But it is not to be supposed that on the part of the public

A cell in this monastery was composed of three rooms: the one in the middle was intended for reading, prayer and meditation, the other two were the bedroom and the workshop. All three rooms looked on to a garden. Reading, rest and manual labour made up the life of these men. They lived in a limited space certainly, but the view stretched out infinitely, and prayer went up direct to God. Among the ruined buildings of the enormous monastery there was a cloister still standing, through which the wind howled desperately. It was like the scenery in the nuns' act in _Robert le Diable_. All this made the old monastery the most romantic place in the world.[28]

But it is not to be supposed that on the part of the public

[28] George Sand to Madame Buloz. Postscript to the letter already quoted:

But it is not to be supposed that on the part of the public

"I am leaving for the country where I have a furnished house with a garden, magnificently situated for 50 francs a month. I have also taken a cell, that is three rooms and a garden for 35 francs a year in the Chartreuse of Valdemosa, a magnificent, immense monastery quite lonely in the midst of mountains. Our garden is full of oranges and lemons. The trees break under them. We have hedges of cactus twenty to thirty feet high, the sea is about a mile and a half away. We have a donkey to take us to the town, roads inaccessible to visitors, immense cloisters and the most beautiful architecture, a charming church, a cemetery with a palm-tree and a stone cross like the one in the third act of _Robert le Diable_. Then, too, there are beds of shrubs cut in form. All this we have to ourselves with an old woman to wait on us, and the sacristan who is warder, steward, majordomo and Jack-of-all-trades. I hope we shall have ghosts. The door of my cell leads into an enormous cloister, and when the wind slams the door it is like a cannon going off through all the monastery. I am delighted with everything, and fancy I shall be more often in the cell than in the country-house, which is about six miles away. You see that I have plenty of poetry and solitude, so that if I do not work I shall be a stupid thing." { The end of footnote [28]}

But it is not to be supposed that on the part of the public

The only drawback was that it was most difficult to live there. There was no way of getting warm. The stove was a kind of iron furnace which gave out a terrible odour, and did not prevent the rooms from being so damp that clothes mildewed while they were being worn. There was no way of getting proper food either. They had to eat the most indigestible things. There were five sorts of meat certainly, but these were pig, pork, bacon, ham and pickled pork. This was all cooked in dripping, pork-dripping, of course, or in rancid oil. Still more than this, the natives refused, not only to serve the unfortunate travellers, but to sell them the actual necessaries of life. The fact was, they had scandalized the Majorcan people. All Majorca was indignant because Solange, who at that time was nine years old, roamed about the mountains _disguised as a man_. Added to this, when the horn sounded which called people to their devotions in the churches, these strange inhabitants of the old Valdemosa monastery never took any more notice than pagans. People kept clear of them. Chopin suffered with the cold, the cooking made him sick, and he used to have fits of terror in the cloisters. They had to leave hastily. The only steamboat from the island was used to transport the pigs which are the pride and wealth of Majorca. People were only taken as an extra. It was, therefore, in the company of these squealing, ill-smelling creatures that the invalid crossed the water. When he arrived at Barcelona, he looked like a spectre and was spitting blood. George Sand was quite right in saying that this journey was an "awful fiasco."

Art and literature did not gain much either by this expedition. George Sand finished her novel entitled _Spiridion_ at Valdemosa. She had commenced it before starting for Spain. In a volume on _Un hiver a Majorque_ she gave some fine descriptions, and also a harsh accusation of the monks, whom she held responsible for all the mishaps of the Sand caravan. She considered that the Majorcans had been brutalized and fanaticized, thanks to their influence. As to Chopin, he was scarcely in a state to derive any benefit from such a journey, and he certainly did not get any. He did not thoroughly appreciate the beauties of nature, particularly of Majorcan nature. In a letter to one of his friends he gives the following description of their habitation:--

"Between rocks and sea, in a great deserted monastery, in a cell, the doors of which are bigger than the carriage entrances to the houses in Paris, you can imagine me, without white gloves, and no curl in my hair, as pale as usual. My cell is the shape of a large-sized bier. . . ."

This certainly does not sound very enthusiastic. The question is whether he composed anything at all at Valdemosa. Liszt presents him to us improvising his Prelude in B flat minor under the most dramatic circumstances. We are told that one day, when George Sand and her children had started on an excursion, they were surprised by a thunderstorm. Chopin had stayed at home in the monastery, and, terrified at the danger he foresaw for them, he fainted. Before they reached home he had improvised his _Prelude_, in which he has put all his terror and the nervousness due to his disease. It appears, though, that all this is a legend, and that there is not a single echo of the stay at Valdemosa in Chopin's work.

The deplorable journey to Majorca dates from November, 1838 to March, 1839. The intimacy between George Sand and Chopin continued eight years more.

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