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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 427 pages of information about Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician Volume 2.

CHAPTER XX.

1836—­1838.

The loves of celebrities.—­Various accounts of Chopin and George Sand’s first meeting.—­Chopin’s first impression of her.—­A comparison of the two characters.—­Portrayals of Chopin and George sand.—­Her power of pleasing.—­Chopin’s publications in 1837 and 1838.—­He plays at court and at concerts in Paris and Rouen.—­Criticism.

The loves of famous men and women, especially of those connected with literature and the fine arts, have always excited much curiosity.  In the majority of cases the poet’s and artist’s choice of a partner falls on a person who is incapable of comprehending his aims and sometimes even of sympathising with his striving.  The question “why poets are so apt to choose their mates, not for any similarity of poetical endowment, but for qualities which might make the happiness of the rudest handicrafts-man as well as that of the ideal craftsman” has perhaps never been better answered than by Nathaniel Hawthorne, who remarks that “at his highest elevation the poet needs no human intercourse; but he finds it dreary to descend, and be a stranger.”  Still, this is by no means a complete solution of the problem which again and again presents itself and challenges our ingenuity.  Chopin and George Sand’s case belongs to the small minority of loves where both parties are distinguished practitioners of ideal crafts.  Great would be the mistake, however, were we to assume that the elective affinities of such lovers are easily discoverable On the contrary, we have here another problem, one which, owing to the higher, finer, and more varied factors that come into play, is much more difficult to solve than the first.  But before we can engage in solving the problem, it must be properly propounded.  Now, to ascertain facts about the love-affairs of poets and artists is the very reverse of an easy task; and this is so partly because the parties naturally do not let outsiders into all their secrets, and partly because romantic minds and imaginative litterateurs are always busy developing plain facts and unfounded rumours into wonderful myths.  The picturesqueness of the story, the piquancy of the anecdote, is generally in inverse proportion to the narrator’s knowledge of the matter in question.  In short, truth is only too often most unconscionably sacrificed to effect.  Accounts, for instance, such as L. Enault and Karasowski have given of Chopin’s first meeting with George Sand can be recommended only to those who care for amusing gossip about the world of art, and do not mind whether what they read is the simple truth or not, nay, do not mind even whether it has any verisimilitude.  Nevertheless, we will give these gentlemen a hearing, and then try if we cannot find some firmer ground to stand on.

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