"She is the only woman I have ever loved," says Bernard de Mauprat. "No other woman has ever attracted my attention or been embraced by me. I am like that. When I love, I love for ever, in the past, in the present and in the future."
_Mauprat_, then, according to George Sand, was a novel with a purpose, just as _Indiana_ was, although they each had an opposite purpose. Fortunately it is nothing of the kind. This is one of those explanations arranged afterwards, peculiar sometimes to authors. The reality about all this is quite different.
In this book George Sand had just given the reins to her imagination, without allowing sociological preoccupations to spoil everything. During her excursions in Berry, she had stopped to gaze at the ruins of an old feudal castle. We all know the power of suggestion contained in those old stones, and how wonderfully they tell stories of the past they have witnessed to those persons who know how to question them. The remembrance of the _chateau_ of Roche Mauprat came to the mind of the novelist. She saw it just as it stood before the Revolution, a fortress, and at the same time a refuge for the wild lord and his eight sons, who used to sally forth and ravage the country. In French narrative literature there is nothing to surpass the first hundred pages in which George Sand introduces us to the burgraves of central France. She is just as happy when she takes us to Paris with Bernard de Mauprat, to Paris of the last days of the old _regime_. She introduces us to the society which she had learnt to know through the traditions of her grandmother. It is not only Nature, but history, which she uses as a setting for her story. How cleverly, too, she treats the analysis which is the true subject of the book, that of education through love. We see the untamed nature of Bernard de Mauprat gradually giving way under the influence of the noble and delicious Edmee.
There are typical peasants, too, in _Mauprat_. We have Marcasse, the mole-catcher, and Patience, the good-natured Patience, the rustic philosopher, well up in Epictetus and in Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who has gone into the woods to live his life according to the laws of Nature and to find the wisdom of the primitive days of the world. We are told that, during the Revolution, Patience was a sort of intermediary between the _chateau_ and the cottage, and that he helped in bringing about the reign of equity in his district. It is to be hoped this was so.
In any case, it is very certain that we come across this Patience again in Russian novels with a name ending in _ow_ or _ew_. This is a proof that if the personage seems somewhat impossible, he was at any rate original, new and entertaining.
We hear people say that George Sand is no longer read. It is to be hoped that _Mauprat_ is still read, otherwise our modern readers miss one of the finest stories in the history of novels. This, then, is the point at which we have arrived in the evolution of George Sand's genius. There may still be modifications in her style, and her talent may still be refreshed under various influences, but with _Mauprat_ she took her place in the first rank of great storytellers.}
A CASE OF MATERNAL AFFECTION IN LOVE
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.