The years were over, though, for her to enjoy the variety of outside shows with all their phantasmagoria. A time comes in life, and it had already come for her, when we discover that Nature, which has seemed so varied, is the same everywhere, that we have quite near us all that we have been so far away to seek, a little of this earth, a little water and a little sky. We find, too, that we have neither the time nor the inclination to go away in search of all this when our hours are counted and we feel the end near. The essential thing then is to reserve for ourselves a little space for our meditations, between the agitations of life and that moment which alone decides everything for us.
THE GENIUS OF THE WRITER
With that maternal instinct which was so strong within her, George Sand could not do without having a child to scold, direct and take to task. The one to whom she was to devote the last ten years of her life, who needed her beneficent affection more than any of those she had adopted, was a kind of giant with hair turned back from his forehead and a thick moustache like a Norman of the heroic ages. He was just such a man as we can imagine the pirates in Duc Rollo’s boats. This descendant of the Vikings had been born in times of peace, and his sole occupation was to endeavour to form harmonious phrases by avoiding assonances.
I do not think there have been two individuals more different from each other than George Sand and Gustave Flaubert. He was an artist, and she in many respects was bourgeoise. He saw all things at their worst; she saw them better than they were. Flaubert wrote to her in surprise as follows: “In spite of your large sphinx eyes, you have seen the world through gold colour.”
She loved the lower classes; he thought them detestable, and qualified universal suffrage as “a disgrace to the human mind.” She preached concord, the union of classes, whilst he gave his opinion as follows:
“I believe that the poor hate the rich, and that the rich are afraid of the poor. It will be like this eternally.”
It was always thus. On every subject the opinion of the one was sure to be the direct opposite of the opinion of the other. This was just what had attracted them.
“I should not be interested in myself,” George Sand said, “if I had the honour of meeting myself.” She was interested in Flaubert, as she had divined that he was her antithesis.
“The man who is Just passing,” says Fantasio, “is charming. There are all sorts of ideas in his mind which would be quite new to me.”
George Sand wanted to know something of these ideas which were new to her. She admired Flaubert on account of all sorts of qualities which she did not possess herself. She liked him, too, as she felt that he was unhappy.