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

Part 2 out of 4

does not tend to restore the confidence which has become somewhat
shaken between the husband and wife. A young man named Octave,
who was at first attracted by Sylvia, soon begins to prefer Fernande,
who is not a romantic, ironical and sarcastic woman like her
sister-in-law. He fancies that he should be very happy with the
gentle Fernande. Jacques discovers that Octave and his wife are
in love with each other. There are various alternatives for him.
He can dismiss his rival, kill him, or merely pardon him.
Each alternative is a very ordinary way out of the difficulty,
and Jacques cannot resign himself to anything ordinary. He therefore
asks his wife's lover whether he really cares for his wife, whether he
is in earnest, and also whether this attachment will be durable.
Quite satisfied with the result of this examination, he leaves
Fernande to Octave. He then disappears and kills himself, but he
takes all necessary precautions to avert the suspicion of suicide,
in order not to sadden Octave and Fernande in their happiness.
He had not been able to keep his wife's love, but he does not wish
to be the jailer of the woman who no longer loves him. Fernande has
a right to happiness and, as he has not been able to ensure
that happiness, he must give place to another man. It is a case
of suicide as a duty. There are instances when a husband should know
that it is his duty to disappear. . . . Jacques is "a stoic."
George Sand has a great admiration for such characters. She gives
us her first sketch of one in Ralph, but Jacques is presented to us
as a sublime being.

Personally, I look upon him as a mere greenhorn, or, as would
be said in Wagner's dramas, a "pure simpleton."

He did everything to ruin his home life. His young wife
had confidence in him; she was gay and naive. He went about,
folding his arms in a tragic way. He was absent-minded and gloomy,
and she began to be awed by him. One day, when, in her sorrow
for having displeased him, she flung herself on her knees, sobbing,
instead of lifting her up tenderly, he broke away from her caresses,
telling her furiously to get up and never to behave in such a way again
in his presence. After this he puts his sister, the "bronze woman,"
between them, and he invites Octave to live with them. When he has
thus destroyed his wife's affection for him, in spite of the fact
that at one time she wished for nothing better than to love him,
he goes away and gives up the whole thing. All that is too easy.
One of Meilhac's heroines says to a man, who declares that he is
going to drown himself for her sake, "Oh yes, that is all very fine.
You would be tranquil at the bottom of the water! But what about
me? . . ."

In this instance Jacques is tranquil at the bottom of his precipice,
but Fernande is alive and not at all tranquil. Jacques never
rises to the very simple conception of his duty, which was that,
having made a woman the companion of his life's journey, he had no
right to desert her on the way.

Rather than blame himself, though, Jacques prefers incriminating
the institution of marriage. The criticism of this institution
is very plain in the novel we are considering. In her former
novels George, Sand treated all this in a more or less vague way.
She now states her theory clearly. Jacques considers that marriage
is a barbarous institution. "I have not changed my opinion,"
he says, "and I am not reconciled to society. I consider
marriage one of the most barbarous institutions ever invented.
I have no doubt that it will be abolished when the human species
makes progress in the direction of justice and reason. Some bond
that will be more human and just as sacred will take the place
of marriage and provide for the children born of a woman and a man,
without fettering their liberty for ever. Men are too coarse
at present, and women too cowardly, to ask for a nobler law than
the iron one which governs them. For individuals without conscience
and without virtue, heavy chains are necessary."

We also hear Sylvia's ideas and the plans she proposes to her
brother for the time when marriage is abolished.

"We will adopt an orphan, imagine that it is our child, and bring
it up in our principles. We could educate a child of each sex,
and then marry them when the time came, before God, with no other
temple than the desert and no priest but love. We should have formed
their souls to respect truth and justice, so that, thanks to us,
there would be one pure and happy couple on the face of the earth."

The suppression of marriage, then, was the idea, and, in a future
more or less distant, free love!

It is interesting to discover by what series of deductions George
Sand proceeds and on what principles she bases everything.
When once her principles are admitted, the conclusion she draws
from them is quite logical.

What is her essential objection to marriage? The fact that marriage
fetters the liberty of two beings. "Society dictates to you
the formula of an oath. You must swear that you will be faithful
and obedient to me, that you will never love any one but me,
and that you will obey me in everything. One of those oaths is
absurd and the other vile. You cannot be answerable for your heart,
even if I were the greatest and most perfect of men." Now comes
the question of love for another man. Until then it was considered
that such love was a weakness, and that it might become a fault.
But, after all, is not passion a fatal and irresistible thing?

"No human creature can command love, and no one is to be blamed for
feeling it or for ceasing to feel it. What lowers a woman is untruth."
A little farther on we are told: "They are not guilty, for they
love each other. There is no crime where there is sincere love."
According to this theory, the union of man and woman depends on
love alone. When love disappears, the union cannot continue.
Marriage is a human institution, but passion is of Divine essence.
In case of any dissension, it is always the institution of marriage
which is to be blamed.

The sole end in view of marriage is charm, either that of sentiment
or that of the senses, and its sole object is the exchange
of two fancies. As the oath of fidelity is either a stupidity
or a degradation, can anything more opposed to common sense,
and a more absolute ignorance of all that is noble and great,
be imagined than the effort mankind is making, against all the
chances of destruction by which he is surrounded, to affirm,
in face of all that changes, his will and intention to continue?
We all remember the heart-rending lamentation of Diderot:
"The first promises made between two creatures of flesh,"
he says, "were made at the foot of a rock crumbling to dust.
They called on Heaven to be a witness of their constancy, but the
skies in the Heaven above them were never the same for an instant.
Everything was changing, both within them and around them, and they
believed that their heart would know no change. Oh, what children,
what children always!" Ah, not children, but what men rather! We know
these fluctuations in our affections. And it is because we are afraid
of our own fragility that we call to our aid the protection of laws,
to which submission is no slavery, as it is voluntary submission.
Nature does not know these laws, but it is by them that we
distinguish ourselves from Nature and that we rise above it.
The rock on which we tread crumbles to dust, the sky above our heads
is never the same an instant, but, in the depth of our hearts,
there is the moral law--and that never changes!

In order to reply to these paradoxes, where shall we go in search
of our arguments? We can go to George Sand herself. A few
years later, during her intercourse with Lamennals, she wrote her
famous _Lettres a Marcie_ for _Le Monde_. She addresses herself
to an imaginary correspondent, to a woman supposed to be suffering
from that agitation and impatience which she had experienced herself.

"You are sad," says George Sand to her, "you are suffering,
and you are bored to death." We will now take note of some
of the advice she gives to this woman. She no longer believes
that it belongs to human dignity to have the liberty of changing.
"The one thing to which man aspires, the thing which makes him great,
is permanence in the moral state. All which tends to give stability
to our desires, to strengthen the human will and affections,
tends to bring about the _reign of God_ on earth, which means love
and the practice of truth." She then speaks of vain dreams.
"Should we even have time to think about the impossible if we did
all that is necessary? Should we despair ourselves if we were to
restore hope in those people who have nothing left them but hope?"
With regard to feminist claims, she says: "Women are crying out
that they are slaves: let them wait until men are free! . . .
In the mean time we must not compromise the future by our impatience
with the present. . . . It is to be feared that vain attempts
of this kind and unjustifiable claims may do harm to what is styled
at present the cause of women. There is no doubt that women
have certain rights and that they are suffering injustice.
They ought to lay claim to a better future, to a wise independence,
to a greater participation in knowledge, and to more respect,
interest and esteem from men. This future, though, is in their
own hands."

This is wisdom itself. It would be impossible to put it more clearly, and
to warn women in a better way, that the greatest danger for their cause
would be the triumph of what is called by an ironical term--feminism.

These retractions, though, have very little effect. There is a
certain piquancy in showing up an author who is in contradiction
with himself, in showing how he refutes his own paradoxes.
But these are striking paradoxes which are not readily forgotten.
What I want to show is that in these first novels by George Sand we
have about the whole of the feminist programme of to-day. Everything
is there, the right to happiness, the necessity of reforming marriage,
the institution, in a more or less near future, of free unions.
Our feminists of to-day, French, English, or Norwegian authoresses,
and theoricians like Ellen Key, with her book on _Love and Marriage_,
all these rebels have invented nothing. They have done nothing
but take up once more the theories of the great feminist of 1832,
and expose them with less lyricism but with more cynicism.

George Sand protested against the accusation of having aimed at attacking
institutions in her feminist novels. She was wrong in protesting,
as it is just this which gives her novels their value and significance.
It is this which dates them and which explains the enormous force of
expansion that they have had. They came just after the July Revolution,
and we must certainly consider them as one of the results of that.
A throne had just been overturned, and, by way of pastime,
churches were being pillaged and an archbishop's palace had been sack-

aged. Literature was also attempting an insurrection, by way
of diversion. For a long time it had been feeding the revolutionary
ferment which it had received from romanticism. Romanticism had
demanded the freedom of the individual, and the writers at the head
of this movement were Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo and Dumas.
They claimed this freedom for Rene, for Hermann and for Antony,
who were men. An example had been given, and women meant to take
advantage of it. Women now began their revolution.

Under all these influences, and in the particular atmosphere
now created, the matrimonial mishap of Baronne Dudevant appeared
to her of considerable importance. She exaggerated and magnified
it until it became of social value. Taking this private mishap as
her basis, she puts into each of her heroines something of herself.
This explains the passionate tone of the whole story. And this
passion could not fail to be contagious for the women who read
her stories, and who recognized in the novelist's cause their own
cause and the cause of all women.

This, then, is the novelty in George Sand's way of presenting
feminist grievances. She had not invented these grievances.
They were already contained in Madame de Stael's books, and I have not
forgotten her. Delphine and Corinne, though, were women of genius,
and presented to us as such. In order to be pitied by Madame
de Stael, it was absolutely necessary to be a woman of genius.
For a woman to be defended by George Sand, it was only necessary
that she should not love her husband, and this was a much more
general thing.

George Sand had brought feminism within the reach of all women.
This is the characteristic of these novels, the eloquence of which
cannot be denied. They are novels for the vulgarization of the
feminist theory.



George Sand did not have to wait long for success. She won fame
with her first book. With her second one she became rich, or what
she considered rich. She tells us that she sold it for a hundred
and sixty pounds! That seemed to her the wealth of the world,
and she did not hesitate to leave her attic on the Quay St. Michel
for a more comfortable flat on Quay Malaquais, which de Latouche
gave up to her.

There was, at that time, a personage in Paris who had begun to exercise
a sort of royal tyranny over authors. Francois Buloz had taken advantage
of the intellectual effervescence of 1831 to found the _Revue des
Deux Mondes_. He was venturesome, energetic, original, very shrewd,
though apparently rough, obliging, in spite of his surly manners.
He is still considered the typical and traditional review manager.
He certainly possessed the first quality necessary for this function.
He discovered talented writers, and he also knew how to draw from
them and squeeze out of them all the literature they contained.
Tremendously headstrong, he has been known to keep a contributor under
lock and key until his article was finished. Authors abused him,
quarrelled with him, and then came back to him again. A review
which had, for its first numbers, George Sand, Vigny, Musset, Merimee,
among many others, as contributors, may be said to have started well.
George Sand tells us that after a battle with the _Revue de Paris_
and the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, both of which papers wanted her work,
she bound herself to the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, which was to pay
her a hundred and sixty pounds a year for thirty-two pages of writing
every six weeks. In 1833 the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ published Lelia,
and on January 1, 1876, it finished publishing the _Tour de Percemont_.
This means an uninterrupted collaboration, extending over a period
of forty-three years.

The literary critic of the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ at that time was a man
who was very much respected and very little liked, or, in other words,
he was universally detested. This critic was Gustave Planche.
He took his own _role_ too seriously, and endeavoured to put authors
on their guard about their faults. Authors did not appreciate this.
He endeavoured, too, to put the public on guard against its
own infatuations. The public did not care for this. He sowed
strife and reaped revenge. This did not stop him, though, for he
went calmly on continuing his executions. His impassibility
was only feigned, and this is the curious side of the story.
He suffered keenly from the storms of hostility which he provoked.
He had a kindly disposition at bottom and tender places in his heart.
He was rather given to melancholy and intensely pessimistic.
To relieve his sadness, he gave himself up to hard work, and he
was thoroughly devoted to art. In order to comprehend this portrait
and to see its resemblance, we, who knew our great Brunetiere,
have only to think of him. He, too, was noble, fervent and combative,
and he sought in his exclusive devotion to literature a diversion from
his gloomy pessimism, underneath which was concealed such kindliness.
It seemed with him, too, as though he took a pride in making a whole
crowd of enemies, whilst in reality the discovery of every fresh
adversary caused him great suffering.

When _Lelia_ appeared, the novel was very badly treated in
_L'Europe litteraire_. Planche challenged the writer of the article,
a certain Capo de Feuillide, to a duel. So much for the impassibility
of severe critics. The duel took place, and afterwards there
was a misunderstanding between George Sand and Planche. From that
time forth critics have given up fighting duels for the sake of authors.

About the same time, George Sand made use of Sainte-Beuve as
her confessor. He seemed specially indicated for this function.
In the first place, he looked rather ecclesiastical, and then he had
a taste for secrets, and more particularly for whispered confessions.
George Sand had absolute confidence in him. She considered that he
had an almost angelic nature. In reality, just about that time,
the angelic man was endeavouring to get into the good graces of the
wife of his best friend, and was writing his _Livre d'Amour_, and
divulging to the world a weakness of which he had taken advantage.
This certainly was the most villainous thing a man could do.
But then he, too, was in love and was struggling and praying.
George Sand declares her veneration for him, and she constituted herself
his penitent.

She begins her confession by an avowal that must have been
difficult for her. She tells of her intimacy with Merimee,
an intimacy which was of short duration and very unsatisfactory.
She had been fascinated by Merimee's art.

"For about a week," she says, "I thought he had the secret
of happiness." At the end of the week she was "weeping with disgust,
suffering and discouragement." She had hoped to find in him
the devotion of a consoler, but she found nothing but cold
and bitter jesting."[16] This experiment had also proved a failure.

[16] Compare _Lettres a Sainte-Beuve_.

Such were the conditions in which George Sand found herself at
this epoch. Her position was satisfactory; she might have been calm
and independent. Her inner life was once more desolate, and she
was thoroughly discouraged. She felt that she had lived centuries,
that she had undergone torture, that her heart had aged twenty years,
and that nothing was any pleasure to her now. Added to all this,
public life saddened her, for the horizon had clouded over.
The boundless hopes and the enthusiasm of 1831 were things
of the past. "The Republic, as it was dreamed of in July,"
she writes, "has ended in the massacres of Warsaw and in the holocaust
of the Saint-Merry cloister. The cholera has just been raging.
Saint Simonism has fallen through before it had settled the great
question of love."[17]

[17] _Histoire de ma vie_.

Depression had come after over-excitement. This is a phenomenon
frequently seen immediately after political convulsions.
It might be called the perpetual failure of revolutionary promises.

It was under all these influences that George Sand wrote _Lelia_.
She finished it in July, and it appeared in August, 1833.

It is absolutely impossible to give an analysis of _Lelia_. There really
is no subject. The personages are not beings of flesh and blood.
They are allegories strolling about in the garden of abstractions.
Lelia is a woman who has had her trials in life. She has loved and
been disappointed, so that she can no longer love at all. She reduces
the gentle poet Stenio to despair. He is much younger than she is,
and he has faith in life and in love. His ingenuous soul begins
to wither and to lose its freshness, thanks to the scepticism of
the beautiful, disdainful, ironical and world-weary Lelia. This strange
person has a sister Pulcherie, a celebrated courtesan, whose insolent
sensuality is a set-off to the other one's mournful complaints.
We have here the opposition of Intelligence and of the Flesh,
of Mind and Matter. Then comes Magnus, the priest, who has lost
his faith, and for whom Lelia is a temptation, and after him we
have Trenmor, Lelia's great friend, Trenmor, the sublime convict.
As a young man he had been handsome. He had loved and been young.
He had known what it was to be only twenty years of age.
"The only thing was, he had known this at the age of sixteen"
(!!) He had then become a gambler, and here follows an extraordinary
panegyric on the fatal passion for gambling. Trenmor ruins himself,
borrows without paying back, and finally swindles "an old millionaire
who was himself a defrauder and a dissipated man" out of a
hundred francs. Apparently the bad conduct of the man Trenmor robs,
excuses the swindling. He is condemned to five years of hard labour.
He undergoes his punishment, and is thereby regenerated.
"What if I were to tell you," writes George Sand, "that such as he
now is, crushed, with a tarnished reputation, ruined, I consider
him superior to all of us, as regards the moral life. As he
had deserved punishment, he was willing to bear it. He bore it,
living for five years bravely and patiently among his abject companions.
He has come back to us out of that abominable sewer holding his
head up, calm, purified, pale as you see him, but handsome still,
like a creature sent by God."

We all know how dear convicts are to the hearts of romantic people.
There is no need for me to remind you how they have come to us recently,
encircled with halos of suffering and of purity. We all remember
Dostoiewsky's _Crime and Punishment_ and Tolstoi's _Resurrection_.
When the virtue of expiation and the religion of human suffering came
to us from Russia, we should have greeted them as old acquaintances,
if certain essential works in our own literature, of which these books
are the issue, had not been unknown to us.

The last part of the novel is devoted to Stenio. Hurt by Lelia's
disdain, which has thrown him into the arms of her sister Pulcherie,
he gives himself up to debauch. We find him at a veritable orgy
in Pulcherie's house. Later on he is in a monastery at Camaldules,
talking to Trenmor and Magnus. In such books we must never
be astonished. . . . There is a long speech by Stenio, addressed to
Don Juan, whom he regrets to have taken as his model. The poor young
man of course commits suicide. He chooses drowning as the author
evidently prefers that mode of suicide. Lelia arrives in time to
kneel down by the corpse of the young man who has been her victim.
Magnus then appears on the scene, exactly at the right moment,
to strangle Lelia. Pious hands prepare Lelia and Stenio for
their burial. They are united and yet separated up to their very death.

The summing up we have given is the original version of _Lelia_.
In 1836, George Sand touched up this work, altering much of it
and spoiling, what she altered. It is a pity that her new version,
which is longer, heavier and more obscure, should have taken
the place of the former one. In its first form _Lelia_ is a work
of rare beauty, but with the beauty of a poem or an oratorio.
It is made of the stuff of which dreams are composed. It is a series
of reveries, adapted to the soul of 1830. At every different epoch
there is a certain frame of mind, and certain ideas are diffused in
the air which we find alike in the works of the writers of that time,
although they did not borrow them from each other. _Lelia_ is
a sort of summing up of the themes then in vogue in the personal
novel and in lyrical poetry. The theme of that suffering which is
beneficent and inspiring is contained in the following words:
"Come back to me, Sorrow! Why have you left me? It is by grief
alone that man is great." This is worthy of Chateaubriand.
The theme of melancholy is as follows: "The moon appeared. . . .
What is the moon, and what is its nocturnal magic to me? One hour
more or less is nothing to me." This might very well be Lamartine.
We then have the malediction pronounced in face of impassible Nature:
"Yes, I detested that radiant and magnificent Nature, for it was
there before me in all its stupid beauty, silent and proud, for us
to gaze on, believing that it was enough to merely show itself."
This reminds us of Vigny in his _Maison du berger_. Then we have
the religion of love: "Doubt God, doubt men, doubt me if you like,
but do not doubt love." This is Musset.

But the theme which predominates, and, as we have compared all this
to music, we might say the _leit-motiv_ of all, is that of desolation,
of universal despair, of the woe of life. It is the same lamentation
which, ever since Werther, was to be heard throughout all literature.
It is the identical suffering which Rene, Obermann and Lara had been
repeating to all the echoes. The elements of it were the same:
pride which prevents us from adapting ourselves to the conditions
of universal life, an abuse of self-analysis which opens up
our wounds again and makes them bleed, the wild imagination
which presents to our eyes the deceptive mirage of Promised Lands
from which we are ever exiles. Lelia personifies, in her turn,
the "_mal du siecle_." Stenio reproaches her with only singing
grief and doubt. "How many, times," he says, "have you appeared
to me as typical of the indescribable suffering in which mankind is
plunged by the spirit of inquiry! With your beauty and your sadness,
your world-weariness and your scepticism, do you not personify the
excess of grief produced by the abuse of thought?" He then adds:
"There is a great deal of pride in this grief, Lelia!" It was
undoubtedly a malady, for Lelia had no reason to complain of life
any more than her brothers in despair. It is simply that the general
conditions of life which all people have to accept seem painful
to them. When we are well the play of our muscles is a joy to us,
but when we are ill we feel the very weight of the atmosphere,
and our eyes are hurt by the pleasant daylight.

When _Lelia_ appeared George Sand's old friends were stupefied.
"What, in Heaven's name, is this?" wrote Jules Neraud,
the _Malgache._ "Where have you been in search of this?
Why have you written such a book? Where has it sprung from,
and what is it for? . . . This woman is a fantastical creature.
She is not at all like you. You are lively and can dance a jig;
you can appreciate butterflies and you do not despise puns.
You sew and can make jam very well."[18]

[18] _Histoire de ma vie_.

It certainly was not her portrait. She was healthy and believed
in life, in the goodness of things and in the future of humanity,
just as Victor Hugo and Dumas _pere_, those other forces of Nature,
did, at about the same time. A soul foreign to her own had entered
into her, and it was the romantic soul. With the magnificent power
of receptivity which she possessed, George Sand welcomed all the
winds which came to her from the four quarters of romanticism.
She sent them back with unheard-of fulness, sonorous depth and wealth
of orchestration. From that time forth a woman's voice could be heard,
added to all the masculine voices which railed against life,
and the woman's voice dominated them all!

In George Sand's psychological evolution, _Lelia_ is just this:
the beginning of the invasion of her soul by romanticism. It was
a borrowed individuality, undoubtedly, but it was not something
to be put on and off at will like a mask. It adhered to the skin.
It was all very fine for George Sand to say to Sainte-Beuve: "Do
not confuse the man himself with the suffering. . . . And do not
believe in all my satanical airs. . . . This is simply a style
that I have taken on, I assure you. . . ."

Sainte-Beuve had every reason to be alarmed, and the confessor was
quite right in his surmises. The crisis of romanticism had commenced.
It was to take an acute form and to reach its paroxysm during the
Venice escapade. It is from this point of view that we will study the
famous episode, which has already been studied by so many other writers.

No subject, perhaps, has excited the curiosity of readers like this one,
and always without satisfying that curiosity. A library could be
formed of the books devoted to this subject, written within the last
ten years. Monsieur Rocheblave, Monsieur Maurice Clouard, Dr. Cabanes,
Monsieur Marieton, the enthusiastic collector, Spoelberch de Lovenjoul
and Monsieur Decori have all given us their contributions to the
debate.[19] Thanks to them, we have the complete correspondence
of George Sand and Musset, the diary of George Sand and Pagello's diary.

[19] Consult: Rocheblave, _La fin dune Legende;_ Maurice Clouard,
_Documents inedits sur A. de Musset;_ Dr. Cabanes, _Musset et
le Dr. Pagello_; Paul Marieton, _Une histoire d'amour;_ Vicomte
Spoelberch de Lovenjoul, _La vrai histoire d'Elle et Lui;_ Decori,
_Lettres de George Sand et Musset._

With the aid of all these documents Monsieur Charles Maurras has
written a book entitled _Les Amants de Venise_. It is the work
of a psychologist and of an artist. The only fault I have to find
with it is that the author of it seems to see calculation and
artifice everywhere, and not to believe sufficiently in sincerity.
We must not forget, either, that as early as the year 1893, all that is
essential had been told us by that shrewd writer and admirable woman,
Arvede Barine. The chapter which she devotes to the Venice episode,
in her biography of Alfred de Musset, is more clear and simple,
and at the same time deeper than anything that had yet been written.

It is a subject that has been given up to the curiosity of people and
to their disputes. The strange part is the zeal which at once animates
every one who takes part in this controversy. The very atmosphere
seems to be impregnated with strife, and those interested become,
at once, the partisans of George Sand or the partisans of Musset.
The two parties only agree on one point, and that is, to throw all
the blame on the client favoured by their adversary. I must confess
that I cannot take a passionate interest in a discussion, the subject
of which we cannot properly judge. According to _Mussetistes_,
it was thanks to George Sand that the young poet was reduced to the
despair which drove him to debauchery. On the other hand, if we
are to believe the _Sandistes_, George Sand's one idea in interesting
herself in Musset was to rescue him from debauchery and convert
him to a better life. I listen to all suchpious interpretations,
but I prefer others for myself. I prefer seeing the physiognomy
of each of the two lovers standing out, as it does, in powerful relief.

It is the custom, too, to pity these two unfortunates, who suffered
so much. At the risk of being taken for a very heartless man,
I must own that I do not pity them much. The two lovers wished
for this suffering, they wanted to experience the incomparable
sensations of it, and they got enjoyment and profit from this.
They knew that they were working for posterity. "Posterity will
repeat our names like those of the immortal lovers whose two names
are only one at present, like Romeo and Juliette, like Heloise
and Abelard. People will never speak of one of us without speaking
of the other."

Juliette died at the age of fifteen and Heloise entered a convent.
The Venice lovers did not have to pay for their celebrity as dearly
as that. They wanted to give an example, to light a torch on the road
of humanity. "People shall know my story," writes George Sand.
"I will write it. . . . Those who follow along the path I trod will
see where it leads." _Et nunc erudimini_. Let us see for ourselves,
and learn.

Their_ liaison_ dates from August, 1833.

George Sand was twenty-nine years of age. It was the time of
her greatest charm. We must try to imagine the enchantress as
she then was. She was not tall and she was delightfully slender,
with an extraordinary-looking face of dark, warm colouring.
Her thick hair was very dark, and her eyes, her large eyes,
haunted Musset for years after.

"_Ote-moi, memoire importune_,
_Ote-moi ces yeux que je vois toujours!_"
he writes.

And this woman, who could have been loved passionately, merely for
her charm as a woman, was a celebrity! She was a woman of genius!
Alfred de Musset was twenty-three years old. He was elegant, witty,
a flirt, and when he liked he could be irresistible. He had won his
reputation by that explosion of gaiety and imagination, _Les Contes
d'Espagne el d'Italle_. He had written some fine poetry, dreamy,
disturbing and daring. He had also given _Les Caprices de Marianne_,
in which he figures twice over himself, for he was both Octave
the sceptic, the disillusioned man, and Coelio, the affectionate,
candid Coelio. He imagined himself Rolla. It was he, and he alone,
who should have been styled the sublime boy.

And so here they both are. We might call them Lelia and Stenio,
but _Lelia_ was written before the Venice adventure. She was not the
reflection of it, but rather the presentiment. This is worthy of notice,
but not at all surprising. Literature sometimes imitates reality,
but how much more often reality is modelled on literature!

It was as though George Sand had foreseen her destiny, for she had
feared to meet Musset. On the 11th of March, she writes as follows
to Sainte-Beuve: "On second thoughts, I do not want you to bring Alfred
de Musset. He is a great dandy. We should not suit each other,
and I was really more curious to see him than interested in him."
A little later on, though, at a dinner at the _Freres provencaux_,
to which Buloz invited his collaborators, George Sand found herself
next Alfred de Musset. She invited him to call on her, and when _Lelia_
was published she sent him a copy, with the following dedication
written in the first volume: _A Monsieur mon gamin d'Allred_;
and in the second volume: _A Monsieur le vicomte Allred de Musset,
hommage respectueux de son devoue serviteur George Sand_.
Musset replied by giving his opinion of the new book. Among the
letters which followed, there is one that begins with these words:
"My dear George, I have something silly and ridiculous to tell you.
I am foolishly writing, instead of telling you, as I ought
to have done, after our walk. I am heartbroken to-night that I
did not tell you. You will laugh at me, and you will take me
for a man who simply talks nonsense. You will show me the door,
and fancy that I am not speaking the truth. . . . I am in love
with you. . . ."

She did not laugh at him, though, and she did not show him the door.
Things did not drag on long, evidently, as she writes to her confessor,
Sainte-Beuve, on the 25th of August: "I have fallen in love,
and very seriously this time, with Alfred de Musset." How long was
this to last? She had no idea, but for the time being she declared
that she was absolutely happy.

"I have found a candour, a loyalty and an affection which delight me.
It is the love of a young man and the friendship of a comrade."
There was a honeymoon in the little flat looking on the Quay Malaquals.
Their friends shared the joy of the happy couple, as we see by Musset's
frolicsome lines

_George est dans sa chambrette,
Entre deux pots de fleurs,
Fumiant sa cigarette,
Les yeux baignes de pleurs.

Buloz assis par terre
Lui fait de doux serments,
Solange par derriere
Gribouille ses romans._

_Plante commme une borne_,
_Boucoiran tout crott_,
_Contemple d'un oeil morne_
_Musset tout debraille, etc._

It is evident that, as poetry, this does not equal the _Nuits._

In the autumn they went for a honeymoon trip to Fontainebleau.
It was there that the strange scene took place which is mentioned
in _Elle et Lui_. One evening when they were in the forest, Musset had
an extraordinary hallucination, which he has himself described:

_Dans tin bois, sur une bruyere,
Au pied d'un arbre vint s'asseoir
Un jeune homme vetu de noir
Qui me ressemnblail comme un frere.

le lui demandais mon chemin,
Il tenait un luth d'ue main,
De l'autre un bouquet d'eglantine.
Il me fit tin salut d'ami
Et, se detournant a demu,
Me montra du doigt la colline._

He really saw this "double," dressed in black, which was to visit
him again later on. His _Nuit de decembre_ was written from it.

They now wanted to see Italy together. Musset had already written
on Venice; he now wanted to go there. Madame de Musset objected to this,
but George Sand promised so sincerely that she would be a mother
to the young man that finally his own mother gave her consent.
On the evening of December 12, 1833, Paul de Musset accompanied
the two travellers to the mail-coach. On the boat from Lyons
to Avignon they met with a big, intel-

ligent-looking man. This was Beyle-Stendhal, who was then Consul
at Civita-Vecchia. He was on his way to his post. They enjoyed
his lively conversation, although he made fun of their illusions
about Italy and the Italian character. He made fun, though,
of everything and of every one, and they felt that he was only being
witty and trying to appear unkind. At dinner he drank too much,
and finished by dancing round the table in his great fur-

lined boots. Later on he gave them some specimens of his
obscene conversation, so that they were glad to continue
their journey without him.

On the 28th the travellers reached Florence. The aspect of this
city and his researches in the _Chroniques florentines_ supplied
the poet with the subject for _Lorenzaccio_. It appears that
George Sand and Musset each treated this subject, and that a
_Lorenzaccio_ by George Sand exists. I have not read it, but I
prefer Musset's version. They reached Venice on January 19, 1834,
and put up at the Hotel Danieli. By this time they were at loggerheads.

The cause of their quarrel and disagreement is not really known,
and the activity of retrospective journalists has not succeeded
in finding this out. George Sand's letters only give details
about their final quarrel. On arriving, George Sand was ill,
and this exasperated Musset. He was annoyed, and declared that
a woman out of sorts was very trying. There are good reasons
for believing that he had found her very trying for some time.
He was very elegant and she a learned "white blackbird."
He was capricious and she a placid, steady _bourgeois_ woman,
very hard-working and very regular in the midst of her irregularity.
He used to call her "personified boredom, the dreamer, the silly woman,
the nun," when he did not use terms which we cannot transcribe.
The climax was when he said to her: "I was mistaken, George, and I beg
your pardon, for I do not love you."

Wounded and offended, she replied: "We do not love each other
any longer, and we never really loved each other."

They therefore took back their independence. This is a point to note,
as George Sand considered this fact of the greatest importance,
and she constantly refers to it. She was from henceforth free,
as regarded her companion.

Illness kept them now at Venice. George Sand's illness first and then
Musset's alarming malady. He had high fever, accompanied by chest
affection and attacks of delirium which lasted six consecutive hours,
during which it took four men to hold him.

George Sand was an admirable nurse. This must certainly
be acknowledged. She sat up with him at night and she nursed
him by day, and, astonishing woman that she was, she was also
able to work and to earn enough to pay their common expenses.
This is well known, but I am able to give another proof of it,
in the letters which George Sand wrote from Venice to Buloz.
These letters have been communicated to me by Madame Pailleron,
_nee_ Buloz, and by Madame Landouzy, _veuve_ Buloz, whom I thank for the
public and for myself. The following are a few of the essential passages:

"February 4.
_Read this when you are alone._

MY DEAR BULOZ,--Your reproaches reach me at a miserable moment. If you
have received my letter, you already know that I do not deserve them.
A fortnight ago I was well again and working. Alfred was working too,
although he was not very well and had fits of feverishness.
About five days ago we were both taken ill, almost at the same time.
I had an attack of dysentery, which caused me horrible suffering.
I have not yet recovered from it, but I am strong enough, anyhow,
to nurse him. He was seized with a nervous and inflammatory fever,
which has made such rapid progress that the doctor tells me he does
not know what to think about it. We must wait for the thirteenth
or fourteenth day before knowing whether his life is in danger.
And what will this thirteenth or fourteenth day be? Perhaps his
last one? I am in despair, overwhelmed with fatigue, suffering horribly,
and awaiting who knows what future? How can I give myself up
to literature or to anything in the world at such a time? I only
know that our entire fortune, at present, consists of sixty francs,
that we shall have to spend an enormous amount at the chemist's,
for the nurse and doctor, and that we are at a very expensive hotel.
We were just about to leave it and go to a private house.
Alfred cannot be moved now, and even if everything should go well,
he probably cannot be moved for a month. We shall have to pay one
term's rent for nothing, and we shall return to France, please God.
If my ill-luck continues, and if Alfred should die, I can assure
you that I do not care what happens after to me. If God allows
Alfred to recover, I do not know how we shall pay the expenses of his
illness and of his return to France. The thousand francs that you
are to send me will not suffice, and I do not know what we shall do.
At any rate, do not delay sending that, as, by the time it arrives,
it will be more than necessary. I am sorry about the annoyance you
are having with the delay for publishing, but you can now judge
whether it is my fault. If only Alfred had a few quiet days,
I could soon finish my work. But he is in a frightful state
of delirium and restlessness. I cannot leave him an instant.
I have been nine hours writing this letter. Adieu, my friend,
and pity me.


"Above everything, do not tell any one, not any one in the world,
that Alfred is ill. If his mother heard (and it only needs two
persons for telling a secret to all Paris) she would go mad.
If she has to be told, let who will undertake to tell her, but if
in a fortnight Alfred is out of danger, it is useless for her to
grieve now. Adieu."

"February 13, 1834.

"My friend, Alfred is saved. There has been
no fresh attack, and we have nearly reached the fourteenth day
without the improvement having altered. After the brain affection
inflammation of the lungs declared itself, and this rather alarmed
us for two days. . . . He is extremely weak at present,
and he wanders occasionally. He has to be nursed night and day.
Do not imagine, therefore, that I am only making pretexts for the
delay in my work. I have not undressed for eight nights. I sleep
on a sofa, and have to get up at any minute. In spite of this,
ever since I have been relieved in my mind about the danger,
I have been able to write a few pages in the mornings while he
is resting. You may be sure tht I should like to be able to take
advantage of this time to rest myself. Be assured, my friend,
that I am not short of courage, nor yet of the will to work.
You are not more anxious than I am that I should carry out
my engagements. You know that a debt makes me smart like a wound.
But you are friend enough to make allowances for my situation and
not to leave me in difficulties. I am spending very wretched days
here at this bedside, for the slightest sound, the slightest movement
causes me constant terror. In this disposition of mind I shall
not write any light works. They will be heavy, on the contrary,
like my fatigue and my sadness.

"Do not leave me without money, I beseech you, or I do not know what
will happen to me. I spend about twenty francs a day in medicine
of all sorts. We do not know how to keep him alive. . . ."

These letters give the lie to some of the gossip that has been
spread abroad with regard to the episode of the Hotel Danieli.
And I too, thanks to these letters, shall have put an end to a legend!
In the second volume of Wladimir Karenine's work on George Sand,
on page 61, we have the following words--

"Monsieur Plauchut tells us that, according to Buloz, Musset had
been enticed into a gambling hell during his stay in Venice,
and had lost about four hundred pounds there. The imprudent young
man could not pay this debt of honour, and he never would have been
able to do so. He had to choose between suicide or dishonour.
George Sand did not hesitate a moment. She wrote at once to
the manager of the _Revue_, asking him to advance the money."
And this debt was on her shoulders for a long time.

The facts of the case are as follows, according to a letter from
George Sand to Buloz: "I beseech you, as a favour, to pay Alfred's
debt and to write to him that it is all settled. You cannot imagine
the impatience and the disturbance that this little matter cause him.
He speaks to me of it every minute, and begs me every day to write
to you about it. He owes these three hundred and sixty francs
(L14 8_s_.) to a young man he knows very little and who might talk
of it to people. . . . You have already advanced much larger
sums to him. He has always paid you back, and you are not afraid
that this would make you bankrupt. If, through his illness, he should
not be able to work for a long time, my work could be used for that,
so be at ease. . . . Do this, I beseech you, and write him a short
letter to ease his mind at once. I will then read it to him, and this
will pacify one of the torments of his poor head. Oh, my friend,
if you only knew what this delirium is like! What sublime and
awful things he has said, and then what convulsions and shouts!
I do not know how he has had strength enough to pull through and
how it is that I have not gone mad myself. Adieu, adieu, my friend."

There really was a gambling debt, then, but we do not know exactly
where it was contracted. It amounted to three hundred and sixty francs,
which is very different from the ten thousand francs and the threat
of suicide.

And now we come to the pure folly! Musset had been attended
by a young doctor, Pietro Pagello. He was a straightforward sort
of young man, of rather slow intelligence, without much conversation,
not speaking French, but very handsome. George Sand fell in love
with him. One night, after having scribbled a letter of three pages,
she put it into an envelope without any address and gave it to Pagello.
He asked her to whom he was to give the letter. George Sand
took the envelope back and wrote on it: "To stupid Pagello."
We have this declaration, and among other things in the letter are
the following lines: "You will not deceive me, anyhow. You will not
make any idle promises and false vows. . . . I shall not, perhaps,
find in you what I have sought for in others, but, at any rate,
I can always believe that you possess it. . . . I shall
be able to interpret your meditations and make your silence
speak eloquently. . . ." This shows us clearly the kind of
charm George Sand found in Pagello. She loved him because he was stupid.

The next questions are, when did they become lovers, and how did Musset
discover their intimacy? It is quite certain that he suspected it,
and that he made Pagello confess his love for George Sand.[20] A
most extraordinary scene then took place between the three of them,
according to George Sand's own account. "Adieu, then," she wrote
to Musset, later on, "adieu to the fine poem of our sacred
friendship and of that ideal bond formed between the three of us,
when you dragged from him the confession of his love for me and
when he vowed to you that he would make me happy. Oh, that night
of enthusiasm, when, in spite of us, you joined our hands, saying:
`You love each other and yet you love me, for you have saved me,
body and soul." Thus, then, Musset had solemnly abjured his love
for George Sand, he had engaged his mistress of the night before
to a new lover, and was from henceforth to be their best friend.
Such was the ideal bond, such the sacred friendship! This may be
considered the romantic escapade.

[20] On one of George Sand's unpublished letters to Buloz
the following lines are written in the handwriting of Buloz:

"In the morning on getting up he discovered, in an adjoining room,
a tea-table still set, but with only one cup.

"`Did you have tea yesterday evening?'

"`Yes,' answered George Sand, `I had tea with the doctor.'

"`Ah, how is it that there is only one cup?'

"`The other has been taken away.'

"`No, nothing has been taken away. You drank out of the same cup.'

"`Even if that were so, you have no longer the right to trouble
about such things.'

"`I have the right, as I am still supposed to be your lover.
You ought at least to show me respect, and, as I am leaving in
three days, you might wait until I have gone to do as you like.'

"The night following this scene Musset discovered George Sand,
crouching on her bed, writing a letter.

"`What are you doing?' he asked.

"`I am reading,' she replied, and she blew out the candle.

"`If you are reading, why do you put the candle out?'

"`It went out itself: light it again.'

"Alfred de Musset lit it again.

"`Ah, so you were reading, and you have no book. Infamous woman,
you might as well say that you are writing to your lover.'
George Sand had recourse to her usual threat of leaving the house.
Alfred de Musset read her up: `You are thinking of a horrible plan.
You want to hurry off to your doctor, pretend that I am mad
and that your life is in danger. You will not leave this room.
I will keep you from anything so base. If you do go, I will put such
an epitaph on your grave that the people who read it will turn pale,'
said Alfred with terrible energy.

"George Sand was trembling and crying.

"`I no longer love you,' Alfred said scoffingly to George Sand.

"`It is the right moment to take your poison or to go and drown yourself.'

"Confession to Alfred of her secret about the doctor. Reconciliation.
Alfred's departure. George Sand's affectionate and enthusiastic letters."

Such are the famous episodes of the _tea-cup_ and _the letter_
as Buloz heard them told at the time. {The end of footnote [20]}

Musset returned in March, 1834, leaving George Sand with Pagello
in Venice. The sentimental exaggeration continued, as we see
from the letters exchanged between Musset and George Sand.
When crossing the Simplon the immutable grandeur of the Alps struck
Alusset with admiration, and he thought of his two "great friends."
His head was evidently turned by the heights from which he looked
at things. George Sand wrote to him: "I am not giving you
any message from Pagello, except that he is almost as sad as I
am at your absence." "He is a fine fellow," answered Musset.
"Tell him how much I like him, and that my eyes fill with tears
when I think of him." Later on he writes: "When I saw Pagello,
I recognized in him the better side of my own nature, but pure
and free from the irreparable stains which have ruined mine."
"Always treat me like that," writes Musset again. "It makes me
feel proud. My dear friend, the woman who talks of her new lover
in this way to the one she has given up, but who still loves her,
gives him a proof of the greatest esteem that a man can receive
from a woman. . . ." That romanticism which made a drama of the
situation in _L'Ecole des Femmes_, and another one out of that in
the _Precieuses ridicules_, excels in taking tragically situations
that belong to comedy and in turning them into the sublime.

Meanwhile George Sand had settled down in Venice with Pagello--
and with all the family, all the Pagello tribe, with the brother,
the sister, to say nothing of the various rivals who came and
made scenes. It was the vulgar, ordinary platitude of an Italian
intimacy of this kind. In spite of everything, she continued
congratulating herself on her choice.

"I have my love, my stay here with me. He never suffers, for he is
never weak or suspicious. . . . He is calm and good. . . .
He loves me and is at peace; he is happy without my having to suffer,
without my having to make efforts for his happiness. . . . As for me,
I must suffer for some one. It is just this suffering which nurtures
my maternal solicitude, etc. . . ." She finally begins to weary
of her dear Pagello's stupidity. It occurred to her to take him
with her to Paris, and that was the climax. There are some things
which cannot be transplanted from one country to another. When they had
once set foot in Paris, the absurdity of their situation appeared to them.

"From the moment that Pagello landed in France," says George Sand,
"he could not understand anything." The one thing that he
was compelled to understand was that he was no longer wanted.
He was simply pushed out. George Sand had a remarkable gift for
bringing out the characteristics of the persons with whom she had
any intercourse. This Pagello, thanks to his adventure with her,
has become in the eyes of the world a personage as comic as one
of Moliere's characters.

Musset and George Sand still cared for each other. He beseeched
her to return to him. "I am good-for-nothing," he says, "for I am
simply steeped in my love for you. I do not know whether I am alive,
whether I eat, drink, or breathe, but I know I am in love."
George Sand was afraid to return to him, and Sainte-Beuve forbade her.
Love proved stronger than all other arguments, however, and she yielded.

As soon as she was with him once more, their torture commenced again,
with all the customary complaints, reproaches and recriminations.
"I was quite sure that all these reproaches would begin again
immediately after the happiness we had dreamed of and promised
each other. Oh, God, to think that we have already arrived at this!"
she writes.

What tortured them was that the past, which they had believed to be "a
beautiful poem," now seemed to them a hideous nightmare. All this,
we read, was a game that they were playing. A cruel sort of game,
of which Musset grew more and more weary, but which to George Sand
gradually became a necessity. We see this, as from henceforth it was she
who implored Musset. In her diary, dated December 24, 1834, we read:
"And what if I rushed to him when my love is too strong for me.
What if I went and broke the bell-pull with ringing, until he opened
his door to me. Or if I lay down across the threshold until he
came out!" She cut off her magnificent hair and sent it to him.
Such was the way in which this proud woman humbled herself.
She was a prey to love, which seemed to her a holy complaint.
It was a case of Venus entirely devoted to her prey. The question is,
was this really love? "I no longer love you," she writes, "but I
still adore you. I do not want you any more, but I cannot do
without you." They had the courage to give each other up finally
in March, 1835.

It now remains for us to explain the singularity of this adventure,
which, as a matter of fact, was beyond all logic, even the logic
of passion. It is, however, readily understood, if we treat it
as a case of acute romanticism, the finest case of romanticism,
that has been actually lived, which the history of letters offers us.

The romanticism consists first in exposing one's life to the public,
in publishing one's most secret joys and sorrows. From the very
beginning George Sand and Musset took the whole circle of their
friends into their confidence. These friends were literary people.
George Sand specially informs Sainte-Beuve that she wishes her
sentimental life from thenceforth to be known. They were quite
aware that they were on show, as it were, subjects of an experiment
that would be discussed by "the gallery."

Romanticism consists next in the writer putting his life into his books,
making literature out of his emotions. The idea of putting their
adventure into a story occurred to the two lovers before the adventure
had come to an end. It was at Venice that George Sand wrote her first
_Lettres d'un voyageur_, addressed to the poet--and to the subscribers
of the _Revue des Deux Mondes_. Musset, to improve on this idea,
decides to write a novel from the episode which was still unfinished.
"I will not die," he says, "until I have written my book on you and
on myself, more particularly on you. No, my beautiful, holy fiancee,
you shall not return to this cold earth before it knows the woman
who has walked on it. No, I swear this by my youth and genius."
Musset's contributions to this literature were _Confession d'un
enfant du siecle_, _Histoire d'un merle blanc_, _Elle et Lui_,
and all that followed.

In an inverse order, romanticism consists in putting literature
into our life, in taking the latest literary fashion for our
rule of action. This is not only a proof of want of taste;
it is a most dangerous mistake. The romanticists, who had so many
wrong ideas, had none more erroneous than their idea of love,
and in the correspondence between George Sand and Musset we see
the paradox in all its beauty. It consists in saying that love leads
to virtue and that it leads there through change. Whether the idea
came originally from _her_ or from _him_, this was their common faith.

"You have said it a hundred times over," writes George Sand,
"and it is all in vain that you retract; nothing will now efface
that sentence: `Love is the only thing in the world that counts.'
It may be that it is a divine faculty which we lose and then find again,
that we must cultivate, or that we have to buy with cruel suffering,
with painful experience. The suffering you have endured through
loving me was perhaps destined, in order that you might love
another woman more easily. Perhaps the next woman may love you
less than I do, and yet she may be more happy and more beloved.
There are such mysteries in these things, and God urges us along
new and untrodden paths. Give in; do not attempt to resist.
He does not desert His privileged ones. He takes them by the hand
and places them in the midst of the sandbanks, where they are to learn
to live, in order that they may sit down at the banquet at which they
are to rest. . . ." Later on she writes as follows: "Do you
imagine that one love affair, or even two, can suffice for exhausting
or taking the freshness from a strong soul? I believed this, too,
for a long time, but I know now that it is quite the contrary.
Love is a fire that endeavours to rise and to purify itself.
Perhaps the more we have failed in our endeavours to find it,
the more apt we become to discover it, and the more we have been
obliged to change, the more conservative we shall become. Who knows?
It is perhaps the terrible, magnificent and courageous work of a
whole lifetime. It is a crown of thorns which will blossom and be
covered with roses when our hair begins to turn white.

This was pure frenzy, and yet there were two beings ready
to drink in all this pathos, two living beings to live out this
monstrous chimera. Such are the ravages that a certain conception
of literature may make. By the example we have of these two
illustrious victims, we may imagine that there were others,
and very many others, obscure and unknown individuals, but human
beings all the same, who were equally duped. There are unwholesome
fashions in literature, which, translated into life, mean ruin.
The Venice adventure shows up the truth of this in bright daylight.
This is its interest and its lesson.




We have given the essential features of the Venice adventure.
The love affair, into which George Sand and Musset had put so
much literature, was to serve literature. Writers of the romantic
school are given to making little songs with their great sorrows.
When the correspondence between George Sand and Musset appeared,
every one was surprised to find passages that were already well known.
Such passages had already appeared in the printed work of the poet
or of the authoress. An idea, a word, or an illustration used by
the one was now, perhaps, to be found in the work of the other one.

"It is I who have lived," writes George Sand, "and not an unreal
being created by my pride and my _ennui_." We all know the use
to which Musset put this phrase. He wrote the famous couplet
of Perdican with it: "All men are untruthful, inconstant, false,
chatterers, hypocritical, proud, cowardly, contemptible and sensual;
all women are perfidious, artful, vain, inquisitive and depraved.
. . . There is, though, in this world one thing which is holy
and sublime. It is the union of these two beings, imperfect and
frightful as they are. We are often deceived in our love;
we are often wounded and often unhappy, but still we love,
and when we are on the brink of the tomb we shall turn round,
look back, and say to ourselves: `I have often suffered, I have
sometimes been deceived, but I have loved. It is I who have lived,
and not an unreal being created by my pride and _ennui_.'"
Endless instances of this kind could be given. They are simply
the sign of the reciprocal influence exercised over each other by
George Sand and Musset, an influence to be traced through all their work.

This influence was of a different kind and of unequal degree. It was
George Sand who first made literature of their common recollections.
Some of these recollections were very recent ones and were impregnated
with tears. The two lovers had only just separated when George Sand
made the excursion described in the first _Lettre d'un voyageur_.
She goes along the Brenta. It is the month of May, and the meadows
are in flower. In the horizon she sees the snowy peaks of the
Tyrolese Alps standing out. The remembrance of the long hours spent
at the invalid's bedside comes back to her, with all the anguish
of the sacred passion in which she thinks she sees God's anger.
She then pays a visit to the Oliero grottoes, and once more her
wounded love makes her heart ache. She returns through Possagno,
whose beautiful women served as models for Canova. She then goes back
to Venice, and the doctor gives her a letter from the man she has
given up, the man she has sent away. These poetical descriptions,
alternating with lyrical effusions, this kind of dialogue with two voices,
one of which is that of nature and the other that of the heart,
remind us of one of Musset's _Nuits_.

The second of these _Lettres d'un voyageur_ is entirely descriptive.
It is spring-time in Venice. The old balconies are gay with flowers;
the nightingales stop singing to listen to the serenades.
There are songs to be heard at every street corner, music in the wake
of every gondola. There are sweet perfumes and love-sighs in the air.
The delights of the Venetian nights had never been described like this.
The harmony of "the three elements, water, sky and marble,"
had never been better expressed, and the charm of Venice had
never been suggested in so subtle and, penetrating a manner.
The second letter treats too of the gondoliers, and of their habits
and customs.

The third letter, telling us about the nobility and the women
of Venice, completes the impression. Just as the Pyrenees had
moved George Sand, so Italy now moved her. This was a fresh
acquisition for her palette. More than once from henceforth
Venice was to serve her for the wonderful scenery of her stories.
This is by no means a fresh note, though, in George Sand's work.
There is no essential difference, then, in her inspiration.
She had always been impressionable, but her taste was now
getting purer. Musset, the most romantic of French poets,
had an eminently classical taste. In the _Lettres de Dupuis
et Cotonet_, he defined romanticism as an abuse of adjectives.
He was of Madame de Lafayette's opinion, that a word taken out was
worth twenty pennies, and a phrase taken out twenty shillings.
In a copy of _Indiana_ he crossed out all the useless epithets.
This must have made a considerable difference to the length of the book.
George Sand was too broad-minded to be hurt by such criticism,
and she was intelligent enough to learn a lesson from it.

Musset's transformation was singularly deeper. When he started
for Venice, he was the youngest and most charming of poets,
fanciful and full of fun. "Monsieur mon gamin d'Alfred,"
George Sand called him at that time. When he returned from there,
he was the saddest of poets. For some time he was, as it were,
stunned. His very soul seemed to be bowed down with his grief.
He was astonished at the change he felt in himself, and he did
not by any means court any fresh inspiration.

_J'ai vu, le temps ou ma jeuxesse_
_Sur mes levres etait sans cesse_
_Prete a chanter comme un oiseau;_
_Mais j'ai souffert un dur martyre_
_Et le moins que j'en pourrais dire_,
_Si je lessayais sur a lyre_,
_La briserait comme un roseau_,

he writes.

In the _Nuit de Mai_, the earliest of these songs of despair,
we have the poet's symbol of the pelican giving its entrails as food
to its starving young. The only symbols that we get in this poetry
are symbols of sadness, and these are at times given in magnificent
fulness of detail. We have solitude in the _Nuit de decembre_,
and the labourer whose house has been burnt in the _Lettre a Lamartine_.
The _Nuit d'aout_ gives proof of a wild effort to give life another trial,
but in the _Auit d'octobre_ anger gets the better of him once more.

_Honte a toi, qui la premiere
M'as appris la trahison . . .!_

The question has often been asked whether the poet refers here to the
woman he loved in Venice but it matters little whether he did or not.
He only saw her through the personage who from henceforth symbolized
"woman" to him and the suffering which she may cause a man. And yet,
as this suffering became less intense, softened as it was by time,
he began to discover the benefit of it. His soul had expanded,
so that he was now in communion with all that is great in Nature
and in Art. The harmony of the sky, the silence of night, the murmur
of flowing water, Petrarch, Michel Angelo, Shakespeare, all appealed
to him. The day came when he could write:

_Un souvenir heureux est peut-etre sur terre
Plus vrai que le bonheur_.

This is the only philosophy for a conception of life which treats
love as everything for man. He not only pardons now, but he is grateful

_Je ne veux rien savoir, ni si les champ s

fleurissent, Nice quil adviendra di., simulacre

humain, Ni si ces vastes cieux eclaireront demain

Ce qu' ils ensevelissent. heure, en ce lieu,

Je me dis seulement: a cette

Un jour, je fus aime, j'aimais, elle etait belle,

Jenfouis ce tresor dans mon ame immortelle

Et je l'em porte a Dieu._

This love poem, running through all he wrote from the _Nuit de Mai_
to the _Souvenir_, is undoubtedly the most beautiful and the most
profoundly human of anything in the French language. The charming
poet had become a great poet. That shock had occurred within him
which is felt by the human being to the very depths of his soul,
and makes of him a new creature. It is in this sense that the theory
of the romanticists, with regard to the educative virtues of suffering,
is true. But it is not only suffering in connection with our love
affairs which has this special privilege. After some misfortune
which uproots, as it were, our life, after some disappointment
which destroys our moral edifice, the world appears changed to us.
The whole network of accepted ideas and of conventional opinions is
broken asunder. We find ourselves in direct contact with reality,
and the shock makes our true nature come to the front. . . . Such was
the crisis through which Musset had just passed. The man came
out of it crushed and bruised, but the poet came through it triumphant.

It has been insisted on too much that George Sand was only the
reflection of the men who had approached her. In the case of Musset
it was the contrary. Musset owed her more than she owed to him.
She transformed him by the force of her strong individuality.
She, on the contrary, only found in Musset a child, and what she
was seeking was a dominator.

She thought she had discovered him this very year 1835.

The sixth _Lettre d'un voyageur_ was addressed to Everard.
This Everard was considered by her to be a superior man.
He was so much above the average height that George Sand advised
him to sit down when he was with other men, as when standing he was
too much above them. She compares him to Atlas carrying the world,
and to Hercules in a lion's skin. But among all her comparisons,
when she is seeking to give the measure of his superiority, without ever
really succeeding in this, it is evident that the comparison she
prefers is that of Marius at Minturnae. He personifies virtue
a _l'antique:_ he is the Roman.

Let us now consider to whom all this flattery was addressed,
and who this man, worthy of Plutarch's pen, was. His name was
Michel, and he was an advocate at Bourges. He was only thirty-
seven years of age, but he looked sixty. After Sandeau and
Musset, George Sand had had enough of "adolescents." She was
very much struck with Michel, as he looked like an old man.
The size of his cranium was remarkable, or, as she said of his craniums:
"It seemed as though he had two craniums, one joined to the other."
She wrote: "The signs of the superior faculties of his mind were
as prominent at the prow of this strong vessel as those of his
generous instincts at the stern."[21] In order to understand this
definition of the "fine physique" by George Sand, we must remember
that she was very much taken up with phrenology at this time.
One of her _Lettres d'un voyageur_ was entitled Sur _Lavater et
sur une Maison deserte_. In a letter to Madame d'Agoult, George
Sand tells that her gardener gave notice to leave, and, on asking
him his reason, the simple-minded man replied: "Madame has such
an ugly head that my wife, who is expecting, might die of fright."
The head in question was a skull, an anatomical one with compartments
all marked and numbered, according to the system of Gall and Spurzheim.
In 1837, phrenology was very much in favour. In 1910, it is hypnotism,
so we have no right to judge the infatuation of another epoch.

[21] _Histoire de ma vie_.

Michel's cranium was bald. He was short, slight, he stooped,
was short-sighted and wore glasses. It is George Sand who gives
these details for his portrait. He was born of peasant parents,
and was of Jacobin simplicity. He wore a thick, shapeless inverness
and sabots. He felt the cold very much, and used to ask permission
to put on a muffler indoors. He would then take three or four
out of his pockets and put them on his head, one over the other.
In the _Lettre d'un voyageur_ George Sand mentions this crown on
Everard's head. Such are the illusions of love.

The first time she met Michel was at Bourges. She went with her
two friends, Papet and Fleury, to call on him at the hotel.
From seven o'clock until midnight he never ceased talking. It was
a magnificent night, and he proposed a walk in the town at midnight.
When they came back to his door he insisted on taking them home,
and so they continued walking backwards and forwards until four in
the morning. He must have been an inveterate chatterer to have clung
to this public of three persons at an hour when the great buildings,
with the moon throwing its white light over them and everything around,
must have suggested the majesty of silence. To people who were
amazed at this irrepressible eloquence, Michel answered ingenuously:
"Talking is thinking aloud. By thinking aloud in this way I advance
more quickly than if I thought quietly by myself." This was Numa
Roumestan's idea. "As for me," he said, "when I am not talking,
I am not thinking." As a matter of fact, Michel, like Numa,
was a native of Provence. In Paris there was a repetition of this
nocturnal and roving scene. Michel and his friends had come
to a standstill on the Saints-Peres bridge. They caught sight
of the Tuileries lighted up for a ball. Michel became excited,
and, striking the innocent bridge and its parapet with his stick,
he exclaimed: "I tell you that if you are to freshen and renew
your corrupt society, this beautiful river will first have to be red
with blood, that accursed palace will have to be reduced to ashes,
and the huge city you are now looking at will have to be a bare
strand where the family of the poor man can use the plough and build
a cottage home."

This was a fine phrase for a public meeting, but perhaps too fine
for a conversation between friends on the Saints-Peres bridge.

This was in 1835, at the most brilliant moment of Michel's career.
It was when he was taking part in the trial of the accused men
of April. After the insurrections of the preceding year at Lyons
and Paris, a great trial had commenced before the Chamber of Peers.
We are told that: "The Republican party was determined to make
use of the cross-questioning of the prisoners for accusing
the Government and for preaching Republicanism and Socialism.
The idea was to invite a hundred and fifty noted Republicans
to Paris from all parts of France. In their quality of defenders,
they would be the orators of this great manifestation."
Barb'es, Blanqui, Flocon, Marie, Raspail, Trelat and Michel
of Bourges were among these Republicans. "On the 11th of May,
the revolutionary newspapers published a manifesto in which the committee
for the defence congratulated and encouraged the accused men.
One hundred and ten signatures were affixed to this document,
which was a forgery. It had been drawn up by a few of the upholders
of the scheme, and, in order to make it appear more important, they had
affixed the names of their colleagues without their authorization.
Those who had done this then took fright, and attempted to get
out of the dangerous adventure by a public avowal. In order to
save the situation, two of the guilty party, Trelat and Michel
of Bourges, took the responsibility of the drawing up of the
manifesto and the apposition of the signatures upon themselves.
They were sentenced by the Court of Peers, Trelat to four years of
prison and Michel to a month."[22] This was the most shocking
inequality, and Michel could not forgive Trelat for getting such
a fine sentence.

[22] Thureau Dangin, _Histoire de la Monarchie de Juillet_, II. 297.

What good was one month of prison? Michel's career certainly
had been a very ordinary one. He hesitated and tacked about.
In a word, he was just a politician. George Sand tells us that he
was obliged "to accept, in theory, what he called the necessities
of pure politics, ruse, charlatanism and even untruth, concessions
that were not sincere, alliances in which he did not believe,
and vain promises." We should say that he was a radical opportunist.
To be merely an opportunist, though, is not enough for ensuring success.
There are different ways of being an opportunist. Michel had been
elected a Deputy, but he had no _role_ to play. In 1848, he could
not compete with the brilliancy of Raspail, nor had he the prestige
of Flocon. He went into the shade completely after the _coup d'etat_.
For a long time he had really preferred business to politics,
and a choice must be made when one is not a member of the Government.

It is easy to see what charmed George Sand in Michel. He was a sectarian,
and she took him for an apostle. He was brutal, and she thought
him energetic. He had been badly brought up, but she thought him
simply austere. He was a tyrant, but she only saw in him a master.
He had told her that he would have her guillotined at the first
possible opportunity. This was an incontestable proof of superiority.
She was sincere herself, and was con-

sequently not on her guard against vain boasting. He had
alarmed her, and she admired him for this, and at once incarnated
in him that stoical ideal of which she had been dreaming
for years and had not yet been able to attribute to any one else.

This is how she explained to Michel her reasons for loving him.
"I love you," she says, "because whenever I figure to myself grandeur,
wisdom, strength and beauty, your image rises up before me.
No other man has ever exercised any moral influence over me.
My mind, which has always been wild and unfettered, has never
accepted any guidance. . . . You came, and you have taught me."
Then again she says: "It is you whom I love, whom I have loved
ever since I was born, and through all the phantoms in whom
I thought, for a moment, that I had found you." According to this,
it was Michel she loved through Musset. Let us hope that she
was mistaken.

A whole correspondence exists between George Sand and Michel of Bourges.
Part of it was published not long ago in the _Revue illustree_ under
the title of _Lettres de lemmze_. None of George Sand's letters
surpass these epistles to Michel for fervent passion, beauty of form,
and a kind of superb _impudeur_. Let us take, for instance,
this call to her beloved. George Sand, after a night of work,
complains of fatigue, hunger and cold: "Oh, my lover," she cries,
"appear, and, like the earth on the return of the May sunshine,
I should be reanimated, and would fling off my shroud of ice and thrill
with love. The wrinkles of suffering would disappear from my brow,
and I should seem beautiful and young to you, for I should leap
with joy into your iron strong arms. Come, come, and I shall
have strength, health, youth, gaiety, hope. . . . I will go forth
to meet you like the bride of the song, `to her well-beloved.'"
The Well-beloved to whom this Shulamite would hasten was a bald-headed
provincial lawyer who wore spectacles and three mufflers. But it
appears that his "beauty, veiled and unintelligible to the vulgar,
revealed itself, like that of Jupiter hidden under human form,
to the women whom he loved."

We must not smile at these mythological comparisons. George Sand had,
as it were, restored for herself that condition of soul to which the
ancient myths are due. A great current of naturalist poetry circulates
through these pages. In Theocritus and in Rousard there are certain
descriptive passages. There is an analogy between them and that image
of the horse which carries George Sand along on her impetuous course.

"As soon as he catches sight of me, he begins to paw the ground
and rear impatiently. I have trained him to clear a hundred fathoms
a second. The sky and the ground disappear when he bears me along
under those long vaults formed by the apple-trees in blossom. . . .
The least sound of my voice makes him bound like a ball; the smallest
bird makes him shudder and hurry along like a child with no experience.
He is scarcely five years old, and he is timid and restive.
His black crupper shines in the sunshine like a raven's wing."
This description has all the relief of an antique figure.
Another time, George Sand tells how she has seen Phoebus throw
off her robe of clouds and rush along radiant into the pure sky.
The following day she writes: "She was eaten by the evil spirits.
The dark sprites from Erebus, riding on sombre-looking clouds,
threw themselves on her, and it was in vain that she struggled."
We might compare these passages with a letter of July 10, 1836,
in which she tells how she throws herself, all dressed as she is,
into the Indre, and then continues her course through the sunny
meadows, and with what voluptuousness she revels in all the joys
of primitive life, and imagines herself living in the beautiful
times of ancient Greece. There are days and pages when George Sand,
under the afflux of physical life, is pagan. Her genius then is
that of the greenwood divinities, who, at certain times of the year,
were intoxicated by the odour of the meadows and the sap of the woods.
If some day we were to have her complete correspondence given to us,
I should not be surprised if many people preferred it to her
letters to Musset. In the first place, it is not spoiled by that
preoccupation which the Venice lovers had, of writing literature.
Mingled with the accents of sincere passion, we do not find
extraordinary conceptions of paradoxical metaphysics. It is Nature
which speaks in these letters, and for that very reason they are none
the less sorrowful. They, too, tell us of a veritable martyrdom.
We can easily imagine from them that Michel was coarse, despotic,
faithless and jealous. We know, too, that more than once George Sand
came very near losing all patience with him, so that we can sympathize
with her when she wrote to Madame d'Agoult in July, 1836:

"I have had, my fill of great men (excuse the expression). . . .
I prefer to see them all in Plutarch, as they would not then
cause me any suffering on the human side. May they all be carved
in marble or cast in bronze, but may I hear no more about them!" _Amen_.

What disgusted George Sand with her Michel was his vanity and his
craving for adulation. In July, 1837, she had come to the end
of her patience, as she wrote to Girerd. It was one of her
peculiarities to always take a third person into her confidence.
At the time of Sandeau, this third person was Emile Regnault;
at the time of Musset, Sainte-Beuve, and now it was Girerd.
"I am tired out with my own devotion, and I have fought against
my pride with all the strength of my love. I have had nothing
but ingratitude and hardness as my recompense. I have felt my love
dying away and my soul being crushed, but I am cured at last. . . ."
If only she had had all this suffering for the sake of a great man,
but this time it was only in imaginary great man.

The influence, though, that he had had over her thought was real,
and in a certain way beneficial.

At the beginning she was far from sharing Michel's ideas,
and for some of them she felt an aversion which amounted to horror.
The dogma of absolute equality seemed an absurdity to her.
The Republic, or rather the various republics then in gestation,
appeared to her a sort of Utopia, and as she saw each of her friends
making "his own little Republic" for himself, she had not much faith
in the virtue of that form of government for uniting all French people.
One point shocked her above all others in Michel's theories.
This politician did not like artists. Just as the Revolution
did not find chemists necessary, he considered that the Republic
did not need writers, painters and musicians. These were all
useless individuals, and the Republic would give them a little
surprise by putting a labourer's spade or a shoemaker's awl into
their hands. George Sand considered this idea not only barbarous,
but silly.

Time works wonders, for we have an indisputable proof that certain
of his opinions soon became hers. This proof is the Republican
catechism contained in her letters to her son Maurice, who was then
twelve years of age. He was at the Lycee Henri IV, in the same class
as the princes of Orleans. It is interesting to read what his mother
says to him concerning the father of his young school friends.
In a letter, written in December, 1835, she says: "It is certainly true
that Louis-Philippe is the enemy of humanity. . . ." Nothing less
than that! A little later, the enemy of humanity invites the young
friends of his son Montpensier to his _chateau_ for the carnival holiday.
Maurice is allowed to accept the invitation, as he wishes to, but he
is to avoid showing that gratitude which destroys independence.
"The entertainments that Montpensier offers you are favours,"
writes this mother of the Gracchi quite gravely. If he is asked
about his opinions, the child is to reply that he is rather too
young to have opinions yet, but not too young to know what opinions
he will have when he is free to have them. "You can reply,"
says his mother, "that you are Republican by race and by nature."
She then adds a few aphorisms. "Princes are our natural enemies,"
she says; and then again: "However good-hearted the child of a king
may be, he is destined to be a tyrant." All this is certainly
a great commotion to make about her little son accepting a glass
of fruit syrup and a few cakes at the house of a schoolfellow.
But George Sand was then under the domination of "Robespierre
in person."

Michel had brought George Sand over to republicanism. Without wishing
to exaggerate the service he had rendered her by this, it appears
to me that it certainly was one, if we look at it in one way.
Rightly or wrongly, George Sand had seen in Michel the man
who devotes himself entirely to a cause of general interest.
She had learnt something in his school, and perhaps all the more
thoroughly because it was in his school. She had learnt that love
is in any case a selfish passion. She had learnt that another
object must be given to the forces of sympathy of a generous heart,
and that such an object may be the service of humanity, devotion to
an idea.

This was a turn in the road, and led the writer on to leave
the personal style for the impersonal style.

There was another service, too, which Michel had rendered to
George Sand. He had pleaded for her in her petition for separation
from her husband, and she had won her case.

Ever since George Sand had taken back her independence in 1831,
her intercourse with Dudevant had not been disagreeable. She and her
husband exchanged cordial letters. When he came to Paris, he made
no attempt to stay with his wife, lest he should inconvenience her.
"I shall put up at Hippolyte's," he says in his letter to her.
"I do not want to inconvenience you in the least, nor to be
inconvenienced myself, which is quite natural." He certainly
was a most discreet husband. When she started for Italy, he begs
her to take advantage of so good an opportunity for seeing such a
beautiful country. He was also a husband ready to give good advice.
Later on, he invited Pagello to spend a little time at Nohant.
This was certainly the climax in this strange story.

During the months, though, that the husband and wife were together,
again at Nohant, the scenes began once more. Dudevant's irritability
was increased by the fact that he was always short of money,
and that he was aware of his own deplorable shortcomings as a financial
administrator. He had made speculations which had been disastrous.
He was very credulous, as so many suspicious people are, and he
had been duped by a swindler in an affair of maritime armaments.
He had had all the more faith in this enterprise because a picture
of the boat had been shown him on paper. He had spent ninety
thousand francs of the hundred thousand he had had, and was now
living on his wife's income. Something had to be decided upon.
George Sand paid his debts first, and the husband and wife then signed
an agreement to the effect that their respective property should
be separated. Dudevant regretted having signed this afterwards,
and it was torn up after a violent scene which took place before
witnesses in October, 1835. The pretext of this scene had been
an order given to Maurice. In a series of letters, which have never
hitherto been published, George Sand relates the various incidents
of this affair. We give some of the more important passages.
The following letter is to her half-brother Hippolyte, who used
to be Casimir's drinking companion.

_"To Hippolyte Chatiron._

"My friend, I am about to tell you some news which will reach
you indirectly, and that you had better hear first from me.
Instead of carrying out our agreement pleasantly and loyally,
Casimir is acting with the most insane animosity towards me.
Without my giving him any reason for such a thing, either by my
conduct or my manner of treating him, he endeavoured to strike me.
He was prevented by five persons, one of whom was Dutheil, and he then
fetched his gun to shoot me. As you can imagine, he was not allowed
to do this.

"On account of such treatment and of his hatred, which amounts to madness,
there is no safety for me in a house to which he always has the right
to come. I have no guarantee, except his own will and pleasure,
that he will keep our agreement, and I cannot remain at the mercy
of a man who behaves so unreasonably and indelicately to me.
I have therefore decided to ask for a legal separation, and I shall
no doubt obtain this. Casimir made this frightful scene the evening
before leaving for Paris. On his return here, he found the house empty,
and me staying at Dutheil's, by permission of the President of
La Chatre. He also found a summons awaiting him on the mantelshelf.
He had to make the best of it, for he knew it was no use attempting
to fight against the result of his own folly, and that, by holding out,
the scandal would all fall on him. He made the following stipulations,
promising to adhere to them. Duthell was our intermediary.
I am to allow him a pension of 3,800 francs, which, with the 1,200
francs income that he now has, will make 5,000 francs a year for him.
I think this is all straightforward, as I am paying for the education
of the two children. My daughter will remain under my guidance,
as I understand. My son will remain at the college where he now is
until he has finished his education. During the holidays he will
spend a month with his father and a month with me. In this way,
there will be no contest. Dudevant will return to Paris very soon,
without making any opposition, and the Court will pronounce the
separation in default."[23]

[23] Communicated by M. S. Rocheblave.

The following amusing letter on the same subject was written
by George Sand to Adolphe Duplomb in the _patois_ peculiar to Berry:


"You have been misinformed about what took place at La Chatre.
Duthell never quarrelled with the Baron of Nohant-Vic. This is
the true story. The baron took it into his head to strike me.
Dutheil objected. Fleury and Papet also objected. The baron went
to search for his gun to kill every one. Every one did not want
to be killed, and so the baron said: `Well, that's enough then,'
and began to drink again. That was how it all happened. No one
quarrelled with him. But I had had enough. As I do not care to earn
my living and then leave _my substance_ in the hands of the _diable_
and be bowed out of the house every year, while the village hussies
sleep in my beds and bring their fleas into my house, I just said:
`I ain't going to have any more of that,' and I went and found
the big judge of La Chatre, and I says, says I: `That's how it is.'
And then he says, says he: `All right.' And so he unmarried us.
And I am not sorry. They say that the baron will make an appeal.
I ain't knowin'. We shall see. If he does, he'll lose everything.
And that's the whole story."[24]

[24] Communicated by M. Charles Duplomb.

The case was pleaded in March, 1836, at La Chatre, and in July
at Bourges. The Court granted the separation, and the care
of the children was attributed to George Sand.

This was not the end of the affair, though. In September, 1837,
George Sand was warned that Dudevant intended to get Maurice away
from her. She sent a friend on whom she could count to take her
boy to Fontainebleau, and then went herself to watch over him.
In the mean time, Dudevant, not finding his son at Nohant, took Solange
away with him, in spite of the child's tears and the resistance
of the governess. George Sand gave notice to the police, and,
on discovering that her little daughter was sequestered at Guillery,
near Nerac, she went herself in a post-chaise to the sub-prefect,
a charming young man, who was no other than Baron Hauss-

mann. On hearing the story, he went himself with her, and,
accompanied by the lieutenant of the constabulary and the sheriff's
officer on horseback, laid siege to the house at Guillery in which
the young girl was imprisoned. Dudevant brought his daughter
to the door and handed her over to her mother, threatening at
the same time to take Maurice from her by legal authority.
The husband and wife then separated . . . delighted with each other,
according to George Sand. They very rarely met after this affair.
Dudevant certainly did not impress people very favourably.
After the separation, when matters were being finally settled,
he put in a claim for fifteen pots of jam and an iron frying-pan.
All this seems very petty.

The first use George Sand made of the liberty granted to her
by the law, in 1836, was to start off with Maurice and Solange
for Switzerland to join her friends Franz Liszt and the Comtesse
d'Agoult. George Sand had made Liszt's acquaintance through Musset.
Liszt gave music-lessons to Alfred's sister, Herminie. He was born
in 1811, so that he was seven years younger than George Sand.
He was twenty-three at the time he first met her, and their friendship
was always platonc. They had remarkable affinities of nature.
Liszt had first thought of becoming a priest. His religious
fervour was gradually transformed into an ardent love of humanity.
His early education had been neglected, and he now read eagerly.
He once asked Monsieur Cremieux, the advocate, to teach him "the
whole of French literature." On relating this to some one,
Cremieux remarked: "Great confusion seems to reign in this young
man's mind." He had been wildly excited during the movement of 1830,
greatly influenced by the Saint-Simon ideas, and was roused to enthusiasm
by Lamennals, who had just published the _Paroles d'un Croyant_.
After reading Leone Leoni, he became an admirer of George Sand.
Leone Leoni is a transposition of Manon Lescaut into the romantic style.
A young girl named Juliette has been seduced by a young seigneur,
and then discovers that this man is an abominable swindler.
If we try to imagine all the infamous things of which an _apache_
would be capable, who at the same time is devoted to the women
of the pavement, we then have Leone Leoni. Juliette, who is
naturally honest and straightforward, has a horror of all the
atrocities and shameful things she sees. And yet, in spite of all,
she comes back to Leone Leoni, and cannot love any one else.
Her love is stronger than she is, and her passion sweeps away all
scruples and triumphs over all scruples. The difference between
the novel of the eighteenth century, which was so true to life,
and this lyrical fantasy of the nineteenth century is very evident.
Manon and Des Grieux always remained united to each other, for they were
of equal value. Everything took place in the lower depths of society,
and in the mire, as it were, of the heart. You have only to make a good
man of Des Grieux, or a virtuous girl of Manon, and it is all over.
The transposing of Leone Leoni is just this, and the romanticism of it
delighted Liszt.

He had just given a fine example of applying romanticism to life.
Marie d'Agoult, _nee_ de Flavigny, had decided, one fine day,
to leave her husband and daughter for the sake of the passion
that was everything to her. She accordingly started for Geneva,
and Liszt joined her there.

Between these two women a friendship sprang up, which was due
rather to a wish to like each other than to a real attraction
or real fellow-feeling. The Comtesse d'Agoult, with her blue eyes,
her slender figure, and somewhat ethereal style, was a veritable Diana,
an aristocrat and a society woman. George Sand was her exact opposite.
But the Comtesse d'Agoult had just "sacrificed all the vanities of the
world for the sake of an artist," so that she deserved consideration.
The stay at Geneva was gay and animated. The _Piffoels_ (George
Sand and her children) and the _Fellows_ (Liszt and his pupil,
Hermann Cohen) enjoyed scandalizing the whole hotel by their
Bohemian ways. They went for an excursion to the frozen lake.
At Lausanne Liszt played the organ. On returning to Paris the
friends did not want to separate. In October, 1836, George Sand
took up her abode on the first floor of the Hotel de France,
in the Rue Laffitte, and Liszt and the Corntesse d'Agoult took a room
on the floor above. The trio shared, a drawing-room between them,
but in reality it became more the Comtesse d'Agoult's _salon_ than
George Sand's. Lamennais, Henri Heine, Mickiewicz, Michel of Bourges
and Charles Didier were among their visitors, and we are told that
this _salon_, improvised in a hotel was "a reunion of the _elite_,
over which the Comtesse d'Agoult presided with exquisite grace."
She was a true society woman, a veritable mistress of her home, one of
those who could transform a room in a hotel, a travelling carriage,
or even a prison into that exquisite thing, so dear to French polite
society of yore--a _salon_.

Among the _habitues_ of Madame d'Agoult's _salon_ was Chopin.
This is a new chapter in George Sand's life, and a little later
on we shall be able to consider, as a whole, the importance of this
intercourse with great artists as regards her intellectual development.

Before finishing our study of this epoch in her life, we must notice
how much George Sand's talent had developed and blossomed out.
_Mauprat_ was published in 1837, and is undoubtedly the first of
her _chefs-d'oeuvre_. In her uninterrupted literary production,
which continued regularly in spite of and through all the storms
of her private life, there is much that is strange and second-rate
and much that is excellent. _Jacques_ is an extraordinary piece
of work. It was written at Venice when she was with Pagello.
George Sand declared that she had neither put herself nor Musset
into this book. She was nevertheless inspired by their case,
and she merely transposed their ideal of renunciation.
_Andre_ may be classed among the second-rate work. It is the story
of a young noble who seduces a girl of the working-class. It is
a souvenir of Berry, written in a home-sick mood when George Sand
was at Venice. _Simon_ also belongs to the second-rate category.
The portrait of Michel of Bourges can easily be traced in it.
George Sand had intended doing more for Michel than this.
She composed a revolutionary novel in three volumes,
in his honour, entitled: _Engelwald with the high forehead_.
Buloz neither cared for _Engelwald_ nor for his high forehead,
and this novel was never published.

According to George Sand, when she wrote _Mauprat_ her idea was
the rehabilitation of marriage. "I had just been petitioning
for a separation," she says. I had, until then, been fighting
against the abuses of marriage, and, as I had never developed my
ideas sufficiently, I had given every one the notion that I
despised the essential principles of it. On the contrary,
marriage really appeared to me in all the moral beauty of those
principles, and in my book I make my hero, at the age of eighty,
proclaim his faithfulness to the only woman he has ever loved."

"She is the only woman I have ever loved," says Bernard de Mauprat.
"No other woman has ever attracted my attention or been embraced
by me. I am like that. When I love, I love for ever, in the past,
in the present and in the future."

_Mauprat_, then, according to George Sand, was a novel with a purpose,
just as _Indiana_ was, although they each had an opposite purpose.
Fortunately it is nothing of the kind. This is one of those
explanations arranged afterwards, peculiar sometimes to authors.
The reality about all this is quite different.

In this book George Sand had just given the reins to her imagination,
without allowing sociological preoccupations to spoil everything.
During her excursions in Berry, she had stopped to gaze at the ruins
of an old feudal castle. We all know the power of suggestion contained
in those old stones, and how wonderfully they tell stories of the past
they have witnessed to those persons who know how to question them.
The remembrance of the _chateau_ of Roche Mauprat came to the mind
of the novelist. She saw it just as it stood before the Revolution,
a fortress, and at the same time a refuge for the wild lord and
his eight sons, who used to sally forth and ravage the country.
In French narrative literature there is nothing to surpass the
first hundred pages in which George Sand introduces us to the
burgraves of central France. She is just as happy when she takes
us to Paris with Bernard de Mauprat, to Paris of the last days
of the old _regime_. She introduces us to the society which she
had learnt to know through the traditions of her grandmother.
It is not only Nature, but history, which she uses as a setting
for her story. How cleverly, too, she treats the analysis which
is the true subject of the book, that of education through love.
We see the untamed nature of Bernard de Mauprat gradually giving way
under the influence of the noble and delicious Edmee.

There are typical peasants, too, in _Mauprat_. We have Marcasse,
the mole-catcher, and Patience, the good-natured Patience, the rustic
philosopher, well up in Epictetus and in Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
who has gone into the woods to live his life according to the laws
of Nature and to find the wisdom of the primitive days of the world.
We are told that, during the Revolution, Patience was a sort
of intermediary between the _chateau_ and the cottage, and that he
helped in bringing about the reign of equity in his district.
It is to be hoped this was so.

In any case, it is very certain that we come across this Patience
again in Russian novels with a name ending in _ow_ or _ew_.
This is a proof that if the personage seems somewhat impossible,
he was at any rate original, new and entertaining.

We hear people say that George Sand is no longer read. It is to be
hoped that _Mauprat_ is still read, otherwise our modern readers miss
one of the finest stories in the history of novels. This, then,
is the point at which we have arrived in the evolution of George
Sand's genius. There may still be modifications in her style,
and her talent may still be refreshed under various influences,
but with _Mauprat_ she took her place in the first rank of great




We have passed over George Sand's intercourse with Liszt
and Madame d'Agoult very rapidly. One of Balzac's novels
gives us an opportunity of saying a few more words about it.

Balzac had been introduced to George Sand by Jules Sandeau. At the time
of her rupture with his friend, Balzac had sided entirely with him.
In the _Lettres a l'Etrangere_, we see the author of the _Comedie
humaine_ pouring out his indignation with the blue stocking, who was
so cruel in her love, in terms which were not extremely elegant.
Gradually, and when he knew more about the adventure, his anger
cooled down. In March, 1838, he gave Madame Zulma Carraud an
account of a visit to Nohant. He found his comrade, George Sand,
in her dressing-gown, smoking a cigar by her fireside after dinner.

"She had some pretty yellow slippers on, ornamented with fringe,
some fancy stockings and red trousers. So much for the moral side.
Physically, she had doubled her chin like a canoness. She had
not a single white hair, in spite of all her fearful misfortunes;
her dusky complexion had not changed. Her beautiful eyes were
just as bright, and she looked just as stupid as ever when she
was thinking. . . ."

This is George Sand in her thirty-fifth year, as she was at the time
of the fresh adventure we are about to relate.

Balzac continues by giving us a few details about the life of
the authoress. It was very much like his own, except that Balzac
went to bed at six o'clock and got up at midnight, and George
Sand went to bed at six in the morning and got up at noon.
He adds the following remark, which shows us the state of her feelings:

"She is now in a very quiet retreat, and condemns both marriage and love,
because she has had nothing but disappointment in both herself.
Her man was a rare one, that was really all."

In the course of their friendly conversation, George Sand gave him
the subject for a novel which it would be rather awkward for her
to write. The novel was to be _Galeriens_ or _Amours forces_.
These "galley-slaves" of love were Liszt and the Comtesse d'Agoult,
who had been with George Sand at Chamonix, Paris and Nohant.
It was very evident that she could not write the novel herself.

Balzac accordingly wrote it, and it figures in the _Comedie humaine
as Beatrix_. Beatrix is the Comtesse d'Agoult, the inspirer,
and Liszt is the composer Conti.

"You have no idea yet of the awful rights that a love which no
longer exists gives to a man over a woman. The convict is always
under the domination of the companion chained to him. I am lost,
and must return to the convict prison," writes Balzac in this book.
Then, too, there is no mistaking his portrait of Beatrix.
The fair hair that seems to give light, the forehead which
looks transparent, the sweet, charming face, the long, wonderfully
shaped neck, and, above and beyond all, that air of a princess,
in all this we can easily recognize "the fair, blue-eyed Peri."
Not content with bringing this illustrious couple into his novel,
Balzac introduces other contemporaries. Claude Vignon (who, although
his special work was criticism, made a certain place for himself
in literature) and George Sand herself appear in this book.
She is Felicite des Touches, and her pen name is Camille Maupin.
"Camille is an artist," we are told; "she has genius, and she leads
an exceptional life such as could not be judged in the same way
as an ordinary existence." Some one asks how she writes her books,
and the answer is: "Just in the same way as you do your
woman's work, your netting or your tapestry." She is said to have
the intelligence of an angel and even more heart than talent.
With her fixed, set gaze, her dark complexion and her masculine ways,
she is the exact antithesis of the fair Beatrix. She is constantly
being compared to the latter, and is evidently preferred to her.
It is very evident from whom Balzac gets his information, and it
is also evident that the friendship between the two women has
cooled down.

The cause of the coolness between them was George Sand's
infatuation for Chopin, whom she had known through Liszt and Madame
d'Agoult. George Sand wrote to Liszt from Nohant, in March, 1837:
"Tell Chopin that I hope he will come with you. Marie cannot
live without him, and I adore him." In April she wrote to Madame
d'Agoult: "Tell Chopin that I idolize him." We do not know whether
Madame d'Agoult gave the message, but she certainly replied:
"Chopin coughs with infinite grace. He is an irresolute man.
The only thing about him that is permanent is his cough."
This is certainly very feminine in its ferociousness.

At the time when he came into George Sand's life, Chopin,
the composer and virtuoso, was the favourite of Parisian _salons_,
the pianist in vogue. He was born in 1810, so that he was then
twenty-seven years of age. His success was due, in the first place,
to his merits as an artist, and nowhere is an artist's success
so great as in Paris. Chopin's delicate style was admirably
suited to the dimensions and to the atmosphere of a _salon_.[25]

[25] As regards Chopin, I have consulted a biography by Liszt,
a study by M. Camille Bellaigue and the volume by M. Elie Poiree
in the _Collection des musiciens celebres_, published by H. Laurens.

He confessed to Liszt that a crowd intimidated him, that he


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