P. Thureau-Dangin, _Histoire de la Monarchie de Juillet._
And yet, in spite of all this, the smoke from this mind attracted George Sand, and became her pillar of light moving on before her. His hazy philosophy seemed to her as clear as daylight, it appealed to her heart and to her mind, solved her doubts, and gave her tranquillity, strength, faith, hope and a patient and persevering love of humanity. It seems as though, with that marvellous faculty that she had for idealizing always, she manufactured a Pierre Leroux of her own, who was finer than the real one. He was needy, but poverty becomes the man who has ideas. He was awkward, but the contemplative man, on coming down from the region of thought on to our earth once more, only gropes along. He was not clear, but Voltaire tells us that when a man does not understand his own words, he is talking metaphysics. Chopin had personified the artist for her; Pierre Leroux, with his words as entangled as his hair, figured now to her as the philosopher. She saw in him the chief and the master. _Tu duca e tu maestro_.
In February, 1844, she wrote the following extraordinary lines: "I must tell you that George Sand is only a pale reflection of Pierre Leroux, a fanatical disciple of the same ideal, but a disciple mute and fascinated when listening to his words, and quite prepared to throw all her own works into the fire, in order to write, talk, think, pray and act under his inspiration. I am merely the popularizer, with a ready pen and an impressionable mind, and I try to translate, in my novels, the philosophy of the master."
The most extraordinary part about these lines is that they were absolutely true. The whole secret of the productions of George Sand for the next ten years is contained in these words. With Pierre Leroux and Louis Viardot she now founded a review, _La Revue independante_, in which she could publish, not only novels (beginning with _Horace_, which Buloz had refused), but articles by which philosophical-socialistic ideas could have a free course. Better still than this, the novelist could take the watchword from the sociologist. just as Mascarilla put Roman history into madrigals, she was able to put Pierre Leroux's philosophy into novels.
It would be interesting to know what she saw in Pierre Leroux, and which of his ideas she approved and preferred. One of the ideas dear to Pierre Leroux was that of immortality, but an immortality which had very little in common with Christianity. According to it, we should live again after death, but in humanity and in another world. The idea of metempsychosis was very much in vogue at this epoch. According to Jean Rcynaud and Lamennais, souls travelled from star to star, but Pierre Leroux believed in metempsychosis on earth.
"We are not only the children and the posterity of those who have already lived, but we are, at bottom, the anterior generations themselves. We have gone through former existences which we do not remember, but it may be that at times we have fragmentary reminiscences of them."
George Sand must have been very deeply impressed by this idea. It inspired her with _Sept cordes de la lyre_, _Spiridion_, _Consuelo_ and the _Comtesse de Rudolstadt_, the whole cycle of her philosophical novels.
The _Sept cordes de la lyre_ is a dramatic poem after the manner of _Faust_. Maitre Albertus is the old doctor conversing with Mephistocles. He has a ward, named Helene, and a lyre. A spirit lives in this lyre. It is all in vain that the painter, the _maestro_, the poet, the critic endeavour to make the cords vibrate. The lyre remains dumb. Helene, even without putting her hands on it, can draw from it magnificent harmony; Helene is mad. All this may seem very incomprehensible to you, and I must confess that it is so to me. Albertus himself declares: "This has a poetical sense of a very high order perhaps, but it seems vague to me." Personally, I am of the same opinion as Albertus. With a little effort, I might, like any one else, be able to give you an interpretation of this logogriph, which might appear to have something in it. I prefer telling you frankly that I do not understand it. The author, perhaps, did not understand it much better so that it may have been metaphysics.