George Sand: Her Life & Writings HTML version

The Friend Of Michel (De Bourges)
Liszt And Comtesse D'agoult. Mauprat
We have given the essential features of the Venice adventure. The love affair, into which
George Sand and Musset had put so much literature, was to serve literature. Writers of
the romantic school are given to making little songs with their great sorrows. When the
correspondence between George Sand and Musset appeared, every one was surprised to
find passages that were already well known. Such passages had already appeared in the
printed work of the poet or of the authoress. An idea, a word, or an illustration used by
the one was now, perhaps, to be found in the work of the other one.
"It is I who have lived," writes George Sand, "and not an unreal being created by my
pride and my ennui." We all know the use to which Musset put this phrase. He wrote the
famous couplet of Perdican with it: "All men are untruthful, inconstant, false, chatterers,
hypocritical, proud, cowardly, contemptible and sensual; all women are perfidious, artful,
vain, inquisitive and depraved. . . . There is, though, in this world one thing which is holy
and sublime. It is the union of these two beings, imperfect and frightful as they are. We
are often deceived in our love; we are often wounded and often unhappy, but still we
love, and when we are on the brink of the tomb we shall turn round, look back, and say to
ourselves: `I have often suffered, I have sometimes been deceived, but I have loved. It is I
who have lived, and not an unreal being created by my pride and ennui.'" Endless
instances of this kind could be given. They are simply the sign of the reciprocal influence
exercised over each other by George Sand and Musset, an influence to be traced through
all their work.
This influence was of a different kind and of unequal degree. It was George Sand who
first made literature of their common recollections. Some of these recollections were very
recent ones and were impregnated with tears. The two lovers had only just separated
when George Sand made the excursion described in the first Lettre d'un voyageur. She
goes along the Brenta. It is the month of May, and the meadows are in flower. In the
horizon she sees the snowy peaks of the Tyrolese Alps standing out. The remembrance of
the long hours spent at the invalid's bedside comes back to her, with all the anguish of the
sacred passion in which she thinks she sees God's anger. She then pays a visit to the
Oliero grottoes, and once more her wounded love makes her heart ache. She returns
through Possagno, whose beautiful women served as models for Canova. She then goes
back to Venice, and the doctor gives her a letter from the man she has given up, the man
she has sent away. These poetical descriptions, alternating with lyrical effusions, this
kind of dialogue with two voices, one of which is that of nature and the other that of the
heart, remind us of one of Musset's Nuits.
The second of these Lettres d'un voyageur is entirely descriptive. It is spring-time in
Venice. The old balconies are gay with flowers; the nightingales stop singing to listen to
the serenades. There are songs to be heard at every street corner, music in the wake of
every gondola. There are sweet perfumes and love-sighs in the air. The delights of the