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We have passed over George Sand's intercourse with Liszt and Madame d'Agoult very rapidly. One of Balzac's novels gives us an opportunity of saying a few more words about it.
Balzac had been introduced to George Sand by Jules Sandeau. At the time of her rupture with his friend, Balzac had sided entirely with him. In the Lettres a l'Etrangere, we see the author of the Comedie humaine pouring out his indignation with the blue stocking, who was so cruel in her love, in terms which were not extremely elegant. Gradually, and when he knew more about the adventure, his anger cooled down. In March, 1838, he gave Madame Zulma Carraud an account of a visit to Nohant. He found his comrade, George Sand, in her dressing-gown, smoking a cigar by her fireside after dinner.
"She had some pretty yellow slippers on, ornamented with fringe, some fancy stockings and red trousers. So much for the moral side. Physically, she had doubled her chin like a canoness. She had not a single white hair, in spite of all her fearful misfortunes; her dusky complexion had not changed. Her beautiful eyes were just as bright, and she looked just as stupid as ever when she was thinking. . . ."
This is George Sand in her thirty-fifth year, as she was at the time of the fresh adventure we are about to relate.
Balzac continues by giving us a few details about the life of the authoress. It was very much like his own, except that Balzac went to bed at six o'clock and got up at midnight, and George Sand went to bed at six in the morning and got up at noon. He adds the following remark, which shows us the state of her feelings:
"She is now in a very quiet retreat, and condemns both marriage and love, because she has had nothing but disappointment in both herself. Her man was a rare one, that was really all."
In the course of their friendly conversation, George Sand gave him the subject for a novel which it would be rather awkward for her to write. The novel was to be Galeriens or Amours forces. These "galley-slaves" of love were Liszt and the Comtesse d'Agoult, who had been with George Sand at Chamonix, Paris and Nohant. It was very evident that she could not write the novel herself.
Balzac accordingly wrote it, and it figures in the Comedie humaine as Beatrix. Beatrix is the Comtesse d'Agoult, the inspirer, and Liszt is the composer Conti.
"You have no idea yet of the awful rights that a love which no longer exists gives to a man over a woman. The convict is always under the domination of the companion chained to him. I am lost, and must return to the convict prison," writes Balzac in this book. Then, too, there is no mistaking his portrait of Beatrix. The fair hair that seems to give light, the forehead which looks transparent, the sweet, charming face, the long, wonderfully shaped neck, and, above and beyond all, that air of a princess, in all this we can easily recognize "the fair, blue-eyed Peri." Not content with bringing this illustrious couple into his novel, Balzac introduces other contemporaries. Claude Vignon (who, although his special work was criticism, made a certain place for himself in literature) and George Sand herself appear in this book. She is Felicite des Touches, and her pen name is Camille Maupin. "Camille is an artist," we are told; "she has genius, and she leads an exceptional life such as could not be judged in the same way as an ordinary existence." Some one asks how she writes her books, and the answer is: "Just in the same way as you do your woman's work, your netting or your tapestry." She is said to have the intelligence of an angel and even more heart than talent. With her fixed, set gaze, her dark complexion and her masculine ways, she is the exact antithesis of the fair Beatrix. She is constantly being compared to the latter, and is evidently preferred to her. It is very evident from whom Balzac gets his information, and it is also evident that the friendship between the two women has cooled down.
The cause of the coolness between them was George Sand's infatuation for Chopin, whom she had known through Liszt and Madame d'Agoult. George Sand wrote to Liszt from Nohant, in March, 1837: "Tell Chopin that I hope he will come with you. Marie cannot live without him, and I adore him." In April she wrote to Madame d'Agoult: "Tell Chopin that I idolize him." We do not know whether Madame d'Agoult gave the message, but she certainly replied: "Chopin coughs with infinite grace. He is an irresolute man. The only thing about him that is permanent is his cough." This is certainly very feminine in its ferociousness.
At the time when he came into George Sand's life, Chopin, the composer and virtuoso, was the favourite of Parisian salons, the pianist in vogue. He was born in 1810, so that he was then twenty-seven years of age. His success was due, in the first place, to his merits as an artist, and nowhere is an artist's success so great as in Paris. Chopin's delicate style was admirably suited to the dimensions and to the atmosphere of a salon.
 As regards Chopin, I have consulted a biography by Liszt, a study by M. Camille Bellaigue and the volume by M. Elie Poiree in the Collection des musiciens celebres, published by H. Laurens.
He confessed to Liszt that a crowd intimidated him, that he felt suffocated by all the quick breathing and paralyzed by the inquisitive eyes turned on him. "You were intended for all this," he adds, "as, if you do not win over your public, you can at least overwhelm it."
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George Sand, Some Aspects of Her Life and Writings -by- Rene Doumic