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of moral tone which, amidst all the immoralities of her novels, makes itself felt when we contrast her writings with those of the ordinary loose novelists of modern France, is the hearty contempt which she entertains for the kind of lovers who form the heroes of worse novelists. The blasé, captivating, polished Parisians to whom the heroines of her contemporaries are wont to sacrifice their easy virtue, are invariably represented by George Sand as the banes of women, as the characters in the tale least to be sympathised with, as the foils of the men who can feel true love. M. de Ramière, in Indiana, is exactly the lover of the common French novel. He wins Indiana's heart; but the whole point of the book is to show his immeasurable inferiority to her, and the pettiness of his timid selfishness. Indiana has that degree of purity and sincerity which makes her loathe the thought of deceiving her husband, and prompts her to throw herself entirely on her lover, if she throws herself on him at all. He is busy with a thousand other thoughts— politics, success in society, advancement in the world. She has no thought but for him. She makes a great effort; she determines to brave every thing, to suffer every thing, and to give herself wholly to her lover. She leaves her husband's house, and in the middle of the night flies to Raymon. He receives her with earnest entreaties to be allowed to get her a cab, and to send her back before any of the servants can have noticed her absence. With him is contrasted Sir Ralph; an impassible unimpressive character, but possessing such tenacity of affection, and a love so complete, so regardless of consequences, that he loves her equally whether she is chaste or unchaste, kind to him or unkind, and is as ready to die with her in the joint suicide which they take four months to carry out, as to live with her in the glorified hut at the top of an inaccessible mountain, which is their ultimate destination. So too in Valentine, M. de Lansac, the lover whom society forces on Valentine, is contrasted with Bénédict, the lover against whom society warns her, not because she belongs to another man, but because he is poor and ignoble. According to the standard of society, M. de Lansac behaves admirably to Valentine. He is too much a man of the world either to notice or to interfere with her love for Bénédict further than to put on a little stronger screw when he is negotiating money-matters with her and her friends. He lets her know, but with the most cutting politeness, and the most aggravating considerateness, that he is perfectly aware of her secret; but when she implores him to protect her against herself, he tells her that she had better enjoy her first love as much as she can, for she will find that, as she begins to change her lovers, second and third
passions are less and less delightful. In Bénédict there may perhaps be something overstrained, but at any rate he is so drawn that he gives the impression of a simple earnestness of affection. It would be, of course, absurd to say that such contrasts prove any thing as to Parisian society. George Sand, like every other novelist, arranges her puppets as she pleases; and it is as easy to make all dandy lovers heartless as to make all humbler lovers boors. But the puppets indicate the direction in which their mistress moves them. She handles them so as to show her ideal of affection; and putting aside all collateral questions as to the manner in which it is worked out, we must admit that, as compared with the ideal of most French novelists, hers is a very good ideal.
"I think," she says in one of her tales, "that a noble passion ought to be defined as that which elevates us and strengthens us in beauty of sentiment and grandeur of ideas: a bad passion as that which leads us to egotism, to fear, to all the pettinesses of a blind instinct. Every passion, therefore, is lawful or criminal according as it produces the one or the other result; although society, which is not the true expression of the wishes of man, often sanctifies the bad passion, and proscribes the good." This passage, which may be taken as a formula of her whole creed on the subject of love, occurs in Horace, a very singular and not very pleasing tale, the drift of which is to exhibit another kind of man's love falling short of the ideal. The whole story is an exemplification of the utter abandonment of the conventionalities of society in which George Sand places herself when striking the balance of virtues and vices; for the good character of the book is a grisette who acts throughout with the greatest nobleness, discretion, and selfrespect, and the two lovers are a barmaid and a student. Surveying the world to find the desired kind of love, George Sand noted a counterfeit which evidently filled her with a mixture of pity and indignation. This was the love of a man whose fancy only is touched, whose vanity is pleased, who feels it due to himself to have a mistress, and a proper result of his cultivated taste and varied education that he should look on her in a great many lights, all highly poetical. For the moment he is sincere; but there is no depth in a feeling at the bottom of which lies a shallow egotism. When Horace read Alfred de Musset, he insisted on picturing Marthe-a simple, good-looking, tender-hearted, stupid country girl-as one of the dangerous filles d'Eve of that writer. The next day, after perusing a feuilleton of Jules Janin, she had to become in his eyes an elegant and coquettish woman of fashion. Then, after he had perused the romances of Dumas, she was a tigress, whom he must be a
tiger himself to manage. And, after he had finished Balzac's Peau de Chagrin, she was a mysterious beauty, whose every look and every word had a profound meaning. The issue of this versatile passion is, that Horace gets tired of his mistress, and behaves so cruelly to her that she leaves him, and he thinks she has committed suicide. The flutterings of temporary remorse, which this event produces in his mind, are stilled by the advances of a patrician coquette and the advice of a patrician debauchee, who explains to him that the suicide of his mistress will be the greatest of advantages to him, and make him irresistible with the fair sex. In the background of the story there is the dim figure of a heavenly-minded waiter, who has nourished a deep love for Marthe through all the vicissitudes of her unchastity, and who, if he is not allowed to adorn the tale by very frequent intervention, points the moral by the superiority which his steady flame evinces over the evanescent scintillations of the student's love.
In Lucrezia Floriani, the imperfect lover is viewed from a very different side. Prince Karol loves well enough, but not wisely enough. We know from the autobiography what was the character attempted to be drawn under this name. have traced," says the authoress, "in Prince Karol the character of a man limited in his nature, exclusive in his feelings, exclusive in his requirements." He represents the affections of a man without manliness. The leading thought of the
writer seems to have been, the impossibility of a woman being happy with a love which is in its essential qualities feminine. She finds no strength to support, no calmness to tranquillise her. Karol's love is intense, constant, unselfish. A goodhearted cheerful man of the world is introduced as a rival, in order to exhibit a contrast. Salvator, we read, sought for happiness in love; and when he could not find it, his love vanished gently away. But Karol loved for the sake of loving; no suffering could repel him. And yet he killed his mistress, a woman of large overflowing heart. His eagerness to absorb the whole of her being in return for the surrender of his own, cut her off from every enjoyment, and at length from the possibility of living. He was jealous of her performing the simplest action for another. "If she smelt a flower, if she picked up a stone, if she caught a butterfly to add to her child's collection, if she caressed her dog, he would murmur to himself, 'Every thing pleases and amuses her; she admires and loves every thing; she cannot, then, love me,-me, who do not see or admire, or cherish, or understand aught in the world but her. We are separated by an abyss.' His love is aptly compared to a process of killing by sticking innumerable pins into the flesh;
and his mistress sinks under the agony of an endless series of trifling irritations.
It is much easier to paint the wrong love than the right; but in one tale George Sand has attempted to sketch an affection which is equally profound and durable. Mauprat is one of the best of her novels, and Edmée is perhaps the best of her heroines. The circumstances of the story are so exceptional, that the difficulties of portraying a worthy love in man are hardly met. It is true that Bernard tells the tale when he is eighty, and can say that from his boyhood to his old age he never loved any one else, nor ever for a moment ceased to love Edmée; but the plot, which turns on the moral education of a fierce undisciplined boy, under the guidance of a refined highspirited girl, enables the writer to avoid drawing the perfection of love by drawing the imperfection of an unformed character. What Bernard was after his training was finished and he had won his wife, we are not told; we are only asked to watch how his passion, at first brutal and instinctive, becomes gradually heightened and purified. But we must not examine such points too narrowly. It is seldom that a novelist keeps any purpose in view throughout, and we look for something else in a story than philosophical completeness. And certainly the picture of the two cousins Edmée and Bernard is exquisitely drawn, and the gradual progress of the education conceived with great nicety of thought and worked out with admirable skill. Edmée, caught in the robbers' stronghold of Roche-Mauprat, in order to save her honour purchases her deliverance from disgraceful violence by a vow never to belong to any one but Bernard, then a hot-headed young savage. His first step in education is the victory over himself which lets his cousin go free; and the nature of the victory shows the extremely low moral point at which he begins. His next stage is the determining to obey her wishes-not to get drunk, and not to contradict her father. Then he discovers that she recoils from the childish savage to whom she has bound herself, although she secretly loves him; and he comprehends that she will kill herself rather than give herself to him before he has learnt the lesson of which he stands in such pressing need. The comprehension of this, the realisation to himself of the fact that a woman would rather die than allow herself to be brutalised to his level, is the great awakening force which stimulates him to a new life. It is impossible to describe the beauty with which the action of Edmée's influence is conveyed. Mauprat is not written according to an English model. The handling is broad. George Sand tries to imagine clearly, and she certainly expresses openly, what would be the real feelings of a hot-blooded boy.
She neither shrinks from the subject of physical sensations, nor veils it in the obscurity of penny-a-lining euphemisms. But if she is so far truer to nature than would here be thought decorous, she is also true to nature in a manner that is really admirable. She is true to the power of purity, to the sustaining force of generous thoughts, and to the docility of a passion great enough to be humble.
When, in a love-story, one of the lovers is a married woman, there is undoubtedly a disagreeable aspect in which the progress of a wife's passion may be viewed. The husband is very much in the way; what is to become of him? Novelists have very often solved the problem by making the husband ridiculous, or stupid, or worthless. But this is a very shallow contrivance. Suppose the husband is a worthy, honest, tenderhearted, generous man, is any regard to be shown to his feelings? And if he perceives what is going on, what is he to do? George Sand, who likes difficulties of this sort, and never recoils from any task simply because it is arduous, faces the question boldly, and in two of her novels has given us her opinions, or rather sentiments, on the subject.
In Jacques, the husband, who is in middle life, marries a young wife to whom he is passionately attached, and then sees her fascinated by the attractions of a young man of her own age. Fernande, the heroine, is a very good girl, and tries hard to please and love her husband; but she is only at ease when she is with Octave. The young pair discuss the character and conduct of the husband in a very impartial and ingenuous manner, and are most hearty in pronouncing that he is the object of their deepest respect and admiration. Still love will have its way, and the inexorable affinities impel them to combine. Jacques sees as clearly as possible what is happening. He understands that he is not wanted. He complains that society will not let him act as he would wish; it will not permit him to stand by and calmly bless the union of his wife with her paramour. So he considers that no choice is left him, and he prepares to comfort her by his suicide. But so great is his generosity, that he fears lest he should make the lovers miserable if he leaves them with the sting of thinking they have driven him to death. So, by adopting a few clever precautions, he succeeds in making them suppose that he has accidentally fallen from the cliff at the foot of which his corpse is found. This is one way of getting over the difficulty. The husband behaves most handsomely, and withdraws.
But the husband in the other novel to which we refer, Le Péché de M. Antoine, behaves better, or rather, the circumstances of the plot permit him to take the step which George