“I shall make a parcel of a few of Jules’ things that he left in the wardrobe,” she says, “and I will send them to you. I do not want anything to do with him when he comes back, and, according to the last words of the letter you showed me, his return may be soon. For a long time I have been very much hurt by the discoveries I made with regard to his conduct, and I could not feel anything else for him now but affectionate compassion. His pride, I hope, would refuse this. Make him clearly understand, if necessary, that there can never be anything more between us. If this hard task should not be necessary, that is, if Jules should himself understand that it could not be otherwise, spare him the sorrow of hearing that he has lost everything, even my respect. He must undoubtedly have lost his own self-esteem, so that he is punished enough.”
Thus ended this great passion. This was the first of George Sand’s errors, and it certainly was an immense one. She had imagined that happiness reigns in students’ rooms. She had counted on the passing fancy of a young man of good family, who had come to Paris to sow his wild oats, for giving her fresh zest and for carving out for herself a fresh future. It was a most commonplace adventure, utterly destitute of psychology, and by its very bitterness it contrasted strangely with her elevated sentimental romance with Aurelien de Seze. That was the quintessence of refinement. All that is interesting about this second adventure is the proof that it gives us of George Sand’s wonderful illusions, of the intensity of the mirage of which she was a dupe, and of which we have so many instances in her life.
Baronne Dudevant had tried conjugal life, and she had now tried free love. She had been unsuccessful in both instances. It is to these adventures though, to these trials, errors and disappointments that we owe the writer we are about to study. George Sand was now born to literature.
A FEMINIST OF 1832
When Baronne Dudevant arrived in Paris, in 1831, her intention was to earn her living with her pen. She never really counted seriously on the income she might make by her talent for painting flowers on snuff-boxes and ornamenting cigar-cases with water-colours. She arrived from her province with the intention of becoming a writer. Like most authors who commence, she first tried journalism. On the 4th of March, she wrote as follows to the faithful Boucoiran: “In the meantime I must live, and for the sake of that, I have taken up the worst of trades: I am writing articles for the Figaro. If only you knew what that means! They are paid for, though, at the rate of seven francs a column.”