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On her father's side she came of a He wrote to his mother, whom he line of ancestors whose history belongs evidently worshipped, long letters, to the chronique scandaleuse of pre- with the fullest details of all his affairs Revolutionary Europe. Her grand- and occupations. He made no secret mother was the daughter of Maurice to her of his admiration for a pretty de Saxe, one of the numerous offspring adventuress whom he met in Italy, of Augustus the Strong, King of and she on her part treated the inciPoland, and of a certain Demoiselle dent as French mothers do take these Verrières, an actress of some note in things. It was different when the her day, whose history, more curious fancy threatened to become a serious than edifying, has lately been the attachment, demanding the engagesubject of a monograph by a French ment of a lifetime. author. Marshall Saxe acknowledged Sophie Victoire Delaborde was no his daughter and she was carefully ordinary woman. The child of a educated and married to the Count of street-hawker, thrown on the world Horn, who soon left her a widow. at the age of fourteen to make her On the death of her husband the own way as she could, she impressed young Countess retired to a convent, even unfavourable judges by her where without taking the veil she natural distinction, her originality lived in semi-seclusion, going little and generous temper. She had for into the world but seeing some of the Maurice Dupin one of those redeemleading people in the society of the ing passions which are so common in time on a quiet footing of intimacy. fiction and so rare in real life. He She was fair and very pleasing in on his side wished to give her his appearance, cultivated, accomplished, name, but the strong opposition of his and of spotless reputation. Hampered mother withheld him. At last the by her equivocal parentage and amid sense of what he owed to the woman all the snares of a corrupt society, whom he loved sincerely and who, "she lost," says her granddaughter, whatever her past faults, had been a “not a feather from her wing." At loyal and constant comrade to him, the age of thirty she took as her second overcame the dread of his mother's husband M. Dupin de Franceuil. anger and of her tears, which were was a marriage of esteem; the bride- harder to resist. They were married, groom was more than twice as old as and soon after their famous daughter his bride, but he was a typical gentle- was born, and called Aurore after man of the old school in manners and Madame Dupin de Franceuil. character. On the only son of this What followed was curious. Maurice marriage, Maurice, named after his dared not confess what he had done, grandfather the hero of Fontenoy, while Madame Dupin, though perfectly Aurore de Saxe lavished all the passion well informed of what had happened, of her nature. Handsome, kindly, and said nothing to her son, but secretly charming, he was a son whom any endeavoured by every means in her mother would have idolised. His power to annul the marriage. Meancorrespondence with his mother at while son and mother continued in Nohant, while he was serving as an affectionate correspondence. Maurice officer under Napoleon, shows him to went down to Nohant, but said no have been possessed of no inconsider- word on the matter of which his able literary talent, while it exhibits thoughts were full, and Madame his impulsive affectionate character in Dupin, while her heart bled at this a decidedly engaging light.
want of confidence, went on with her
schemes for separating him from his by their common grief, but it soon wife. There was nothing to be done, broke out again, with cruel results for however; the knot was too firmly tied. the poor child who was the victim of
In these circumstances what could their dissensions. On one side was a poor lady do, who had put all her Madame Dupin de Franceuil, a type eggs in one basket ? The story of her of the eighteenth century aristocrat, final relenting, as told by George with that physical inactivity and useSand, is almost too pretty to be true, lessness, fostered by the conventions and one suspects some" arrangement" of her training, that alertness of mind on the part of the novelist. She and facility of conversation of which relates how Maurice Dupin, on hear- such portraits as the Marquise de Villeing that his mother was in Paris, mer remind us. Hers was a keen jumped into a cab with his baby intelligence saturated with the notions daughter, arrived at the house where of the pre-Revolutionary period, deisMadame Dupin was staying, and per- tical and anti-clerical, and yet so much suaded the porter's wife to take the a slave to the opinion of society, even infant with her into Madame's room. on points where she despised it, that The portress accordingly introduced she had her little granddaughter prethe baby (a handsome dark-eyed little pared for her first communion while creature, strikingly like its father) as warning her at the same time not to the child of a friend. Madame Dupin be so superstitious as to believe what admired it and condescended to take she was told, and sent her to be eduit on her knee ; suddenly the poor cated in a fashionable convent, while woman began to tremble violently. dreading above all things that she “ You have deceived me," she cried, should be affected by the religious “I know who it is. It is like it is atmosphere of the place. These like-" The baby, frightened by her curious inconsistencies in the conduct agitation, began to cry and the of her grandmother affected, we may portress, alarmed
and apologetic, be sure, the sensitive observer who attempted to take it away;
but was growing up under her roof, aud Madame Dupin would not part with more especially as she had the opporit, and when Maurice appeared, he tunity of contrasting so marked a found his mother, with the tears run- type of the old aristocracy with the ning down her face, chirruping to the woman of the people who was her little creature and trying to make it mother. laugh.
This modiste with a smirched repuFrom that time the mistress of tation was in some ways not unworthy Nohant, having taken the little to be the mother of a genius. It was Aurore to her heart, found it neces- not her beauty alone which had sary to make an effort to tolerate the attracted Maurice Dupin ; she had child's mother. Almost from the grace, spirit, and versatility, and these time of her birth Aurore Dupin was, qualities had their effect even on as her father had been, a sort of Madame Dupin de Franceuil who battledore tossed to and fro between distrusted and disliked her. She was these women, a perpetual bone of con- marvellously clever with her fingers, tention for their jealous affection. active and practical like a true ParisWhen Maurice Dupin, riding home to ienne, devout in
queer Nohant one dark night, was killed by fashion, affectionate, industrious. She a fall from his horse, the opposition brought up her daughter in a breezy between them was calmed for a time impetuous fashion, alternating blows
and caresses, passionately tender, and with chairs to prevent her getting again as violently unreasonable. into mischief, and she amused herself
Such as she was, it was a sad day in this kind of cage with inventing for Aurore when she went back to interminable stories. Sometimes she Paris to live, and the child was left would sit for a long time together on at Nohant to be brought up as her a stool at her mother's feet, plunged grandmother's heiress.
in these imaginations; and at such of repression on which Madame Dupin times her face was so expressionless went was hard for the wild creature that those who watched her feared to bear. She was never kissed on she would turn out an exceptionally impulse, but deliberately as a reward. stupid child. Through all her life, to She was constantly being reminded to the very end, this lack of outward hold herself properly, not to loll, not brilliance and vivacity was noticeable to run, to wear her gloves, and gener- in her, and it was due to her intensity ally to remember that she was a of inward reverie and vision. young lady, and must behave as such. These dreamy moods alternated She behaved outwardly with a docility with periods of violent activity. Her that deceived her guardians, but in- grandmother discovered at last that wardly she was possessed by the idea confinement to the house really hurt of a great renunciation. Some day her health and she was allowed to or other she would surrender her run wild with the little villagers of rank and estate and go to help her Nohant. mother in the milliner's shop that “ Madame Maurice” talked of open
I loved solitude with passion. I loved ing, with malicious satisfaction in
the society of other children with equal
passion. I had friends and companions the mortification which she pictured everywhere. I knew in what field, or Madame Dupin as feeling when she meadow, or on what road, I should find read her son's name over the shop Fanchon, Pierrot, Aline, Rosette, and door in gilt letters a foot long.
Sylvain. We camped in the ditches, in
the trees, by the streams. We kept the Thus outwardly submissive and in
flocks,-that is to say, we did nothing of wardly rebellious, her life went on. the kind, and while the goats and sheep She did lessons with the tutor attached were feasting on the young wheat, we to the household, a sort of French
were wildly dancing, or eating our brown
bread and cheese, wild pears and crab Dominie Sampson, who also acted as
apples, blackberries from the hedge, and bailiff of the estate. Since no one roots,-nothing came amiss to us. taught her any religion, she invented a deity of her own, made him a little In the winter evenings she often shrine in a corner of the garden, and made one of the party who gathered sacrificed to him by catching birds round the great fireplace in the farmand butterflies and setting them free house kitchen to listen to the tales in his honour. Her favourite books that the old women told over their were translations of the ILIAD and spinning-wheels. Such
the JERUSALEM DELIVERED, which gave
apprenticeship of the child who was her the framework for the dream- to write in after days LA MARE AU world in which she lived. She could DIABLE and LA PETITE FADETTE. not remember the time when she did She knew by heart that country not make up romances to herself. described so deliciously in the openWhen she was a baby of three or ing chapters of VALENTINE, "a country four in her mother's little fat at of fresh and calm landscapes, of soft Paris, Victoire used to fence her in green meadows, of melancholy streams."
Her nature was so impressionable that as it stunned, and went about things the words of a folk song, with their mechanically, without life or interest. hint of “old, unhappy, far-off things” But by degrees the secret strength could set her weeping. The fields and of her nature reasserted itself. “I woods about Nohant had an attrac- discovered," she says, referring to tion for this poetic soul, which even that curious absence of resentment from the stir of Paris and the charm which was so marked a feature of her of Italy, from fame and love, society character," "that I loved both my and adventure, called her back with mother and my grandmother as much an irresistible nostalgia to live and as before." Nevertheless she had lost die among them.
her childish ideal ; that glimpse into In the midst of these calm and a dim world of evil, that horror of a happy influences she was haunted by vague danger, spoiled all her dreams. a sense of social injustice. She re- The outward effect of this mental and belled at the idea that her mother spiritual shock was to make her wild was working for her bread, while
and unmanageable, and the end of it she herself was being brought up to a all was that Madame Dupin decided life of comparative luxury. All the to send her to the Couvent des generous instincts of the child's soul
Anglaises in Paris. went out to the despised and ostra- The Couvent des Anglaises was an cised mother. At last it came to the old religious house, founded under ears of Madame Dupin that the child Cromwell for the benefit of English nourished the idea of running away Roman Catholics who were driven from her and going to Madame from England by the Puritan perseMaurice at Paris. It seemed to the cution. Even when Aurore Dupin grandmother that the influence which went there as a pupil, all the nuns she so dreaded could only be com- were English, Scotch, or Irish. They bated in one way.
She called Aurore kept to their English ways, taking to her and solemnly told her that her toa three times a day, we are told, mother was unworthy to have the among other things. charge of her.
The cloisters and the church were She might have told me also how my
paved with long slabs, under which re. mother had redeemed the past, how since
posed the venerated bones of English his death (her father's] she had lived
Catholics dead in exile and buried by humbly, sadly, quietly. I thought I
special favour in this inviolable sanc knew this, but I was given to understand
tuary. Everywhere on the walls and on that if they told me all the past they
the tombs were epitaphs and religious spared me for the present, and that there
sentences written in English. In the was in the actual life of my mother some
parlour of the Superior were old portraits new secret which they would not tell me,
of English princes and prelates, with the and which ought to make me tremble for
lovely and frail Mary Stuart, who was my own future if I insisted on living with
accounted a saint by our irreproachable her.
nuns. In short all was English, past
and present; and when you had passed The cruelty and folly of such a the grille, it seemed that you had crossed revelation to a child of twelve does
the Channel. not need dwelling on. It spread a cloud of darkness and mystery about The life at a girls boarding-school the sweetness and most generous of has never (if we except VILLETTE) her affections; it filled her with a attracted a chronicler of genius; and morbid distrust. For a time she was we should, therefore, be all the more
thankful for those chapters of the again the nocturnal escapades of the HISTOIRE MA VIE in which Couvent des Anglaises ? Madame Sand, in her old age, re- Gradually the girl outgrew these traced her experiences while under tomboyish diversions, and the reflecthe care of the English nuns. They tive, emotional side of her character have all the delightful ease and vivid took the upper hand. Born with a naturalness of her best novels.
devotional temperament and a quesThe convent was a rambling old tioning rebellious intellect, she was house, full of useless stairs and doomed to be buffeted between these passages, and corridors that led to
opposing tendencies as she had been nothing, and behind it was a huge from the beginning between her noble garden with great chestnut trees. grandmother and her plebian mother. The nuns were kind, well-bred sen- In the atmosphere of the convent sible women for the most part, and religion asserted its claim. She began the chief complaint she has to make to be curious of the devotional life, of them is that they did not take to study the biographies of the sufficient part in the teaching them- saints. The crisis that followed is selves, but left too much of it to lay best described in her own words. teachers of an inferior grade. To the sensitive child who had been so long It [the church) was only lighted by the distracted between two jealous and little sanctuary lamp, the white flame of exclusive affections, the convent
which was reflected on the polished
marble like a star in still water. Pale seemed a haven of rest.
gleams from it played on the angles of The pupils were unofficially divided gilded frames, on the wrought candle. by a classification of their own into sticks of the altar, and on the gold surdiables, sayes, and bêtes. Aurore
face of the tabernacle. The door was naturally ranged herself among the
open on account of the heat, and so was
a large window which looked on the diables. One of their favourite amuse- cemetery. The perfume of jasmine and ments was to explore the disused parts honeysuckle was wafted on a fresh breeze. of the convent, climbing on the roofs
The birds sang. I was conscious of a and penetrating to the cellars, with
calm, a fascination, a brooding mystery
of which I had never had the idea before. the view of "delivering the victim” One by one, the few persons scattered as they called it. There was a story about the church retired slowly-I had handed down from one generation of forgotten everythirg - I do not know pupils to another, about some pris- atmosphere of indescribable sweetness,
what passed within me.
I breathed an oner who was supposed to be con- and I absorbed it more by the heart than cealed in a recess of the old buildings, by the senses. Suddenly, I know not and whether this legend inspired faith
what tremor invaded my whole being. or not, it furnished an excuse for
My eyes were dazzled as with a white exciting and breakneck expeditions at
light in which I was enveloped. I thought
I heard a voice murmur in my ear, Tolle, unlawful hours. In the case of one lege. I turned, thinking that Mary of the madcaps, it did more; it fos- Alicia (one of the nuns] had spoken. I tered that love of secret chambers and
was alone. subterranean passages, which found
I had no proud illusions. I did not
believe in a miracle. I quite understood expression in episodes like Consuelo's
the sort of hallucination into which I experiences in the Castle of Rudol- had fallen. I was neither intoxicated stadt. In describing the heroine's nor terrified. I neither sought to inunderground adventures in company
crease it nor to withdraw myself from
it. Only I felt that the Faith had laid with the ineffably dreary Count hold of me, as I had wished, by the Albert, was she not living over heart.