« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
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.
10. 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 or 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 ninth of July, she took Troyese by a coup-de-main ;E1 on the fifteenth of that month she carried the Dauphine into Rheims; on Sunday the seventeenth, 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.
11. 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 expose 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 sorcery. She resolutely defended herself from the absurd accusation,
12. Never, from the foundations of the earth, was there such a trial as this, if it were laid open in all its beauty of defence, 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 Europe by many a century, col.founding 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
sbe 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.
13. Woman, sister! there are some things which you do not execute as well as your brother, man; no, nor ever will. Yet, sister, woman, —- cheerrully, 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 twentieth 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, El supported by occasional walls of lath and plaster, and traversed by hollow spaces in every direction, for the creation of air-currents.
14. With an undaunted soul, but a meek and saintly demeanor, the maiden encountered her terrible fate. Upon her head was placed a mitre, bearing the inscription, “ Relapsed heretic, apostate, idolatress.” Her piety displayed itself in the most touching manner to the last; and her ångelic forgetfulness of self was manifested in a remarkable degree. The executioner had been directed to apply his torch from below. He did so. The fiery smoke rose upwards 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.
15. 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 herself; 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.
16. Few spectators of this martyrdomer were so hardened as to contain their tears. All the English, with the exception of a few soldiers, who made a jest of the affair, were deeply moved. The French murmured that the death was cruel and unjust. “She dies a martyr! Ah, we are lost! we have burned a saint! Would to God that my soul were with hers !” Such were the exclamations on every side. A fanat'ic English soldier, who had sworn to throw a fagot on the funeral-pile, hearing Joan's last prayer to her Saviour, suddenly turned away, a penitent for life,
saying everywhere that he had seen a dove rising upon white wings to heaven from the ashes where she had stood.
FROM DE QUINCEY AND OTHERS.
CXXII. — THE SKY.
1. It is a strange thing how little, in general, people know about the sky. It is the part of creation in which Nature has done more for the sake of pleasing man, more for the sole and evident purpose of talking to him, and teaching him, than in any other of her works; and it is just the part in which we least attend to her. The noblest scenes of the earth can be seen and known but by few; it is not intended that man should live always in the midst of them; he injures them by his presence — he ceases to feel them if he be always with them.
2. But the sky is for all; bright as it is, it is not "too bright noi good for human nature's daily food ;” it is fitted in all its functions for the perpetual comfort and exalting of the heart, for the soothing it and purifying it from drõss and dust. Sometimes gentle. sometimes capricious, sometimes awful — never the same for two moments together; almost human in its passions, almost spiritual in its tenderness, almost divine in its infinity ; its appeal to what is immortal in us is as distinct as its ministry of chastisement or of blessing to what is mortal is essential.
3. And yet we never attend to it, we never make it a subject of thought, but as it has to do with our animal sensations. We look upon all by which it speaks to us more clearly than to brutes, — upon all which bears witness to the intention of the Supreme, that we are to receive more from the covering vault than the light and the dew that we share with the weed and the worm, — only as a succession of meaningless and monotonous accident, too common and too vain to be worthy of a moment of watchfulness or a glance of admiration. If, in our moments of utter idleness and insipidity, we turn to the sky as a last resource, which of its phenomena do we speak of ?
4. One says it has been wet, and another it has been windy, and another it has been warm. Who, among the whole clattering crowd, can tell me of the forms and the precipices of the chain of tall white mountains that gilded the horizon at noon yesterday? Who saw the narrow sunbeam that came out of the south, and smote upon their summits until they melted and mould. ored away in a dust of blue rain? Who saw the dance of the dead clouds when the sunlight left them last night, and the west wind blew them before it like withered leaves ?
5. All has passed unregretted or unseen; or, if the apathy be ever shaken off, even for an instant, it is only by what is extraordinary. And yet, it is not in the broad and fierce manifestations of the elemental energies, not in the clash of the hail, nor the drift of the whirlwind, that the highest characters of the sublime are developed. God is not always so eloquent in the earthquake, nor in the fire, as in “ the still, small voice.” They are but the blunt and the low faculties of our nature which can only be addressed through lamp-black and lightning.
6. It is in quiet and subdūed passages of unobtrusive majesty, the deep, and the calm, and the perpetual, that which must be sought ere it is seen, and loved ere it is understood, — things which the angels work out for us daily, and yet vary eternally, which are never wanting and never repeated, which are to be found always yet each found but once,- it is through these that the lesson of devotion is chiefly taught, and the blessing of beauty given.
CXXIII. — THE BEAUTIFUL.
1. Walk with the Beautiful and with the Grand,
Let nothing on the earth thy feet deter ;
Walk with the Beautiful.
2. I hear thee say, “ The Beautiful! what is it?”
0, thou art darkly ignorant! Be sure
Then love the Beautiful.
3. Ay, love it ; 't is a sister that will bless,
And teach thee patience when the heart is lonely;
Then love the Beautiful.
4. Some boast its presence in a Grecian face ;
Some, in a favorite warbler of the skies ;
Then seek it everywhere.
5. Thy bosom is its mint; the workmen are
Thy thoughts, and they must coin for thee: believing
If otherwise thy faith.
6. Dost thou see Beauty in the violet's cup ?
I'll teach thee miracles ! Walk on this heath,
It will obey thy word
7. One thing I warn thee : bow no knee to gold ,
Less innocent it makes the guileless tongue :
Best love the Beautiful!
CXXIV. — THE PLOUGHMAN.
1. CLEAR the brown path to meet his coulter’ser gleam!
Lo! on he comes, behind his smoking team,
Line after line, along the bursting sod,
2. Still where he treads the stubborn clods divide;
The smooth, fresh furrow opens, deep and wide ;
3. These are the hands whose sturdy labor brings
The peasant's food, the golden pomp of kings ;