« AnteriorContinuar »
of the family of Arc, the workmanship of which is rude, and does not appear to be of very ancient date.
The parents of Jeanne were only capable of giving her an education suitable to their rank in life; it is therefore sufficient to state that her mind was imbued with religious and moral principles. With reading and writing she was altogether unacquainted, having been taught only the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the Credo, by her mother, which constituted the whole of her religious instruction. From every account handed down, it appears that Jeanne was chaste, modest, patient, very gentle and industrious, fearing God, dispensing charity, hospitable to the necessitous, and attentive to the sick.* Notwithstanding her poverty, she found means to succour the needy; being willing to relinquish her own bed
• According to history, we find that these qualities uniformly characterised Jeanne d'Arc at the period of her bearing arms, when she scrupulously attended to her fastings, which were principally every Friday during the year, unless the fatigues incidental upon military operations caused an infringement of this general rule. The priests, to whom she was in the habit of confessing, declared that they had never witnessed a female more pure of soul, more humble in spirit, or more resigned to the will of the Almighty. Although reared in rustic ignorance, she nevertheless knew how to conduct herself with extreine prudence when ushered into active life; and her piety supplied every defect resulting from a want of education. - Lenglet, vol. i.
pages 4 and 5,
when the poor applied to her parents for relief. She was scrupulously obedient to her parents; she frequented the company of the most virtuous females of the village, and she was cherished by all the inhabitants of Domremy.
When her work was done, Jeanne would repair to the church, where, upon her knees, she offered up her prayers with a fervency that bespoke the devoutness of her mind.
In her thirteenth year, she displayed little taste for those amusements which are followed with avidity by girls of such an age; and when they commenced their pastimes, Jeanne retired to her secret devotions. She was particularly fond of conversing on the subject of the Almighty, and of the Virgin Mary, who was the object of her tenderest love and constant thoughts.
Jeanne did not frequent the church at mass only and vespers, but was equally fond of embracing all opportunities of religious worship. She often went to confession, and never failed to receive the sacrament at Easter. She was frequently discovered in the church alone, her looks stedfastly fixed upon the images of our Saviour and the Virgin; and when the sound of the bell summoned the rustics to devotion, Jeanne was uniformly among the first to repair to the village sanctuary for that purpose.
Not far from Domremy, was a small chapel con
secrated to the Virgin, known by the name of the Hermitage of Saint Mary, or, the Chapel of our Lady of Bellemont. The young men and maids of Domremy and of Greux were accustomed to repair thither, for prayer, on a certain day of every year. Jeanne was in the habit of attending this spot every Saturday to meditate upon God, and to deplore the calamities to which France was then subjected. Thither, by way of offering, she carried candles, which she burnt before the image of the Virgin, to whom she addressed her
Some. times, during the week, an irresistible desire would prompt her to visit this chapel, while her parents thought she was occupied in the fields, or pursuing her usual labours. The spot upon which this structure stood is still distinguishable by a mass of stones, which are not, however, the remains of that ancient building, but merely a heap of rubbish collected in the fields, and regularly deposited there by the labourers.
Not far from Domremy rose the venerable forest of Chenu, which could be seen from the residence of Jeanne d'Arc. Beneath this wood, on the high road leading from the village to Neufchateau'
a majestic beech whose spreading foliage afforded a welcome shade to the weary traveller. So aged was this tree, that at the period of Jeanne's infancy no one could ascertain the time at which it had been planted, and it was known by the name
of the Fairies' Tree. Beneath the shade of this beech the youth of both sexes were accustomed to assemble, at certain times of the year, dancing to their own songs, partaking of a rustic repast, and tying crowns and garlands to its branches : of which recreation Jeanne d'Arc partook in early childhood ; but, at a riper age, she wholly abandoned these sports, dedicating her time to domestic occupations. Sometimes she would assist in conducting cattle to the meadows, as well as horses, which formed part of the wealth of her father. A cotemporary author relates that Jeanne was well versed in riding and managing steeds, so that she contended with her companions at the race with as much dexterity as
any knight would have displayed.
The fatal divisions which at that period reigned in France had extended their baleful influence to the remotest villages, and the names of the Burgundians and the Armagnacs were familiar to their humblest inhabitants. All the natives of Donremy, with the exception of one solitary individual, were determined Armagnacs, and con
Monstrelet, adverting to the prowess of Jeanne d'Arc in managing a horse, thus expresses himself :-“ Elle estoit hardie de chevaucher chevaux et les mener boire, et aussi de fuire appertises et autres habillites que jeunes filles n'ont point accoutumé de faire."
sequently devoted to the cause of Charles VII. The inhabitants of Maxey, a neighbouring village, situated between Domremy and Vaucouleurs, had, on the contrary, pronounced themselves advocates for the opposite faction. In consequence of this, frequent battles were fought between the natives of these respective places; and upon one occasion Jeanne d'Arc is stated to have witnessed the return of the boys of Domremy wounded and bleeding from one of those affrays, which excited in her breast such a rooted hatred for the Burgundian name, that she openly avowed a wish, that the only inhabitant of Domremy who had declared himself for that party, might be decapitated, if such were the will of the Lord. This circumstance, which shows to what an extent these inimical feelings were excited, might favour the supposition that Jeanne d'Arc was naturally cruel, did not every subsequent action of her life give evidence to the contrary.
It was about the year 1423 or 1424, that Jeanne d'Arc for the first time conceived herself visited by supernatural agents; at which period the battles of Crevant and of Verneuil took place, which threatened to annihilate the party of Charles VII. who had been previously acknowledged king at Espali, near Puy, the 28th of October, 1422, and then crowned at Poitiers, after the lapse of a few days. Jeanne d'Arc, then about thirteen
fage, (such is her own account,) at twelve o'clock on a summer's