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these pitiless wars has never been effaced. Not long since was seen near Neufchâteau an antique tree with sinister name, whose branches had no doubt often borne human fruit-Chêne des Partisans (the Partisans' Oak).
The poor people of the march had the honor of being directly subject to the king ; that is, in reality, they belonged to no one, were neither supported nor managed by any one, and had no lord or protector but God. People so situated are of a serious cast. They know that they can count upon nothing; neither on their goods nor on their lives. They sow, the soldier reaps. Nowhere does the husbandman feel greater anxiety about the affairs of his country, none have a directer interest in them; the least reverse shakes him so roughly ! He inquires, he strives to know and to foresee; above all, he is resigned: whatever happens, he is prepared for it; he is patient and brave. Women oven become so; they must become so among all these scldiers, if not for the sake of life, for that of honor, like Goethe's beautiful and hardy Dorothea.
Jeanne was the third daughter of a laborer,* Jacques Darc, and of Isabella Romée.t Her two godmothers were called, the one, Jeanne, the other, Sibylte.
Their eldest son had been named Jacques, and another, Pierre. The pious parents gave one of their daughters the loftier name SaintJean.
While the other children were taken by their father to work in the fields or set to watch cattle, the mother kept Jeanne at home sewing or spinning. She was taught neither reading nor writing ; but she learned all her mother knew of sacred things. She imbibed her religion, not as a lesson or a ceremony, but in the popular and simple form of an evening fireside story, as a truth of a mother's telling . . . What we imbibe thus with our blood and milk is a living thing, is life itself. . . .
As regards Jeanne's piety, we have the affecting testimony of the friend of her infancy, of her bosom friend, Haumette, who was younger than she by three or four years. “Over and over again,” she said, “I have been at her father's and have slept with her, in all love (de bonne amitié). . . . She was a very good girl, simple and gentle. She was fond of going to church and to holy places. She spun and attended to the house like other girls... : She confessed frequently. She blushed when told that she was too devout, and went too often to church.” A laborer, also summoned to give evidence, adds, that she nursed the sick and was charitable to the poor. “I know it well,” were his words ; "I was then a child, and it was she who nursed me.”
* There may be seen at this day, above the door of the hut where Jeanne Darc Sived, three scutcheons carved on stone that of Louis XI., who beautified the hut; that which was undoubtedly given to one of her brothers, along with the surname of Du Lis: and a third, charged with a star and three ploughshares, to imagine the mission of the Pacelle and the humble condition of her parents. Vallet. Mémoire adressé à l'Institut Historique, sur le nom de famille de la Pucelle,
+ The name of Romée was orten assumed in the middle age by those who had made the pilgrimage to Rome.
Her charity, her piety, were known to all. All saw that she was the best girl in the village. What they did not see and know was, that in her celestial ever absorbed worldly feelings, and suppressed their development. She had the divine gift to remain, soul and body, a child. She grew up strong and beautiful : but never knew the physical sufferings entailed on woman. They were spared her, that
she might be the more devoted to religious thought and inspiration. X Born under the very walls of the church, lulled in her cradle by the
chimes of the bells, and nourished by legends, she was herself a legend, a quickly passing and pure legend, from birth to death.
She was a living legend, .. but her vital spirits, exalted and concentrated, did not become the less creative. The young girl created, so to speak, unconsciously, and realized her own ideas, endowing them with being and imparting to them out of the strength of her original vitality such splendid and all-powerful existence, that they threw into the shade the wretched realities of this world.
If poetry mean creation, this undoubtedly is the highest poetry. Let us trace the steps by which she soared thus high from so lowly a starting-point.
Lowly in truth, but already poetic. Her village was close to the vast forests of the Vosges. From the door of her father's house she could see the old oak wood, the wood haunted by fairies ; whose favorite spot was a fountain near a large beech, called the fairies' or the ladies' tree. On this the children used to hang garlands, and would sing around it. These antique ladies and mistresses of the woods were, it was said, no longer permitted to assemble round the fountain, barred by their sins. However, the Church was always mistrustful of the old local divinities ; and to ensure their complete expulsion the curé annually said a mass at the fountain.
Amidst these legends and popular dreams, Jeanne was born. But, along with these, the land presented a poetry of a far different character, savage, fierce, and, alas ! but too real-the poetry of war. War | all passions and emotions are included in this single word. It is not that every day brings with it assault and plunder, but it brings the fear of them—the tocsin, the awaking with a start, and, in the distant horizon, the lurid light of conflagration, ... a fearful but poetic state of things. The most prosaic of men, the lowland Scots, amidst the hazards of the border, have become poets ; in this sinister desert, which even yet looks as if it were a region accursed, ballads, wild but long-lived flowers, have germed and fourished.
Jeanne had her share in these romantic adventures. She would seo poor fugitives seek refuge in her village, would assist in sheltering them, give them up her bed, and sleep herself in the loft. Once, too, her parents had been obliged to turn fugitives ; and then when tho
food of brigands had swept by, the family returned and found the village sacked, the house devastated, the church burnt.
Thus she knew what war was. Thoroughly did she understand this anti-Christian state, and unfeigned was her horror of this reign of the devil, in which every man died in mortal sin. She asked her. self whether God would always allow this, whether he would not prescribe a term to such miseries, whether he would not send a liber. ator as he had so often done for Israel—a Gideon, a Judith ? . . . She knew that woman had more than once saved God's own people, and that from the beginning it had been foretold that woman should bruise the serpent. No doubt she had seen over the portal of the churches St. Margaret, together with St. Michael, trampling under foot the dragon.... If, as all the world said, the ruin of the king, dom was a woman's work, an unnatural mother's, its redemption might well be a virgin's : and this, moreover, had been foretold in a prophecy of Merlin's ; a prophecy which, embellished and modified by the habits of each province, had become altogether Lorraine in Jeanne Darc's country. According to the prophecy current here, it was a Pucelle of the marches of Lorraine who was to save the realm ; and the prophecy had probably assumed this form through the recent marriage of Réné of Anjou with the heiress of the duchy of Lor. raine, a marriage which, in truth, turned out very happily for the kingdom of France.
One summer's day, a fast-day, Jeanne being at noontide in her father's garden, close to the church, saw a dazzling light on that side, and heard a voice say, “ Jeanne, be a good and obedient child, go often to church.” The poor girl was exceedingly alarmed.
Another time she again heard the voice and saw the radiance; and, in the midst of the effulgence, noble figures, one of which had wings, and seemed a wise prud'homme. “Jeanne," said this figure to her, “ go to the succor of the King of France, and thou shalt restore his kingdom to him.” She replied, all trembling, “Messire, I am only a poor girl ; I know not how to ride or lead men-at-arms." The voice replied, “Go to M. de Baudricourt, captain of Vaucouleurs, and he will conduct thee to the king. St. Catherine and St. Marguerite will be thy aids.” She remained stupified and in tears, as if her whole destiny had been revealed to her.
The prud'homme was no less than St. Michael, the severe archangel of judgments and of battles. He reappeared to her, inspired her with courage, and told her “the pity for the kingdom of France." Then appeared sainted women, all in white, with countless lights around, rich crowns on their heads, and their voices soft and moving unto tears : but Jeanne shed them much more copiously when saints and angels left her. “I longed,” she said, “ for the angels to take me away too.”
If in the midst of happiness like this she wept, her tears were not causeless. Bright and glorious as these visions were, a change had
JOAN OF ARC.
from that moment come over her life. She who had hitherto hoard but one voice, that of her mother, of which her own was the echo, now heard the powerful voice of angels—and what sought the heavenly voice? That she should quit that mother, quit her dear home. She, whom but a word put out of countenance, was required to mix with men, to address soldiers. She was obliged to quit for the world and for war her little garden under the shadow of the church, where she heard no ruder sounds than those of its bells, and where the birds ate out of her hand : for such was the attractive sweetness of the young saint, that animals and the fowls of the air came to her, as formerly to the fathers of the desert, in all the trust of God's peace.
Jeanne has told us nothing of this first struggle that she had to un. dergo : but it is clear that it did take place, and that it was of long duration, since five years elapsed between her first vision and her final abandonment of her home.
The two authorities, the paternal and the celestial, enjoined her two opposite commands. The one ordered her to remain obscure, modest, and laboring; the other to set out and save the kingdom. The angel bade her arm herself. Her father, rough and honest peasant as he was, swore that, rather than his daughter should go away with men. at-arms, he would drown her with his own hands. One or other, disobey she must. Beyond a doubt this was the greatest battle she was called upon to fight; those against the English were play in comparison,
In her family, she encountered not only resistance but temptation ; for they attempted to marry her, in the hope of winning her back to more rational notions, as they considered. A young villager pretended that in her childhood she had promised to marry him; and on her denying this, he cited her before the ecclesiastical Judge of Toul. It was imagined that, rather than undertake the effort of speaking in her own defence, she would submit to marriage. To the great astonishment of all who knew her, she went to Toul, appeared in court, and spoke she who had been noted for her modest silence.
In order to escape from the authority of her family, it behooved her to find in the bosom of that family some one who would believe in her : this was the most difficult part of all. In default of her father, she made her uncle a sonvertite to the truth of her mission. He took her home with him, as if to attend her aunt, who was lyiny. in. She persuaded him to appeal on her behalf to the sire de Baud. ricourt, captain of Vaucouleurs. The soldier gave a cool reception to the peasant, and told him that the best thing to be done was " to give her a good whipping," and take her back to her father. She was not discouraged; she would go to him, and forced her uncle to accompany her. This was the decisive moment ; she quitted forever her village and family, and embraced her friends, above all, her good little friend, Mengette, whom she recommended to God's keeping; as to her elder friend and companion, Haumette, her whom she loved most of all, she preferred quitting without leave-taking.
At length she bached this city of Vaucouleurs, attired in her coarso red peasant's dr ss, and took up her lodging with her uncle at the house of a wheelwright, whose wife conceived a friendship for her. She got herself taken to Baudricourt, and said to him in a firm tone, “That she can o to him from her Lord, to the end that he might send the dauphin word to keep firm and to fix no day of battle with tho enemy, for his Lord would send him succor in Mid-Lent. ... The realm was not the dauphin's, but her Lord's ; nevertheless her Lord willed the dauphin to be king, and to hold the realm in trust.” She added, that despite the dauphin's enemies, he would be king, and that she would take him to be crowned.
The captain was much astonished; he suspected that the devil must have a hand in the matter. Thereupon, he consulted the curé, who apparently partook his doubts. She had not spoken of her vi. sions to any priest or churchman. So the curé accompanied the captain to the wheelwright's house, showed his stole, and adjured Jeanne to depart if sent by the evil spirit.
But the people had no doubts; they were struck with admiration. From all sides crowds flocked to see her. A gentleman, to try her, said to her, “Well, sweetheart; after all, the king will be driven out of the kingdom and we must turn English.” She complained to him of Baudricourt's refusal to take her to the dauphin ; “And yet," she said, “before Mid-Lent, I must be with the king, even were I to wear out my legs to the knees; for no one in the world, nor kings, nor dukes, nor daughter of the King of Scotland, can recover the kingdom of France, and he has no other who can succor him save myself, albeit I would prefer staying and spinning with my poor mother, but this is no work of my own; I must go and do it, for it is my Lord's will.”—“And who is your Lord ?” “God !" ... The gentleman was touched. He pledged her “his faith, his hand placed in hers, that with God's guiding he would conduct her to the king.” A young man of gentle birth felt himself touched likewise ; and de. clared that he would follow this holy maid.
It appears that Baudricourt sent to ask the king's pleasure ; and that in the interim he took Jeanne to see the duke of Lorraine, who was ill, and desired to consult her. All that the duke got from her was advice to appease God by reconciling himself with his wife. Nevertheless, he gave her encouragement.
On returning to Varicouleurs she found there a messenger from the king, who authorized her to repair to court. The reverse of the battle of herrings had determined his counsellors to try any and every means. Jeanne had proclaimed the battle and its result on the very day it was fought; and the people of Vaucouleurs, no longer doubting her mission, subscribed to equip her and buy her a horse. Baudri. court only gave her a sword.
At this moment an obstacle arose. Her parents, informed of her approaching departure, nearly lost their senses, and made the strang.