But M. Thiers was not in reality a ridiculous man. Under his management France saw prosperity. He developed its resources and exhibited great abilities. He was constantly subjected to attacks from his old radical associates and he deserved them. The great quarrel of his life, however, was with Guizot. These two men were constantly by the ears with each other, and the king gave one a certain office and the other another. He changed these officers from time to time, until at last both saw that one alone must triumph. Guizot was the triumphant man, and Thiers fell. He became more radical as he lost office, and published (in 1845) two volumes of his History of the Consulate. They had a splendid success; he sold the whole work for five hundred thousand francs—an enormous price. But the concluding volumes were not forthcoming, and the publisher demanded them—but in vain. For the last thirty years M. Thiers has lived in a beautiful house in the place Saint Georges. He is wealthy, and has always lived in good style.
It is currently reported that M. Thiers has been guilty of treating certain members of his family with great meanness, and in society many scandalous stories have been repeated illustrating his miserly economy.
When the revolution of 1848 broke out, M. Thiers ran away from Paris, but afterward returned, and has since lived a very quiet life.
[Illustration: GEORGE SAND.]
One of the most distinguished of the living writers of France is Madam Dudevant, or GEORGE SAND, which is her nom de plume. She is by no means a woman either after my ideal or the American ideal, but is a woman of great genius. Her masculinity, and, indeed, her licentious style, are great faults: but in sketching some of the most brilliant of French writers, it would not do to omit her name.
The maiden name of George Sand was Amantine Aurore Dupin, and she is descended from Augustus the Second, king of Poland. Her ancestors were of king’s blood, and the more immediate of them were distinguished for their valor and high birth. She was born in the year 1804. She was brought up by her grandmother, at the chateau Nahant, situated in one of the most beautiful valleys of France. The old countess of Horn, her grandmother, was a woman of brilliant qualities, but not a very safe guide for a young child. Her ideas were anti-religious, and she was a follower of Rousseau rather than of Christ. When Aurore was fifteen years old, she knew well how to handle a gun, to dance, to ride on horseback, and to use a sword. She was a young Amazon, charming, witty, and yet coarse. She was fond of field sports, yet knew not how to make the sign of the cross. When she was twenty years old she was sent to a convent in Paris, to receive a religious education. She loved her grandmother to adoration, and the separation cost her a great deal of suffering. She often alludes in her volumes to this grandparent, in terms of warm love and veneration. In her “Letters of a Traveller” she gives us some details of her life with her grandmother at the chateau de Nahant. She says: