She considered him idle, and reproached him with his lack of dignity and with making himself too familiar with his inferiors. She could not admit this familiarity, although she was certainly a friend of the people and of the peasants. Between sympathy and familiarity there was a distinction, and Aurore took care not to forget this. There was always something of the _grande dame_ in her. Boucoiran was devoted, though, and she counted on him for looking after her children, for keeping her strictly _au courant_, and letting her know in case of illness. Perfectly easy on this score, she could live in Paris on an income of sixty pounds by adding to it what she could earn.
Casimir made no objections. All that happened later on in this existence, which was from henceforth so stormy, happened with his knowledge and with his consent. He was a poor sort of man.
Let us consider now, for a moment, Baronne Dudevant's impressions after such a marriage. We will not speak of her sadness nor of her disgust. In a union of this kind, how could the sacred and beneficial character of marriage have appeared to her? A husband should be a companion. She never knew the charm of true intimacy, nor the delight of thoughts shared with another. A husband is the counsellor, the friend. When she needed counsel, she was obliged to go elsewhere for it, and it was from another man that guidance and encouragement came. A husband should be the head and, I do not hesitate to say, the master. Life is a ceaseless struggle, and the man who has taken upon himself the task of defending a family from all the dangers which threaten its dissolution, from all the enemies which prowl around it, can only succeed in his task of protector if he be invested with just authority. Aurore had been treated brutally: that is not the same thing as being dominated. The sensation which never left her was that of an immense moral solitude. She could no longer dream in the Nohant avenues, for the old trees had been lopped, and the mystery chased away. She shut herself up in her grandmother's little boudoir, adjoining her children's room, so that she could hear them breathing, and whilst Casimir and Hippolyte were getting abominably intoxicated, she sat there thinking things over, and gradually becoming so irritated that she felt the rebellion within her gathering force. The matrimonial bond was a heavy yoke to her. A Christian wife would have submitted to it and accepted it, but the Christianity of Baronne Dudevant was nothing but religiosity. The trials of life show up the insufficiency of religious sentiment which is not accompanied by faith. Marriage, without love, friendship, confidence and respect, was for Aurore merely a prison. She endeavoured to escape from it, and when she succeeded she uttered a sigh of relief at her deliverance.
Such, then, is the chapter of marriage in Baronne Dudevant's psychology. It is a fine example of failure. The woman who had married badly now remained an individual, instead of harmonizing and blending in a general whole. This ill-assorted union merely accentuated and strengthened George Sand's individualism.
Aurore Dudevant arrived in Paris the first week of the year 1831. The woman who was rebellious to marriage was now in a city which had just had a revolution.
The extraordinary effervescence of Paris in 1831 can readily be imagined. There was tempest in the air, and this tempest was bound to break out here or there, either immediately or in the near future, in an insurrection. Every one was feverishly anxious to destroy everything, in order to create all things anew. In everything, in art, ideas and even in costume, there was the same explosion of indiscipline, the same triumph of capriciousness. Every day some fresh system of government was born, some new method of philosophy, an infallible receipt for bringing about universal happiness, an unheard-of idea for manufacturing masterpieces, some invention for dressing up and having a perpetual carnival in the streets. The insurrection was permanent and masquerade a normal state. Besides all this, there was a magnificent burst of youth and genius. Victor Hugo, proud of having fought the battle of _Hernani_, was then thinking of _Notre-Dame_ and climbing up to it. Musset had just given his _Contes d'Espagne el d'Italie_. Stendhal had published _Le Rouge et le Noir_, and Balzac _La Peau de Chagrin_. The painters of the day were Delacroix and Delaroche. Paganini was about to give his first concert at the Opera. Such was Paris in all its impatience and impertinence, in its confusion and its splendour immediately after the Revolution.
The young wife, who had snapped her bonds asunder, breathed voluptuously in this atmosphere. She was like a provincial woman enjoying Paris to the full. She belonged to the romantic school, and was imbued with the principle that an artist must see everything, know everything, and have experienced himself all that he puts into his books. She found a little group of her friends from Berry in Paris, among others Felix Pyat, Charles Duvernet, Alphonse Fleury, Sandeau and de Latouche. This was the band she frequented, young men apprenticed either to literature, the law, or medicine. With them she lived a student's life. In order to facilitate her various evolutions, she adopted masculine dress. In her _Histoite de ma vie_ she says: "Fashion helped me in my disguise, for men were wearing long, square frock-coats styled a _la proprietaire_. They came down to the heels, and fitted the figure so little that my brother, when putting his on, said to me one day at Nohant: `It is a nice cut, isn't it? The tailor takes his measures from a sentry-box, and the coat then fits a whole regiment.' I had `a sentry-box coat' made, of rough grey cloth, with trousers and waistcoat to match. With a grey hat and a huge cravat of woollen material, I looked exactly like a first-year student. . . ."
Dressed in this style, she explored the streets, museums, cathedrals, libraries, painters' studios, clubs and theatres. She heard Frederick Lemaitre one day, and the next day Malibran. One evening it was one of Dumas' pieces, and the next night _Moise_ at the Opera. She took her meals at a little restaurant, and she lived in an attic. She was not even sure of being able to pay her tailor, so she had all the joys possible. "Ah, how delightful, to live an artist's life! Our device is liberty!" she wrote. She lived in a perpetual state of delight, and, in February, wrote to her son Maurice as follows: "Every one is at loggerheads, we are crushed to death in the streets, the churches are being destroyed, and we hear the drum being beaten all night." In March she wrote to Charles Duvernet: "Do you know that fine things are happening here? It really is amusing to see. We are living just as gaily among bayonets and riots as if everything were at peace. All this amuses me."