"It is no use," she wrote about the same time, "if you are born a country person, you cannot get used to the noise of cities. It always seems to me that our mud is beautiful mud, whilst that here makes me feel sick. I very much prefer my keeper's wit to that of certain of the visitors here. It seems to me that I am livelier when I have eaten some of Nannette's wheat-cake than I am after my coffee in Paris. In short, it appears to me that we are all perfect and charming, that no one could be more agreeable than we are, and that Parisians are all clowns."
 _Correspondance:_ To. Ch. Duvernet, November 12, 1842.
This was said in all sincerity. George Sand was quite indifferent about all the great events of Parisian life, about social tittle-tattle and Boulevard gossip. She knew the importance, though, of every episode of country life, of a sudden fog or of the overflowing of the river. She knew the place well, too, as she had visited every nook and corner in all weathers and in every season. She knew all the people; there was not a house she had not entered, either to visit the sick or to clear up some piece of business for the inmates. Not only did she like the country and the country people because she was accustomed to everything there, but she had something of the nature of these people within her. She had a certain turn of mind that was peasant-like, her slowness to take things in, her dislike of speech when thinking, her thoughts taking the form of "a series of reveries which gave her a sort of tranquil ecstasy, whether awake or asleep." It does not seem as though there has ever been such an _ensemble_ of favourable conditions.
 See in _Jeanne_ a very fine page on the peasant soul.
She did not succeed in her first attempt. In several of her novels, ever since _Valentine_, she had given us peasants among her characters. She had tried labourers, mole-catchers, fortune-tellers and beggars, but all these were episodic characters. _Jeanne_ is the first novel in which the heroine is a peasant. Everything connected with Jeanne herself in the novel is exquisite. We have all seen peasant women of this kind, women with serious faces and clearly-cut features, with a dreamy look in their eyes that makes us think of the maid of Lorraine. It is one of these exceptional creatures that George Sand has depicted. She has made an ecstatic being of her, who welcomes all that is supernatural, utterly regardless of dates or epochs. To her all wonderful beings appeal, the Virgin Mary and fairies, Druidesses, Joan of Arc and Napoleon. But Jeanne, the Virgin of Ep Nell, the Velleda of the Jomatres stones, the mystical sister of the Great Shepherdess, was very poorly supported. This remark does not refer to her cousin Claudie, although this individual's conduct was not blameless. Jeanne had gone into service at Boussac, and she was surrounded by a group of middle-class people, among whom was Sir Arthur----, a wealthy Englishman, who wanted to marry her. This mixture of peasants and _bourgeois_ is not a happy one. Neither is the mixture of _patois_ with a more Christian way of talking, or rather with a written style. The author was experimenting and feeling her way.
When she wrote _La Mare au Diable_ she had found it, for in this work we have unity of tone, harmony of the characters with their setting, of sentiment with the various adventures, and, above all, absolute simplicity.
In _Francois le Champi_ there is much that is graceful, and there is real feeling mingled with a touch of sentimentality. Madeleine Blanchet is rather old for Champi, whom she had brought up like her own child. In the country, though, where difference of age is soon less apparent, the disproportion does not seem as objectionable as it would in city life. The novel is not a study of maternal affection in love, as it is not Madeleine's feelings that are analyzed, but those of Francois. For a long time he had been in love without knowing it, and he is only aware of it when this love, instead of being a sort of agreeable dream and melancholy pleasure, is transformed into suffering.
The subject of _La Petite Fadette_ is another analysis of a love which has been silent for a long time. It is difficult to say which is the best of these delightful stories, but perhaps, on the whole, this last one is generally preferred, on account of the curious and charming figure of little Fadette herself. We can see the thin, slender girl, suddenly appearing on the road, emerging from a thicket. She seems to be part of the scenery, and can scarcely be distinguished from the objects around her. The little wild country girl is like the spirit of the fields, woods, rivers and precipices. She is a being very near to Nature. Inquisitive and mischievous, she is bold in her speech, because she is treated as a reprobate. She jeers, because she knows that she is detested, and she scratches, because she suffers. The day comes when she feels some of that affection which makes the atmosphere breathable for human beings. She feels her heart beating faster in her bosom, thanks to this affection, and from that minute a transformation takes place within her. Landry, who has been observing her, is of opinion that she must be something of a witch. Landry is very simple-minded. There is no witchcraft here except that of love, and it was not difficult for that to work the metamorphosis. It has worked many others in this world.