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“ He is gone on the mountain, he is lost to the forest,
“ The hand of the reaper takes the ears that are hõary,
But the voice of the weeper wails manhood in glory;
“ Fleet foot on the corei, sage counsel in cumber,
Red hand in the foray, how sound is thy slumber!
1. JOAN OF ARC was born, in 1412, in the little village of Domremy, on the borders of Lorraine, in France. Her parents were poor, and maintained themselves by their own labor upon a little land, with a few cattle. Jo'an worked in the field in summer, and in winter she sewed and spun. Small was her stock of learning, for she could neither read nor write; but she would often go apart by herself, in the pasture, as if to talk with God. She was a devout attendant at church, and gave to the poor to the utmost extent
of her means; a girl of natural piety, that saw God in forests, and hills, and fountains, but did not the. less seek him in places consecrated by religion.
2. Her native land was, at this period, in a distracted state. Paris was occupied by English troops, and the King of England was declared by a strong party the rightful heir of the throne of France. The people of the north of France, seeing in his success the end of strife, favored his cause; but in the south the country people and a part of the nobility stood by the lineal heir, Charles the Seventh, and by the old nătionality. Meanwhile the English were extending their power; and the city of Orleans was so closely besieged by them that its fall seemed inevitable. It was a dark day for France.
3. For some time Joan had entertained the belief that she was in communion with the spirits of departed saints; that she saw angelic visions, and heard angelic voices. These voices now whispered to her the duty imposed upon herself of delivering France and restoring its nationality. She found the means of making her way to the presence of the true heir of the throne, Charles the Seventh ; and although, as he stood among his courtiers, he at first, in order to test her prophetic gift, maintained that he was not the king, she fell down and embraced his knees, declaring that he was the man. She offered to raise the siege of Orleans, and to conduct Charles to Rheims to be crowned.
4. At this time she was eighteen years old, slender and delicate in shape, with a pleasant countenance, a somewhat pale complexion, eyes rather melancholy than eager, and rich chestnut-brown hair. As the king's affairs were hopeless, he did not refuse what seemed the preternatural aid proffered by Joan. She demanded for herself a particular sword in the church of St. Catharine, which was given to her. She put on a male dress, and unfurled her banner at the head of the French army, whom she had inspired with her own strong convictions of help from on high through her means.
5. She now appeared frequently in battle, and was several times wounded; still no unfeminine cruelty ever stained her conduct. She never killed any one, never shed blood with her own hand. She interposed to protect the captive or the wounded. She mourned over the excesses of her countrymen, and would throw herself from her horse to administer comfort to a dying foeman. Resolute, chivalrous, gentle, and brave, wise in council, constant in her faith in her high mission, and inspiring the whole immense host by her enthusiasm, the secret of her success seemed to lie as much in her good sense as in her courage and her visions. This girl of the people clearly saw the question before France, and knew how to solve it.
6. When she had first appeared before the king, he had been on the point of giving up the struggle with the English, and of flying to the south of France. Joan taught him to blush for such abject counsels. She liberated Orleans, that great city, so decisive by its fate for the issue of the war. Entering the city after sunset, on the 29th of April, 1429, she took part, on Sunday, May 8th, in the religious celebration for the entire disappearance of the besieging force. On the 29th of June, she gained, over the English, the decisive battle of Patay'; on the 9th of July, she took Troyes by a coup-de-main; on the 15th of that month, she carried the dauphin into Rheims; on Sunday, the 17th, she crowned him; and there she rested from her labor of triumph. She had accomplished the capital objects which her own visions had dictated. She had saved France. What remained was — to suffer.
7. Having placed the king on his throne, it was her fortune thenceforward to be thwarted. More than one military plan was entered upon which she did not approve. Too well she felt that the end was now at hand. Still, she continued to jeopard her person in battle as before; severe wounds had not taught her caution; and at length she was made prisoner by the Burgun'dians, and finally given up to the English. The object now was to vitiate the coronation of Charles the Seventh as the work of a witch; and, for this end, Joan was tried for sprcery. She resolutely defended herself from the absurd accusation.
8. Never, from the foundations of the earth, was there such a trial as this, if it were laid open in all its beauty of defense, and all its malignity of attack. O, child of France! shepherdess, peasant-girl! trodden under foot by all around thee, how I honor thy flashing intellect, - quick as the lightning, and as true to its mark, — that ran before France and laggard Eu. rope by many a century, confounding the malice of the ensnarer, and making dumb the oracles of falsehood! “Would you examine me as a witness against myself?” was the question by which many times she defied their arts. The result of this trial was the condemnation of Joan to be burnt alive. · Never did grim inquisitors doom to death a fairer victim by baser means.
9. Woman, sister! there are some things which you do not execute as well as your brother, man; no, nor ever will. Yet, sister, woman, — Cheerfully, and with the love that burns in depths of admiration, I acknowledge that you can do one thing as well as the best of men, - you can die grandly! On the 20th of May, 1431, being then about nineteen years of age, Joan of Arc underwent her martyrdom. She was conducted, before midday, guarded by eight hundred spearmen,
to a platform of prodigious height, constructed of wooden billets, supported by occasional walls of lath and plaster, and traversed by hollow spaces in every direction, for the creation of air-currents.
10. With an undaunted soul, but a meek and saintly demeanor, the maiden encountered her terrible fate. Upon her head was placed a miter, bearing the in scription, "Relapsed heretic, apostate, idolatress.” Her piety displayed itself in the most touching manner to the last; and her angelic forgetfulness of self was man. ifested in a remarkable degree. The executioner had been directed to apply his torch from below. He did 80. The fiery smoke rose upward in billowing volumes. A monk was then standing at Joan's side. Wrapt up in his sublime office, he saw not the danger, but still persisted in his prayers.
11. Even then, when the last enemy was racing up the fiery stairs to seize her, even at that moment did this noblest of girls think only for him, — the one friend that would not forsake her, - and not for her. self; bidding him with her last breath to care for his own preservation, but to leave her to God. “Go down,” she said; “ lift up the cross before me, that I may see it in dying, and speak to me pious words to the end." Then, protesting her innocence, and recommending her soul to Heaven, she continued to pray as the flames leaped up and walled her in. Her last audible word was the name of Jesus. Sustained by faith in him, in her last fight upon the scaffold, she had triumphed gloriously; victoriously she had tasted death.
12. A soldier, who had sworn to throw a făgot on the pile, turned away, a penitent for life, on hearing her last prayer to her Saviour. He had seen, he said, a white dove soar to heaven from the ashes where the brave girl had stood. Thomas DE QUINCEY (altered).