sorrows, his critical mind had been rendered more exacting by long indecisions. He desired, he sought, he seemed to ask science, the "doctor-philosopher," for a real basis which all his habits of thought refused him.

    Mournful news completed the ruin of his courage. Heinrich von Stein died, before his thirtieth year, of a heart failure.

    "This has put me out of my senses," wrote Nietzsche to Peter Gast; "I truly loved him. I always thought that he was reserved for me some day. He belonged to that little number of men whose existence rejoiced me; and he too had great confidence in me In this very place how we laughed! He paid a two days' visit to Sils, he had not a glance for Nature or Switzerlandhe came straight from Bayreuth; he went back straight to Halle, to his father;one of the rarest and most delicate homages I have ever received. It made an impression. He had said at the hotel: 'If I come, it is not for the Engadine.'"

    Three weeks passed. He complained of bitter inclinations, of susceptibility which lowered his[Pg 328] soul. Nevertheless, he announced a new work. What was it?

    It is not The Will to Power. His impatience, which is added to by fatigue, does not easily bend to the delays of meditation. Of his old gifts, his genius for improvising, his polemical genius alone survive. Herr Widmann, a Swiss critic, had just written a study on Beyond Good and Evil and saw in this work but a manual of anarchism: "This is dynamite," he said. Friedrich Nietzsche wished to reply, and at once drew up at a spurt in fifteen days one, two, three short essays which he entitled as a whole, A Genealogy of Morals. "This work," he wrote on the title-page, "is destined to complete and elucidate my last book, Beyond Good and Evil."

    "I have said," he wrote in substance, "that I place myself beyond Good and EvilGut und B?se. Does this mean that I wish to liberate myself from every moral category? No. I challenge the exaltation of meekness which is called good; the defamation of energy which is called bad; but the history of the human consciencedo the moralists know that such a history exists?displays to us a multitude of other moral values, other ways of being good, other ways of being bad, numerous shades of honour and of dishonour. Even here the reality is moving, initiative is free; one must seek, one must create."

    But Nietzsche developed his thought further: "I have wished," he wrote some months later  propos of this little book, "I have wished to fire a cannon-shot with more sonorous powder." He exposed the distinction between the two moralities, the one dictated by the masters, the other by the slaves; and he thought to recognise in the verbal roots of the words "good" and "evil," their old meaning. Bonus, buonus, said he, comes from[Pg 329] duonus, which signifies warrior; malus comes from ??, black: the blonde Aryans, the ancestors of the Greek, indicated by this word the type of conduct habitual to their slaves and subjects, the Mediterraneans crossed with Negro and Semitic blood. These primitive notions of what is noble and what is vile, Friedrich Nietzsche does not challenge.

    On the 18th of July, writing from Sils-Maria, he announced the new work to Peter Gast.

    "I have energetically employed these last days, which were better," he wrote. "I have drawn up a little piece of work which, as I think, puts the problem of my last book in a clear light. Every one has complained of not having understood me; and the hundred copies sold do not permit me to doubt that in effect I am not understood. You know that for three years I have spent about 500 thalers to defray the cost of my books; no honorarium, it goes without saying, and I am 43 years old, and I have written fifteen books! Further: experience, and many applications, more painful to me than I care to say, force me to certify, as a fact, that no German editor wants to have anything to do with me (even if I abandon my author's rights). Perhaps this little book which I am completing to-day will help to sell some copies of my last book (it always pains me to think of the poor Fritzsch on whom all the weight of my work rests). Perhaps my publishers will some day benefit from me. As for myself, I know only too well that when people begin to understand me, I shall not benefit from it."

    On the 20th of July, he despatched the manuscript to the publisher. On the 24th July, he called it back by telegram in order to add a few features, a few pages. All his summer was spent in discomfort, melancholy, and the correction of his book, which he never ceased to touch up,[Pg 330] to draw out, to render more violent and more alive. Towards the end of August, perceiving an empty space on the last page of the first section, Nietzsche added this curious note, in which he indicated the unstudied problems which he was to have neither strength nor time to attack.

    "Remark.I take the opportunity presented by this essay to express publicly and formally a wish which, so far, I have only mentioned occasionally to certain scholars, in chance conversations. Some Faculty of Philosophy ought, by a series of academical prize-dissertations, to further studies in the history of morality; perhaps this book will serve to give a vigorous impetus in this direction. I would propose the following question:

    "What hints are furnished by philology, more especially by etymological research, with reference to the history of the development of moral concepts?

    "On the other hand it will be as necessary to interest physiologists and doctors in these problems. In fact and above all, all tables of values, every 'thou shalt' known to history and ethnological research, need to be explained and elucidated in the first place from their physiological side, before any attempt is made to interpret them through psychology The question: What is this or that table of values and morality worth? must be considered from the most varied perspectives. Especially 'the worth for what?' must be considered with extraordinary discernment and delicacy. A thing, for instance, which has evident value with reference to the greatest durability of a race might possess quite another value, if it were a question of creating a higher type. The good of the greatest number and the good of the smallest number are antithetical points of view in valuation; we shall let the simplicity of English biologists suppose that the former is by itself of higher value. All[Pg 331] sciences must prepare the way for the philosopher of the future, whose task will consist in solving the problem of values and determining their hierarchy."

    September came. The proofs were corrected, the Engadine became cold. The wandering philosopher had to find new quarters and new work.

    "To tell the truth," he wrote to Peter Gast, "I hesitate between Venice and Leipsic; I should go there to work, I still have a lot to learn, many questions to ask and much to read for the great thought of my life of which I must now acquit myself. It would not be a matter of an autumn, but of a whole winter spent in Germany. And, weighing everything together, my health dissuades me very strongly from essaying a like experience this year. It will be then Venice or Nice; and from a quite personal point of view, that is better perhaps. Moreover, I need solitude and contemplation rather than study and inquiry into five thousand problems."

    Peter Gast was at Venice, and Venice, as one might have foreseen, carried the day. Nietzsche lived for some weeks, a flaneur and all but happy, in the town with a "hundred profound solitudes." He scarcely wrote: his days, according to Peter Gast, were idle or seemed to be so. It was not to shut himself up in a room in Venice that he gave up the libraries of Leipsic. He walked, frequented the poor "trattoria," where at midday the humblest, the most courteous of lower classes sit down to eat; when the light was too strong he went to rest his eyes in the shade of the basilica; when day began to decline he recommenced his perpetual walks. Then he could look at St. Mark, with its flocks of familiar pigeons, without suffering, at the lagoon with its islands and temples. He kept on thinking of his work. He imagined[Pg 332] it logical and free, simple in its plan, numerous in its details, luminous with a little mystery, a little shade on every line; he wished in short that it should resemble that city which he loved, that Venice whose sovereign will allied itself to the play of all fantasy and grace.

    Let us read this page of notes, written in November, 1887; L'Ombra di Venezia, is it not obvious there?

    "A perfect book to consider:

    "(1) Form. Style. An ideal monologue, all that has a learned appearance, absorbed in the depths. All the accents of profound passion, of unrest and also of weakness. Alleviations, sun tasksshort happiness, sublime serenity. To go beyond demonstration; to be absolutely personal, without employing the first person. Memoirs as it were; to say the most abstract things in the most concrete, in the most cutting manner. The whole history as if it had been lived and personally suffered. Visible things, precise things, examples, as many as possible. No description; all the problems transposed into sentiment as far as passion.

    "(2) Expressive terms. Advantage of military terms. To find expressions to replace philosophical terms."

    On the 22nd of October he was at Nice.

    Two events (the word is assuredly not too strong) occupied the first two weeks of his stay. He lost his oldest friend; he acquired a reader.

    The lost friend was Erwin Rohde. The quarrel begun in the previous spring was then consummated. Nietzsche wrote to Rohde, and his first intention was not to wound. "Do not withdraw from me too lightly," he wrote in announcing the despatch of his last book, The Genealogy of Morals; "at my age and in my solitude I can hardly[Pg 333] bear to lose the few men in whom I formerly confided." But he could not limit himself to these words. He had received a second note, a very amiable one, from Hippolyte Taine,[3] whom Erwin Rohde had criticised disrespectfully in his letter of May. Nietzsche wished to defend his French correspondent, and continued:

    "N.B.I beg that you judge M. Taine more sensibly. The scurrilities that you express and think about him irritate me. I pardon them to the prince Napoleon, not to friend Rohde. It is difficult to me to think that any one who misunderstands this great-hearted and severe-minded race can understand anything of my task. Besides, you have never written me a word which shows that you have the least suspicion of the destiny which weighs me down. I have forty-three years behind me and am as alone as if I were a child."

    All relations were broken off.

    The new reader acquired was Georges Brandes, who acknowledged the despatch of the Genealogy in an extraordinarily intelligent and vivid letter.

    "I get the breath of a new mind from your books," he wrote: "I do not always entirely understand what I read, I do not always see whither you are bound, but many features are in accord with my thoughts and sympathies; like you I hold the ascetic ideal in poor esteem; democratic mediocrity inspires in me, as in you, a profound repugnance; I appreciate your aristocratic radicalism. I am not quite clear with regard to your contempt for the ethic of pity

    "Of you I know nothing. I see with astonishment that you are a professor. In any case I offer you my best[Pg 334] compliments on being, intellectually, so little of a professor You are of the small number of men with whom I would like to talk."

    It would seem as if Nietzsche ought to have felt very strongly the comfort of having found two witnesses to his work, and of so rare a quality: Brandes and Taine. Did he not learn, about this time, that Brahms was reading Beyond, Good and Evil with much relish? But the iron had entered into his soul, and the faculty of receiving happy impressions was, as it were, extinguished in him. He had lost that interior joy, that resistant serenity of which he was formerly so proud, and his letters displayed only melancholy.

    With this disaster there survived the activity of his mind alone, which worked with singular energy. We can with difficulty enumerate the objects which occupied his attention. Peter Gast transcribed his Hymn to Life for the orchestra; Nietzsche superintended, sometimes corrected, always na?vely admired, this new form of his work.

    The journal of the Goncourts appeared; he read this "very interesting novelty," and sat down to table at Magny's with Flaubert, Sainte-Beuve, Gautier, Taine, Gavarri and Renan. All these distractions did not prevent him from embarking resolutely on his new work, the decisive work in which his wisdom and not his rage would speak; the calm work in which polemics would be without rights. He defined in six lines the design which he had formed.

    "To have run through every chamber of the modern soul, to have eaten in each of its corners: my pride, my torture, and my joy. To transcend pessimism effectively, and, in short, a Goethean regard full of love and good-will."

    [Pg 335]

    Friedrich Nietzsche in this note designated the inspirer of his last work; it was to be Goethe. No nature differed so much from his own, and this very difference determined his choice. Goethe had humiliated no mode of human activity, he had excluded no idea from his intellectual world; he had received and administered as a benevolent lord the immense heritage of human culture. Such was Friedrich Nietzsche's last ideal, his last dream. He wished, in this extremity of life (he knew his destiny), to spread, like the sinking sun, his softest lights; to penetrate everywhere, to justify and illumine everything, so that not one shadow should exist upon the surface of things, not one sorrow in the privacy of souls.

    He easily determined the directing ideas of his first two volumes: European Nihilism, The Criticism of Higher Values. For four years he had not written a line which was not a part of this analysis or criticism. He wrote rapidly, angrily. "A little fresh air," he cried; "this absurd state of Europe cannot last much longer." It was only a cry, and very quickly suppressed. Nietzsche put patience behind him, like a weakness; with a song of love that he would answer the attacks of life. He wished to return, and did, in fact, return, to calmer thoughts. He put this question: "Is it true that the condition of Europe is absurd? Perhaps a reason for the facts exists, and escapes us. Perhaps in this debility of the will, in this democratic abasement, one should rightly recognise a certain utility, a certain value of conservation. They seem irrepressible; perhaps they are necessary, perhaps in the long run salutary, though to-day, and, so far as we are concerned, they must be deplored.

    "Reflexion: It is madness to suppose that all this victory of values can be anti-biological; one must seek to explain it by a vital interest for the maintenance of the type man, even though it must be attained by the preponderance[Pg 336] of the feeble and the disinherited. Perhaps if things went differently, man would cease to exist?Problem.

    "The elevation of the type is dangerous to the conservation of the species. Why?

    "The strong races are the prodigal races Here we are confronted by a problem of economy"

    He repressed all disgust, refused to allow himself the use of abusive speech, tried to consider, and did consider, serenely, those tendencies which he condemned. He asked: Must we deny to the masses the right to seek their truths, their vital beliefs? The masses are the basis of all humanity, the foundation of all cultures. Without them, what would become of the masters? They require that the masses be happy. We must be patient; we must suffer our insurgent slaves (for the moment our masters) to invent the illusions which are favourable to them. Let them believe in the dignity of work! If they thus become more docile in work, their belief is salutary.

    "The problem," he writes, "is to render man as utilisable as possible, and make him approximate, as far as may be done, as closely as possible to the machine which never makes a mistake; for this, he must be armed with the virtues of the machine, he must be taught to endure ennui, to lend to ennui a superior charm ; the agreeable sentiments must be put back to a lower rank The mechanical form of existence, considered as the noblest, the highest, should adore itself.

    "A high culture can only be raised on a vast site, over a firm and well-consolidated mediocrity

    "The sole end must, for a long while yet, be the lessening of man: for there must first be created a large foundation on which the race of strong men may be raised

    "The lessening of the European man is the great process which may not be impeded; it should be accelerated[Pg 337] again. It is the active force which allows one to hope for the arrival of a stronger race, of a race which should possess to excess those very qualities which the impoverished species lack (will, responsibility, certitude, the faculty of fixing an end for oneself)."

    Thus at the end of 1887, Nietzsche had succeeded in drawing up a first sketch of the work of synthesis which he had proposed to himself. He concedes a certain right, a certain dignity, to those motives which he formerly reviled. The final rough drafts of Zarathustra had already given us similar indications. "The disciples of Zarathustra," wrote Nietzsche, "give to the humblest, not to themselves, the expectation of happiness.  They distribute religions and systems, according to a hierarchy." Nietzsche now writes, and the intention is similar: "The humanitarian tendencies are not anti-vital, they suit the masses who live slowly, and thus suit humanity which needs the satisfaction of the masses. The Christian tendencies are also benevolent, and nothing is so desirable," writes Nietzsche, "as their permanence; for they suit all those who suffer, all the feeble, and it is necessary for the health of human societies that suffering, that inevitable weaknesses, be accepted without revolt, with submission, and, if possible, with love." "Whatever I may happen to say of Christianity," wrote Nietzsche in 1881 to Peter Gast, "I cannot forget that I owe to it the best experiences of my spiritual life; and I hope never to be ungrateful to it at the bottom of my heart." This thought, this hope, has never left him; and he rejoices to have found a word of justice for the religion of his childhood, the only one which still offers itself to souls.

    On December 14, 1887, he addressed a letter to an old correspondent of the Basle days, Carl Fuchs. The accent is a proud one.

    [Pg 338]

    "Almost all that I have written should be erased. During these latter years the vehemence of my internal agitations has been terrible. To-day, at the moment when I should be rising higher, my first task is to modify myself, to depersonalise myself towards higher forms.

    "Am I old? I do not know, and moreover I do not know what kind of youth is necessary to me.

    "In Germany, people complain strongly of my 'eccentricities.' But as they do not know where my centre is, they can hardly discern when or how I happen to be eccentric."

    From the dates of his notes, it seems that Nietzsche approached a different problem in the month of January, 1888. Those humble multitudes whose rights he admits and measures would not deserve to live, if their activity were not, in the last instance, governed by an lite, utilised for glorious ends. What would be the virtues of this lite, what ends would it serve? Nietzsche was thus brought back to the problem which was his torment. Would he define at length this unknown, and perhaps unattainable grandeur, towards which his soul had for so long aspired? He was again a prey to sadness. He complained of his sensibility, of his irritability, which had become such that each day, on the arrival of the post, he hesitated and shivered before opening his letters.

    "Never has life appeared so difficult to me," he wrote to Peter Gast on January 15th. "I can no longer keep on terms with any sort of reality: when I do not succeed in forgetting them, they break me There are nights when I am overwhelmed with distress. And so much remains to be doneall, so to say!Therefore I must hold out. To this wisdom I apply myself, at least in the mornings. Music, these days,[Pg 339] gives me sensations which I had never known. It frees me, it lets me recover from the intoxication of myself; I seem to consider myself from a great height, to feel myself from a great height; thus it renders me stronger, and regularly, after an evening's music (I have heard Carmen four times), I have a morning full of energetic perceptions and lucky discoveries. It is quite admirable. It is as though I had bathed myself in a more natural element. Without music life is merely a mistake, a weariness, an exile."

    Let us try to follow the course of his work. He subjected himself to an historical research and attempted to discover the social class, the nation, the race or the party which authorised the hope of a more noble humanity. Here was the modern European:

    "How could a race of strong men disengage itself from it? a race with the classical taste? The classical taste, that is, the will to simplification, to accentuation  the courage of psychological nudity To raise oneself from this chaos to this organisation, one must be constrained by a necessity. One must be without choice; disappear or impose oneself. A dominant race can only have terrible and violent origins. Problem: where are the barbarians of the twentieth century? Evidently they will only be able to appear and impose themselves after huge socialistic crisesthese will be the elements most capable of the most persistent hardness in respect of themselves, and who will be able to become the guarantees of the most persistent will."

    Is it possible to discern in modern Europe these elements predestined to victory? Nietzsche busied himself with this problem, and wrote down the results of his researches in his notebook.

    [Pg 340]

    "The most favourable impediments and remedies against modernity.

    "And first:

    "1. Obligatory military service, with genuine wars which put an end to all lightness of mind.

    "2. National narrowness which simplifies and concentrates."

    Other indications corroborate the above.

    "The maintenance of the military state, which is the only means left to us, whether for the maintenance of the great traditions, or for the institution of the superior type of man. And all circumstances which perpetuate unfriendliness, distance between states, find themselves thus justified."

    What an unforeseen conclusion to Nietzschean polemics! He had dishonoured nationalism; and for the support which he sought in this grave hour he fell back on nationalism. A yet more unexpected discovery was to come. Nietzsche, proceeding with his researches, foresaw, defined, and approved of a party which can be but a form or a reform of Positivist democracy. He discerned the lineaments of the two vigorous and sane groupings which suffice to discipline man.

    "A party of peace, not sentimental, which denies war to itself and its members, which also denies them recourse to the courts of law; which provokes against itself, struggle, contradiction, persecution: a party of the oppressed, at least for a time; soon the great party opposed to sentiments of rancour and vengeance.

    "A party of war, which with the same logic and severity against itself, proceeds in an opposite sense."

    [Pg 341]

    Should we recognise in these two parties the organised forces which will produce that tragical era of Europe which Nietzsche announces? Perhaps; but let us be careful not to exaggerate the value of these notes. They are rapidly written; as they surged and passed in Nietzsche's mind, they should surge and pass before us. His view pierces in every direction: it never settles upon one object. No working-class Puritanism can satisfy him, for he knows that the brilliancy of human culture stands or falls with the freedom of the aristocracies. No nationalism can satisfy him, for he loves Europe and her innumerable traditions.

    What resource is left to him? He has bound himself to seek in his own time the points of support for a higher culture. For a moment he thinks he has found them; he has deceived himself, and turns away, for these supports impose a narrowness of direction which his mind cannot tolerate. "There is this that is extraordinary in the life of a thinker," he wrote in 1875the age of the text proves the permanence of the conflict" that two contrary inclinations oblige him to follow, at the same moment, two different directions and hold him under their yokes; on the one hand he wishes to know and, abandoning without weariness the firm ground which sustains the life of men, he adventures into unknown regions; on the other hand he wishes to live, and, without ever wearying, he seeks a place in which to five" Nietzsche had abandoned Wagner, wandered in uncertain regions. He seeks a final security; what does he find? The narrow refuge of nationalism. He withdraws from it: it may be a vulgar recourse, a useful artifice for maintaining some solidity in the crowds, a certain principle of taste and of severity; it may not be, it must not be, the doctrine of the European lite, a scattered and, no doubt, non-existent lite to whom his thoughts are addressed.

    [Pg 342]

    Nietzsche put the idea of nationalism out of his mind; it was the expedient of a weak century. He ceased to devote himself to his search. What mattered to him the beliefs which should be beneficent to the humble? He thought of Napoleon and of Goethe, both of whom rose superior to their times, and to the prejudices of their countries. Napoleon was contemptuous of the Revolution, but artfully turned its energy to advantage; he despised France, but ruled her. Goethe held Germany in poor esteem and took little interest in her struggles: he wished to possess and reanimate all the ideas, all the dreams of men, to conserve and enrich the vast heritage of moral riches which Europe had created. Napoleon knew the grandeur of Goethe, and Goethe joyfully observed the life of the conqueror, ens realissimum. The soldier, the poet, the one who kept men in submission and silence, held them to effort, the other who watched, meditated, and glorified, such is the ideal couple that reappear at every decisive instant in Friedrich Nietzsche's life. He had admired the Greece of Theognis and Pindar, the Germany of Bismarck and Wagner; a long winding course led him back towards his dream, towards that unrealised Europe of strength and beauty of which Goethe and Napoleon were, upon the morrow of the Revolution, the solitary representatives.

    We can tell, from a letter addressed to Peter Gast (February 13, 1887), that Nietzsche was at this date by no means satisfied with his work. "I am still in the tentative, the introductory, the expectant stage " he wrote, and he added: "The first rough draft of my Essay towards a Transvaluation is ready; it has been, on the whole, a torture, and I have no longer the courage to think of it. In ten years I shall do better." What was the cause of this dissatisfaction? Was he weary of[Pg 343] that tolerance, that condescension to the needs of the feeble and of the crowd which he had imposed on himself for three months? Was he impatient to express his anger?

    The letters which he then addressed to his mother and sister let us approach him in a more intimate manner. (They have not all been published.) He wrote to these two women from whom he was separated with a tenderness which rendered difficult dissimulation and even courage itself. He let himself go, as though it pleased him to find himself at their knees a child again. He was gentle, obedient with his mother; he signed himself humbly: ta vieille crature. With his sister he talked like a comrade; he seemed to have forgotten all the grievances he had had against her in other times; he knew that she would never return from far-off Paraguay: he regretted her, he loved her because she was lost. She is energetic, is Lisbeth, and valiantly risks her life. Nietzsche admired in her the virtues which he esteemed above all virtues, and which are, he thinks, the virtues of his race, the noble race of the Counts Nietzki. "How strongly I feel," he wrote her, "in all you do and say, that the same blood runs in our veins." He hearkened to her, but she did not cease to offer him overwise advice. As he complains of being alone, why does he not get made a professor, why does he not marry? Nietzsche answered too easily: "Where would I find a wife? and if by chance I did find one, would I have the right to ask her to share my life?" He knew nevertheless, and said so, that a wife would be sweet to him.

    "NICE, January 25, 1888. "I must relate a little adventure to you: yesterday, as I was taking my usual walk, I heard, not far off, a warm and frank laugh (I thought that I heard your laugh); and when this laughing person came near meI saw a very[Pg 344] charming girl, with brown eyes, delicate as a deer. The sight warmed my heart, my old solitary philosopher's heartI thought of your matrimonial advice, and for the rest of my walk, I could not rid myself of the image of this young and gracious girl. Assuredly it would do me good to have so gracious a thing by mebut would it do her good? Would not I, with my ideas, make this girl unhappy? And would not my heart break (we assume that I love her) if I saw so amiable a creature suffering? No, no marriage!"

    Was it not now that a singular and unwholesome idea fixed itself in his thought? At every moment he was picturing to himself the joys of which he was deprived: fame, love, and friendship; he thought rancourously of those who possessed them, and above all of Richard Wagner, whose genius had been always so sumptuously rewarded. How beautiful she had been, when he knew her at Triebschen, this incomparable woman Cosima Lizst, come, while yet married, to the scandal of the world, to live with Wagner and help in his work! Attentive and clear-minded, active and helpful, she assured him the security which he had hitherto lacked. Without her, what would have become of him? Could he have mastered his impatient, restless, excitable temperament? would he have been capable of realising those great works which he was for ever announcing? Cosima appeased him, directed him; thanks to her, he achieved the Tetralogy, he reared Bayreuth, he wrote Parsifal Nietzsche recalled those fine days at Triebschen. Cosima welcomed him, listened to his ideas and projects, read his manuscripts, was benevolent, talked brightly to him. Suffering and irritation deformed his memories; he became infatuated with the thought that he had loved Cosima Wagner and that she, perhaps, had loved him. Nietzsche wished to believe this, and came to believe it.[Pg 345] Yes, there had been love between them, and Cosima would have saved him, as she saved Wagner, if, by lucky chance, she had only known him a few years earlier. But every circumstance had been unfavourable to Nietzsche. Here again Wagner had robbed him. He had taken all, fame, love, friendship.

    We can divine this strange romance in the last works of Friedrich Nietzsche. A Greek myth helps him to express and veil his thoughts; it is the myth of Ariadne, Theseus, and Bacchus. Theseus was lost; Ariadne has met him and led him to the exit from the labyrinth; but Theseus is treacherous: he abandons upon the rock the woman who has saved him; Ariadne would die alone and in despair if Bacchus did not intervene, Bacchus-Dionysios who loves her. The enigma of these three names may be solved: Ariadne is Cosima; Theseus, Wagner; Bacchus-Dionysios, Nietzsche.

    On the 31st of March he wrote again, and his language was that of a lost soul.

    "Night and day, I am in a state of unbearable tension and oppression, by reason of the duty imposed upon me and also on account of my conditions of life, which are absolutely opposed to the accomplishment of this duty; here no doubt the cause of my distress must be sought

    My health, thanks to an extraordinarily fine winter, to good nourishment, to long walks, has remained sufficiently good. Nothing is sick, but the poor soul. Besides, I will not conceal the fact that my winter has been very rich in spiritual acquisitions for my great work: so the mind is not sick; nothing is sick, but the poor soul."

    Nietzsche left Nice next day. He wished, before going up to the Engadine, to make the experiment of a stay in Turin. Its dry air and spacious streets had been[Pg 346] praised in his hearing. He travelled with difficulty; he lost his luggage and his temper, quarrelled with the porters, and remained for two days ill at Sampiedarena, near Genoa; in Genoa itself, he spent three days of rest, fully occupied with the happy memories which he found again. "I thank my luck," he wrote to Peter Gast, "that it led me back to this town, where the will rises, where one cannot be cowardly. I have never felt more gratitude than during this pilgrimage to Genoa" On Saturday, April 6th, he arrived at Turin, broken with fatigue. "I am no longer capable of travelling alone," he said to Peter Gast in the same letter. "It agitates me too much, everything affects me stupidly."


    Towards the Darkness

    Here we should discontinue our story to forewarn the reader. Hitherto, we have been following the history of Nietzsche's thought. Nietzsche's thought has now no longer a history, for an influence, come not from the mind, but from the body, has affected it. People sometimes say that Nietzsche was mad long before this. It may be that they are right; it is impossible to reach an assured diagnosis. At least he had retained his power of reflection, his will. He could still hold himself and his judgments in check. In the spring of 1888 he lost this faculty. His intelligence is not yet darkened; there is not a word he writes but is penetrating and trenchant. His lucidity is extreme, but disastrous, since it exercises itself only to destroy. As one studies the last months of this life, one feels as though one were watching the work of some engine of war which is no longer governed by the hand of man.

    Friedrich Nietzsche abandoned those moral researches[Pg 347] which had strengthened his work till now, enriched and elevated it. Let us recall a letter addressed to Peter Gast in February, 1888: "I am in a state of chronic irritability which allows me, in my better moments, a sort of revenge, not the finest sortit takes the form of an excess of hardness." These words shed light on the three coming books: The Case of Wagner, The Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist.

    We shall hurry on with the story of those months in which Nietzsche is no longer quite himself.

    About the 7th of April he received an unexpected letter at Turin. Georges Brandes wrote informing him of a projected series of conferences which were to be devoted to his philosophy. "It annoys me," wrote Brandes, "to think that no one knows you here, and I wish to make you known all of a sudden." Nietzsche replied: "Truly, dear sir, this is a surprise. Where did you get such courage that you can speak in public of a vir obscurissimus? Perhaps you imagine that I am known in my own country. They treat me as something singular and absurd, which it is not at all necessary to take seriously" He ended by remarking, "The long resistance has exasperated my pride a little. Am I a philosopher? What does it matter?"

    The letter should have been an occasion of great joy; and, perhaps, had it been possible to save him, the occasion of his salvation. Assuredly he felt some happiness, but we scarcely discern it. The hour was late, and Nietzsche now followed the tracks whither his destiny had drawn him.

    During these days of weariness and tension, he procured a translation of the Laws of Manu, for he wished to become familiar with the model of those hierarchic societies for whose renovation he hoped. He read, and[Pg 348] his expectations were not deceived; this, the last study of his life, turned out to be one of the most important he had ever undertaken. It delighted him to ecstasyhere was a code on which were established the customs and the order of four castes, a language that was beautiful, simple, human in its very severity, a constant nobleness of thought. And the impression of security, of sweetness which detached itself from the book as a whole! Here are some commandments from its earlier pages:

    "Before the cutting of the navel string, a ceremony is prescribed at the birth of a male; he must be made, while sacred texts are pronounced, to taste a little honey and clarified butter from a golden dish.

    "Let the father fulfil the ceremony of the giving of a name, on the tenth or twelfth day after birth, on a propitious lunary day, at a favourable moment, under a star of happy influence.

    "Let the first name in the compound name of a Brahman express the propitious favour; that of a Kshatriya, power; that of a Vaisya, riches: that of a Sudra, abjection.

    "Let the name of a girl be soft, clear, agreeable, propitious and easily spoken, terminating in long vowels, and resembling words of benediction."

    Friedrich Nietzsche read and admired. He copied out many a passage, recognising in the old Hindu text that Goethean gaze, full of love and of good will, hearing in its pages that canto d' amore, which he had himself wished to sing.

    But if he admired, he also judged. That Hindu order had as basis a mythology of which the priests who interpreted it were not the dupes. "These sages," wrote Nietzsche, "do not believe in all thisor they would not have found it" The laws of Manu were clever and[Pg 349] beautiful lies. Necessarily so, since Nature is a chaos, a derision of all thought and of all order, and whoever aspires to the foundation of an order, must turn away from her and conceive an illusory world. Those master builders, the Hindoo lawgivers, are masters also in the art of lying. If Nietzsche were not careful, their genius would drag him into the path of falsehoods.

    Here was the instant of a crisis of which we know nothing but the origin and the term. Nietzsche was alone at Turin, no one was by him as he worked, he had no confidant. What was he thinking? Doubtless he was studying, meditating continually over the old Aryan book which gave him the model of his dreams, that book which was the finest monument of ?sthetic and social perfection, and, at the same time, of intellectual knavery. How he must have loved and yet hated it! He mused, was amazed, and suspended his work. Four years earlier a similar difficulty had prevented him from completing his Zarathustra. It was no longer a question of the Superman, of an Eternal Return. These na?ve formul? were abandoned, but the tendencies which they cloakedthe one, lyrical, avid of construction and of order, even though illusory; the other, avid of destruction and of luciditythese unvarying tendencies again exercised their influence at this point. Nietzsche hesitated: should he finally listen to these Brahmins, these priests, these crafty leaders of men. No; loyalty is the virtue upon which he can never compound. Later perhaps, much later, when a few centuries are gone by, humanity, more learned in the meaning of its life, in the origins and values of its instincts, in the mechanism of heredities, may essay new lawgivings. To-day it cannot: it would only add falsehoods and hypocrisies to the old lies, the old hypocrisies, which already fetter it. Nietzsche turned away from the thoughts which he had followed with such energy for six months, and suddenly found himself[Pg 350] exactly as he had been in his thirtieth year, indifferent to all that was not in the service of truth.

    "All that is suspect and false must be brought into the light!" he had then written. "We do not wish to build prematurely, we do not know that we can build, and that it may not be better to build nothing. There are pessimists who are cowardly and resignedof those we do not wish to be."

    When he had thus expressed himself, Nietzsche still possessed strength enough to consider calmly a labour made the easier by hope. But in ten years he has lost his old force, his old calm, and all hope has left him. His sick soul can no longer offer any resistanceirritability overcomes it. He gives up the composition of his great work, relinquishes it to write a pamphlet. By this circumstance our conjectures are solved and, indeed, terminated.

    The days of serenity have gone by. Wounded to the death, Nietzsche wishes to return blow for blow. Richard Wagner is his mark, the false apostle of Parsifal, the illusionist who has seduced his period. If he formerly served Wagner, now he will disserve him, out of passion as out of a sense of duty. He thinks: "It is I who made Wagnerism; it is I who must unmake it." He wishes to liberate, by means of a violent attack, those of his contemporaries who, weaker than himself, still submit to the prestige of this art. He wants to humiliate this man whom he has loved, whom he still loves; he wishes to defame this master who was the benefactor of his youth; in short, if we do not mistake, he wishes to take vengeance on a lost happiness. So he insults Wagner; calls him a decadent, a low comedian, a modern Cagliostro. This indelicacyan unheard-of thing in Nietzsche's lifesuffices to prove the presence of the evil.

    No scruple haunted him. A happy excitement favoured[Pg 351] and hastened on his work. Alienists are familiar with those singular conditions which precede the last crises of general paralysis, and Friedrich Nietzsche seemed to abandon himself to an afflux of joy. He attributed the benefit to the climate of Turin, which he was now trying.

    "Turin, dear friend," wrote he to Peter Gast, "is a capital discovery. I tell you with the idea at the back of my mind that you may perhaps also profit from it. My humour is good, I work from morning to nighta little pamphlet on music occupies my fingersI digest like a demi-god, I sleep in spite of the nocturnal noises of carriages: so many symptoms of the eminent suitability of Turin to Nietzsche."

    In July, in the Engadine, some damp and cold weeks did him a great deal of harm. He lost his sleep. His happy excitement disappeared, or transformed itself into bitter and febrile humours. It was then that Fr?ulein von Salis-Marschlins, who has recounted her recollections in an interesting brochure, saw him, after a separation of ten months. She remarked the change in his condition; how he walked alone, his hurried carriage, his sharp salutehe would stop scarcely or not at all, in such a hurry was he to get back to his inn and put down the thoughts which his walk had inspired in him. On the visits he paid her he did not conceal his preoccupations. He was in dread of pecuniary embarrassments: the capital which had constituted his little fortune was almost gone; and could he, with the three thousand francs which the University of Basle allowed him as a pension, provide for his everyday needs and for the publication, always onerous, of his books? It was in vain that he regulated his journeys and restricted himself to the simplest lodgings and food. He was reaching the limits of his resources.

    [Pg 352]

    The Case of Wagner was completed; to the text, a preliminary discourse, a postscript, a second postscript, and an epilogue were added. He could not cease extending his work, and making it more bitter. Nevertheless he was not satisfied, and felt, after having written it, some remorse.

    "I hope that this very risqu pamphlet has pleased you," he wrote to Peter Gast on the 11th of August, 1888. "That would be for me a comfort by no means negligible. There are certain hours, above all, certain evenings, when I do not feel enough courage in myself for so many follies, for so much hardheartedness; I am in doubt over some passages. Perhaps I went too far (not in the matter, but in my manner of expressing the matter). Perhaps the note in which I speak of Wagner's family origins could be suppressed."

    A letter addressed about this time to Fr?ulein von Meysenbug gives food for thought.

    "I have given to men the most profound book," he writes; "one pays dearly for that. The price of being immortal is sometimes life! And always on my road that cretinism of Bayreuth! The old seducer Wagner, dead though he be, continues to draw away from me just those few men whom my influence might touch. But in Denmarkhow absurd to think!I have been celebrated this winter. Dr. Georges Brandes, whose mind is so full of vitality, has dared to talk about me before the University of Copenhagen. And with brilliant success! Always more than three hundred listeners! And a final ovation!And something similar is being arranged in New York. I am the most independent mind in Europe and the only German writerwhich is something!"

    [Pg 353]

    He added in a postscript: "Only a great soul can endure my writings. Thus I have had the good luck to provoke against myself all that is feeble and virtuous." No doubt the indulgent Fr?ulein von Meysenbug saw in these lines a point directed against herself. She answered, as usual, in her kindly manner: "You say that everything feeble and virtuous is against you? Do not be so paradoxical. Virtue is not weakness but strength, words say it plainly enough. And are you not yourself the living contradiction of what you say? For you are virtuous, and the example of your life, if men could only know it, would, as I am assured, be more persuasive than your books." Nietzsche replied: "I have read your charming letter, dear lady and dear friend, with real emotion; no doubt you are rightso am I."

    How headlong a thing is his life! Days spent in walking, in getting the rhythm of phrases, in sharpening thoughts. Often he works through the dawn and is writing still when the innkeeper rises and goes noiselessly out to follow the traces of the chamois among the mountains. "Am I not myself a hunter of chamois?" thinks Nietzsche, and goes on with his work.

    The Case of Wagner being completed, Nietzsche began a new pamphlet, directed not against a man, but against ideasagainst all ideas that men have found whereby to guide their acts. There is no metaphysical world, and the rationalists are dreamers; there is no moral world, and the moralists are dreamers. What then remains? "The world of appearances, perhaps? But no; for with the world of truth we have abolished the world of appearances!" Nothing exists but energy, renewed at every instant. "Incipiet Zarathustra." Friedrich Nietzsche looked for a title for his new pamphlet: Leisure Hours of a Psychologist was his first idea; then, The Twilight of the Idols, or The Philosophy of the Hammer. On September 7th he sent his manuscript to[Pg 354] the publisher. This little bookhe wrotemust strike, scandalise, and strain people's minds, and prepare them for the reception of his great work.

    Of it he is always thinking, and his second pamphlet is scarcely finished when he starts on this labour. But we no longer recognise the calm and Goethean work which it had been his desire to write. He tries new titles: We other Immoralists, We other Hyperboreans: then returns to his old title and keeps to itThe Will to Power: An Essay towards the Transvaluation of all Values. Between September 3rd and September 30th he draws up a first section: The Antichrist; and it is a third pamphlet. This time he speaks outright, he indicates his Yea and his Nay, his straight line and his goal: he exalts the most brutal energy. All moral imperatives, whether dictated by Moses or by Manu, by the people or by the aristocracy, are lies. "Europe was near to greatness," he writes, "when, during the first years of the sixteenth century, it was possible to hope that C?sar Borgia would seize the Papacy." Are we bound to accept these thoughts as definitive, because they are the last that Nietzsche expressed?

    While he was drawing up The Antichrist, he returned again to his Dionysian Songs, outlined in 1884, and completed them. Here we find the sure expression of the presentiments that then agitated him.

    "The sun sets,

    Soon thy thirst shall be quenched,

    Burning heart!

    A freshness is in the air,

    I breathe the breath of unknown mouths,

    The great cold comes

    The sun is in its place, and burns upon my head at noon.

    I salute ye, ye who come,

    O swift winds,

    [Pg 355]O fresh spirits of the afternoon

    The air stirs, peaceable and pure.

    Has it not darted towards me a sidelong glance,

    A seductive glance,


    Be strong, brave heart!

    Ask not: why?

    Eve of my life!

    The sun sets."

    On the 21st September we find him at Turin. On the 22nd The Case of Wagner was published. Here at last was a book of which the newspapers spoke a little. But Nietzsche was exasperated by their comments. With the exception of a Swiss author, Carl Spiteler, no one had understood him. Every word gave him the measure of the public ignorance as regards his work. For ten years he had been seeking and following ideas found by him alone: of this the German critics knew nothing; they knew only that a certain Herr Nietzsche, a disciple of Wagner's, had been an author; they read The Case of Wagner and surmised that Herr Nietzsche was just fallen out with his master. Besides, he felt that he had incurred the blame of some of his later friends. Jacob Burckhardt, always so precise, did not acknowledge the receipt of the pamphlet; the good Meysenbug wrote an indignant and severe letter.

    "These are subjects," Nietzsche answered him, "with regard to which I cannot permit any contradiction. Upon the question of decadence I am the highest authority (instance) in the world: the men of to-day, with their querulous and degenerate instinct, should consider themselves fortunate that they have by them some one who offers them a generous wine in their most sombre moments. That Wagner succeeded in making himself believed in, assuredly proves genius; but the genius of falsehood. I have the honour to be his oppositea genius of truth."

    [Pg 356]

    In spite of the agitation thus displayed, his letters expressed an unheard-of happiness. There is nothing which he does not admire. The autumn is splendid; the roads, the galleries, the palaces, the cafs of Turin, are magnificent; repasts are succulent and prices modest. He digests well, sleeps marvellously. He hears French operettas: there is nothing as perfect as their buoyant manner, "the paradise of all the refinements." He listens to a concert: each piece, whether Beethoven, Schubert, Bossaro, Goldmarck, Vibac, or Bizet be its author, seems to him equally sublime. "I was in tears," he wrote to Peter Gast. "I think that Turin, from the point of view of the musical sense, as from every other point of view, is the most solid town that I know."

    One might hope that this intoxication of spirit kept Nietzsche from knowledge of his destiny. But a rare word sufficiently indicates his clairvoyance. He has a sense of the approaching disaster. His reason escapes from him and he measures its flight. On the 13th of November, 1888, he expressed to Peter Gast a desire to have him near, his regret that he could not come; this was his constant plaint, the very constancy of which indeed diminished its significance. Nietzsche, who knew this, warned his friend: "What I tell you, take tragically," he wrote. On the 18th of November he sent a letter which seemed quite happy. He spoke of operettas which he had just heard, of Judic, and of Milly Meyer. "For our bodies and for our souls, dear friend," he wrote, "a light Parisian intoxication, 'tis salvation." He concluded: "This letter also, I pray you to take tragically."

    Thus the condition of physical jubilation to which imminent madness brought him let him escape neither presentiment nor anguish. He wished to reassemble for the last time the memories and impressions which life had left to him, and to compose a work which should[Pg 357] be bizarre, triumphant, and desperate. Look at the titles of the chapters: "Why I am so prudent.Why I am so wise.Why I have written such good books.Why I am a fatality.Glory and eternity" He calls his last work: Ecce Homo. What does he mean? Is he Antichrist or another Christ? He is both together. Like Christ, he has sacrificed himself. Christ is man and God: He has conquered the temptations to which He made Himself accessible. Nietzsche is man and Superman: he has known every feeble desire, every cowardly thought, and has cast them from him. None before him was so tender or so hard; no reality has alarmed him. He has taken upon himself not the sins of men, but all their passions in their greatest force. "Jesus on the Cross," he writes, "is an anathema upon life; Dionysos broken in bits is a promise of life, of life indestructible and ever-renewed." The solitary Christian had his God: Nietzsche lives alone and without God. The sage of old had his friends: Nietzsche lives alone and without friends. He lives nevertheless, and can sing, in his cruel extremity, the Dionysian hymn. "I am not a saint," he writes, "but a satyr." And again, "I have written so many books, and such beautiful ones: how should I not be grateful to life?"

    No; Nietzsche was a saint, not a satyr, and a wounded saint who aspired to die. He said that he felt grateful to life; it was false, for his soul was quite embittered. He lied, but sometimes man has no other way to victory. When Arria, dying from the blow she had given herself, said to her husband as she passed him her weapon: "P?te, non dolet" she lied, and it was to her glory that she lied. And here, may we not pass on Nietzsche himself the judgment that he had passed upon her? "Her holy falsehood," he wrote in 1879, "obscures all the truths that have ever been said by the dying." Nietzsche had not triumphed. Ecce Homo: he was broken but would[Pg 358] not avow it. A poet, he wished that his cry of agony should be a song; a last lyrical transport uplifted his soul and gave him the force to lie.

    "Day of my life!

    Thou sinkst to eve!

    Thine eye already

    Gleams half-bruised;

    Drops from thy dew,

    Like tears outstrewn,

    Stream; the purple of thy love

    Goes silent over the milky sea,

    Thy ultimate, tardy blessedness

    All around, only the waves and their mirth.

    What once was hard

    Has foundered in a blue oblivion

    My boat lies idle now.

    Tempest and travelhow unlearnt

    Hope and desire are drowned,

    The soul and the sea he sleek.

    Seventh solitude

    Never felt I

    Closer to me the sweet serenity,

    Warmer the rays of the sun.

    Shines not even the ice of my summit?

    A rapid, silvery fish,

    My bark glides away, afar."

    Nevertheless he was conscious that the fame, so long desired, approached. Georges Brandes, who was going to repeat and publish his lectures, found him a new reader, the Swede Auguste Strindberg. Very pleased, Nietzsche announced it to Peter Gast. "Strindberg has written to me," he said, "and for the first time I receive a letter in which I find a world-historic (Welthistorik) accent." In St. Petersburg they were getting ready to translate his Case of Wagner. In Paris, Hippolyte Taine sought and found him a correspondent: Jean Bordeau, contributor to the Dbats and the Revue des Deux Mondes. "At last," wrote Nietzsche, "the grand Panama Canal[Pg 359] towards France has been opened." His old comrade Deussen handed him two thousand francs, the offering of an unknown who wished to subscribe to an edition of his works. Madame de Salis Marschlins offered him a thousand. Friedrich Nietzsche should have been happy, but it was too late.

    How were his last days spent? We do not know. He lived in a furnished apartment, the guest of a humble family, which lodged him and, if he wished, fed him. He corrected the proofs of Ecce Homo, adding a postscript to the early text, then a dithyrambic poem; meanwhile he prepared a new pamphlet for publication, Nietzsche contra Wagner. "Before launching the first edition of my great work," he wrote to his publisher, "we must prepare the public, we must create a genuine tensionor it will be Zarathustra over again." On the 8th of December he wrote to Peter Gast: "I have re-read Ecce Homo, I have weighed every word in scales of gold: literally it cuts the history of humanity into two sectionsthe highest superlative of dynamite." On the 29th of December he wrote to his publisher: "I am of your opinion, as to Ecce Homo; let us not exceed 1,000 copies; a thousand copies for Germany of a book, written in the grand style, is indeed rather more than reasonable. But in France, I say it quite seriously, I count on an issue of 80,000or 40,000 copies." On the 2nd of January another letter (in a rough and deformed hand): "Return me the poemon with Ecce!"

    There exists a tradition, difficult to verify, that, during these latter days, Nietzsche often played fragments of Wagner to his hosts. He would say to them: "I knew him," and talk of Triebschen. The thing does not seem improbable, for now his memories of his greatest happiness may well have visited him, and he may have found delight in recounting them to simple people ignorant of his life. Had he not just written in Ecce Homo:

    [Pg 360]

    "Since I am here recalling the consolations of my life, I ought to express in a word my gratitude for what was by far my most profound and best-loved joymy intimacy with Richard Wagner. I wish to be just with regard to the rest of my human relationships; but I absolutely cannot efface from my life the days at Triebschen, days of confidence, of gaiety; of sublime flashesdays of profound happiness. I do not know what Wagner was for others: our sky was never darkened by a cloud."

    On the 9th of January, 1889, Franz Overbeck was sitting, with his wife, at the window of his quiet house in Basle, when he saw old Burckhardt stop and ring at his door. He was surprised: Burckhardt was not an intimate, and some intuition warned him that Nietzsche, their common friend, was the cause of this visit. For some weeks he had had disquieting notes from Turin. Burckhardt brought him a long letter which all too clearly confirmed his presentiments. Nietzsche was mad. "I am Ferdinand de Lesseps," he wrote, "I am Prado, I am Chambige [the two assassins with whom the Paris newspapers were then occupied]; I have been buried twice this autumn."

    A few moments later Overbeck received a similar letter, and all Nietzsche's friends were likewise advised. He had written to each of them.

    "Friend Georges," he wrote to Brandes, "since you have discovered me, it is not wonderful to find me: what is now difficult is to lose me.


    Peter Gast received a message the tragic significance of which he did not understand:

    [Pg 361]

    "A mon maestro Pietro.

    "Sing me a new song. The world is clear and all the skies rejoice."

    "Ariadne, I love you," he wrote to Cosima Wagner.

    Overbeck started immediately. He found Nietzsche, watched over by his hosts, ploughing the piano with his elbow, singing and crying his Dionysian glory. He was able to bring him back to Basle, and introduce him, without too painful a scene, into a hospital, where his mother came to seek him.

    He lived another ten years. The first of them were cruel, the later more kindly; sometimes even there seemed to be hope. He would recall his work.

    "Have I not written fine books?" he would say.

    He was shown portraits of Wagner.

    "Him," he would say, "I loved much."

    These returns of consciousness might have been frightful; it seems that they were not. One day his sister, as she sat by his side, could not restrain her tears.

    "Lisbeth," he said, "why do you cry? Are we not happy?"

    The ruined intellect could not be saved, but the uncorrupted soul kept sweet and charming, open to pure impressions.

    One day a young man who was occupied with the publication of his work was out with him on his short walk. Nietzsche perceived a little girl at the side of the road, and was charmed. He went up to her, stopped, and with a hand drew back the hair which lay low on her forehead; then, contemplating the frank face with a smile, he said:

    "Is it not the picture of innocence?"

    Friedrich Nietzsche died at Weimar on the 25th of August, 1900.

    [1] In French in the text.

    [2] Morals are free in the pensions on the Mediterranean, and no doubt we are unaware of all the episodes of Friedrich Nietzsche's life. But this reservation must be made. According to evidence which we have been able to gather, his manner of life, in the Engadine, never gave occasion for the least gossip. On the contrary he seems, we are told, to have avoided young women.

    [3] "I am very happy," wrote Taine, "that my articles on Napoleon have struck you as true, and nothing can more exactly sum up my impression than the two German words which you use: Unmensch und Uebermensch."Letter of July 12, 1887.

    The End
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