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PAGE 4

Joan Of Arc
by [?]

These disputes, however, turn on refinements too nice. Domremy stood upon the frontiers; and, like other frontiers, produced a mixed race representing the cis and the trans. A river (it is true) formed the boundary line at this point–the river Meuse; and that, in old days, might have divided the populations; but in these days it did not–there were bridges, there were ferries, and weddings crossed from the right bank to the left. Here lay two great roads, not so much for travellers, that were few, as for armies that were too many by half. These two roads, one of which was the great high road between France and Germany, decussated at this very point; which is a learned way of saying that they formed a St. Andrew’s cross, or letter X. I hope the compositor will choose a good large X, in which case the point of intersection, the locus of conflux for these four diverging arms, will finish the reader’s geographical education, by showing him to a hair’s breadth where it was that Domremy stood. These roads, so grandly situated, as great trunk arteries between two mighty realms,[4] and haunted for ever by wars or rumors of wars, decussated (for anything I know to the contrary) absolutely under Joanna’s bed-room window; one rolling away to the right, past Monsieur D’Arc’s old barn, and the other unaccountably preferring (but there’s no disputing about tastes) to sweep round that odious man’s odious pigstye to the left.

Things being situated as is here laid down, viz. in respect of the decussation, and in respect of Joanna’s bed-room; it follows that, if she had dropped her glove by accident from her chamber window into the very bull’s eye of the target, in the centre of X, not one of several great potentates could (though all animated by the sincerest desires for the peace of Europe) have possibly come to any clear understanding on the question of whom the glove was meant for. Whence the candid reader perceives at once the necessity for at least four bloody wars. Falling indeed a little farther, as, for instance, into the pigstye, the glove could not have furnished to the most peppery prince any shadow of excuse for arming: he would not have had a leg to stand upon in taking such a perverse line of conduct. But, if it fell (as by the hypothesis it did) into the one sole point of ground common to four kings, it is clear that, instead of no leg to stand upon, eight separate legs would have had no ground to stand upon unless by treading on each other’s toes. The philosopher, therefore, sees clearly the necessity of a war, and regrets that sometimes nations do not wait for grounds of war so solid.

In the circumstances supposed, though the four kings might be unable to see their way clearly without the help of gunpowder to any decision upon Joanna’s intention, she–poor thing!–never could mistake her intentions for a moment. All her love was for France; and, therefore, any glove she might drop into the quadrivium must be wickedly missent by the post-office, if it found its way to any king but the king of France.

On whatever side of the border chance had thrown Joanna, the same love to France would have been nurtured. For it is a strange fact, noticed by M. Michelet and others, that the Dukes of Bar and Lorraine had for generations pursued the policy of eternal warfare with France on their own account, yet also of eternal amity and league with France in case anybody else presumed to attack her. Let peace settle upon France, and before long you might rely upon seeing the little vixen Lorraine flying at the throat of France. Let Franco be assailed by a formidable enemy, and instantly you saw a Duke of Lorraine or Bar insisting on having his throat cut in support of France; which favor accordingly was cheerfully granted to them in three great successive battles by the English and by the Turkish sultan, viz., at Crecy, at Nicopolis, and at Agincourt.