"I am an extraordinary man," he said to her, "and you are just as extraordinary as a woman. You and I together would have a still more extraordinary child." Madame de Stael evidently did not care to take part in the manufacture of this prodigy. When George Sand's first novels appeared, the Saint-Simonians were full of hope. This was the woman they had been waiting for, the free woman, who having meditated on the lot of her sisters would formulate the Declaration of the rights and duties of woman. Adolphe Gueroult was sent to her. He was the editor of the _Opinion nationale_. George Sand had a great fund of common sense, though, and once more the little society awaited the Mother in vain. It was finally decided that she should be sought for in the East. A mission was organized, and messengers were arrayed in white, as a sign of the vow of chastity, with a pilgrim's staff in their hand. They begged as they went along, and slept sometimes outdoors, but more often at the police-station. George Sand was not tempted by this kind of maternity, but she kept in touch with the Saint-Simonians. She was present at one of their meetings at Menilmontant. Her published _Corrspondance_ contains a letter addressed by her to the Saint-Simonian family in Paris. As a matter of fact, she had received from it, on the 1st of January, 1836, a large collection of presents. There were in all no less than fifty-nine articles, among which were the following: a dress-box, a pair of boots, a thermometer, a carbine-carrier, a pair of trousers and a corset.
Saint-Simonism was universally jeered at, but it is quite a mistake to think that ridicule is detrimental in France. On the contrary, it is an excellent means of getting anything known and of spreading the knowledge of it abroad; it is in reality a force. Saint-Simonism is at the root of many of the humanitarian doctrines which were to spring up from its ashes. One of its essential doctrines was the diffusion of the soul throughout all humanity, and another that of being born anew. Enfantin said: "I can feel St. Paul within me. He lives within me." Still another of its doctrines was that of the rehabilitation of the flesh. Saint-Simonism proclaimed the equality of man and woman, that of industry and art and science, and the necessity of a fresh repartition of wealth and of a modification of the laws concerning property. It also advocated increasing the attributions of the State considerably. It was, in fact, the first of the doctrines offering to the lower classes, by way of helping them to bear their wretched misery, the ideal of happiness here below, lending a false semblance of religion to the desire for material well-being. George Sand had one vulnerable point, and that was her generosity. By making her believe that she was working for the outcasts of humanity, she could be led anywhere, and this was what happened.
Among other great minds affected by the influence of Saint-Simonism, it is scarcely surprising to find Lamennais. When George Sand first knew him, he was fifty-three years of age. He had broken with Rome, and was the apocalyptic author of _Paroles d'un croyant_. He put into his revolutionary faith all the fervour of his loving soul, a soul that had been created for apostleship, and to which the qualification of "a disaffected cathedral" certainly applied.
After the famous trial, Liszt took him to call on George Sand in her attic. This was in 1835. She gives us the following portrait of him: "Monsieur de Lamennais is short, thin, and looks ill. He seems to have only the feeblest breath of life in his body, but how his face beams. His nose is too prominent for his small figure and for his narrow face. If it were not for this nose out of all proportion, he would be handsome. He was very easily entertained. A mere nothing made him laugh, and how heartily he laughed." It was the gaiety of the seminarist, for Monsieur Feli always remained the _Abbe_ de Lamennais. George Sand had a passionate admiration for him. She took his side against any one who attacked him in her third _Lettre d'un voyageur_, in her _Lettre a Lerminier_, and in her article on _Amshaspands et Darvands_. This is the title of a book by Lamennais. The extraordinary names refer to the spirits of good and evil in the mythology of Zoroaster. George Sand proposed to pronounce them _Chenapans et Pedants_. Although she had a horror of journalism, she agreed to write in Lamennais' paper, _Le Monde._
"He is so good and I like him so much," she writes, "that I would give him as much of my blood and of my ink as he wants." She did not have to give him any of her blood, and he did not accept much of her ink. She commenced publishing her celebrated _Lettres a Marcie_ in _Le Monde_. We have already spoken of these letters, in order to show how George Sand gradually attenuated the harshness of her early feminism.
 _Correspondance_: To Jules Janin, February 15, 1837.
These letters alarmed Lamennais, nevertheless, and she was obliged to discontinue them. Feminism was the germ of their disagreement. Lamennais said: "She does not forgive St. Paul for having said: `Wives, obey your husbands.'" She continued to acknowledge him as "one of our saints," but "the father of our new Church" gradually broke away from her and her friends, and expressed his opinion about her with a severity and harshness which are worthy of note.
Lamennais' letters to Baron de Vitrolles contain many allusions to George Sand, and they are most uncomplimentary.