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and drunk the blood of her God. Months passed away, and she still remained absorbed in the reveries of religious fancy -outwardly performing all her duties well, but holding herself aloof from her companions. The first shock came not from any diminution of her faith, but from an appeal being made to a wholly different side of her character. She thought that a companion, whom she dearly loved and highly respected, was unjustly treated by the Superior; and this suggested the doubt whether all was so perfect in the religious world as it seemed. She also used to unite with a devout friend in religious exercises, and assist her in decking with flowers the altar where they used to pray. But she began to observe the excessive importance which her companion attached to these decorations; and recoiling from this occupation as petty and as materialising religion, she said to herself that mental union with God was every thing, and the form nothing. While she was in this frame of mind, her bodily strength gave way. She found to her sorrow that she had no longer her old fervour-her old power of enduring austerities--her old habitual state of rapture. She tormented herself with scruples; she accused herself of constant sin; she despaired of her salvation. Fortunately she was not under the care of mystics. The nuns of the English convent were by no means anxious to foster the spirit of ecstatical piety; and her confessor, a Jesuit, gave her sound practical advice. It has been the great work of the Jesuits that, in the bosom of Catholicism, they have asserted for this life its due, perhaps even more than its due, importance; and refused to remit every hope and interest of man to the world beyond the grave. When George Sand told her scruples to her confessor, he at first cheered her and listened patiently; but, after a time, ordered her to change her way of life altogether--to rejoin the society of her old friends, to take plenty of exercise, and enjoy all the amusements of the convent. She obeyed, and became again the centre of life and gaiety. The consequences were most beneficial; she recovered her health and spirits, and took a much more composed view of her religious state. The crisis of enthusiasm was over. She still purposed becoming a nun, and retained this intention some time after she left the convent; but she was happy, tranquil, and moderate in her zeal. She was certainly aided, in this instance, by the good sense of others more than her own; but in a mental cure, good sense must always be shown as well by the patient as by the physician. The heartiness of her obedience to her director's injunction, and the rapidity of its success, both testify to the original strength of her mind and the even balance of her natural character.

She left the convent to reside with her grandmother at Nohant. The old lady was shortly afterwards seized with a paralytic attack, and lay for a year between life and death. This year decided the future career of George Sand. She was left almost entirely her own mistress, without any guide or control, and without any duty except that of rendering the few attentions required by her grandmother's state of health. She took violent exercise, and her spirits rose and her bodily strength grew greater. She began to read, and the first book which her confessor advised her to study was the Génie du Christianisme. It was exactly the book to awaken thought in her mind; it showed her that Catholicism had taken a new direction—that its adherents were not satisfied with the religion of which she had looked on a conventual life as the ideal, and which she had found embodied in the familiar De Imitatione Christi. The author of that work saw all wisdom in shunning the world, all love in divine love, all duty in isolation from the sphere of duties. Chateaubriand held up a very different picture. Christianity was with him the most humane, the most genial, the most sociable of religions — the truest friend of learning and knowledge. She put away the old teacher for the new. She determined to devote herself to her family duties, and to seek for wisdom in the study of all the famous books to which she could get access. She gives a list of the philosophers whom she attacked, including Locke, Leibnitz, and Aristotle; and as she was seventeen, and about as uninformed as most French girls of that age, it is not to be wondered at that she got no great profit out of the works of those eminent writers, except the knowledge, so instructive to the young who can think and feel, that great men do not all think alike. Profitless as such vague study must otherwise be, it may convey to a mind that needs it a notion of the greatness and diversity of human thought. At last she came to 'Rousseau ; and here was a philosopher exactly suited to her. She was, as she tells us, “a creature of sentiment;' and Rousseau was the apostle of sentimental philosophy. She had been brought up in the democratic traditions which, after the Restoration, ranged themselves around the memory of Buonaparte. Rousseau was the herald of the great doctrines of equality and fraternity. She was at once attached to and dissatisfied with Catholicism, and Rousseau preached to her the gospel of natural love and liberty. Rousseau was easy to understand; his passion overpowered her, his language fascinated her. She soon also began to read the “literature of despair;" she pored over Réné and Byron. The melancholy so delicious to youth fastened on her. She had at once the satis


faction of thinking the world out of joint, and of hating her own existence; she mourned over the condition of the poor and the oppressed, and she had serious thoughts of drowning herself. In time, the first flush of these feelings passed away; she got over the childish stage of big thoughts; but the influences of that year never ceased to act on her. The singular tenacity of her character had been made to cling to a few leading ideas, which she never afterwards abandoned. Rousseau and Chateaubriand have been the stars of her destiny. She is, indeed, the Rousseau of modern France; like him in her passion, in her sympathies, in her detestation of established society; but unlike him, because a poetical, vague, and essentially mundane Christianity has worked itself deeply into all her feel. ings, through the interpretation which Chateaubriand taught her to put upon the lessons of the old mystical Catholicism.

On her grandmother's death, she became proprietress of Nohant, and shortly afterwards was married to M. Dudevant, a lieutenant in the army. Gossip has been so busy with her name, that few readers require to be told that her married life was not a happy one. She does not, however, permit herself to speak ill of the man whose name she bears; and she narrates the incidents of their courtship with an animation and tenderness which show that she married by her own free choice: she acknowledges that her husband's tastes did not harmonise with hers, and that she neither liked the society he cared for nor succeeded in the management of her household. years they lived at Nohant; and they had two children. At length, in 1831, she asked to be allowed to live separately, and earn her own livelihood in a way congenial to her; her husband assented, and she went to Paris and began novel-writing, an occupation she has now followed almost without cessation for a quarter of a century. She gives no clue as to the sources on which her novels are founded, -if it is true that they are in a way based on her personal history,--and expressly assures us that she did not sketch any circumstances in her own experience when she wrote Indiana, which, being her first novel, has naturally been considered most likely to contain autobiographical reminiscences. The latter part of her memoirs contains few facts relating to herself, and consists principally of criticisms on French literature, accounts of literary contemporaries, and expositions of her leading opinions on religion, morals, and art. So far as their contents demand notice in a sketch like the present, they may therefore be most conveniently noticed when we speak of her novels themselves.

She tells us that when Lélia appeared, an intimate friend wrote to express his extreme surprise that a book so wild, so

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extraordinary, and so evidently the fruit of deep personal feeling, should have been written by a lady whom he had only known as a very quiet person, fond of sewing, and a good hand at making preserves. She lived completely in an inner world of her own, fostering her fancies, brooding over her griefs, surveying as in a vision the men and things of the actual world. Hence, perhaps, arose much of the singular fearlessness with which she wrote, much of the intensity with which she expressed her feelings, and much of the very unpractical character which her theories assumed. She was also acted on very powerfully by the general influences of the time in which her mind was matured, both by the tone of the current literature, and by the sentiments which pervaded the political world of France. She found that the literature of despair was echoed in the profound disappointment caused by the failure of the Revolution of July. Nothing can be more gloomy than the picture she draws of the state of Parisian society and Parisian feeling, when she came to take a part in it as a writer and thinker. The republic dreamt of in July had ended in the massacre of Warsaw and the bloody sacrifice offered to the dynasty of Louis Philippe. The cholera had just decimated the world. St. Simonism had failed. Art had disgraced by its deplorable errors the cradle of its romantic reform. The time was out of joint; and the men and women in it were either given up to the depression of disbelief, or to the search after material prosperity.

It was when subjected to the first great pressure of such influences as thesc that George Sand wrote Lélia, the most famous and the most typical of her novels. It is to an English reader, and judged of from the point of view of common sense, one of the most incoherent, foolish, morbid, blasphemous, and useless books that have been sent across the Channel during the present century; and yet no one can deny that it discloses much

power of writing, and some of thinking. Viewed historically, and judged of by the circumstances under which it was written, it undoubtedly gives a very bold and forcible expression to thoughts then widely current in France. There is, too, a kind of directness and sincerity in it, which gives it, even in the wildness of its ravings, the charm of honesty. But whatever are its merits or faults, at any rate it contains the doctrines of George Sand-the innermost thoughts of her heart, the ideas of her life-in their most salient and repulsive form. The characters are removed into an arena entirely apart from the possibilities of real life. Each represents a phase of the society she saw around her; and as there is no plot nor any dramatic interest, the only aim is to work out this representation to its fullest and last consequences. In Lélia society is entirely dis

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solved; the family is not described even as a feature of human life; God is alternately pronounced not to exist, and permitted to enjoy the prerogative of blessing the most vicious and weak fools who will shed a few tears over the cessation of their power to sin. Catholicism is a pageant into which poetical minds in vain endeavour to infuse a new life. Women are either prostitutes, or only refuse to be so because any surrender to the other sex brands them with inequality. Coarseness of thought is equalled by a curious frankness of expression. Lélia, the heroine, cannot make out whether she ought to hate herself as “the most cunning and revolting combination of an infernal will,” or whether she ought to despise herself as "an inert production, engendered by chance and matter." Her lover asks what he can do for her. She sends in return the following modest list of her requirements : “Will you blaspheme for me? That may perhaps console me. Will you cast stones at heaven, outrage God, curse eternity, invoke annihilation, adore evil, call down destruction on the works of Providence, and contempt on its worship? Are you capable of killing Abel to avenge me on God, my tyrant ? Will you bite the dust and eat the sand, like Nebuchadnezzar ? Will you, like Job, exhale your anger and mine in vehement imprecations? Will you, pure and pious young man, plunge up to your neck in scepticism, and roll in the abyss where I expire ?" And so it goes on; and this is the way in which Lélia and her friends rave through page after page. The impression which

. Lélia leaves on us cannot be shaken off. George Sand has long left the stage in which it was written, and, in her memoirs, speaks of it as very crude work. But the mental history of men hangs together; and even in her best and purest and soberest works there is a touch of Lélia to be found.

Love forms the staple of George Sand's novels, as of most of the works of other novelists. But with her neither the analysis nor the description of passion, subtle as she often is in the former, and rich and delicate as she often is in the latter, is the most prominent feature of what she has to say about love. She has a persuasion, we may almost say a creed, to enforce and advocate as to the relation of the sexes. It is high-flown, unpractical, and impossible, of a tendency, perhaps, more than doubtful; but it is sincerely felt, powerfully upheld, and in itself appeals to the loftier side of human nature. It is not a doctrine wholly bad to preach, that persons should give play to their genuine feelings and despise concessions to a mercenary world. We are, of course, tempted immediately to ask whether the feelings gratified are pure as well as sincere, and fostered not only to the gain of the indi

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