George Sand, Some Aspects of Her Life and Writings by Rene Doumic

Part 1 out of 4

Textual Notes: Footnotes (54 of 'em) are sequentially numbered
and at the end of the appropriate paragraph. Longer notes have a
mark at the end indicating the end of note in {brackets} _Italics_
are underlined. Comments by the editor are in {brackets} This etext was
prepared with the use of Calera WordScan Plus 2.0 by Charles E. Keller.

George Sand
Some Aspects of Her Life
and Writings

by Rene Doumic
Translated by Alys Hallard

First published in 1910. This volume is dedicated to Madame
L. Landouzy with gratitude and affection

This book is not intended as a study of George Sand. It is
merely a series of chapters touching on various aspects of her life
and writings. My work will not be lost if the perusal of these pages
should inspire one of the historians of our literature with the idea
of devoting to the great novelist, to her genius and her influence,
a work of this kind.


VIII 1848


GEORGE SAND (From a photogravure by N. Desmardyl, after a Painting
by A. Charpentier)
GEORGE SAND (From an engraving by L. Calamatia)
JULES SANDEAU (From an etching by M. Desboutins)
ALFRED DE MUSSET (From a lithograph)
Venice to Hipp. Chatiron)
GEORGE SAND (From a lithograph)
F. CHOPIN (From a photograph)
PIERRE LEROUX (From a lithograph by A. Collette)
GEORGE SAND (From a lithograph)





In the whole of French literary history, there is, perhaps, no subject
of such inexhaustible and modern interest as that of George Sand.
Of what use is literary history? It is not only a kind of museum,
in which a few masterpieces are preserved for the pleasure of beholders.
It is this certainly, but it is still more than this. Fine books are,
before anything else, living works. They not only have lived, but they
continue to live. They live within us, underneath those ideas which
form our conscience and those sentiments which inspire our actions.
There is nothing of greater importance for any society than to make
an inventory of the ideas and the sentiments which are composing its
moral atmosphere every instant that it exists. For every individual
this work is the very condition of his dignity. The question is,
should we have these ideas and these sentiments, if, in the times
before us, there had not been some exceptional individuals who
seized them, as it were, in the air and made them viable and durable?
These exceptional individuals were capable of thinking more vigorously,
of feeling more deeply, and of expressing themselves more forcibly
than we are. They bequeathed these ideas and sentiments to us.
Literary history is, then, above and beyond all things, the perpetual
examination of the conscience of humanity.

There is no need for me to repeat what every one knows, the fact
that our epoch is extremely complex, agitated and disturbed.
In the midst of this labyrinth in which we are feeling our way
with such difficulty, who does not look back regretfully to the days
when life was more simple, when it was possible to walk towards
a goal, mysterious and unknown though it might be, by straight paths
and royal routes?

George Sand wrote for nearly half a century. For fifty times three
hundred and sixty-five days, she never let a day pass by without
covering more pages than other writers in a month. Her first books
shocked people, her early opinions were greeted with storms.
From that time forth she rushed head-long into everything new,
she welcomed every chimera and passed it on to us with more force and
passion in it. Vibrating with every breath, electrified by every storm,
she looked up at every cloud behind which she fancied she saw a
star shining. The work of another novelist has been called a repertory
of human documents. But what a repertory of ideas her work was!
She has said what she had to say on nearly every subject; on love,
the family, social institutions and on the various forms of government.
And with all this she was a woman. Her case is almost unique
in the history of letters. It is intensely interesting to study
the influence of this woman of genius on the evolution of modern thought.

I shall endeavour to approach my subject conscientiously and with
all due respect. I shall study biography where it is indispensable
for the complete understanding of works. I shall give a sketch of
the original individuals I meet on my path, portraying these only at
their point of contact with the life of our authoress, and it seems
to me that a gallery in which we see Sandeau, Sainte-Beuve, Musset,
Michel (of Bourges), Liszt, Chopin, Lamennais, Pierre Leroux,
Dumas _fils_, Flaubert and many, many others is an incomparable
portrait gallery. I shall not attack persons, but I shall discuss
ideas and, when necessary, dispute them energetically. We shall,
I hope, during our voyage, see many perspectives open out before us.

I have, of course, made use of all the works devoted to George Sand
which were of any value for my study, and among others of the two
volumes published, under the name of Wladimir Karenine,[1] by a
woman belonging to Russian aristocratic society. For the period
before 1840, this is the most complete work that has been written.
M. Samuel Rocheblave, a clever University professor and the man
who knows more than any one about the life and works of George Sand,
has been my guide and has helped me greatly with his wise advice.
Private collections of documents have also been placed at my service
most generously. I am therefore able to supply some hitherto
unpublished writings. George Sand published, in all, about a hundred
volumes of novels and stories, four volumes of autobiography,
and six of correspondence. In spite of all this we are still asked
for fresh documents.

[1] WLADIMIR KARENINE: _George Sand, Sa vie et ses aeuvres._
2 Vols. Ollendorf.

It is interesting, as a preliminary study, to note the natural gifts,
and the first impressions of Aurore Dupin as a child and young girl,
and to see how these predetermined the woman and the writer known
to us as George Sand.

Lucile-Amandine-Aurore Dupin, legitimate daughter of Maurice Dupin
and of Sophie-Victoire Delaborde, was born in Paris, at 15 Rue Meslay,
in the neighbourhood of the Temple, on the 1st of July, 1804. I would
call attention at once to the special phenomenon which explains
the problem of her destiny: I mean by this her heredity, or rather
the radical and violent contrast of her maternal and paternal heredity.

By her father she was an aristocrat and related to the reigning houses.

Her ancestor was the King of Poland, Augustus II, the lover of the
beautiful Countess Aurora von Koenigsmarck. George Sand's grandfather
was Maurice de Saxe. He may have been an adventurer and a _condottiere_,
but France owes to him Fontenoy, that brilliant page of her history.
All this takes us back to the eighteenth century with its brilliant,
gallant, frivolous, artistic and profligate episodes. Maurice de Saxe
adored the theatre, either for itself or for the sake of the women
connected with it. On his campaign, he took with him a theatrical
company which gave a representation the evening before a battle.
In this company was a young artiste named Mlle. de Verrieres whose
father was a certain M. Rinteau. Maurice de Saxe admired the young
actress and a daughter was born of this _liaison_, who was later
on recognized by her father and named Marie-Aurore de Saxe.
This was George Sand's grandmother. At the age of fifteen the young
girl married Comte de Horn, a bastard son of Louis XV. This husband
was obliging enough to his wife, who was only his wife in name,
to die as soon as possible. She then returned to her mother "the
Opera lady." An elderly nobleman, Dupin de Francueil, who had been
the lover of the other Mlle. Verrieres, now fell in love with her and
married her. Their son, Maurice Dupin, was the father of our novelist.
The astonishing part of this series of adventures is that Marie-Aurore
should have been the eminently respectable woman that she was.
On her mother's side, though, Aurore Dupin belonged to the people.
She was the daughter of Sophie-Victoire Delaborde milliner,
the grandchild of a certain bird-seller on the Quai des Oiseaux,
who used to keep a public-house, and she was the great-granddaughter
of Mere Cloquart.

This double heredity was personified in the two women who shared
George Sand's childish affection. We must therefore study
the portraits of these two women.

The grandmother was, if not a typical _grande dame_, at least a
typical elegant woman of the latter half of the eighteenth century.
She was very well educated and refined, thanks to living with
the two sisters, Mlles. Verrieres, who were accustomed to the
best society. She was a good musician and sang delightfully.
When she married Dupin de Francueil, her husband was sixty-two,
just double her age. But, as she used to say to her granddaughter,
"no one was ever old in those days. It was the Revolution that
brought old age into the world."

Dupin was a very agreeable man. When younger he had been _too_ agreeable,
but now he was just sufficiently so to make his wife very happy.
He was very lavish in his expenditure and lived like a prince,
so that he left Marie-Aurore ruined and poor with about three
thousand a year. She was imbued with the ideas of the philosophers
and an enemy of the Queen's _coterie_. She was by no means
alarmed at the Revolution and was very soon taken prisoner.
She was arrested on the 26th of November, 1793, and incarcerated
in the _Couvent des Anglaises_, Rue des Fosse's-Saint-Victor,
which had been converted into a detention house. On leaving prison
she settled down at Nohant, an estate she had recently bought.
It was there that her granddaughter remembered her in her early days.
She describes her as tall, slender, fair and always very calm.
At Nohant she had only her maids and her books for company.
When in Paris, she delighted in the society of people of her own station
and of her time, people who had the ideas and airs of former days.
She continued, in this new century, the shades of thought and the
manners and Customs of the old _regime._

As a set-off to this woman of race and of culture, Aurore's mother
represented the ordinary type of the woman of the people.
She was small, dark, fiery and violent. She, too, the bird-seller's
daughter, had been imprisoned by the Revolution, and strangely
enough in the _Couvent des Anglaises_ at about the same time
as Maurice de Saxe's granddaughter. It was in this way that
the fusion of classes was understood under the Terror. She was
employed as a _figurante_ in a small theatre. This was merely a
commencement for her career. At the time when Maurice Dupin met her,
she was the mistress of an old general. She already had one child
of doubtful parentage. Maurice Dupin, too, had a natural son,
named Hippolyte, so that they could not reproach each other.
When Maurice Dupin married Sophie-Victoire, a month before the birth
of Aurore, he had some difficulty in obtaining his mother's consent.
She finally gave in, as she was of an indulgent nature. It is
possible that Sophie-Victoire's conduct was irreproachable during
her husband's lifetime, but, after his death, she returned to
her former ways. She was nevertheless of religious habits and
would not, upon any account, have missed attending Mass. She was
quick-tempered, jealous and noisy and, when anything annoyed her,
extremely hot-headed. At such times she would shout and storm,
so that the only way to silence her was to shout still more loudly.
She never bore any malice, though, and wished no harm to those she
had insulted. She was of course sentimental, but more passionate
than tender, and she quickly forgot those whom she had loved most fondly.
There seemed to be gaps in her memory and also in her conscience.
She was ignorant, knowing nothing either of literature or of the
usages of society. Her _salon_ was the landing of her flat and her
acquaintances were the neighbours who happened to live next door to her.
It is easy to imagine what she thought of the aristocrats who visited
her mother-in-law. She was amusing when she joked and made parodies
on the women she styled "the old Countesses." She had a great deal
of natural wit, a liveliness peculiar to the native of the faubourgs,
all the impudence of the street arab, and a veritable talent
of mimicry. She was a good housewife, active, industrious and most
clever in turning everything to account. With a mere nothing she
could improvise a dress or a hat and give it a certain style.
She was always most skilful with her fingers, a typical Parisian
work-girl, a daughter of the street and a child of the people.
In our times she would be styled "a midinette."

Such are the two women who shared the affection of Aurore Dupin.
Fate had brought them together, but had made them so unlike that they
were bound to dislike each other. The childhood of little Aurore
served as the lists for their contentions. Their rivalry was the
dominating note in the sentimental education of the child.

As long as Maurice Dupin lived, Aurore was always with her parents in
their little Parisian dwelling. Maurice Dupin was a brilliant officer,
and very brave and jovial. In 1808, Aurore went to him in Madrid,
where he was Murat's _aide-de-camp_. She lived in the palace of
the Prince of Peace, that vast palace which Murat filled with the
splendour of his costumes and the groans caused by his suffering.
Like Victor Hugo, who went to the same place at about the same time
and under similar conditions, Aurore may have brought back with her

_de ses courses lointaines_

_Comme un vaguefaisceau de lueurs incertaines._

This does not seem probable, though. The return was painful, as they
came back worried and ill, and were glad to take refuge at Nohant.
They were just beginning to organize their life when Maurice Dupin
died suddenly, from an accident when riding, leaving his mother
and his wife together.

From this time forth, Aurore was more often with her grandmother at
Nohant than with her mother in Paris. Her grandmother undertook the
care of her education. Her half-brother, Hippolyte Chatiron, and she
received lessons from M. Deschartres, who had educated Maurice Dupin.
He was steward and tutor combined, a very authoritative man,
arrogant and a great pedant. He was affectionate, though,
and extremely devoted. He was both detestable and touching at
the same time, and had a warm heart hidden under a rough exterior.
Nohant was in the heart of Berry, and this meant the country and Nature.
For Aurore Dupin Nature proved to be an incomparable educator.

There was only one marked trait in the child's character up
to this date, and that was a great tendency to reverie. For long
hours she would remain alone, motionless, gazing into space.
People were anxious about her when they saw her looking so _stupid_,
but her mother invariably said: "Do not be alarmed. She is always
ruminating about something." Country life, while providing her with
fresh air and plenty of exercise, so that her health was magnificent,
gave fresh food and another turn to her reveries. Ten years earlier
Alphonse de Lamartine had been sent to the country at Milly,
and allowed to frequent the little peasant children of the place.
Aurore Dupin's existence was now very much the same as that
of Lamartine. Nohant is situated in the centre of the Black Valley.
The ground is dark and rich; there are narrow, shady paths.
It is not a hilly country, and there are wide, peaceful horizons.
At all hours of the day and at all seasons of the year,
Aurore wandered along the Berry roads with her little playfellows,
the farmers' children. There was Marie who tended the flock,
Solange who collected leaves, and Liset and Plaisir who minded the pigs.
She always knew in what meadow or in what place she would find them.
She played with them amongst the hay, climbed the trees and dabbled
in the water. She minded the flock with them, and in winter,
when the herdsmen talked together, assembled round their fire,
she listened to their wonderful stories. These credulous country
children had "seen with their own eyes" Georgeon, the evil spirit
of the Black Valley. They had also seen will-o'-the-wisps, ghosts,
the "white greyhound" and the "Big Beast"! In the evenings,
she sat up listening to the stories told by the hemp-weaver. Her
fresh young soul was thus impregnated at an early age with the
poetry of the country. And it was all the poetry of the country,
that which comes from things, such as the freshness of the air
and the perfume of the flowers, but also that which is to be found
in the simplicity of sentiments and in that candour and surprise face
to face with those sights of Nature which have remained the same
and have been just as incomprehensible ever since the beginning of
the world.

The antagonism of the two mothers increased, though. We will
not go into detail with regard to the various episodes, but will
only consider the consequences.

The first consequence was that the intelligence of the child became
more keen through this duality. Placed as she was, in these two
different worlds, between two persons with minds so unlike, and,
obliged as she was to go from one to the other, she learnt to
understand and appreciate them both, contrasts though they were.
She had soon reckoned each of them up, and she saw their weaknesses,
their faults, their merits and their advantages.

A second consequence was to increase her sensitiveness. Each time
that she left her mother, the separation was heartrending.
When she was absent from her, she suffered on account of this absence,
and still more because she fancied that she would be forgotten.
She loved her mother, just as she was, and the idea that any one was
hostile or despised her caused the child much silent suffering.
It was as though she had an ever-open wound.

Another consequence, and by no means the least important one, was to
determine in a certain sense the immense power of sympathy within her.
For a long time she only felt a sort of awe, when with her reserved
and ceremonious grandmother. She felt nearer to her mother, as there
was no need to be on ceremony with her. She took a dislike to all
those who represented authority, rules and the tyranny of custom.
She considered her mother and herself as oppressed individuals.
A love for the people sprang up in the heart of the daughter of
Sophie-Victoire. She belonged to them through her mother, and she
was drawn to them now through the humiliations she underwent.
In this little enemy of reverences and of society people, we see
the dawn of that instinct which, later on, was to cause her to
revolt openly. George Sand was quite right in saying, later on,
that it was of no use seeking any intellectual reason as the explanation
of her social preferences. Everything in her was due to sentiment.
Her socialism was entirely the outcome of her suffering and torments
as a child.

Things had to come to a crisis, and the crisis was atrocious.
George Sand gives an account of the tragic scene in her _Histoire de
ma vie_. Her grandmother had already had one attack of paralysis.
She was anxious about Aurore's future, and wished to keep
her from the influence of her mother. She therefore decided
to employ violent means to this end. She sent for the child
to her bedside, and, almost beside herself, in a choking voice,
she revealed to her all that she ought to have concealed.
She told her of Sophie-Victoire's past, she uttered the fatal word
and spoke of the child's mother as a lost woman. With Aurore's
extreme sensitiveness, it was horrible to receive such confidences
at the age of thirteen. Thirty years later, George Sand describes
the anguish of the terrible minute. "It was a nightmare," she says.
"I felt choked, and it was as though every word would kill me.
The perspiration came out on my face. I wanted to interrupt her, to get
up and rush away. I did not want to hear the frightful accusation.
I could not move, though; I seemed to be nailed on my knees, and my
head seemed to be bowed down by that voice that I heard above me,
a voice which seemed to wither me like a storm wind."

It seems extraordinary that a woman, who was in reality so kind-hearted
and so wise, should have allowed herself to be carried away like this.
Passion has these sudden and unexpected outbursts, and we see here
a most significant proof of the atmosphere of passion in which
the child had lived, and which gradually insinuated itself within her.

Under these circumstances, Aurore's departure for the convent
was a deliverance. Until just recently, there has always been
a convent in vogue in France in which it has been considered
necessary for girls in good society to be educated. In 1817,
_the Couvent des Anglaises_ was in vogue, the very convent which
had served as a prison for the mother and grandmother of Aurore.
The three years she spent there in that "big feminine family,
where every one was as kind as God," she considered the most
peaceful and happy time of her life. The pages she devotes to them
in her _Histoire de ma vie_ have all the freshness of an oasis.
She describes most lovingly this little world, apart, exclusive and
self-sufficing, in which life was so intense.

The house consisted of a number of constructions, and was situated
in the neighbourhood given up to convents. There were courtyards
and gardens enough to make it seem like a small village.
There was also a labyrinth of passages above and underground,
just as in one of Anne Radcliffe's novels. There were old walls
overgrown with vine and jasmine. The cock could be heard at midnight,
just as in the heart of the country, and there was a bell with
a silvery tone like a woman's voice. From her little cell,
Aurore looked over the tops of the great chestnut trees on to Paris,
so that the air so necessary for the lungs of a child accustomed
to wanderings in the country was not lacking in her convent home.
The pupils had divided themselves into three categories:
the _diables_, the good girls, who were the specially pious ones,
and the silly ones. Aurore took her place at once among the _diables_.
The great exploit of these convent girls consisted in descending into
the cellars, during recreation, and in sounding the walls, in order
to "deliver the victim." There was supposed to be an unfortunate
victim imprisoned and tortured by the good, kindhearted Sisters.
Alas! all the _diables_ sworn to the task in the _Couvent des
Anglaises_ never succeeded in finding the victim, so that she must be
there still.

Very soon, though, a sudden change-took place in Aurore's soul.
It would have been strange had it been otherwise. With so
extraordinarily sensitive an organization, the new and totally
different surroundings could not fail to make an impression.
The cloister, the cemetery, the long services, the words of the ritual,
murmured in the dimly-lighted chapel, and the piety that seems to
hover in the air in houses where many prayers have been offered up--
all this acted on the young girl. One evening in August, she had gone
into the church, which was dimly lighted by the sanctuary lamp.
Through the open window came the perfume of honeysuckle and the
songs of the birds. There was a charm, a mystery and a solemn
calm about everything, such as she had never before experienced.
"I do not know what was taking place within me," she said,
when describing this, later on, "but I breathed an atmosphere
that was indescribably delicious, and I seemed to be breathing it
in my very soul. Suddenly, I felt a shock through all my being,
a dizziness came over me, and I seemed to be enveloped in a white light.
I thought I heard a voice murmuring in my ear: _`Tolle Lege.'_ I
turned round, and saw that I was quite alone. . . ."

Our modern _psychiatres_ would say that she had had an hallucination
of hearing, together with olfactory trouble. I prefer saying
that she had received the visit of grace. Tears of joy bathed
her face and she remained there, sobbing for a long time.

The convent had therefore opened to Aurore another world of sentiment,
that of Christian emotion. Her soul was naturally religious,
and the dryness of a philosophical education had not been sufficient
for it. The convent had now brought her the aliment for which she
had instinctively longed. Later on, when her faith, which had
never been very enlightened, left her, the sentiment remained.
This religiosity, of Christian form, was essential to George Sand.

The convent also rendered her another eminent service.
In the _Histoire de ma vie_, George Sand retraces from memory
the portraits of several of the Sisters. She tells us of Madame
Marie-Xavier, and of her despair at having taken the vows; of Sister
Anne-Joseph, who was as kind as an angel and as silly as a goose;
of the gentle Marie-Alicia, whose serene soul looked out of her
blue eyes, a mirror of purity, and of the mystical Sister Helene,
who had left home in spite of her family, in spite of the supplications
and the sobs of her mother and sisters, and who had passed over
the body of a child on her way to God. It is like this always.
The costumes are the same, the hands are clasped in the same manner,
the white bands and the faces look equally pale, but underneath this
apparent uniformity what contrasts! It is the inner life which marks
the differences so vigorously, and shows up the originality of each one.
Aurore gradually discovered the diversity of all these souls and the
beauty of each one. She thought of becoming a nun, but her confessor
did not advise this, and he was certainly wise. Her grandmother,
who had a philosopher's opinion of priests, blamed their fanaticism,
and took her little granddaughter away from the convent. Perhaps she
felt the need of affection for the few months she had still to live.
At any rate, she certainly had this affection. One of the first
results of the larger perspicacity which Aurore had acquired at
the convent was to make her understand her grandmother at last.
She was able now to grasp the complex nature of her relative and
to see the delicacy hidden under an appearance of great reserve.
She knew now all that she owed to her grandmother, but unfortunately
it was one of those discoveries which are made too late.

The eighteen months which Aurore now passed at Nohant, until the
death of her grandmother, are very important as regards her
psychological biography. She was seventeen years old, and a girl
who was eager to live and very emotional. She had first been
a child of Nature. Her convent life had taken her away from Nature
and accustomed her to falling back on her own thoughts. Nature now
took her back once more, and her beloved Nohant feted her return.

"The trees were in flower," she says, "the nightingales were
singing, and, in the distance, I could hear the classic, solemn
sound of the labourers. My old friends, the big dogs, who had
growled at me the evening before, recognized me again and were profuse
in their caresses. . . ."

She wanted to see everything again. The things themselves had
not changed, but her way of looking at them now was different.
During her long, solitary walks every morning, she enjoyed seeing
the various landscapes, sometimes melancholy-looking and sometimes
delightful. She enjoyed, too, the picturesqueness of the various
things she met, the flocks of cattle, the birds taking their flight,
and even the sound of the horses' feet splashing in the water.
She enjoyed everything, in a kind of voluptuous reverie which was
no longer instinctive, but conscious and a trifle morbid.

Added to all this, her reading at this epoch was without any
order or method. She read everything voraciously, mixing all the
philosophers up together. She read Locke, Condillac, Montesquieu,
Bossuet, Pascal, Montaigne, but she kept Rousseau apart from
the others. She devoured the books of the moralists and poets,
La Bruyere, Pope, Milton, Dante, Virgil, Shakespeare. All this
reading was too much for her and excited her brain. She had reserved
Chateaubriand's _Rene_, and, on reading that, she was overcome
by the sadness which emanates from these distressing pages. She was
disgusted with life, and attempted to commit suicide. She tried
to drown herself, and only owed her life to the healthy-mindedness
of the good mare Colette, as the horse evidently had not the
same reasons as its young mistress for wishing to put an end to its days.

All this time Aurore was entirely free to please herself. Deschartres,
who had always treated her as a boy, encouraged her independence.
It was at his instigation that she dressed in masculine attire to go
out shooting. People began to talk about her "eccentricities"
at Landerneau, and the gossip continued as far as La Chatre.
Added to this, Aurore began to study osteology with a young man
who lived in the neighbourhood, and it was said that this young man,
Stephane Ajasson de Grandsaigne, gave her lessons in her own room.
This was the climax.

We have a curious testimony as regards the state of the young girl's
mind at this epoch. A review, entitled _Le Voile de pourpre_,
published recently, in its first number, a letter from Aurore
to her mother, dated November 18, 1821. Her mother had evidently
written to her on hearing the gossip about her, and had probably
enlarged upon it.

"You reproach me, mother, with neither having timidity, modesty,
nor charm," she writes, "or at least you suppose that I have
these qualities, but that I refrain from showing them, and you
are quite certain that I have no outward decency nor decorum.
You ought to know me before judging me in this way.
You would then be able to form an opinion about my conduct.
Grandmother is here, and, ill though she is, she watches over
me carefully and lovingly, and she would not fail to correct
me if she considered that I had the manners of a dragoon or of a hussar."

She considered that she had no need of any one to guide or protect her,
and no need of leading-strings.

"I am seventeen," she says, "and I know my way about."

If this Monsieur de Grandsaigne had ventured to take any liberty
with her, she was old enough to take care of herself.

Her mother had blamed her for learning Latin and osteology.
"Why should a woman be ignorant?" she asks. "Can she not be well
educated without this spoiling her and without being pedantic?
Supposing that I should have sons in the future, and that I had
profited sufficiently by my studies to be able to teach them,
would not a mother's lessons be as good as a tutor's?"

She was already challenging public opinion, starting a campaign
against false prejudices, showing a tendency to generalize,
and to make the cause of one woman the cause of all women.

We must now bear in mind the various traits we have discovered,
one after another, in Aurore's character. We must remember to what
parentage she owed her intellectuality and her sentimentality.
It will then be more easy to understand the terms she uses when
describing her fascination for Rousseau's writings.

"The language of Jean-Jacques and the form of his deductions impressed
me as music might have done when heard in brilliant sunshine.
I compared him to Mozart, and I understood everything."

She understood him, for she recognized herself in him.
She sympathized with that predominance of feeling and imagination,
that exaggeration of sentiment, that preference for life according
to Nature, that emotion on beholding the various sights of the country,
that distrust of people, those effusions of religious sentimentality,
those solitary reveries, and that melancholy which made death seem
desirable to him. All this was to Aurore Dupin the gospel according
to Rousseau. The whole of her psychology is to be found here.

She was an exceptional being undoubtedly; but in order to be a genial
exception one must have within oneself, and then personify with
great intensity all the inspirations which, at a certain moment,
are dispersed in the atmosphere. Ever since the great agitation
which had shaken the moral world by Rousseau's preaching, there had
been various vague currents and a whole crowd of confused aspirations
floating about. It was this enormous wave that entered a feminine soul.
Unconsciously Aurore Dupin welcomed the new ideal, and it was
this ideal which was to operate within her. The question was,
what would she do with it, in presence of life with all its everyday
and social realities. This question is the object of our study.
In the solution of it lies the interest, the drama and the lesson
of George Sand's destiny.



We must now endeavour to discover what the future George Sand's
experiences of marriage were, and the result of these experiences
on the formation of her ideas.

"You will lose your best friend in me," were the last words of the
grandmother to her granddaughter on her death-bed. The old lady
spoke truly, and Aurore was very soon to prove this. By a clause
in her will, Madame Dupin de Francueil left the guardianship of
Aurore to a cousin, Rene de Villeneuve. It was scarcely likely,
though, that Sophie-Victoire should consent to her own rights being
frustrated by this illegal clause, particularly as this man belonged
to the world of the "old Countesses." She took her daughter with
her to Paris. Unfortunately for her, Aurore's eyes were now open,
and she was cultured enough to have been in entire sympathy with
her exquisite grandmother. It was no longer possible for her to
have the old passionate affection and indulgence for her mother,
especially as she felt that she had hitherto been deserted by her.
She saw her mother now just as she was, a light woman belonging
to the people, a woman who could not resign herself to growing old.
If only Sophie-Victoire had been of a tranquil disposition!
She was most restless, on the contrary, wanting to change her
abode and change her restaurant every day. She would quarrel
with people one day, make it up the next; wear a different-shaped
hat every day, and change the colour of her hair continually.
She was always in a state of agitation. She loved police news
and thrilling stories; read the _Sherlock Holmes_ of those days
until the middle of the night. She dreamed of such stories,
and the following day went on living in an atmosphere of crime.
When she had an attack of indigestion, she always imagined that she
had been poisoned. When a visitor arrived, she thought it must be
a burglar. She was most sarcastic about Aurore's "fine education"
and her literary aspirations. Her hatred of the dead grandmother
was as strong as ever. She was constantly insulting her memory,
and in her fits of anger said unheard-of things. Aurore's silence
was her only reply to these storms, and this exasperated her mother.
She declared that she would correct her daughter's "sly ways."
Aurore began to wonder with terror whether her mother's mind were not
beginning to give way. The situation finally became intolerable.

Sophie-Victoire took her daughter to spend two or three days with some
friends of hers, and then left her there. They lived in the country
at Plessis-Picard, near Melun. Aurore was delighted to find a vast
park with thickets in which there were roebucks bounding about.
She loved the deep glades and the water with the green reflections
of old willow trees. Monsieur James Duplessis and his wife, Angele,
were excellent people, and they adopted Aurore for the time being.
They already had five daughters, so that one more did not make
much difference. They frequented a few families in the neighbourhood,
and there was plenty of gaiety among the young people. The Duplessis
took Aurore sometimes to Paris and to the theatre.

"One evening," we are told in the _Histoire de ma vie_, "we were having
some ices at Tortoni's after the theatre, when suddenly my mother
Angele said to her husband, `Why, there's Casimir!' A young man,
slender and rather elegant, with a gay expression and a military look,
came and shook hands, and answered all the questions he was asked
about his father, Colonel Dudevant, who was evidently very much
respected and loved by the family."

This was the first meeting, the first appearance of Casimir
in the story, and this was how he entered into the life of Aurore.

He was invited to Plessis, he joined the young people good-humouredly
in their games, was friendly with Aurore, and, without posing as a suitor,
asked for her hand in marriage. There was no reason for her to
refuse him. He was twenty-seven years of age, had served two years
in the army, and had studied law in Paris. He was a natural son,
of course, but he had been recognized by his father, Colonel Dudevant.
The Dudevant family was greatly respected. They had a _chateau_
at Guillery in Gascony. Casimir had been well brought up and had
good manners. Aurore might as well marry him as any other young man.
It would even be preferable to marry him rather than another young man.
He was already her friend, and he would then be her husband.
That would not make much difference.

The marriage almost fell through, thanks to Sophie-Victoire.
She did not consider Casimir good-looking enough. She was not
thinking of her daughter, but of herself. She had made up her
mind to have a handsome son-in-law with whom she could go out.
She liked handsome men, and particularly military men.
Finally she consented to the marriage, but, a fortnight before
the ceremony, she arrived at Plessis, like a veritable thunderbolt.
An extraordinary idea had occurred to her. She vowed that she
had discovered that Casimir had been a waiter at a _cafe_.
She had no doubt dreamt this, but she held to her text, and was
indignant at the idea of her daughter marrying a waiter! . . .

Things had arrived at this crisis when Casimir's mother,
Madame Dudevant, who had all the manners of a _grande dame_,
decided to pay Sophie-Victoire an official visit. The latter was
greatly flattered, for she liked plenty of attention paid to her.
It was in this way that Aurore Dupin became Baronne Dudevant.

She was just eighteen years of age. It is interesting to read her
description of herself at this time. In her _Voyage en Auvergne_,
which was her first writing, dated 1827, she traces the following
portrait, which certainly is not exaggerated.

"When I was sixteen," she says, "and left the convent, every one could
see that I was a pretty girl. I was fresh-looking, though dark.
I was like those wild flowers which grow without any art or culture,
but with gay, lively colouring. I had plenty of hair, which was
almost black. On looking at myself in the glass, though, I can
truthfully say that I was not very well pleased with myself.
I was dark, my features were well cut, but not finished. People said
that it was the expression of my face that made it interesting.
I think this was true. I was gay but dreamy, and my most natural
expression was a meditative one. People said, too, that in this
absent-minded expression there was a fixed look which resembled
that of the serpent when fascinating his prey. That, at any rate,
was the far-fetched comparison of my provincial adorers."

They were not very far wrong, these provincial adorers. The portraits
of Aurore at this date show us a charming face of a young girl,
as fresh-looking as a child. She has rather long features, with a
delicately-shaped chin. She is not exactly pretty, but fascinating,
with those great dark eyes, which were her prominent feature,
eyes which, when fixed on any one, took complete possession
of them--dreamy, passionate eyes, sombre because the soul reflected
in them had profound depths.

It is difficult to define that soul, for it was so complex.
To judge by appearances, it was a very peaceful soul, and perhaps,
too, it was in reality peaceful. George Sand, who knew herself
thoroughly, frequently spoke of her laziness and of her apathy,
traits peculiar to the natives of Berry. Superficial observers
looked no further, and her mother used to call her "St. Tranquillity."
The nuns, though, of her convent had more perspicacity. They said,
when speaking of her: "Still waters run deep." Under the smooth
surface they fancied that storms were gathering. Aurore had within
her something of her mother and of her grandmother, and their
opposite natures were blended in her. She had the calmness of
Marie-Aurore, but she also had the impetuousness of Sophie-Victoire,
and undoubtedly, too, something of the free and easy good humour of
her father, the break-neck young officer. It certainly is not
surprising to find a love of adventure in a descendant of Maurice de Saxe.

Beside all these inner contrasts, the observer was particularly struck
by her sudden changes of humour, by the way in which, after a fit of
melancholy sadness, she suddenly gave way to the most exuberant gaiety,
followed by long fits of depression and nervous exhaustion.
Personally, I do not believe much in the influence of the physical
over the moral nature, but I am fully convinced of the action of the
moral over the physical nature. In certain cases and in presence
of extremely accentuated conditions, physiological explanations must
be taken into account. All these fits of melancholy and weeping,
this prostration, these high spirits and the long walks, in order
to sober down, denote the exigencies of an abnormal temperament.
When once the crisis was passed, it must not be supposed that,
as with many other people, nothing remained of it all. This was
by no means the case, as in a nature so extraordinarily organized
for storing up sensations nothing was lost, nothing evaporated,
and everything increased. The still water seemed to be slumbering.
Its violence, though held in check, was increasing in force,
and when once let loose, it would carry all before it.

Such was the woman whom Casimir Dudevant was to marry.
The fascination was great; the honour rather to be feared,
for all depended on his skill in guiding this powerful energy.

The question is whether he loved her. It has been said that it
was a marriage of interest, as Aurore's fortune amounted to twenty
thousand pounds, and he was by no means rich. This may have been so,
but there is no reason why money should destroy one's sentiments,
and the fact that Aurore had money was not likely to prevent
Casimir from appreciating the charms of a pretty girl.
It seems, therefore, very probable that he loved his young wife,
at any rate as much as this Casimir was capable of loving his wife.

The next question is whether she loved him. It has been said
that she did, simply because she declared that she did not.
When, later on, after her separation, she spoke of her marriage,
all her later grievances were probably in her mind. There are
her earlier letters, though, which some people consider a proof
that she cared for Casimir, and there are also a few words jotted
down in her notebook. When her husband was absent, she was anxious
about him and feared that he had met with an accident. It would
be strange indeed if a girl of eighteen did not feel some affection
for the man who had been the first to make love to her, a man whom
she had married of her own free-will. It is rare for a woman to feel
no kind of attachment for her husband, but is that attachment love?
When a young wife complains of her husband, we hear in her reproaches
the protest of her offended dignity, of her humbled pride.
When a woman loves her husband, though, she does not reproach him,
guilty though he may be, with having humiliated and wounded her.
What she has against him then, is that he has broken her heart
by his lack of love for her. This note and this accent can
never be mistaken, and never once do we find it with Aurore.
We may therefore conclude that she had never loved her husband.

Casimir did not know how to win her affection. He did not even
realize that he needed to win it. He was very much like all men.
The idea never occurs to them that, when once they are married,
they have to win their wife.

He was very much like all men. . . . That is the most
faithful portrait that can be traced of Casimir at this epoch.
He had not as yet the vices which developed in him later on.
He had nothing to distinguish him from the average man. He was selfish,
without being disagreeable, rather idle, rather incapable,
rather vain and rather foolish. He was just an ordinary man.
The wife he had married, though, was not an ordinary woman.
That was their misfortune. As Emile Faguet has very wittily
put it, "Monsieur Dudevant, about whom she complained so much,
seems to have had no other fault than that of being merely an
ordinary man, which, of course, is unendurable to a superior woman.
The situation was perhaps equally unendurable for the man." This is
quite right, for Casimir was very soon considerably disconcerted.
He was incapable of understanding her psychology, and, as it
seemed impossible to him that a woman was not his inferior,
he came to the logical conclusion that his wife was "idiotic."
This was precisely his expression, and at every opportunity he
endeavoured to crush her by his own superiority. All this seems
to throw some light on his character and also on the situation.
Here was a man who had married the future George Sand, and he complained,
in all good faith, that his wife was "idiotic"!

Certainly, on comparing the _Correspondance_ with the _Histoire
de ma vie_, the difference of tone is most striking. The letters
in which Baronne Dudevant tells, day by day, of her home life
are too enthusiastic for the letters of an unhappy wife.
There are receptions at Nohant, lively dinners, singing and dancing.
All this is, at any rate, the surface, but gradually
the misunderstandings are more pronounced, and the gulf widens.

There may have been a misunderstanding at the very beginning of their
married life, and Aurore may have had a surprise of the nature of
the one to which Jane de Simerose confesses in _L'Ami des femmes_.
In an unpublished letter written much later on, in the year 1843,
from George Sand to her half-brother Hippolyte Chatiron on the
occasion of his daughter's engagement, the following lines occur:
"See that your son-in-law is not brutal to your daughter the first
night of their marriage. . . . Men have no idea that this
amusement of theirs is a martyrdom for us. Tell him to sacrifice
his own pleasure a little, and to wait until he has taught his wife
gradually to understand things and to be willing. There is nothing
so frightful as the horror, the suffering and the disgust of a poor
girl who knows nothing and who is suddenly violated by a brute.
We bring girls up as much as possible like saints, and then we
hand them over like fillies. If your son-in-law is an intelligent
man and if he really loves your daughter, he will understand
his _role_, and will not take it amiss that you should speak to him

[2] Communicated by M. S. Rocheblave.

Is George Sand recalling here any hidden and painful memories?
Casimir had, at bottom, a certain brutality, which, later on,
was very evident. The question is whether he had shown proofs of it
at a time when it would have been wiser to have refrained.

However that may be, the fundamental disagreement of their natures
was not long in making itself felt between the husband and wife.
He was matter-of-fact, and she was romantic; he only believed
in facts, and she in ideas; he was of the earth, earthy, whilst she
aspired to the impossible. They had nothing to say to each other,
and when two people have nothing to say, and love does not fill
up the silences, what torture the daily _tete-a-tete_ must be.
Before they had been married two years, they were bored to death.
They blamed Nohant, but the fault was in themselves. Nohant seemed
unbearable to them, simply because they were there alone with each other.
They went to Plessis, perhaps in the hope that the remembrance
of the days of their engagement might have some effect on them.
It was there, in 1824, that the famous scene of the blow took place.
They were playing at a regular children's game in the park,
and throwing sand at each other. Casimir lost his patience and
struck his wife. It was certainly impolite, but Aurore did not
appear to have been very indignant with her husband at the time.
Her grievances were quite of another kind, less tangible and much more
deeply felt.

From Plessis they went to Ormesson. We do not know what took place there,
but evidently something which made a deep impression morally,
something very serious. A few years later, referring to this
stay at Ormesson, George Sand wrote to one of her friends:
"You pass by a wall and come to a house. . . . If you are allowed
to enter you will find a delightful English garden, at the bottom
of which is a spring of water hidden under a kind of grotto.
It is all very stiff and uninteresting, but it is very lonely.
I spent several months there, and it was there that I lost my health,
my confidence in the future, my gaiety and my happiness.
It was there that I felt, and very deeply too, my first approach
of trouble. . . ."[3]

[3] Extract from the unpublished letters of George Sand
to Dr. Emile Regnault.

They left Ormesson for Paris, and Paris for Nohant, and after that,
by way of trying to shake off the dulness that was oppressing them,
they had recourse to the classical mode of diversion--a voyage.

They set off on the 5th of July, 1825, for that famous expedition
to the Pyrenees, which was to be so important a landmark in Aurore
Dudevant's history. On crossing the Pyrenees, the scenery,
so new to her--or rather the memory of which had been lying dormant
in her mind since her childhood--filled her with wild enthusiasm.
This intense emotion contributed to develop within her that sense
of the picturesque which, later on, was to add so considerably to her
talent as a writer. She had hitherto been living in the country
of plains, the Ile-de-France and Berry. The contrast made her
realize all the beauties of nature, and, on her return, she probably
understood her own familiar scenery, and enjoyed it all the more.
She had hitherto appreciated it vaguely. Lamartine learnt to love
the severe scenery of Milly better on returning to it after the
softness of Italy.

The Pyrenees served, too, for Baronne Dudevant as the setting
for an episode which was unique in her sentimental life.

In the _Histoire de ma vie_ there is an enigmatical page in which
George Sand has intentionally measured and velled every expression.
She speaks of her moral solitude, which, at that time, was profound
and absolute, and she adds: "It would have been mortal to a tender
mind and to a girl in the flower of her youth, if it had not been
filled with a dream which had taken the importance of a great passion,
not in my life, as I had sacrificed my life to duty, but in my thoughts.
I was in continual correspondence with an absent person to whom I
told all my thoughts, all my dreams, who knew all my humble virtues,
and who heard all my platonic enthusiasm. This person was excellent
in reality, but I attributed to him more than all the perfections
possible to human nature. I only saw this man for a few days,
and sometimes only for a few hours, in the course of a year. He was
as romantic, in his intercourse with me, as I was. Consequently he
did not cause me any scruples, either of religion or of conscience.
This man was the stay and consolation of my exile, as regards the
world of reality." It was this dream, as intense as any passion,
that we must study here. We must make the acquaintance of this
excellent and romantic man.

Aurelien de Seze was a young magistrate, a few years older than Aurore.
He was twenty-six years of age and she was twenty-one. He was the
great-nephew of the counsel who pleaded for Louis XVI. There was,
therefore, in his family a tradition of moral nobility, and the young
man had inherited this. He had met Aurore at Bordeaux and again
at Cauterets. They had visited the grottoes of Lourdes together.
Aurelien had appreciated the young wife's charm, although she had
not attempted to attract his attention, as she was not coquettish.
She appreciated in him--all that was so lacking in Casimir--
culture of mind, seriousness of character, discreet manners which
people took at first for coldness, and a somewhat dignified elegance.
He was scrupulously honest, a magistrate of the old school,
sure of his principles and master of himself. It was, probably,
just that which appealed to the young wife, who was a true woman
and who had always wished to be dominated. When they met again
at Breda, they had an explanation. This was the "violent grief"
of which George Sand speaks. She was consoled by a friend, Zoe Leroy,
who found a way of calming this stormy soul. She came through this
crisis crushed with emotion and fatigue, but calm and joyful.
They had vowed to love each other, but to remain without reproach,
and their vow was faithfully kept.

Aurore, therefore, had nothing with which to reproach herself,
but with her innate need of being frank, she considered it her duty
to write a letter to her husband, informing him of everything.
This was the famous letter of November 8, 1825. Later on, in 1836,
when her case for separation from her husband was being heard,
a few fragments of it were read by her husband's advocate with the
idea of incriminating her. By way of reply to this, George Sand's
advocate read the entire letter in all its eloquence and generosity.
It was greeted by bursts of applause from the audience.

All this is very satisfactory. It is exactly the situation of the
Princess of Cleves in Madame de Lafayette's novel. The Princess
of Cleves acknowledges to her husband the love she cannot help
feeling for Monsieur de Nemours, and asks for his help and advice
as her natural protector. This fine proceeding is usually admired,
although it cost the life of the Prince of Cleves, who died
broken-hearted. Personally, I admire it too, although at times I
wonder whether we ought not rather to see in it an unconscious
suggestion of perversity. This confession of love to the person
who is being, as it were, robbed of that love, is in itself a kind
of secret pleasure. By speaking of the love, it becomes more real,
we bring it out to light instead of letting it die away in those
hidden depths within us, in which so many of the vague sentiments
which we have not cared to define, even to ourselves, die away.
Many women have preferred this more silent way, in which they alone have
been the sufferers. But such women are not the heroines of novels.
No one has appreciated their sacrifice, and they themselves could
scarcely tell all that it has cost them.

Aurelien de Seze had taken upon himself the _role_ of confidant
to this soul that he had allotted to himself. He took his _role_
very seriously, as was his custom in all things. He became the young
wife's director in all matters of conscience. The letters which he
wrote to her have been preserved, and we know them by the extracts
and the analysis that Monsieur Rocheblave has given us and by his
incisive commentaries of them.[4] They are letters of guidance,
spiritual letters. The laic confessor endeavours, before all things,
to calm the impatience of this soul which is more and more ardent
and more and more troubled every day. He battles with her about
her mania of philosophizing, her wish to sift everything and to
get to the bottom of everything. Strong in his own calmness,
he kept repeating to her in a hundred different ways the words:
"Be calm!" The advice was good; the only difficulty was the following
of the advice.

[4] "George Sand avant George Sand," by S. Rocheblave (_Revue
de Paris_, December 15, 1894).

Gradually the professor lost his hold on his pupil, for it seems
as though Aurore were the first to tire. Aurelien finally began
to doubt the efficacy of his preaching. The usual fate of sentiments
outside the common order of things is that they last the length
of time that a crisis of enthusiasm lasts. The best thing that can
happen then is that their nature should not change, that they should
not deteriorate, as is so often the case. When they remain intact
to the end, they leave behind them, in the soul, a trail of light,
a trail of cold, pure light.

The decline of this platonic _liaison_ with Aurelien de Seze dates
from 1828. Some grave events were taking place at Nohant about
this time. For the last few years Casimir had fallen into the
vices of certain country squires, or so-called gentlemen farmers.
He had taken to drink, in company with Hippolyte Chatiron, and it
seems that the intoxication peculiar to the natives of Berry takes
a heavy and not a gay form. He had also taken to other bad habits,
away from home at first, and later on under the conjugal roof.
He was particularly partial to the maid-servants, and, the day following
the birth of her daughter, Solange, Aurore had an unpleasant surprise
with regard to her husband. From that day forth, what had hitherto
been only a vague wish on her part became a fixed idea with her,
and she began to form plans. A certain incident served as a pretext.
When putting some papers in order, Aurore came upon her husband's will.
It was a mere diatribe, in which the future "deceased" gave
utterance to all his past grievances against his _idiotic_ wife.
Her mind was made up irrevocably from this moment. She would have
her freedom again; she would go to Paris and spend three months
out of six there. She had a young tutor from the south of France,
named Boucoiran, educating her children. This Boucoiran needed
to be taken to task constantly, and Baronne Dudevant did not spare

[5] An instance of her disposition for lecturing will be seen in the
following curious letter sent by George Sand to her friend and neighbour,
Adolphe Duplomb. This letter has never been published before,
and we owe our thanks for it to Monsieur Charles Duplomb.

_Nohant, July_ 23,1830.

"Are you so very much afraid of me, my poor Hydrogene? You expect
a good lecture and you will not expect in vain. Have patience,
though. Before giving you the dressing you deserve, I want to tell
you that I have not forgotten you, and that I was very vexed on
returning from Paris, to find my great simpleton of a son gone.
I am so used to seeing your solemn face that I quite miss it.
You have a great many faults, but after all, you are a good sort,
and in time you will get reasonable. Try to remember occasionally,
my dear Plombeus, that you have friends. If I were your only friend,
that would be a great deal, as I am to be depended on, and am
always at my post as a friend, although I may not be very tender.
I am not very polite either, as I speak the truth plainly.
That is my characteristic, though. I am a firm friend nevertheless,
and to be depended on. Do not forget what I have said now,
as I shall not often repeat this. Remember, too, that happiness
in this world depends on the interest and esteem that we inspire.
I do not say this to every one, as it would be impossible,
but just to a certain number of friends. It is impossible to find
one's happiness entirely in one's self, without being an egoist,
and I do not think so badly of you that I imagine you to be one.
A man whom no one cares for is wretched, and the man who has friends
is afraid of grieving them by behaving badly. As Polyte says,
all this is for the sake of letting you know that you must do
your best to behave well, if you want to prove to me that you
are not ungrateful for my interest in you. You ought to get
rid of the bad habit of boasting that you have adopted through
frequenting young men as foolish as yourself. Do whatever your
position and your health allow you to do, provided that you do
not compromise the honour or the reputation of any one else.
I do not see that a young man is called upon to be as chaste as a nun.
But keep your good or bad luck in your love affairs to yourself.
Silly talk is always repeated, and it may chance to get to the ears
of sensible people who will disapprove. Try, too, not to make
so many plans, but to carry out just one or two of them. You know
that is why I quarrel with you always. I should like to see more
constancy in you. You tell Hippolyte that you are very willing
and courageous. As to physical courage, of the kind that consists
in enduring illness and in not fearing death, I dare say you
have that, but I doubt very much whether you have the courage
necessary for sustained work, unless you have very much altered.
Everything fresh delights you, but after a little time you only
see the inconveniences of your position. You will scarcely find
anything without something that is annoying and troublesome,
but if you cannot learn to put up with things you will never be
a man.

"This is the end of my sermon. I expect you have had enough of it,
especially as you are not accustomed to reading my bad handwriting.
I shall be glad to hear from you, but do not consider your
letter as a State affair, and do not torment yourself to arrange
well-turned phrases. I do not care for such phrases at all.
A letter is always good enough when the writer expresses himself
naturally, and says what he thinks. Fine pages are all very well
for the schoolmaster, but I do not appreciate them at all.
Promise me to be reasonable, and to think of my sermons now and then.
That is all I ask. You may be very sure that if it were not for my
friendship for you I should not take the trouble to lecture you.
I should be afraid of annoying you if it were not for that.
As it is, I am sure that you are not displeased to have my lectures,
and that you understand the feeling which dictates them.

"Adieu, my dear Adolphe. Write to me often and tell me always
about your affairs. Take care of yourself, and try to keep well;
but if you should feel ill come back to your native place.
There will always be milk and syrup for you, and you know that I am
not a bad nurse. Every one wishes to be remembered to you, and I
send you my holy blessing.

"AURORE D----"

{The end of footnote [5]}

She considered him idle, and reproached him with his lack of
dignity and with making himself too familiar with his inferiors.
She could not admit this familiarity, although she was certainly
a friend of the people and of the peasants. Between sympathy
and familiarity there was a distinction, and Aurore took care not
to forget this. There was always something of the _grande dame_
in her. Boucoiran was devoted, though, and she counted on him for
looking after her children, for keeping her strictly _au courant_,
and letting her know in case of illness. Perfectly easy on this score,
she could live in Paris on an income of sixty pounds by adding
to it what she could earn.

Casimir made no objections. All that happened later on in
this existence, which was from henceforth so stormy, happened
with his knowledge and with his consent. He was a poor sort of man.

Let us consider now, for a moment, Baronne Dudevant's impressions after
such a marriage. We will not speak of her sadness nor of her disgust.
In a union of this kind, how could the sacred and beneficial character
of marriage have appeared to her? A husband should be a companion.
She never knew the charm of true intimacy, nor the delight of thoughts
shared with another. A husband is the counsellor, the friend.
When she needed counsel, she was obliged to go elsewhere for it,
and it was from another man that guidance and encouragement came.
A husband should be the head and, I do not hesitate to say,
the master. Life is a ceaseless struggle, and the man who has taken
upon himself the task of defending a family from all the dangers
which threaten its dissolution, from all the enemies which prowl
around it, can only succeed in his task of protector if he be
invested with just authority. Aurore had been treated brutally:
that is not the same thing as being dominated. The sensation
which never left her was that of an immense moral solitude.
She could no longer dream in the Nohant avenues, for the old trees
had been lopped, and the mystery chased away. She shut herself up
in her grandmother's little boudoir, adjoining her children's room,
so that she could hear them breathing, and whilst Casimir and Hippolyte
were getting abominably intoxicated, she sat there thinking things over,
and gradually becoming so irritated that she felt the rebellion within
her gathering force. The matrimonial bond was a heavy yoke to her.
A Christian wife would have submitted to it and accepted it,
but the Christianity of Baronne Dudevant was nothing but religiosity.
The trials of life show up the insufficiency of religious sentiment
which is not accompanied by faith. Marriage, without love,
friendship, confidence and respect, was for Aurore merely a prison.
She endeavoured to escape from it, and when she succeeded she uttered
a sigh of relief at her deliverance.

Such, then, is the chapter of marriage in Baronne Dudevant's psychology.
It is a fine example of failure. The woman who had married badly
now remained an individual, instead of harmonizing and blending
in a general whole. This ill-assorted union merely accentuated
and strengthened George Sand's individualism.

Aurore Dudevant arrived in Paris the first week of the year 1831.
The woman who was rebellious to marriage was now in a city which had
just had a revolution.

The extraordinary effervescence of Paris in 1831 can readily be imagined.
There was tempest in the air, and this tempest was bound to break
out here or there, either immediately or in the near future,
in an insurrection. Every one was feverishly anxious to destroy
everything, in order to create all things anew. In everything,
in art, ideas and even in costume, there was the same explosion
of indiscipline, the same triumph of capriciousness. Every day some
fresh system of government was born, some new method of philosophy,
an infallible receipt for bringing about universal happiness,
an unheard-of idea for manufacturing masterpieces, some invention
for dressing up and having a perpetual carnival in the streets.
The insurrection was permanent and masquerade a normal state.
Besides all this, there was a magnificent burst of youth and genius.
Victor Hugo, proud of having fought the battle of _Hernani_,
was then thinking of _Notre-Dame_ and climbing up to it.
Musset had just given his _Contes d'Espagne el d'Italie_. Stendhal
had published _Le Rouge et le Noir_, and Balzac _La Peau de Chagrin_.
The painters of the day were Delacroix and Delaroche. Paganini was
about to give his first concert at the Opera. Such was Paris in all
its impatience and impertinence, in its confusion and its splendour
immediately after the Revolution.

The young wife, who had snapped her bonds asunder, breathed voluptuously
in this atmosphere. She was like a provincial woman enjoying Paris
to the full. She belonged to the romantic school, and was imbued
with the principle that an artist must see everything, know everything,
and have experienced himself all that he puts into his books.
She found a little group of her friends from Berry in Paris,
among others Felix Pyat, Charles Duvernet, Alphonse Fleury,
Sandeau and de Latouche. This was the band she frequented,
young men apprenticed either to literature, the law, or medicine.
With them she lived a student's life. In order to facilitate her
various evolutions, she adopted masculine dress. In her _Histoite
de ma vie_ she says: "Fashion helped me in my disguise, for men
were wearing long, square frock-coats styled a _la proprietaire_.
They came down to the heels, and fitted the figure so little that
my brother, when putting his on, said to me one day at Nohant:
`It is a nice cut, isn't it? The tailor takes his measures from
a sentry-box, and the coat then fits a whole regiment.' I had `a
sentry-box coat' made, of rough grey cloth, with trousers and waistcoat
to match. With a grey hat and a huge cravat of woollen material,
I looked exactly like a first-year student. . . ."

Dressed in this style, she explored the streets, museums, cathedrals,
libraries, painters' studios, clubs and theatres. She heard Frederick
Lemaitre one day, and the next day Malibran. One evening it was
one of Dumas' pieces, and the next night _Moise_ at the Opera.
She took her meals at a little restaurant, and she lived in an attic.
She was not even sure of being able to pay her tailor, so she had all
the joys possible. "Ah, how delightful, to live an artist's life!
Our device is liberty!" she wrote.[6] She lived in a perpetual state
of delight, and, in February, wrote to her son Maurice as follows:
"Every one is at loggerheads, we are crushed to death in the streets,
the churches are being destroyed, and we hear the drum being beaten
all night."[7] In March she wrote to Charles Duvernet: "Do you know
that fine things are happening here? It really is amusing to see.
We are living just as gaily among bayonets and riots as if everything
were at peace. All this amuses me."[8]

[6] _Correspondance_: To Boucoiran, March 4, 1831. [7] _Ibid_.
To Maurice Dudevant, February 15, I831. [8] _Ibid_. To Charles Duvernet,
March 6, 1831.

She was amused at everything and she enjoyed everything.
With her keen sensitiveness, she revelled in the charm of Paris,
and she thoroughly appreciated its scenery.

"Paris," she wrote, "with its vaporous evenings, its pink clouds
above the roofs, and the beautiful willows of such a delicate green
around the bronze statue of our old Henry, and then, too, the dear
little slate-coloured pigeons that make their nests in the old
masks of the Pont Neuf . . ."[9]

[9] Unpublished letters of Dr. Emile Regnault.

She loved the Paris sky, so strange-looking, so rich in colouring,
so variable.[10]

[10] _Ibid_.

She became unjust with regard to Berry. "As for that part of the
world which I used to love so dearly and where I used to dream
my dreams," she wrote, "I was there at the age of fifteen, when I
was very foolish, and at the age of seventeen, when I was dreamy
and disturbed in my mind. It has lost its charm for me now."[11]

[11] _Ibid_.

She loved it again later on, certainly, but just at this time she
was over-excited with the joy of her newly-found liberty. It was
that really which made her so joyful and which intoxicated her.
"I do not want society, excitement, theatres, or dress; what I want
is freedom," she wrote to her mother. In another letter she says:
"I am absolutely independent. I go to La Chatre, to Rome. I start
out at ten o'clock or at midnight. I please myself entirely in all

[12] _Correspondance_: To her mother, May 31, 1831.

She was free, and she fancied she was happy. Her happiness
at that epoch meant Jules Sandeau.

In a letter, written in the humoristic style in which she delighted,
she gives us portraits of some of her comrades of that time.
She tells us of Duvernet, of Alphonse Fleury, surnamed "the Gaulois,"
and of Sandeau.

"Oh, fair-haired Charles!" she writes, "young man of melancholy
thoughts, with a character as gloomy as a stormy day. . . .
And you, gigantic Fleury, with your immense hands and your alarming
beard. . . . And you, dear Sandeau, agreeable and light,
like the humming bird of fragrant savannahs!"[13]

[13] _Correspondance_: December 1, 1830.

The "dear Sandeau, agreeable and light, like the humming bird
of fragrant savannahs," was to be Baronne Dudevant's Latin
Quarter _liaison_. Her biographers usually pass over this
_liaison_ quickly, as information about it was not forthcoming.
Important documents exist, though, in the form of fifty letters
written by George Sand to Dr. Emile Regnault, then a medical student
and the intimate friend and confidant of Jules Sandeau, who kept
nothing back from him. His son, Dr. Paul Regnault, has kindly
allowed me to see this correspondence and to reproduce some fragments
of it. It is extremely curious, by turn lyrical and playful,
full of effusions, ideas, plans of work, impressions of nature,
and confidences about her love affairs. Taken altogether it reflects,
as nearly as possible, the state of the young woman's mind at this time.

The first letter is dated April, 1831. George Sand had left
Paris for Nohant, and is anxiously wondering how her poor Jules
has passed this wretched day, and how he will go back to the room
from which she had torn herself with such difficulty that morning.
In her letter she gives utterance to the gratitude she owes to the young
man who has reconciled her once more to life. "My soul," she says,
"eager itself for affection, needed to inspire this in a heart capable
of understanding me thoroughly, with all my faults and qualities.
A fervent soul was necessary for loving me in the way that I
could love, and for consoling me after all the ingratitude which
had made my earlier life so desolate. And although I am now old,
I have found a heart as young as my own, a lifelong affection
which nothing can discourage and which grows stronger every day.
Jules has taught me to care once more for this existence, of which I
was so weary, and which I only endured for the sake of my children.
I was disgusted beforehand with the future, but it now seems more
beautiful to me, full as it appears to me of him, of his work,
his success, and of his upright, modest conduct. . . . Oh, if you
only knew how I love him! . . . ."[14]

[14] This quotation and those that follow are borrowed from
the unpublished correspondence with Emile Regnault.

"When I first knew him I was disillusioned about everything, and I
no longer believed in those things which make us happy. He has warmed
my frozen heart and restored the life that was dying within me."
She then recalls their first meeting. It was in the country,
at Coudray, near Nohant. She fell in love with her dear Sandeau,
thanks to his youthfulness, his timidity and his awkwardness.
He was just twenty, in 1831. On approaching the bench where she
was awaiting him, "he concealed himself in a neighbouring avenue--
and I could see his hat and stick on the bench," she writes.
"Everything, even to the little red ribbon threaded in the lining of his
grey hat, thrilled me with joy. . . ."

It is difficult to say why, but everything connected with this young
Jules seems absurd. Later on we get the following statement:
"Until the day when I told him that I loved him, I had never acknowledged
as much to myself. I felt that I did, but I would not own it even to my
own heart. Jules therefore learnt it at the same time as I did myself."

People at La Chatre took the young man for her lover. The idea
of finding him again in Paris was probably one of her reasons
for wishing to establish herself there. Then came her life, as she
describes it herself, "in the little room looking on to the quay.
I can see Jules now in a shabby, dirty-looking artist's frock-coat,
with his cravat underneath him and his shirt open at the throat,
stretched out over three chairs, stamping with his feet or breaking
the tongs in the heat of the discussion. The Gaulois used to sit in
a corner weaving great plots, and you would be seated on a table.

All this must certainly have been charming. The room
was too small, though, and George Sand commissioned
Emile Regnault to find her a flat, the essential
condition of which should be some way of egress for Jules at any hour.

A little flat was discovered on the Quay St. Michel. There were
three rooms, one of which could be reserved. "This shall
be the dark room," wrote George Sand, "the mysterious room,
the ghost's retreat, the monster's den, the cage of the performing
animal, the hiding-place for the treasure, the vampire's cave,
or whatever you like to call it. . . ."

In plainer language, it was Jules' room; and then follows some touching
eloquence about the dear boy she worshipped who loved her so dearly.

This is the beginning of things, but later on the tone of the
correspondence changes. The letters become less frequent, and are
also not so gay. George Sand speaks much less of Jules in them
and much more of little Solange, whom she intended to bring back
to Paris with her. She is beginning to weary of Jules and to esteem
him at his true value. He is lazy, and has fits of depression and all
the capriciousness of a spoilt child. She has had enough of him,
and then, too, it is very evident from the letters that there has
been some division among the lively friends who had sworn to be
comrades for life. There are explanations and justifications.
George Sand discovers that there are certain inconveniences
connected with intimacies in which there is such disproportion
of age and of social position. Finally there are the following
desperate letters, written in fits of irritation: "My dear friend,
go to Jules and look after him. He is broken-hearted, and you
can do nothing for him in that respect. It is no use trying.
I do not ask you to come to me yet, as I do not need anything.
I would rather be alone to-day. Then, too, there is nothing left
for me in life. It will be horrible for him for a long time,
but he is so young. The day will come, perhaps, when he will not be
sorry to have lived. . . .

Do not attempt to put matters right, as this time there is no remedy.
We do not blame each other at all, and for some time we have been
struggling against this horrible necessity. We have had trouble enough.
There seemed to be nothing left but to put an end to our lives,
and if it had not been for my children, we should have done this.

The question is, Was George Sand blameless in the matter? It appears
that she had discovered that her dear Jules was faithless to her,
and that, during her absence, he had deceived her. She would not
forgive him, but sent him off to Italy, and refused to see him again.
The last of these letters is dated June 15, 1833.

"I shall make a parcel of a few of Jules' things that he left
in the wardrobe," she says, "and I will send them to you.
I do not want anything to do with him when he comes back,
and, according to the last words of the letter you showed me,
his return may be soon. For a long time I have been very much hurt
by the discoveries I made with regard to his conduct, and I could
not feel anything else for him now but affectionate compassion.
His pride, I hope, would refuse this. Make him clearly understand,
if necessary, that there can never be anything more between us.
If this hard task should not be necessary, that is, if Jules should
himself understand that it could not be otherwise, spare him the
sorrow of hearing that he has lost everything, even my respect.
He must undoubtedly have lost his own self-esteem, so that he is
punished enough."

Thus ended this great passion. This was the first of George
Sand's errors, and it certainly was an immense one. She had imagined
that happiness reigns in students' rooms. She had counted on the
passing fancy of a young man of good family, who had come to Paris
to sow his wild oats, for giving her fresh zest and for carving out
for herself a fresh future. It was a most commonplace adventure,
utterly destitute of psychology, and by its very bitterness it contrasted
strangely with her elevated sentimental romance with Aurelien de Seze.
That was the quintessence of refinement. All that is interesting
about this second adventure is the proof that it gives us of George
Sand's wonderful illusions, of the intensity of the mirage of
which she was a dupe, and of which we have so many instances in her life.

Baronne Dudevant had tried conjugal life, and she had now tried
free love. She had been unsuccessful in both instances.
It is to these adventures though, to these trials, errors and
disappointments that we owe the writer we are about to study.
George Sand was now born to literature.




When Baronne Dudevant arrived in Paris, in 1831, her intention was
to earn her living with her pen. She never really counted seriously
on the income she might make by her talent for painting flowers
on snuff-boxes and ornamenting cigar-cases with water-colours. She
arrived from her province with the intention of becoming a writer.
Like most authors who commence, she first tried journalism.
On the 4th of March, she wrote as follows to the faithful Boucoiran:
"In the meantime I must live, and for the sake of that, I have taken
up the worst of trades: I am writing articles for the _Figaro_.
If only you knew what that means! They are paid for, though, at the rate
of seven francs a column."

She evidently found it worth while to write for the _Figaro_,
which at that time was quite a small newspaper, managed by Henri
de Latouche, who also came from Berry. He was a very second-rate
writer himself, and a poet with very little talent but, at any rate,
he appreciated and discovered talent in others. He published Andre
Chenier's first writings, and he introduced George Sand to the public.
His new apprentice was placed at one of the little tables at which
the various parts of the paper were manufactured. Unfortunately she
had not the vocation for this work. The first principle with regard
to newspaper articles is to make them short. When Aurore had come
to the end of her paper, she had not yet commenced her subject.
It was no use attempting to continue, so she gave up "the worst
of trades," lucrative though it might be.

She could not help knowing, though, that she had the gift of writing.
She had inherited it from her ancestors, and this is the blest part
of her atavism. No matter how far back we go, and in every branch
of her genealogical tree, there is artistic heredity to be found.
Maurice de Saxe wrote his _Reveries_. This was a fine book for
a soldier to write, and for that alone he would deserve praise,
even if he had not beaten the Enlish so gloriously. Mademoiselle
Verrieres was an actress and Dupin de Francueil a dilettante.
Aurore's grandmother, Marie-Aurore, was very musical, she sang
operatic songs, and collected extracts from the philosophers.
Maurice Dupin was devoted to music and to the theatre.
Even Sophie-Victoire had an innate appreciation of beauty.
She not only wept, like Margot, at melodrama, but she noticed the pink
of a cloud, the mauve of a flower, and, what was more important,
she called her little daughter's attention to such things.
This illiterate mother had therefore had some influence on Aurore
and on her taste for literature.

It is not enough to say that George Sand was a born writer. She was
a born novelist, and she belonged to a certain category of novelists.
She had been created by a special decree of Providence to write her
own romances, and not others. It is this which makes the history
of the far-back origins of her literary vocation so interesting.
It is extremely curious to see, from her earliest childhood,
the promises of those faculties which were to become the very essence
of her talent. When she was only three years old, her mother
used to put her between four chairs in order to keep her still.
By way of enlivening her captivity, she tells us what she did.

"I used to make up endless stories, which my mother styled
my novels. . . . I told these stories aloud, and my mother
declared that they were most tiresome on account of their length
and of the development I gave to my digressions. . . . There were
very few bad people in them, and never any serious troubles.
Everything was always arranged satisfactorily, thanks to my lively,
optimistic ideas. . . ."

She had already commenced, then, at the age of three, and these
early stories are the precursors of the novels of her maturity.
They are optimistic, drawn out, and with long digressions.
Something similar is told about Walter Scott. There is evidently
a primordial instinct in those who are born story-tellers, and this
urges them on to invent fine stories for amusing themselves.

A little later on we have another phenomenon, almost as curious,
with regard to Aurore. We are apt to wonder how certain descriptive
writers proceed in order to give us pictures, the various features
of which stand out in such intense relief that they appear absolutely
real to us. George Sand tells us that when Berquin's stories were
being read to her at Nohant, she used to sit in front of the fire,
from which she was protected by an old green silk screen.
She used gradually to lose the sense of the phrases, but pictures
began to form themselves in front of her on the green screen.

"I saw woods, meadows, rivers, towns of strange and gigantic
architecture. . . . One day these apparitions were so real that
I was startled by them, and I asked my mother whether she could
see them."

With hallucinations like these a writer can be picturesque.
He has in front of him, although it may be between four walls,
a complete landscape. He has only to follow the lines of it and to
reproduce the colours, so that in painting imaginary landscapes he
can paint them from nature, from this model that appears to him,
as though by enchantment. He can, if he likes, count the leaves of
the trees and listen to the sound of the growing grass.

Still later on, vague religious or philosophical conceptions began
to mingle with the fiction that Aurore always had in her mind.
To her poetical life, was added a moral life. She always had a
romance going on, to which she was constantly adding another chapter,
like so many links in a never-ending chain. She now gave a hero
to her romance, a hero whose name was Corambe. He was her ideal,
a man whom she had made her god. Whilst blood was flowing freely
on the altars of barbarous gods, on Corambe's altar life and liberty
were given to a whole crowd of captive creatures, to a swallow,
to a robin-redbreast, and even to a sparrow. We see already in all
this her tendency to put moral intentions into her romantic stories,
to arrange her adventures in such a way that they should serve
as examples for making mankind better. These were the novels,
with a purpose, of her twelfth year.

Let us now study a striking contrast, by way of observing the
first signs of vocation in two totally different novelists.
In the beginning of _Facino Cane_, Balzac tells us an incident
of the time when, as an aspiring writer, he lived in his attic
in the Rue Lesdiguieres. One evening, on coming out of the theatre,
he amused himself with following a working-man and his wife from
the Boulevard du Pontaux-Choux to the Boulevard Beaumarchais.
He listened to them as they talked of the piece they had just seen.
They then discussed their business matters, and afterwards house
and family affairs. "While listening to this couple," says Balzac,
"I entered into their life. I could feel their clothes on my back and,
I was walking in their shabby boots."

This is the novelist of the objective school, the one who comes
out of himself, who ceases to be himself and becomes another person.

Instead of this exterior world, to which Balzac adapts himself,
Aurore talks to us of an inner world, emanating from her own fancy,
the reflection of her own imagination, the echo of her own heart,
which is really herself. This explains the difference between
Balzac's impersonal novel and George Sand's personal novel.
It is just the difference between realistic art, which gives way
to the object, and idealistic art, which transforms this according
to its own will and pleasure.

Up to this time George Sand's ideas had not been put on to paper.
Both _Corambe_ and the stories composed between four chairs were merely
fancies of a child's mind. Aurore soon began to write, though.
She had composed two novels while in the convent, one of which was
religious and the other a pastoral story. She was wise enough to
tear them both up. On leaving the convent she wrote another novel
for Rene' de Villeneuve, and this shared the same fate. In 1827,
she wrote her _Voyage en Auvergne_, and in 1829, another novel.
In her _Histoire de ma vie_ she says of this: "After reading it,
I was convinced that it was of no value, but at the same time I was
sure I could write a better one. . . . I saw that I could write
quickly and easily, and without feeling any fatigue. The ideas that
were lying dormant in my mind were quickened and became connected,
by my deductions, as I wrote. With my meditative life, I had observed
a great deal, and had understood the various characters which Fate
had put in my way, so that I really knew enough of human nature
to be able to depict it." She now had that facility, that abundance
of matter and that nonchalance which were such characteristic
features of her writing.

When George Sand began to publish, she had already written a great deal.
Her literary formation was complete. We notice this same thing
whenever we study the early work of a writer. Genius is revealed
to us, perhaps, with a sudden flash, but it has been making its way
for a long time underground, so that what we take for a spontaneous
burst of genius is nothing but the final effort of a sap which has
been slowly accumulating and which from henceforth is all-powerful.

George Sand had to go through the inevitable period of feeling
her way. We are glad to think that the first book she published
was not written by herself alone, so that the responsibility
of that execrable novel does not lie solely with her.

On the 9th of March, 1831, George Sand wrote to Boucoiran as follows:
"Monstrosities are in vogue, so we must invent monstrosities.
I am bringing forth a very pleasant one just at present. . . ."
This was the novel written in collaboration with Sandeau which
appeared under the signature of Jules Sand towards the end of 1831.
It was entitled, _Rose et Blanche, ou la Comedienne et la Religieuse_.

It begins by a scene in a coach, rather like certain novels by Balzac,
but accompanied by insignificant details in the worst taste imaginable.
Two girls are travelling in the same coach. Rose is a young comedian,
and Sister Blanche is about to become a nun. They separate at Tarbes,
and the scene of the story is laid in the region of the Pyrenees,
in Tarbes Auch, Nerac, the Landes, and finishes with the return
to Paris. Rose, after an entertainment which is a veritable orgy,
is handed over by her mother to a licentious young man.
He is ashamed of himself, and, instead of leading Rose astray,
he takes her to the Convent of the Augustines, where she finds Sister
Blanche once more. Sister Blanche has not yet pronounced her vows,
and the proof of this is that she marries Horace. But what a wedding!
As a matter of fact, Sister Blanche was formerly named Denise.
She was the daughter of a seafaring man of Bordeaux, and was both
pretty and foolish. She had been dishonoured by the young libertine
whom she is now to marry. The memory of the past comes back to Blanche,
and makes her live over again her life as Denise. In the mean time
Rose had become a great singer. She now arrives, just in time to be
present at her friend's deathbed. She enters the convent herself,
and takes the place left vacant by Sister Blanche. The whole of this
is absurd and frequently very disagreeable.

It is quite easy to distinguish the parts due to the two collaborators,
and to see that George Sand wrote nearly all the book. There are
the landscapes, Tarbes Auch, Nerac, the Landes, and a number of
recollections of the famous journey to the Pyrenees and of her stay
at Guillery with the Dudevant family. The Convent of the Augustines
in Paris, with its English nuns and its boarders belonging to the
best families, is the one in which Aurore spent three years.
The cloister can be recognized, the garden planted with chestnut
trees, and the cell from which there was a view over the city.
All her dreams seemed so near Heaven there, for the rich,
cloudy sky was so near--"that most beautiful and ever-changing sky,
perhaps the most beautiful in the world," of which we read in
_Rose et Blanche_. But together with this romance of religious
life is a libertine novel with stories of orgies, of a certain
private house, and of very risky and unpleasant episodes. This is
the collaborator's share in the work. The risky parts are Sandeau's.

Such, then, is this hybrid composition. It was, in reality,
the monstrosity announced by George Sand.

It had a certain success, but the person who was most severe
in her judgment of it was Sophie-Victoire, George Sand's mother,
who had very prudish tastes in literature. This woman is perfectly
delightful, and every time we come across her it is a fresh joy.
Her daughter was obliged to make some excuse for herself, and this
she did by stating that the work was not entirely her own.

"I do not approve of a great deal of the nonsense," she writes,
"and I only let certain things pass to please my publisher,
who wanted something rather lively. . . . I do not like the risky
parts myself. . . ." Later on in the same letter, she adds:
"There is nothing of the kind in the book I am writing now,
and I am using nothing of my collaborator's in this, except his

[15] _Correspondance_: To her mother, February 22, 1832.

This was true. Jules Sand had had his day, and the book of which
she now speaks was _Indiana_. She signed this "George Sand."

The unpublished correspondence with Emile Regnault, some fragments
of which we have just read, contains a most interesting
letter concerning the composition of _Indiana_. It is dated
February 28, 1832. George Sand first insists on the severity
of the subject and on its resemblance to life. "It is as simple,
as natural and as positive as you could wish," she says.
"It is neither romantic, mosaic, nor frantic. It is just ordinary
life of the most _bourgeois_ kind, but unfortunately this is much
more difficult than exaggerated literature. . . . There is
not the least word put in for nothing, not a single description,
not a vestige of poetry. There are no unexpected, extraordinary,
or amazing situations, but merely four volumes on four characters.
With only just these characters, that is, with hidden feelings,
everyday thoughts, with friendship, love, selfishness, devotion,
self-respect, persistency, melancholy, sorrow, ingratitude,
disappointment, hope, and all the mixed-up medley of the human mind,
is it possible to write four volumes which will not bore people?
I am afraid of boring people, of boring them as life itself does.
And yet what is more interesting than the history of the heart,
when it is a true history? The main thing is to write true history,
and it is just that which is so difficult. . . ."

This declaration is rather surprising to any one who reads it
to-day. We might ask whether what was natural in 1832 would
be natural in 1910? That is not the question which concerns
us, though. The important fact to note is that George Sand
was no longer attempting to manufacture monstrosities. She was
endeavouring to be true, and she wanted above everything else
to present a character of woman who would be the typical modern woman.

"Noemi (this name was afterwards left to Sandeau, who had used
it in _Marianna_. George Sand changed it to that of _Indiana_)
is a typical woman, strong and weak, tired even by the weight of
the air, but capable of holding up the sky; timid in everyday life,
but daring in days of battle; shrewd and clever in seizing the loose
threads of ordinary life, but silly and stupid in distinguishing her
own interests when it is a question of her happiness; caring little
for the world at large, but allowing herself to be duped by one man;
not troubling much about her own dignity, but watching over that
of the object of her choice; despising the vanities of the times
as far as she is concerned, but allowing herself to be fascinated
by the man who is full of these vanities. This, I believe,"
she says, "is the usual woman, an extraordinary mixture of weakness
and energy, of grandeur and of littleness, a being ever composed
of two opposite natures, at times sublime and at times despicable,
clever in deceiving and easily deceived herself."

This novel, intended to present to us the modern woman, ought to be
styled a "feminist novel." It was also, as regards other points
of view. _Indiana_ appeared in May, 1832, _Valentine_ in 1833,
and _Jacques_ in 1834. In these three books I should like to show
our present feminism, already armed, and introduced to us according
to George Sand's early ideas.

_Indiana_ is the story of a woman who had made an unfortunate marriage.
At the age of nineteen she had married Colonel Delmare.
Colonels were very much in vogue in those days, and the fact that he
had attained that rank proves that he was much older than she was.
Colonel Delmare was an honest, straightforward man in the Pharisaical
sense of the word. This simply means that he had never robbed
or killed any one. He had no delicacy and no charm, and,
fond as he was of his own authority, he was a domestic tyrant.
Indiana was very unhappy between this execrable husband and a cousin
of hers, Ralph, a man who is twice over English, in the first place
because his name is Brown, and then because he is phlegmatic.
Ralph is delightful and most excellent, and it is on his account
that she is insensible to the charms of Raymon de Ramieres
an elegant and distinguished young man who is a veritable lady-killer.

Space forbids us to go into all the episodes of this story, but the
crisis is that Colonel Delmare is ruined, and his business affairs
call him to the Isle of Bourbon. He intends to take Indiana with him,
but she refuses to accompany him. She knows quite well that Raymon
will do all he can to prevent her going. She hurries away to him,
offers herself to him, and volunteers to remain with him always.
It is unnecessary to give Raymon's reply to this charming proposal.
Poor Indiana receives a very wet blanket on a cold winter's night.

She therefore starts for the Isle of Bourbon, and, some time
after her arrival there, she gets a letter from Raymon which makes
her think that he is very unhappy. She accordingly hastens
back to him, but is received by the young wife whom Raymon has
just married. It is a very brilliant marriage, and Raymon could
not have hoped for anything more satisfactory. Poor Indiana!
The Seine, however, is quite near, and she throws herself into it.
This was quite safe, as Ralph was there to fish her out again.
Ralph was always at hand to fish his cousin out of everything.
He is her appointed rescuer, her Newfoundland dog. In the country
or in the town, on _terra firma_ or on the boat which takes
Indiana to the Isle of Bourbon, we always see Ralph turn up,
phlegmatic as usual. Unnecessary to say that Ralph is in love
with Indiana. His apparent calmness is put on purposely.
It is the snowy covering under which a volcano is burning.
His awkward and unprepossessing appearance conceals an exquisite soul.
Ralph brings Indiana good news. Colonel Delmare is dead,
so that she is free. What will she do now with her liberty?
After due deliberation, Ralph and Indiana decide to commit suicide,
but they have to agree about the kind of death they will die.
Ralph considers that this is a matter of certain importance.
He does not care to kill himself in Paris; there are too many
people about, so that there is no tranquillity. The Isle of Bourbon
seems to him a pleasant place for a suicide. There was a magnificent
horizon there; then, too, there was a precipice and a waterfall.
. . .

Ralph's happy ideas are somewhat sinister, but the couple
set out nevertheless for the Isle of Bourbon in search of a
propitious waterfall. A sea-voyage, under such circumstances,
would be an excellent preparation. When once there, they carry
out their plans, and Ralph gives his beloved wise advice at the
last moment. She must not jump from the side, as that would be bad.
"Throw yourself into the white line that the waterfall makes,"
he says. "You will then reach the lake with that, and the torrent
will plunge you in." This sounds enticing.

Such a suicide was considered infinitely poetical at that epoch,
and every one pitied Indiana in her troubles. It is curious to read
such books calmly a long time afterwards, books which reflect so
exactly the sentiments of a certain epoch. It is curious to note
how the point of view has changed, and how people and things appear
to us exactly the reverse of what they appeared to the author
and to contemporaries.

As a matter of fact, the only interesting person in all this is
Colonel Delmare, or, at any rate, he is the only one of whom Indiana
could not complain. He loved her, and he loved no one else but her.
The like cannot be said for Indiana. Few husbands would imitate
his patience and forbearance, and he certainly allowed his wife
the most extraordinary freedom. At one time we find, a young man in
Indiana's bedroom, and at another time Indiana in a young man's bedroom.
Colonel Delmare receives Raymon at his house in a friendly way,
and he tolerates the presence of the sempiternal Ralph in his home.
What more can be asked of a husband than to allow his wife to
have a man friend and a cousin? Indiana declares that Colonel
Delmare has struck her, and that the mark is left on her face.
She exaggerated, though, as we know quite well what took place.
In reality all this was at Plessis-Picard. Delmare-Dudevant struck
Indiana-Aurore. This was certainly too much, but there was no blood shed.
As to the other personages, Raymon is a wretched little rascal,
who was first the lover of Indiana's maid. He next made love to poor
Noun's mistress, and then deserted her to make a rich marriage.
Ralph plunges Indiana down a precipice. That was certainly bad
treatment for the woman he loved. As regards Indiana, George Sand
honestly believed that she had given her all the charms imaginable.
As a matter of fact, she did charm the readers of that time.
It is from this model that we have one of the favourite types of woman
in literature for the next twenty years--the misunderstood woman.

The misunderstood woman is pale, fragile, and subject to fainting.
Up to page 99 of the book, Indiana has fainted three times. I did not
continue counting. This fainting was not the result of bad health.
It was the fashion to faint. The days of nerves and languid airs
had come back. The women whose grandmothers had walked so firmly
to the scaffold, and whose mothers had listened bravely to the firing
of the cannon under the Empire, were now depressed and tearful,
like so many plaintive elegies. It was just a matter of fashion.
The mis-

understood woman was supposed to be unhappy with her husband, but she
would not have been any happier with another man. Indiana does not
find fault with Colonel Delmare for being the husband that he is,
but simply for being the husband!

"She did not love her husband, for the mere reason, perhaps, that she
was told it was her duty to love him and that it had become her
second nature, a principle and a law of her conscience to resist inwardly
all moral constraint." She affected a most irritating gentleness,
an exasperating submissiveness. When she put on her superior,
resigned airs, it was enough to unhinge an angel. Besides, what was
there to complain about, and why should she not accommodate herself
to conditions of existence with which so many others fall in?
She must not be compared to others, though. She is eminently
a distinguished woman, and she asks without shrinking: "Do you
know what it means to love a woman such as I am?"

In her long silences and her persistent melancholy, she is no
doubt thinking of the love appropriate to a woman such as she is.
She was a princess in exile and times were then hard for princesses.
That is why the one in question took refuge in her homesick sorrow.
All this is what people will not understand. Instead of rising
to such sublimities, or of being lost in fogs, they judge from
mere facts. And on coming across a young wife who is inclined to
prefer a handsome, dark young man to a husband who is turning grey,
they are apt to conclude: "Well, this is not the first time we
have met with a similar case. It is hardly worth while making such
a fuss about a young plague of a woman who wants to go to the bad."
It would be very unjust, though, not to recognize that _Indiana_
is a most remarkable novel. There is a certain relief in the
various characters, Colonel Delmare, Raymon, Ralph and Inaiana.
We ought to question the husbands who married wives belonging to the race
of misunderstood women brought into vogue by _Indiana_.

_Valentine_, too, is the story of a woman unhappily married.

This time the chief _role_ is given to the lover, and not to the woman.
Instead of the misunderstood woman, though, we have the typical
frenzied lover, created by the romantic school. Louise-Valentine de
Raimbault is about to marry Norbert-Evariste de Lansac, when suddenly
this young person, who is accustomed to going about in the country
round and to the village fetes, falls in love with the nephew
of one of her farmers. The young man's name is Benedict, and he
is a peasant who has had some education. His mentality is probably
that of a present-day elementary school-teacher. Valentine cannot
resist him, although we are told that Benedict is not very handsome.
It is his soul which Valentine loves in him. Benedict knows very well
that he cannot marry Valentine, but he can cause her a great deal
of annoyance by way of proving his love. On the night of the wedding
he is in the nuptial chamber, from which the author has taken
care to banish the husband for the time being. Benedict watches
over the slumber of the woman he loves, and leaves her an epistle
in which he declares that, after hesitating whether he should kill
her husband, her, or himself, or whether he should kill all three,
or only select two of the three, and after adopting in turn each of
these combinations, he has decided to only kill himself. He is found
in a ditch in a terrible plight, but we are by no means rid of him.
Benedict is not dead, and he has a great deal of harm to do yet.
We shall meet with him again several times, always hidden behind curtains,
listening to all that is said and watching all that takes place.
At the right moment he comes out with his pistol in his hand.
The husband is away during all this time. No one troubles
about him, though. He is a bad husband, or rather he is--a husband,
and Benedict has nothing to fear as far as he is concerned.
But one day a peasant, who does not like the looks of Benedict,
attacks him with his pitchfork and puts an end to this valuable life.

The question arises, by what right Benedict disturbs Valentine's
tranquillity. The answer is by the right of his passion for her.
He has an income of about twenty pounds a year. It would be impossible
for him to marry on that. What has he to offer to the woman whose peace
of mind he disturbs and whose position he ruins? He offers himself.
Surely that should be enough. Then, too, it is impossible to reason
with individuals of his temperament. We have only to look at him,
with his sickly pallor and the restless light in his eyes. We have
only to listen to the sound of his voice and his excited speeches.
At times he goes in for wild declamation, and immediately afterwards
for cold irony and sarcasm. He is always talking of death.
When he attempts to shoot himself he always misses, but when Adele
d'Hervey resists him, at the time he has taken the name of Antony,
he kills her. He is therefore a dangerous madman.

We now have two fresh personages for novels, the misunderstood woman
and the frenzied lover. It is a pity they do not marry each other,
and so rid us of them.

We must not lose sight, though, of the fact that, contestable as
_Valentine_ certainly is as a novel of passion, there is a pastoral
novel of the highest order contained in this book. The setting
of the story is delightful. George Sand has placed the scene
in that Black Valley which she knew so well and loved so dearly.
It is the first of her novels in which she celebrates her birthplace.
There are walks along the country pathways, long meditations at night,
village weddings and fetes. All the poetry and all the picturesqueness
of the country transform and embellish the story.

In _Jacques_ we have the history of a man unhappily married, and this,
through the reciprocity which is inevitable under the circumstances,
is another story of a woman unhappily married.

At the age of thirty-five, after a stormy existence, in which years
count double, Jacques marries Fernande, a woman much younger
than he is. After a few unhappy months he sees the first clouds
appearing in his horizon. He sends for his sister Sylvia to come
and live with himself and his wife. Sylvia, like Jacques,
is an exceptional individual. She is proud, haughty and reserved.
It can readily be imagined that, the presence of this pythoness


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