Sunday, July 5 (5th of July 1874) 

Cosima Wagner Diaries

A letter came yesterday from Marie Schleinitz, reporting the sale of the Menzel water color for Bayreuth (1,200 thalers) and at the same time the death of the charming wife of the Russian ambassador, who threw herself into the lake at Potsdam; I am very touched by what my friend tells me—that she read something I had written to her on the subject of death to Frau von Oubril, and that the latter copied it out for herself and declares it to be her only consolation! … 

At lunch the talk turns to the new form of interment; our good Richter argues somewhat crudely in favor of burning in a gas oven, saying, “What does it matter to me what is done with me after I am dead?” Whereupon R. asks him who this “I” is of whom he is talking—does he think he never existed before and will never exist again, that his life begins and ends with his own self? He then tells him about the religious burning of bodies in ancient times, also the im portance of their women’s chastity for the afterlife of the whole tribe, and he condemns the crude materialism which reveals itself in this new form of cremation. — 

Wrote to Herr Monod about his speech on the reform of higher education in France, which he sent me. 

Laughed heartily about Rus, who in his shaved state reminds R. of the pig in the Dürer print of Christ on his journey to Hell. 

We begin reading with the children the story of “Der Freischütz” but are interrupted by the visit of the mayor, to whom R. imparts his curious reminiscences of the present minister v. Lutz. 

In the evening went through the first act of Götterdämmerung. At the point where Brünnhilde is lost in contemplation of the ring, R. says to me, “This is surely how women must feel when they are lonely.” In the afternoon he reminded me that my father had once called me a serpent-, when I ask what this means, he says, “Something is done to one, something which suddenly strikes at the heart and leaves one no chance of recovery; women know nothing of it, for men never do it to them.” During the scene between Brünnhilde and Waltraute he says, “Here we are in Tribschen, and Marie Muchanoff, Waltraute, is listening to you extolling your happiness.” 

Expressing his pleasure with the salon yesterday, R. said once again, “How meaningless it would all be if you were not here!”

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