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PAGE 3

Joan Of Arc
by [?]

I am not going to write the History of La Pucelle: to do this, or even circumstantially to report the history of her persecution and bitter death, of her struggle with false witnesses and with ensnaring judges, it would be necessary to have before us all the documents, and, therefore, the collection only now forthcoming in Paris. But my purpose is narrower. There have been great thinkers, disdaining the careless judgments of contemporaries, who have thrown themselves boldly on the judgment of a far posterity, that should have had time to review, to ponder, to compare. There have been great actors on the stage of tragic humanity that might, with the same depth of confidence, have appealed from the levity of compatriot friends–too heartless for the sublime interest of their story, and too impatient for the labor of sifting its perplexities–to the magnanimity and justice of enemies. To this class belongs the Maid of Arc. The Romans were too faithful to the ideal of grandeur in themselves not to relent, after a generation or two, before the grandeur of Hannibal. Mithridates–a more doubtful person–yet, merely for the magic perseverance of his indomitable malice, won from the same Romans the only real honor that ever he received on earth. And we English have ever shown the same homage to stubborn enmity. To work unflinchingly for the ruin of England; to say through life, by word and by deed–Delenda est Anglia Victrix! that one purpose of malice, faithfully pursued, has quartered some people upon our national funds of homage as by a perpetual annuity. Better than an inheritance of service rendered to England herself, has sometimes proved the most insane hatred to England. Hyder Ali, even his far inferior son Tippoo, and Napoleon, have all benefited by this disposition amongst ourselves to exaggerate the merit of diabolic enmity. Not one of these men was ever capable, in a solitary instance, of praising an enemy–[what do you say to that, reader?] and yet in their behalf, we consent to forget, not their crimes only, but (which is worse) their hideous bigotry and anti-magnanimous egotism; for nationality it was not. Suffrein, and some half dozen of other French nautical heroes, because rightly they did us all the mischief they could, [which was really great] are names justly reverenced in England. On the same principle, La Pucelle d’Orleans, the victorious enemy of England, has been destined to receive her deepest commemoration from the magnanimous justice of Englishmen.

Joanna, as we in England should call her, but, according to her own statement, Jeanne (or, as M. Michelet asserts, Jean[3]) d’Arc, was born at Domremy, a village on the marshes of Lorraine and Champagne, and dependent upon the town of Vaucouleurs. I have called her a Lorrainer, not simply because the word is prettier, but because Champagne too odiously reminds us English of what are for us imaginary wines, which, undoubtedly, La Pucelle tasted as rarely as we English; we English, because the Champagne of London is chiefly grown in Devonshire; La Pucelle, because the Champagne of Champagne never, by any chance, flowed into the fountain of Domremy, from which only she drank. M. Michelet will have her to be a Champenoise, and for no better reason than that she “took after her father,” who happened to be a Champenoise. I am sure she did not: for her father was a filthy old fellow, whom I shall soon teach the judicious reader to hate. But, (says M. Michelet, arguing the case physiologically) “she had none of the Lorrainian asperity;” no, it seems she had only “the gentleness of Champagne, its simplicity mingled with sense and acuteness, as you find it in Joinville.” All these things she had; and she was worth a thousand Joinvilles, meaning either the prince so called, or the fine old crusader. But still, though I love Joanna dearly, I cannot shut my eyes entirely to the Lorraine element of “asperity” in her nature. No; really now, she must have had a shade of that, though very slightly developed–a mere soupcon, as French cooks express it in speaking of cayenne pepper, when she caused so many of our English throats to be cut. But could she do less? No; I always say so; but still you never saw a person kill even a trout with a perfectly “Champagne” face of “gentleness and simplicity,” though, often, no doubt, with considerable “acuteness.” All your cooks and butchers wear a Lorraine cast of expression.