Ҿ˹˹ѧ
PDF
ePub

our pages with quotations

of fustian that exceeds Chrononhor tonthologos. Monsieur D'Arlincourt makes an old gentleman tired of life compare it to " an exhausted field, a naked desert," producing "but arid heaths and bitter herbs.” 'The same person is represented as “wandering in the darkness of existence," and wishing for the opening of " that door of light which mankind calls the tomb ;" and his querulousness is consoled by Elodie, the heroine, who is described as “ the rose of spring unruffled by the tempest's breath, confidently entering upon life like a lark springing up into the sky." Prayer is designated not only as the “ healing balm of a wounded mind," which was common place enough to be admitted as natural, but also “un fil sacré qui lie la terre au ciel,” another proof of a pleasing image made laughable by the exorbitant absurdity of the writer. As if to deprive his heroine, like his hero, of all possibility of exciting a rational interest, and as if, like the physician of a fever hospital, he could comprehend only the fancies of crack-brained patients, he concocts a dose of horrors and impossibilities “ too tedious for insertion.” But we may mention as the most prominent, "a bloody phantom" that defeats an army; and the fact of the heroine consenting to marry the hero, who avows himself the murderer of her father, the seducer of her cousin, and the cause of her uncle having perished on a desolate mountain. Fortunately however, for the sake of decency, the conscientious priest who is to perform the ceremony curses" Le Solitaire" instead of marrying him, and kills both the lovers by the force of his sonorous anathema.

If we wanted altogether a sententious summary of Monsieur D'Arlincourt's literary character, we could not find a better than a sentence of his own, describing a certain Prince de Palzo, one of the personages of this Gallimafrée. “Il était peu seduisant, et de plus il etait conspirateur *. Le timbre de son âme n'avait jamais rendu que des sons trompeuses, parfois energique, mais jamais sublime, parfois eclatant, mais toujours faux.

" Le Rénegat” is little more than a rechauffé of Le Solitaire, a literary pendant, a twin abortion, a syntactical part of the same system answering completely to the absurdity of its fellow. We have in the second romance as in the first une vierge touchante, un homme mysterieux, un vieux de la roche noire, an intrigue rich in confusion, mystery, love and death. There is an encreased degree of bombast and obscurity perhaps in the style--but that was in the natural progress of improvement. The history commences with the invocation, de rigueur which is

Be it understood against the good cause of Romanticisme

addressed to the “muse of rocks and torrents !' the powerful genius of the storm! the savage deity of the north !" which personage

of rather doubtful gender is requested to play an accompaniment on the harp to the distant rattling of the tempest; and, discarding the aids of the “ melodious lyres of Greece,” the author calls upon the Israelitish muse of Horeb and Sion to swell out the diapason with a few thunder-claps from Mount Sinai. We cannot afford room for the portrait of Ezilda the Heroine, the Virgin of Cevennes, the Virgin of Misfortune, the Virgin of Happiness, &c.; nor can we follow her through palaces, convents, and exhausted volcanoes, over which she wanders with nearly the facility of Milton's fiend who

O'er bog, o'er steep, thro' straight, rough, dense, or rare,

With head, hands, wings, or feet pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps or flies."

Histoire de Jeanne d'Arc. Par M. LEBRUN DE CHARMETTES. 4. Vols.

8vo. Paris. Memoirs of Jeanne d'Arc, surnamed La Pucelle d'Orleans : with the

History of her Times. 2 Vols. London. Triphook. 1824.

[ocr errors]

It was a great beauty to behold the banners ard standards waving in the wind, and horses barded, and knights and squires richly armed.” Such was the language of Froissart, when dilating on the wars of our Edward the Third in France. In those wars that great principle of chivalry, the companionship of knights, was generally felt as an influential principle of action. The cavalier was courteous to his enemy, and he inflicted no cruelties beyond the necessary pains of war.

The visions of romance were in a considerable degree, and in the field, realised; the knights waited each other's leisure, and courteously saluted before they fought; woman's smiles were the habitual inspirers of courage; every knight fought for the love of his lady, as well as for the glory of his king. Cavaliers were seen pricking o'er the plain, performing the vows they had made to the ladies and damsels of their court, that they would be the first of their host to enter the enemy's territory, and their chivalry was stimulated by the exclamation, "may I never be beloved by my lady unless I win some warrior's crest to-day."

5

But the second series of the English wars in France, during the minority of our Henry VI., were graced by few of those romantic circumstances. The field, indeed, continues to gleam with lances, banners and pennons waving in the wind; but the spirit of knightly courtesy no longer hung over them, and the prostrate soldier sued for mercy in vain. Knights were created before and after battle, tilts and tournaments, and other splendid shows, were held, and as the substance of chivalry died away, its mere pomp became more ornamented. In France the fair face of chivalry had been savagely marred in the civil wars between the king and the people, regarding the right of taxation, for aristocratical and monarchical haughtiness disdained to consider the rascal rout as worthy of equal consideration with itself. Neither in the subsequent wars between the houses of Bourbon and Orleans, was any chivalric bearing displayed, for there is a fierceness and ruthlessness in the contention of families and factions, unknown to foreign hostilities.

Chivalry was not, however, so much impaired in England as in France, for if it had declined here, during the inglorious reign of Richard II., it had been materially restored, and much freshness thrown over its beauties by the first two princes of the house of Lancaster ; and in the wars for the ratification of the treaty of Troyes, the spirit of Harry Monmouth animated some of our nobility. Our Salisburys and Talbots were far better representatives of the ancient chivalry than the French Lahire, and Dunois the bastard of Orleans, and it was quite in the spirit of the times of Edward III. for Suffolk to knight his vanquisher before he surrendered his sword.

As the raising of the siege of Orleans by the English was entirely occasioned by Joan of Arc, and as that circumstance separated for ever the English and French monarchies, a more interesting character than hers can scarcelý be presented to our consideration; and without detailing, for the thousandth time, the military events of the siege, we shall dwell for some moments on events of her life, of which the mere readers of Hume know nothing. Hume is, indeed, more than usually incorrect on this subject. He read only Grafton and Monstrelet. In general it is in vain to search his history for the result of original investigation, but it was unpardonable in him not to have studied the work of Dufresnoy; even from that book he might have amended many of the errors of his gossiping chroniclers. It is, however, only of late years that the character and conduct of Joan of Arc could be fully understood. The work of M. Lebrun de Charmettis first presented to the world

H

VOL. II, NO, IV.

1

the depositions of one hundred and forty-four witnesses to the circumstances of her life. Some years after her death various informations were made, and inquests of revisions held regarding the subject. The witnesses were taken from all classes of society, and the enquiry was pursued at Toul, Orleans, and Rouen. No character, ancient or modern, has been so freely and fully investigated. Her living actions have been judicially inquired into, and a right measure may be taken of the partiality of friends and the malignity of enemies.

Of the English work mentioned at the head of our article we shall speak very tenderly. It is perfectly useless both to the scholar and the general reader. To the former the work of M. Lebrun is satisfactory, and the latter will avoid a chaos, whether of mind or of matter. Dulness and confusion are, we know, established beauties in the eye of the antiquarian, but the world are not altogether satisfied without some evidence of judgment in the concoction of its literature.

Joan of Arc was born in the year 1411 or 1412, at Domremy, a hamlet of the village of Greux, near Vaucouleurs, in Champagne. Her parents were farmers, but no notion of wealth must be attached to that title, for the land which they cultivated was scarcely sufficient for the most moderate support of the family. Joan could neither read nor write, and in her recollections of youth, in her after days of adversity, it was her only boast that she feared no woman in sewing or spinning. One great feature of her early character was religious serious

Unlike the girls of her village, she neither danced nor sang, but even in hours of recreation she was either kneeling in corners of churches, or declaiming to those whom she could persuade to listen to her, on the Deity and the Virgin. The service of the Mass was generally regarded as a sufficient duty for the villagers, but Joan attended vespers and complines also : nor did she fail to fall on her knees in the fields when she heard the bell of her village church.

Superstitions of a gay and pleasing nature prevented her mind from sinking into religious gloom. In her neighbourhood stood a venerable beech tree, called by the graceful titles of the “ Tree of the Ladies,” “the Beauty of May," and the “ Fairy Tree.” In earlier and better days fairies used to resort to it, sporting with armed knights in its shade: but the world was, in Joan's days, too wicked for such amiable spirits to walk in, and it was only rarely and to the most virtuous of mortals that they deigned to appear. A spring broke out, near the tree, whose qualities were medicinal, which the fairies, in spite of

ness.

the prevalence of vice, had not destroyed. With the tales of the village, fountain, and tree, Joan's imagination played, and insensibly accustomed her mind to be credulous.

Amusements of a higher character than those of her fellow villagers occupied her leisure. She was perpetually engaged in military exercises, running courses or assaulting trees with a lance or a sword. Her equestrian skill was considerable, not that she acquired it as Hume says, after Monstrelet, by being hostler at an inn, but it was the natural consequence of her farming duties with her parents.

The imagination of Joan was ardent beyond the .general scale of minds, and when the great question was agitated in France, and particularly in her province, which was near the seat of war; whether Charles VII. or Henry VI. should be monarch over France, she embraced, like all her neighbours, the side of her natural and national sovereign, with an ardour proportioned to the strength of her character. Her mind unceasingly dwelt upon this one theme, to the exclusion of all other objects, and in her case, as in a thousand others, before and since, the imagination and feelings were influenced to a morbid degree; in a word, she became insane. Then she fancied that she saw angels, and heard voices from Heaven. St. Michael appeared to her and told her to listen to such other saints as should come to her. These visitants were St. Catharine and St. Margaret, who shewed themselves to her at various places, particularly near the fountain, at the fairy tree. She used to embrace the female saints, and she saw them more frequently than St. Michael. It does not seem that she had any clear ideas of their forms and persons, and her descriptions are as imperfect as the recollections of dreams. Her celestial friends exhorted her to virtue, and gave her the hope of being the restorer of France. This last communication was gradually reduced into the particular intimation of her going to Orleans, raising the siege, and crowning Charles at Rheims. If she had been an ordinary fanatic, she would have gone to Orleans, and raved and preached; but a military disposition was one of her peculiarities; and from that disposition she fancied that she was called upon to go armed.

Her journey to the king at Chinon is well known; but now a very interesting circumstance in the history of her mind is to be noted; the first appearance of artifice. Hitherto she had been altogether fanatical; she had a delusive image before her which subjugated her understanding. She had never seen the king, and yet she selected him from among three hundred

« ͹˹Թõ
 »