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ture of passion. Tragedy itself may promote imitation rather than pity, while its warnings sleep in the dull ear. And yet to banish poets from the State, as Plato desired, would be an ill service to humanity and morals.
At all events, there is an end to the legendary charge that George Sand, in Venice, threatened Musset with the mad-house. And the charge of unfaithfulness' must be withdrawn. In Genoa and Florence, Musset had already returned to his dissolute courses. Sincerity of confession, tender suing for pardon, wearies when there is no amendment. Double in his personality, Coelio and Octave by turns, it was the part of the demon rather than of the spirit of love and light which he had been playing. He had lavished the ill speech of nervous irritation, neglected her when she lay ill of malaria, declared the cessation of his love. She was free; their sole bond was that of comradeship. Presently he was like to die. George Sand, barely convalescent, brought him safely through his fever and delirium, with the aid of Dr Pagello. If she turned to Pagello for consolation, or allowed him to offer it, that was the irreparable fault she deplored. She exhausts all possible reprobation of the fault. But, from first to last, she indignantly denied that there was any spectacle of a new love offered to the eyes of a dying man. That was the one charge that stung. Her letters, and those of Musset, were to prove her guiltless of such an offence. But the thoroughgoing partisan is superior to proof. The 'Mussetists,' with the exception of M. Clouard, still cling to the charge, and rely for confirmation upon the strange page, entitled 'In Morea,' brought forward by Pagello. The 'Sandists' scornfully reject its authenticity. But there seems no need for dispute. One night Musset sleeps in quiet; Pagello reads a volume of Hugo; George Sand takes a sheet of paper and writes with furious haste. She hands the sheets to Pagello. Is it the beginning of a novel, or a confession? Next day, upon his question, she takes back the sheets to endorse them: To the stupid Pagello.' It is a love-challenge, much of the kind that might be made under the licence of a mask at a carnivalball, should the challenger be capable of the highest Romantic floridness, fervour, and cavalier swaggering. There is nothing in it to disagree with her later regret that she listened to Pagello. She does not mention her Vol. 216.—No. 430.
challenge in the letters. Was it to be expected that she would, or could? It was enough that she was free, and that Musset acknowledged her freedom. It was too much that she availed herself of her freedom, to the lasting sorrow of herself and of Musset, who approved the transference of rights.
Some have seen in Dr Pagello a broad figure of comedy. But the added touch of caricature is not required. He is amiable and of no great depth, turning a copy of verses that still please the fisher-folk of Venice, self-complacent and ready to believe he had a hand in writing the 'Lettres d'un Voyageur.' Poor and economical, he had his shrewd eye to ways and means; in Paris, whither he accompanied George Sand, he could traffic in old masters, and pursue his clinical studies. He is delighted to testify that George Sand, indefatigable in her literary work, was also 'passionately devoted to all the duties of a housekeeper,' and could wholly disarm his good father who chid him and talked of prudence. He had probably not so much as heard of Romanticism, but was eager to oblige. Adapting himself to the fervid enthusiasm of the renouncing tragicomedians, he played his assigned part with laudable zeal. A pleasant fellow after his kind; but the situation was too difficult. George Sand was in love with two men at once; or rather, believing that the one love-hers for Musset, and Musset's for her was at an end, she took refuge in the other.
But a novel expedient was to hand. In the progress of convalescence Musset is heroic, playing in advance the part of the self-sacrificing Jacques.' Who is he, in his deep unworthiness, to divide lovers? He would rather bless. In a mystic hour- Ah! that night of enthusiasm,' as she recalls it to him-he joins the hands of his preservers. Henceforth he is their adopted child. And, in the letters from Venice to Paris, it is the Romantic sublimity of this hour which haunts George Sand. Pagello has not the faults of him who is absent, and therefore she lacks the joy of suffering; her devoted strength, her maternal solicitude, is unemployed. 'Oh! why could I not have lived between you two, and made you happy, without belonging to either? I could well have lived ten years like that.' And when, dropping Pagello in Paris, she has fled to Nohant for refuge from both, she cannot
understand their vagaries. Had she not dreamed of a love for the three of them-a love of the soul?
'Is lofty, trustful love impossible?' (she asks Musset). 'Must I die without finding it? Always clutching phantoms and pursuing shadows! I am weary of it. And yet I loved him [Pagello, to wit] sincerely and seriously, that generous man, as romantic as I was. I believed him stronger than myself. I loved him like a father, and you were the child of both. And now he is turning weak, suspicious, unjust, ready to pick a quarrel on the slightest pretext.'
A good fellow, this Venetian doctor. Mais que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère?' He was very much in the way, even when Musset was gone. George Sand was not, as the legend runs, the cold and practical male who managed, and then wearied of managing, the feminine and ultra-sensitive Musset. Stranded in Venice, she toils to gain the means of return, the means of paying off a gambling-debt of Musset which she had taken on herself; and he in Paris, newly recovered, was announcing the recurrence of his wonted follies. But the pair, in their letters, chanted their endless hymn of love and regret. As for the trustful Pagello, she writes:
'I allow myself to be regenerated by his gentle and honest affection; for the first time in my life I love without passion.' 'Heaven made us for each other' (rejoins Musset); 'in the lofty sphere of our intelligence, like two birds of the mountain, each recognising his peer in the other, we hotly flew to the meeting that was all too much for us. .. Ah, my sole friend, I have almost tortured you, at least in these times of late. I have made you suffer deeply; but, praise God, I have not done something worse which I might have done. Oh, my child, you love; you are fair; you wander beneath the sweetest sky in the world, resting your arm upon a man whose heart is worthy of you. Excellent young man! Tell him how much I love him, so that I can hardly restrain my tears at the thought of him.'
But, truly, Pagello was of little moment to either. It is the part of Pagello to love his Alfred and listen to the letters he sends; to recognise her silence, and 'respect it so religiously'; in short, to be quiet and good, except when an old flame of his comes to pull out half his hair, and rend his 'beautiful coat.' She would reconcile Pagello
and his Arpalice, at the request of that strenuous lady, though she fears it will be a bad service. For Pagello
is an angel of virtue, and deserves a happier fate.'
Thus, Musset might read between the lines, and take comfort. Parted, they are vastly occupied, each striving to engross the whole fault. Parted, they are the more close to each other. Idealism, imagination, are fostered by absence. She is to think what he was before she found him, and what his life will be without her.
'You took me by the hand to set me upon the right path-I have only you. I have denied so much, blasphemed so much, I doubt everything except you.... However weak and miserable my love must have seemed to you, I have caught a glimpse of a new world, and that is enough.'
She has her lyrical response. She points out the mountain-path that leads to the summits.
You are not of those who are discouraged by vain fatigue, not one to be broken by a fall.... Hope on; let your life be a poem as fair as those of which you have dreamed! One day you will read it with the holy joy of pride.'
These Romantic lovers! And with the alternations, the contraries, that seem a part of passion, it is after the disastrous renewal in Paris of their old relations, after the agony inflicted by his retrospective jealousy, after his dismissal of her, that George Sand touches the height of her passion, the passion of which she has so often been declared incapable. She lingers forlorn about his door, in the way of the Roman elegists, shears off her locks to send them to him, breathes out her despair in a diary that must reach his hand. It is the very malady of love. 'Ah! he is wrong-God! is it not so?-he is wrong in abandoning me now that my soul is purified, and that, for the first time, I have come to a firm determination. Is it such? I know not. It is better than that; for what do I know or care about their human reasonings and principles? I feelthat is all. I love him. This love of mine would take me to the end of the world. But no one wants it, and my flame will die out like an idle holocaust.'
But one shrinks from dwelling on this diary. It is not the flowing eloquence of the 'Lettres d'un Voyageur'; it is the moan of the stricken deer-a matter of pathology,
of pity. And there is no need to tell of the last renewal and the speedy flight she planned and executed. A friend, expressing sympathy, took occasion to blame Musset. She protests at once; she will not have him blamed. 'There are so many things between two lovers which they alone are capable of judging'-a remark ever in season. But our Pagello should not be dismissed without a word. To the last he must have been at a loss to understand the 'beautiful poem' in which he had collaborated'the beautiful poem,' she writes to Musset,' of our sacred friendship and the ideal bond that linked us three, when you forced from him in Venice the confession of his love for me, and he vowed to you to make me happy.' He was no article for exportation to Paris. But he comprehends at last that he is in the way; and he makes his dignified exit, not without a parting shot.
'Our farewell' (he writes) 'was silent; I shook her hand without being able to look at her. She seemed perplexed; I do not know whether she suffered or not; my presence embarrassed her. She was tired of this Italian who, with his simple good sense, demolished the impenetrable sublimity with which she was accustomed to veil the lassitude of her loves. I had already let her know that I had deeply sounded her heart, full of excellent qualities, but marred by many failings. This knowledge on my part could not fail to irritate her, and so I abridged my visit as much as possible. embraced her two children, and
So to Venice again, and doctoring, and the long years of high respectability.
The contending figures of this tragedy-tragi-comedy it may well seem except to the sufferers, and all the more because of their sincerity and eloquence-were spared their fifth act. Death stayed its Death stayed its hand, though they meditated suicide again and again, though murder was menaced, and the continuance of close relations was mutual destruction. Musset pursued his ruinous course. He had gained at least his ample inspiration; his one great passion prompted his highest literature; while George Sand, after the bodily crisis which supervened upon that of the mind, returned to her labours, and strained forward to her goal of harmony. She had paid her penalty. And it is not this tale of fervid passion