The career of Jeanne Dare-the name usually is written Jeanne d'Arc or Joan of Arc, an absurd equivalent-was so extraordinary, her personality was so marvellous, that she has been from the very beginning a constant source of interest to biographers and historians. She figures largely in contemporary records, not always trustworthy, but it may be worthier of credence than some critics have been willing to admit. Lives of her appeared in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the writers of the nineteenth century have been particularly busy with her fame. Every biographer since has owed an enormous debt to Mr. Lang's work. It would be invidious to choose among the recent biographies written by Frenchmen; Mr. Lang cordially acknowledges his own obligations to them. This book is annotated with a rare extensive biographical sketch of the author, Andrew Lang, written by Sir Edmund Gosse, CB, a contemporary poet and writer. Contents: Preface Introduction - The Maid And Theories About Her Chapter I - The Task Of Jeanne D'arc. Political Conditions Chapter Ii - Domremy. Prophecies, Faith, And Fairies Chapter Iii - The First Voices And Visions Chapter Iv - Domremy In Time Of War Chapter V - The Mission Announced. Jeanne At Neufchateau Chapter Vi - The Siege Of Orleans Begun Chapter Vii - Jeanne's Second Visit To Vaucouleurs Chapter Viii - Chinon. The Kings Secret Chapter Ix - The New St. Catherine At Poitiers Chapter X - Jeanne At Tours.
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The Maid Of France
Being The Story Of The Life And Death Of Jeanne D'arc
Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
The Maid Of France
Introduction - The Maid And Theories About Her
Chapter I - The Task Of Jeanne D'arc. Political Conditions
Chapter Ii - Domremy. Prophecies, Faith, And Fairies
Chapter Iii - The First Voices And Visions
Chapter Iv - Domremy In Time Of War
Chapter V - The Mission Announced. Jeanne At Neufchateau
Chapter Vi - The Siege Of Orleans Begun
Chapter Vii - Jeanne's Second Visit To Vaucouleurs
Chapter Viii - Chinon. The Kings Secret
Chapter Ix - The New St. Catherine At Poitiers
Chapter X - Jeanne At Tours.March To Orleans
Chapter Xi - The Maid's Victories At Orleans
Chapter Xii - The Taking Of The Tourelles
Chapter Xiv - The Week Of Victories
Chapter Xv - The Ride To Reims
Chapter Xvi - The Campaign Of Dupes
Chapter Xvii - The Failure At Paris
Chapter Xviii - The Autumn Campaign
Chapter Xix - Jeanne's Last Campaign
Chapter Xx - The Last Day Under Arms
Chapter Xxi - Captivity
Chapter Xxii - The Trial
Chapter Xxiii - The Trial (Continued)
Chapter Xxiv - The Abjuration
Chapter Xxv - The Last Morning In Prison
Chapter Xxvi - Martyrdom
Appendix A - Prophecies Attributed To Bede And Merlin
Appendix B - The Attack On Paris
Appendix C - Charges Against Jeanne In Matters Of Fact
Appendix D - The Voices And Visions Of Jeanne D'arc
The Maid Of France, A. Lang
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Biographical Sketch from "Portraits And Sketches" by Edmund Gosse
INVITED to note down some of my recollections of Andrew Lang, I find myself suspended between the sudden blow of his death and the slow development of memory, now extending in unbroken friendship over thirty-five years. The magnitude and multitude of Lang's performances, public and private, during that considerable length of time almost paralyse expression; it is difficult to know where to begin or where to stop. Just as his written works are so extremely numerous as to make a pathway through them a formidable task in bibliography, no one book standing out predominant, so his character, intellectual and moral, was full -of so many apparent inconsistencies, so many pitfalls for rash assertion, so many queer caprices of impulse, that in a whole volume of analysis, which would be tedious, one could scarcely do justice to them all. I will venture to put down, almost at haphazard, what I remember that seems to me to have been overlooked, or inexactly stated, by those who wrote, often very sympathetically, at the moment of his death, always premising that I speak rather of a Lang of from 1877 to 1890, when I saw him very frequently, than of a Lang whom younger people met chiefly in Scotland.
When he died, all the newspapers were loud in proclaiming his "versatility." But I am not sure that he was not the very opposite of versatile. I take "versatile" to mean changeable, fickle, constantly ready to alter direction with the weather-cock. The great instance of versatility in literature is Ruskin, who adopted diametrically different views of the same subject at different times of his life, and defended them with equal ardour. To be versatile seems to be unsteady, variable. But Lang was through his long career singularly unaltered; he never changed his point of view; what he liked and admired as a youth he liked and admired as an elderly man. It is true that his interests and knowledge were vividly drawn along a surprisingly large number of channels, but while there was abundance there does not seem to me to have been versatility. If a huge body of water boils up from a crater, it may pour down a dozen paths, but these will always be the same; unless there is an earthquake, new cascades will not form nor old rivulets run dry. In some authors earthquakes do take place as in Tolstoy, for instance, and in S. T. Coleridge but nothing of this kind was ever manifest in Lang, who was extraordinarily multiform, yet in his varieties strictly consistent from Oxford to the grave. As this is not generally perceived, I will take the liberty of expanding my view of his intellectual development.
To a superficial observer in late life the genius of Andrew Lang had the characteristics which we are in the habit of identifying with precocity. Yet he had not been, as a writer, precocious in his youth. One slender volume of verses represents all that he published in book-form before his thirty-fifth year. No doubt we shall learn in good time what he was doing before he flashed upon the world of journalism in all his panoply of graces, in 1876, at the close of his Merton fellowship. He was then, at all events, the finest finished product of his age, with the bright armour of Oxford burnished on his body to such a brilliance that humdrum eyes could hardly bear the radiance of it. Of the terms behind, of the fifteen years then dividing him from St. Andrews, we know as yet but little; they were years of insatiable acquirement, incessant reading, and talking, and observing gay preparation for a life to be devoted, as no other life in our time has been, to the stimulation of other people's observation and talk and reading. There was no cloistered virtue about the bright and petulant Merton don. He was already flouting and jesting, laughing with Ariosto in the sunshine, performing with a snap of his fingers tasks which might break the back of a pedant, and concealing under an affectation of carelessness a literary ambition which knew no definite bounds.
In those days, and when he appeared for the first time in London, the poet was paramount in him. Jowett is said to have predicted that he would be greatly famous in this line, but I know not what evidence Jowett had before him. Unless I am much mistaken, it was not until Lang left Balliol that his peculiar bent became obvious. Up to that time he had been a promiscuous browser upon books, much occupied, moreover, in the struggle with ancient Greek, and immersed in Aristotle and Homer. But in the early days of his settlement at Merton he began to concentrate his powers, and I think there were certain influences which were instant and far-reaching. Among them one was pre-eminent. When Andrew Lang came up from St. Andrews he had found Matthew Arnold occupying the ancient chair of poetry at Oxford. He was a listener at some at least of the famous lectures which, in 1865, were collected as "Essays in Criticism"; while one of his latest experiences as a Balliol undergraduate was hearing Matthew Arnold lecture on the study of Celtic literature. His conscience was profoundly stirred by "Culture and Anarchy" (1869); his sense of prose-form largely determined by "Friendship's Garland" (1871). I have no hesitation in saying that the teaching and example of Matthew Arnold prevailed over all other Oxford influences upon the intellectual nature of Lang, while, although I think that his personal acquaintance with Arnold was very slight, yet in his social manner there was, in early days, not a little imitation of Arnold's aloofness and superfine delicacy of address. It was unconscious, of course, and nothing would have enraged Lang more than to have been accused of "imitating Uncle Matt."
The structure which his own individuality now began to build on the basis supplied by the learning of Oxford, and in particular by the study of the Greeks, and "dressed" by courses of Matthew Arnold, was from the first eclectic. Lang eschewed as completely what was not sympathetic to him as he assimilated what was attractive to him. Those who speak of his "versatility" should recollect what large tracts of the literature of the world, and even of England, existed outside the dimmest apprehension of Andrew Lang. It is, however, more useful to consider what he did apprehend; and there were two English books, published in his Oxford days, which permanently impressed him: one of these was "The Earthly Paradise," the other D. G. Rossetti's " Poems." In after years he tried to divest himself of the traces of these volumes, but he had fed upon their honey-dew and it had permeated his veins.
Not less important an element in the garnishing of a mind already prepared for it by academic and aesthetic studies was the absorption of the romantic part of French literature. Andrew Lang in this, as in everything else, was selective. He dipped into the wonderful lucky-bag of France wherever he saw the glitter of romance. Hence his approach, in the early seventies, was threefold: towards the mediaeval lais and chansons, towards the sixteenth-century Pleiade, and towards the school of which Victor Hugo was the leader in the nineteenth century. For a long time Ronsard was Lang's poet of intensest predilection; and I think that his definite ambition was to be the Ronsard of modern England, introducing a new poetical dexterity founded on a revival of pure humanism. He had in those days what he lost, or at least dispersed, in the weariness and growing melancholia of later years a splendid belief in poetry as a part of the renown of England, as a heritage to be received in reverence from our fathers, and to be passed on, if possible, in a brighter flame. This honest and beautiful ambition to shine as one of the permanent benefactors to national verse, in the attitude so nobly sustained four hundred years ago by Du Bellay and Ronsard, was unquestionably felt by Andrew Lang through his bright intellectual April, and supported him from Oxford times until 1882, when he published " Helen of Troy." The cool reception of that epic by the principal judges of poetry caused him acute disappointment, and from that time forth he became less eager and less serious as a poet, more and more petulantly expending his wonderful technical gift on fugitive subjects. And here again, when one comes to think of it, the whole history repeated itself, since in " Helen of Troy " Lang simply suffered as Ronsard had done in the "Franciade." But the fact that 1882 was his year of crisis, and the tomb of his brightest ambition, must be recognised by every one who closely followed his fortunes at that time. Lang's habit of picking out of literature and of life the plums of romance, and these alone, comes to be, to the dazzled observer of his extraordinarily vivid intellectual career, the principal guiding line. This determination to dwell, to the exclusion of all other sides of any question, on its romantic side is alone enough to rebut the charge of versatility. Lang was in a sense encyclopaedic; but the vast dictionary of his knowledge had blank pages, or pages pasted down, on which he would not, or could not, read what experience had printed. Absurd as it sounds, there was always something maidenly about his mind, and he glossed over ugly matters, sordid and dull conditions, so that they made no impression whatever upon him. He had a trick, which often exasperated his acquaintances, of declaring that he had " never heard " of things that everybody else was very well aware of. He had " never heard the name " of people he disliked, of books that he thought tiresome, of events that bored him; but, more than this, he used the formula for things and persons whom he did not wish to discuss. I remember meeting in the street a famous professor, who advanced with uplifted hands, and greeted me with " What do you think Lang says now? That he has never heard of Pascal! " This merely signified that Lang, not interested (at all events for the moment) in Pascal nor in the professor, thus closed at once all possibility of discussion.
It must not be forgotten that we have lived to see him, always wonderful indeed, and always passionately devoted to perfection and purity, but worn, tired, harassed by the unceasing struggle, the lifelong slinging of sentences from that inexhaustible ink-pot. In one of the most perfect of his poems, " Natural Theology," Lang speaks of Cagn, the great hunter, who once was kind and good, but who was spoiled by fighting many things. Lang was never " spoiled," but he was injured; the surface of the radiant coin was rubbed by the vast and interminable handling of journalism. He was jaded by the toil of writing many things. Hence it is not possible but that those who knew him intimately in his later youth and early middle-age should prefer to look back at those years when he was the freshest, the most exhilarating figure in living literature, when a star seemed to dance upon the crest of his already silvering hair. Baudelaire exclaimed of Theophile Gautier: " Homme heureux! homme digne d'envie! il n'a jamais aimé que le Beau!" and of Andrew Lang in those brilliant days the same might have been said. As long as he had confidence in beauty he was safe and strong; and much that, with all affection and all respect, we must admit was rasping and disappointing in his attitude to literature in his later years, seems to have been due to a decreasing sense of confidence in the intellectual sources of beauty. It is dangerous, in the end it must be fatal, to sustain the entire structure of life and thought on the illusions of romance. But that was what Lang did he built his house upon the rainbow.
The charm of Andrew Lang's person and company was founded upon a certain lightness, an essential gentleness and elegance which were relieved by a sharp touch; just as a very dainty fruit may be preserved from mawkishness by something delicately acid in the rind of it. His nature was slightly inhuman; it was unwise to count upon its sympathy beyond a point which was very easily reached in social intercourse. If any simple soul showed an inclination, in eighteenth-century phrase, to " repose on the bosom " of Lang, that support was immediately withdrawn, and the confiding one fell among thorns. Lang was like an Angora cat, whose gentleness and soft fur, and general aspect of pure amenity, invite to caresses, which are suddenly met by the outspread paw with claws awake. This uncertain and freakish humour was the embarrassment of his friends, who, however, were preserved from despair by the fact that no malice was meant, and that the weapons were instantly sheathed again in velvet. Only, the instinct to give a sudden slap, half in play, half in fretful caprice, was incorrigible. No one among Lang's intimate friends but had suffered from this feline impulse, which did not spare even the serenity of Robert Louis Stevenson. But, tiresome as it sometimes was, this irritable humour seldom cost Lang a friend who was worth preserving. Those who really knew him recognised that he was always shy and usually tired.
His own swift spirit never brooded upon an offence, and could not conceive that any one else should mind what he himself minded so little and forgot so soon. Impressions swept over him very rapidly, and injuries passed completely out of his memory. Indeed, all his emotions were too fleeting, and in this there was something fairy-like; quick and keen and blithe as he was, he did not seem altogether like an ordinary mortal, nor could the appeal to gross human experience be made to him with much chance of success. This, doubtless, is why almost all imaginative literature which is founded upon the darker parts of life, all squalid and painful tragedy, all stories that " don't end well" all religious experiences, all that is not superficial and romantic, was irksome to him. He tried sometimes to reconcile his mind to the consideration of real life; he concentrated his matchless powers on it; but he always disliked it. He could persuade himself to be partly just to Ibsen or Hardy or Dostoieffsky, but what he really enjoyed was Dumas pêre, because that fertile romance-writer rose serene above the phenomena of actual human experience. We have seen more of this type in English literature than the Continental nations have in theirs, but even we have seen no instance of its strength and weakness so eminent as Andrew Lang. He was the fairy in our midst, the wonder-working, incorporeal, and tricksy fay of letters, who paid for all his wonderful gifts and charms by being not quite a man of like passions with the rest of us. In some verses which he scribbled to R.L.S. and threw away, twenty years ago, he acknowledged this unearthly character, and, speaking of the depredations of his kin, he said:
Faith, they might steal me, w? ma will,
And, ken'd I ony fairy hill
I#d lay me down there, snod and still,
Their land to win;
For, man, I maistly had my fill
O' this world's din
His wit had something disconcerting in its impishness. Its rapidity and sparkle were dazzling, but it was not quite human; that is to say, it conceded too little to the exigencies of flesh and blood. If we can conceive a seraph being fanny, it would be in the manner of Andrew Lang. Moreover, his wit usually danced over the surface of things, and rarely penetrated them. In verbal parry, in ironic misunderstanding, in breathless agility of topsy-turvy movement, Lang was like one of Milton's " yellow-skirted fays," sporting with the helpless, moon-bewildered traveller. His wit often had a depressing, a humiliating effect, against which one's mind presently revolted. I recollect an instance which may be thought to be apposite: I was passing through a phase of enthusiasm for Emerson, whom Lang very characteristically detested, and I was so ill-advised as to show him the famous epigram called " Brahma." Lang read it with a snort of derision (it appeared to be new to him), and immediately he improvised this parody:
If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
Or if the batsman thinks he's bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
They, too, shall perish unconsoled.
I am the batsman and the bat,
I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
The roller, pitch and stumps, and all
This would make a pavilion cat laugh, and I felt that Emerson was done for. But when Lang had left me, and I was once more master of my mind, I reflected that the parody was but a parody, wonderful for its neatness and quickness, and for its seizure of what was awkward in the roll of Emerson's diction, but essentially superficial. However, what would wit be if it were profound? I must leave it there, feeling that I have not explained why Lang's extraordinary drollery in conversation so often left on the memory a certain sensation of distress.
But this was not the characteristic of his humour at its best, as it was displayed throughout the happiest period of his work. If, as seems possible, it is as an essayist that he will ultimately take his place in English literature, this element will continue to delight fresh generations of enchanted readers. I cannot imagine that the preface to his translation of " Theocritus," "Letters to Dead Authors," "In the Wrong Paradise," " Old Friends," and " Essays in Little " will ever lose their charm; but future admirers will have to pick their way to them through a tangle of history and anthropology and mythology, where there may be left no perfume and no sweetness. I am impatient to see this vast mass of writing reduced to the limits of its author's delicate, true, but somewhat evasive and ephemeral. genius. However, as far as the circumstances of his temperament permitted, Andrew Lang has left with us the memory of one of our most surprising contemporaries, a man of letters who laboured without cessation from boyhood to the grave, who pursued his ideal with indomitable activity and perseverance, and who was never betrayed except by the loftiness of his own endeavour. Lang's only misfortune was not to be completely in contact with life, and his work will survive exactly where he was most faithful to his innermost illusions.
Jeanne d'Arc, during her nineteen years of life, was a cause of contention among her own countrymen, and her memory divides them to the present day. In her life she was of course detested as a witch and heretic by the French of the Burgundian faction. After her death, her memory was distasteful to all writers who disbelieved in her supernormal faculties, and in her inspiration. She had no business to possess faculties for which science could not account, and which common sense could not accept.
To-day, the quarrel over her character and career is especially bitter. If the Church canonises her, the Church is said, by the " Anticlericals," to " confiscate " her, and to stultify itself. Her courage and her goodness of heart are denied by no man, but, as a set-off against the praises of the " clericals," and even of historians far from orthodox, her genius is denied, or is minimised; she is represented as a martyr, a heroine, a puzzle-pated hallucinated lass, a perplexed wanderer in a realm of dreams; the unconscious tool of fraudulent priests, herself once doubtfully honest, apt to tell great palpable myths to her own glorification, never a leader in war, but only a kind of mascotte, a " little saint," and a béguine — in breeches!
It has appeared to me that all these inconsistent views of the Maid, and several charges against her best friends, are mainly based on erroneous readings of the copious evidence concerning her; on mistakes in the translating of the very bad Latin of the documents, and, generally, are distorted by a false historical perspective, if not by an unconscious hostility, into the grounds of which we need not inquire. I have therefore written this book in the hope that grave errors, as I deem them, may be corrected; and also because, as far as I am aware, no British author has yet attempted to write a critical biography of the Maid. Of course, there no' longer remains, in England, a shadow of prejudice against the stainless heroine and martyr. It has pleased the Chanoine Dunarud, however, in his long biography of La Vraie Jeanne d'Arc, and in his learned but prolix series of Etudes Critiques, to speak of " the English," and the " Franco-English " schools of History. Masters and disciples in these schools, it appears, are apt to defend the regularity and the legality of her trial in 1431, and to deny to her the possession of " heroic " virtues.
The English masters of history who do this thing are not named by the Chanoine Dunand. It is, indeed, easy to show that, in the age of the Maid, and later, England had practically no historian, no contemporary chronicler. When Fabyan, Holinshed, and Polydore Virgil, a century later, wrote concerning Jeanne d'Arc, they drew their information, not from our archives (which are mute, save for one allusion to Jeanne), nor from English chroniclers contemporary with the Maid (for there is but a page of Caxton, written fifty years after date), not from the Procès of the Trial of Condemnation and the Trial of Rehabilitation, but from the French chroniclers of the Burgundian party, such as Monstrelet; and from later antipathetic French historians, like du Haillan. The Elizabethan historians were, of course, full of hostile national prejudice, they neglected the French chroniclers of her own party — if these were accessible to them — and the result was the perplexity, the chaotic uncertainty about the Maid, which is so conspicuous in the dubiously Shakespearean play, Henry VI, Part I, and is confessed in the remarks of the jocular Thomas Fuller, as late as 1642.
But, in the middle of the eighteenth century, David Hume, in the spirit of the Scottish chroniclers who were contemporaries of the Maid, fully recognised the nobility of her character, and the iniquity of her condemnation. Though Hume was no Englishman, his History was widely read in England, and from his day onwards, perhaps Dr. Lingard, a Catholic, has been alone in taking an unworthy view of Jeanne d'Arc.
In 1790 appeared the books of Francois de L'Averdy on the manuscript records of the two trials. Henceforth the facts were accessible, and Jeanne d'Arc inspired both Coleridge and Southey with poems in her honour; to be sure the inspiration did not result in anything worthy of her greatness. From that period it would be difficult to find any English historian who has applauded the regularity, or palliated the illegalities, of her condemnation, or who, save Lingard, has failed to recognise her heroism. But authors of general histories of England can give but limited space to the glorious Maid who emancipated France; and while America has a critical and valuable Life of Joan of Arc, — that by Mr. Francis Lowell, — England has none that is critical and complete, and informed by documents brought to light since the time when Jules Quicherat published the five volumes entitled Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (1840-1850). We have, indeed, the short but good monograph of Miss Tuckey, and a book by Lord Ronald Leveson-Gower, with a recent translation of the Procès, while brief stories of the life of the Maid for children are common, and excite the enthusiasm and the pity of little boys and girls. But a work based on a study of all the documents, and equipped with full references, has been still to seek.
I have therefore tried to fill this empty place in our bookshelves, and to depict, however feebly, this glory of her sex, " a Star of ancient France."
There is no Englishman alive who, from obsolete national prejudice, would try to diminish her greatness, or to palliate the shameful iniquity of his ancestors in all their relations with her. But a Scot is especially devoid of temptation to defend Cauchon, Warwick, Bedford, and the rest of "our old enemies of England." The Scots did not buy or sell, or try, or condemn, or persecute, or burn, or — most shameful of all — bear witness against and desert the Maid. The Scots stood for her always with pen as with sword.
The historical evidence for the career of the Maid is rich, multifarious, and of many degrees of comparative excellence. In the front stands the official record of her trial at Rouen in 1431. On each day of her trial, the clerks of the Court took down in French her replies to the questions of the judges and assessors. The French version was, later, officially rendered into Latin, with all the other proceedings: and certain posthumous documents were added. The whole book is official, the work of her enemies. How far it is fair and honest is a question to be discussed in the text. At all events we have here a version of what Jeanne herself told her judges, as to her own life, and as to future events. Next we have letters dictated by her, and letters written about her, during her active career, from April 1429 to May 1430. These are of varying value: the News Letters of the age, French, Italian, and German, answer to the letters of Foreign Correspondents in our newspaper press. Some are full of false gossip.
As to the politics of the period we have diplomatic documents, treaties, memoirs, and despatches. We also possess notes in the contemporary account books of various towns, and the jottings of contemporary diarists, well or ill informed, as the case may be.
The historical chronicles concerning the Maid date from 1430 to 1470: some are by friendly French, some by hostile Burgundian hands. Their evidence needs to be studied critically, with an eye on the probable sources of information of each chronicler. The mystery play, Mistère du Siege d'Orleans, is a late poetical chronicle (circ. 1470?). A few facts may be gleaned from works even later than 1470, when the writer's sources of information are mentioned and seem to be good.
Finally we have the records of the Trial of Rehabilitation (1450 - 1456), with the sworn evidence of more than a hundred and forty eye-witnesses, who knew the Maid at various periods from her infancy to her martyrdom. In judging their depositions, we must make careful allowance for errors of bias, for illusions of memory, and for the natural desire of persons who took part in her trial to shield themselves, and to throw blame on her judges and their assessors who were by that time dead, or for any reason were not able to speak for themselves.
The main defect of the Trial of Rehabilitation is the singular fact that only two witnesses testified to any event in the life of the Maid between the failure at Paris, in September 1429, and her capture in May 1430. No questions on this period were put, for example, to her confessor, Pasquerel, and her equerry, d'Aulon, an omission which cannot be defended, even if it was caused by a desire to spare the feelings of the King, Charles vii. His conduct, and his diplomacy, from his Coronation to the capture of the Maid, must for him have been full of tormenting memories. I have also suggested in the text, that as the Maid, like any other leader, certainly assured her men of success, " fight on, you will have them! " on occasions when they were not successful, the inquirers in 1450-1456 may have shrunk from asking " Did Jeanne utter these promises as the predictions of her Saints? " We have only her own denial. The evidence of the cloud of witnesses in 1450-1456 is commonly disparaged by the scientific spirit. Even Quicherat wrote: " The depositions of the witnesses have the air, for the most part, of having undergone numerous retrenchments," of having been " cut," as we say, or garbled. Quicherat gives no proof of this; and none is visible to me. On certain important points, such as "What did Jeanne do at Paris, La Charité, Lagny, Melun, and Compiegne?" no questions were asked, though her judges in 1431 had accused her of several misdeeds at these places.
Nothing was asked as to her leap from the tower (or her attempt to let herself down from a window of the tower) at Beaurevoir. These omissions are a great blot on the Trial of Rehabilitation, but that the judges cut and garbled the replies to questions actually put is a mere baseless assertion.
Quicherat had said, "The judges at the Rehabilitation were probity itself." Yet he also says that they seem to have garbled " the majority of the depositions "!
M. Anatole France is specially severe on the Trial of Rehabilitation, though he freely quotes the depositions.
In the first place, the witnesses merely answered the questions put to them " in the course of ecclesiastical justice." Certainly we now should put many other questions.
Secondly, " the majority of the witnesses are excessively simple and lacking in discernment." They were men and women of their own time, not savants of our time — that is undeniable!
Again, Pasquerel misplaces the sequence of certain events, it is true, but so does M. Anatole France on several occasions, as we shall try to show.
The deposition of Dunois " must have been mishandled by the translator and the scribes," as when he speaks of " the strong force of the enemy." But Bedford, the English commander-in-chief, also says that the English at Orleans were numerous, before the men began to desert. Their numbers were reduced by desertions, but if Dunois overestimated them, how often, in the South African war, did our leaders make the same mistake as to the enemy! The other sins of Dunois are either no sins at all, or are easily pardonable, and the burden of them need not be thrown on translator or scribe.
As to the witnesses who had been assessors, scribes, or officers of the Court in 1431, "all these ink-pots of the Church who had fashioned the documents for the death of the Maid, showed as much zeal in destroying it," in 1450-1456. Let that be granted; it does not follow that the evidence, for example, of Manchon is false. The witnesses say that they were terrorised by Cauchon and the English, and perhaps nobody doubts that they did go in fear. Poor clerks and officials, it is part of the injustice of the trial of 1431 that they were threatened and bullied. "They denounced the cruel iniquity which they had themselves put in good and proper form." The form, in fact, is not so good and proper: one document the scribes refused to sign, and unsigned it remains.
Probably few penmen, even now, would have the courage to throw up their duties and their livelihood, and incur a fair chance of being cast into dungeons, or into the river, because they disliked their work. The scribes did their task: they were not heroes. Had they been heroes, we should not have had their evidence.
"A pair of lamentable monks, Brother Martin Ladvenu and Brother Isambart de la Pierre, wept bitterly while they told of the pious death of the poor Maid whom they had declared heretic, then relapsed, and had burned alive."
There is no evidence that the two monks wept while they gave their testimony; at the last, they did not — unconditionally — declare Jeanne heretic; to burn her or to save her they had no more power than I who write. That power was in the hands of Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais. At the same time I regard with suspicion several parts of the evidence of these two lamentable monks, and "the ink-pots of the Church."
" The captains said that Jeanne was expert in placing guns, when they knew that it was untrue."
One captain, d'Alencon, swore to her skill in artillery, and M. Anatole France knows that this witness deliberately perjured himself. Less omniscient, I know not how he knows; or what his acquaintance with mediaeval artillery may be; but I suspect, from examination of a contemporary breech-loading field-piece, that any one with a good eye and a little practice could do what was needed. Many women are good shots.
" The effort was made to prove that Jeanne was destitute of intelligence, to show that the Holy Spirit was more manifest in her." M. Anatole France himself does not credit the Maid with much intelligence (esprit), but many of the witnesses did. " The examiners led the witnesses to keep repeating that the Maid was simple, very simple." He himself gives the same opinion: often.
Many said that she was chaste. Does any mortal deny it? Some of her companions vowed that she did not excite their passions. Is that, considering their deep reverence and regard for the Maid, a thing incredible? Naturally her enemies were not affected in the same way.
" Sometimes the clerks content themselves with saying that one witness deposed like the preceding witness." Nothing was more usual in the records of secular trials one hundred and forty years later, as in the trial of the accomplices of Bothwell in Darnley's murder.
It is proper to notice these objections to the evidence of 1450-1456. We shall use it with the warning that, in twenty-five years, human memories are apt to be fallacious; that the bias of the witnesses was favourable to the Maid; and that some witnesses had to excuse their own share in the trial of 1431, and to exhibit the judges, mainly Cauchon and the accuser, in the most unfavourable light. But we shall not accuse the captains of deliberate perjury, out of our own will and fantasy.
Mr. Frederick Myers, when studying the Maid in the light of psychical research, spoke of the records of the Trial of Rehabilitation as practically worthless. The events were too "remote" for evidence given twenty-five years later to be trustworthy. I venture to think that he rated the powers of memory too low, when he thought that, in a quarter of a century, all witnesses would necessarily err as to the most impressive experience of their lives, their acquaintance with Jeanne d'Arc. The psychical researcher feels bound to take it for granted that strange affairs will be unconsciously exaggerated by memory, after twenty-five years. There are, in fact, two tendencies; one man exaggerates, another begins to doubt, when the first freshness of his impression has been worn off, and he minimises. But every reader of the Trial of Rehabilitation must see that the witnesses, in 14501456, are usually sparing in marvels, except Pasquerel and Dunois. We hear from them of no miracles attributed to Jeanne, though Dunois obviously regarded the fortunate change of the wind on the Loire, on April 28, 1429, as verging on miracle. Pasquerel exaggerated its effects; and also said that, on May 6, Jeanne named the day and the place of her arrow-wound. Very possibly his memory deceived him. But witnesses say nothing of the clairvoyance about Rouvray fight, or about the sword at Fierbois; about the Maid's knowledge of the King's secret they could not, of course, say anything definite. They never mention her saintly visitors. The only hagiographic marvels are negligible; and are connected with the martyrdom. The contemporary tales (1429) about marvels at the time of the birth of Jeanne, are not repeated by the witnesses from Domremy: about these marvels no questions were asked.
Every writer on Jeanne d'Arc must gratefully acknowledge his obligations to the great palaeographers and men of research into the fruits of whose labours he enters. Among these are especially to be honoured M. Jules Quicherat, M. Simeon Luce, M. Lefevre-Pontalis, M. Pierre Champion, Father Ayroles, S.J., M. Albert Sorel, M. Boucher de Molandon, M. de Beaucourt, M. Jadart, M. Jarry, M. Vallet de Viriville, M. Tuetey, M. de Beaurepaire, M. P. Lanery d'Arc, and the Duc de la Tremollle (in his published work on his family archives). I have also read several biographies of the Maid, such as those by Father Ayroles, S.J., M. Wallon, M. Sepet, M. Anatole France (whose notes constitute an excellent bibliography), the Chanoine Dunand, and Mr. F. C. Lowell (1896). On certain questions, for example as to whether Jeanne visited Vaucouleurs twice; as to the date of her departure from Vaucouleurs to Chinon; as to whether she passed the night of April 28, 1429, at Reuilly; as to the alleged resistance of the French leaders to her attack on the Tourelles, on May 7, I differ from Mr. Lowell, but not with perfect confidence, the evidence being confused. I am apt, also, to prefer to his view of the supernormal in Jeanne's career, the opinions of Quicherat.
For permission to reproduce three charts in Mr. Lowell's book I have to thank his publishers, Messrs. Houghton and Mifflin. I have added to the chart of Orleans the names of some of the English forts.
In this book the narrative is given continuously, without footnotes. Full references to authorities, and critical dissertations, are relegated to notes at the end of the work. When I quote any speech or other matter, between inverted commas, I cite my text literally; translating as closely as I am able to do. Attempts to " give the general sense " are apt to end in giving the wrong sense.
The references, as to volume and page, have been verified by myself, in all cases at least twice, often much more frequently; and again, by Miss E. M. Thompson (except in four or five cases, for which books were not accessible to her). She has also been kind enough to make transcripts of certain documents in our own State papers, and to read the proof sheets. But I wish to bear the blame of any errors in citation, or other mistakes and misapprehensions, for even an aide so meticulously accurate as Miss Thompson may fail to keep straight an author whose eyes were never of the best.
Finally my thanks are due to Madame Duclaux, who kindly procured for me some modern books which I had sought in vain; though there are others which proved to be introuvables.
THE name and fame of Jeanne d'Arc are "in the catalogue of common things," like the rainbow; of things so familiar that an effort of imagination is needed before we can appreciate the unique position of the Maid in history. The story of her career, as one of her learned French historians has said, "is the most marvellous episode in our history, and in all histories."
She was the consummation and ideal of two noble human efforts towards perfection. The peasant's daughter was the Flower of Chivalry, brave, gentle, merciful, courteous, kind, and loyal. Later poets and romance-writers delighted to draw the figure of the Lady Knight; but Spenser and Ariosto could not create, Shakespeare could not imagine, such a being as Jeanne d'Arc.
She was the most perfect daughter of her Church; to her its sacraments were the very Bread of Life; her conscience, by frequent confession, was kept fair and pure as the lilies of Paradise. In a tragedy without parallel or precedent the Flower of Chivalry died for France and the chivalry of France, which had deserted her; she died by the chivalry of England, which shamefully entreated and destroyed her; while the most faithful of Christians perished through the " celestial science," and dull political hatred of priests who impudently called themselves " the Church."
Waning Chivalry, bewildered " celestial science," were confronted by the living ideal of Chivalry and Faith; and they crushed it. Jeanne came to them a maiden, and in years almost a child; beautiful, gay, " with a glad countenance." The priests and Doctors of her enemies offered her bread of tears and water of affliction, so merciful, they said, were they; they tricked her, and they gave her the death of fire.
She came, with powers and with genius which should be the marvel of the world while the world stands. She redeemed a nation; she wrought such works as seemed to her people, and well might seem, miraculous. Yet even among her own people, even now, her glory is not uncontested.
She came to her own, and her own received her not.
Let us understand the nature of the task which Jeanne set before herself, as an ignorant peasant child of thirteen; the victory which, as an ignorant peasant girl of seventeen, she initiated. She was to relieve "the great pity that there is in France," a pity caused, externally, by the pressure of a foreign master in the capital, of foreign power in the country north of the Loire; internally, by the blood-feud between the Duke of Burgundy and the disinherited Dauphin, Charles VII; by a generation of ruthless treacheries and butcheries; by wars which were organised commercial speculations in ransoms and in plunder; by alien bands of mercenaries who had deliberately stifled pity; by great nobles who robbed the country which they should have defended, and passed their time in murder and private war.
In the opinion of most contemporary observers, French and foreign, in 1428, the rightful King, Charles VII, must go into exile or beg his bread, and France must be erased from the list of nations. We must not be deceived by the idea that, in the fifteenth century, there was no national patriotism, and that France was not yet a name to conjure with. Ever since the Paladins of Charlemagne, in the Chanson de Roland y wept in a foreign land at the thought of " sweet France," that word had its enchantment. That name was ever on the lips and in the letters of the Maid; she used it as a spell to cast out the nickname, " Armagnacs," which the English had given to the national party. The word patrie was not yet in common use (though she is made to say patria in the Latin translation of her Trial), but the old " doulx pays de France" served the turn.
To unite France, to restore France, to redeem France, and to rescue Orleans, was the task of Jeanne; but, even before Orleans was besieged, she had her own conception of the method to be employed. She promised, in May 1428, to lead her "gentle Dauphin," through hostile Anglo-Burgundian territory, to be crowned at Reims. Even disinterested foreigners then spoke of her prince, not as king, but as Dauphin. He would become king only when anointed with the holy oil from the mystic ampoule brought by an angel to the patron saint of Jeanne's native village, Domremy.
To the modern mind the importance thus attached to a few drops of oil seems very absurd. But in studying history we must accept the past as it existed: when occupied with the characters and events of the Middle Ages, we must learn to think medievally. To the faithful in the Middle Ages the earth was but a plain, to which the angels of heaven descended, going and coming on errands of the Divine Will, as in the Vision of Jacob. The political importance of anointing the King with the holy oil of Reims was recognised as fully by the practical Duke of Bedford, brother of Henry V, and Governor of France, as by the peasant girl of Domremy. Between the daughter of Jacques d'Arc , in her remote village on the Meuse, and the great Lancastrian statesman and warrior in Paris, it was indeed a race for Reims and for the Coronation of the Dauphin, or of the child King of England, Henry VI.
The political results of success in this race, the increase of loyalty and of prestige to her Dauphin, were only one part of the plan conceived by the peasant child. She came to help the poor and the oppressed. She would crown the Dauphin, but first she would bid him give her his promise to rule in righteousness. She caused him, in fact, to make to her, before she set forth to rescue Orleans, a promise in the nature of his Coronation Oath; he was to govern justly, mercifully, without rancour or revenge, as the loyal vassal of Christ. The sacred oil was much, the golden Crown was much, but to Jeanne, from first to last, free or in prison, the Crown was that ideal Crown, not of this world, but imperishable in the world of ideas. "This Crown," she told her judges, " no goldsmith on earth could fashion." Only by virtue of this Crown could France be restored to her place among Christian nations.
Such were the conceptions, as will be proved in detail, of this rustic girl, who determined, alone, to fulfil her dream. But she undertook her mission, not only with the clearest conviction of her own personal impotence, — " I am but an untaught lass, who cannot ride and direct the wars," she said, — but also with the certain foreknowledge, from the first, that she "would last but a year or little more." Such was her presentiment, such, as she held, was the knowledge conveyed to her by the lips that cannot lie, of the Blessed Dead.
Knowing all this, — her own lack of power, her own poverty, simplicity, and inexperience, and the briefness of her own span, — the Maid applied herself to her task. Through the last ten of her allotted thirteen months, she was ill-supported by the King whom she had crowned: for the last six weeks her inspirations only foretold her capture. But she had turned the tide of English conquest; thenceforth the waves retired, and within the time predicted by the captive Maid, England had " lost a dearer gage than Orleans," had lost Paris.
Such were the marvels, marvellously accomplished, of Jeanne d'Arc. A girl understood, and a girl employed (so professional students of strategy and tactics declare), the essential ideas of the military art; namely, to concentrate quickly, to strike swiftly, to strike hard, to strike at vital points, and, despising vain noisy skirmishes and " valiances," to fight with invincible tenacity of purpose.
It may be said that to conceive these tactics was, with Jeanne, an affair rather of the heart than of the head; rather of courage than of science. Be it so: but we shall see that Jeanne could decline as well as offer battle, at a crisis when the professional French captains might probably have thrown away the fruits of victory, by accepting the challenge of the enemy.
Moreover, if it be granted that the military successes of the Maid were due less to her head than to her heart, it was precisely heart, courage, confidence that France needed. A series of English victories, culminating in the mournful and laughable defeat of an indirect attempt (February 12, 1429) to relieve Orleans, had deprived the French of the heart and confidence which the Maid restored.
She possessed what, in a Napoleon, a Marlborough, a Kellermann at Alba de Tormes (1809), would be reckoned the insight of genius. Unlike the generals with whom she rode, she divined the temper of the enemy; she foresaw how they would behave. At Alba de Tormes " the French general resolved to risk a most dangerous experiment, an attack with unsupported cavalry upon a force of all arms, in the hope of detaining it till his infantry should come up." 1 In a few moments part of the Spanish army was a wreck: the rest was detained till it was shattered by the arrival of the French infantry and guns. Jeanne never took so great a risk, but she, like Kellermann, gauged correctly the temper of the enemy. She knew that they would not take the offensive, and her estimate of their " morale " was correct. The expert French captains ought to have known as much, for the English were permitting bands of from two to four hundred French combatants to go in and out of Orleans with little opposition. Therefore they were unlikely to sally forth against a body of three or four thousand men. But Dunois did not draw the inference which the Maid drew, and lacked, by his own honest confession, the heart and confidence of the Maid.
She derived her confidence from her perfect faith in the monitions of her Voices (a source not open to most generals); but, enfin, in military conduct, in strategy and tactics, by the confession of her opponents she was in the right. So it was in all things.
" Simple " she seemed, and ignorant, " save in matters of war," to many who knew her. But whatsoever thing confronted her, whatsoever problem encountered her, whatsoever manners became her in novel situations, she understood in a moment. She solved the problem; she assumed the manners; she faced the rain of arrows and bullets; she faced Doctors and Clerks; she animated the soldiery in Napoleon's way; she spoke and acted like a captain, like a clerk, like a grande dame de par le monde, as the need of the moment required.
To think less than this of Jeanne is to fail to understand the unimpeachable facts of her history. It is, moreover, never to be forgotten that, during her military career, her age was of from seventeen to eighteen years. At seventeen, Napoleon had not won a decisive battle, had not led forlorn hopes to victory, had not " taught the doubtful battle where to rage." But that Jeanne had done all this no sceptic can deny; and the doing of it was but the beginning of her career of wonders.
In a crisis of the national fortunes of France, the hour had come, and the girl. In other crises the hour has come and the man, Cromwell or Napoleon. We recognise their genius and their opportunity. But in the case of Jeanne d'Arc, as she was an ignorant girl of seventeen, human wisdom is apt to decline to recognise the happy wedding of opportunity and genius, and to look about for any explanations that may minimise the marvel.
Jeanne, we are sometimes told, had no military knowledge, no military intuitions, no political intuitions of value. Of course, if this be so, the marvel becomes a miracle, and the miracle has to be explained away. " The task of which France had despaired was not really difficult." Perhaps not, — till " thinking made it so." Jeanne was no more than a visionary, we are told, like any other Crazy Moll, but braver, better, and luckier.
This idea, though enthusiastically welcomed of late as the dernier cri of psychological and historical science, is anything but new.In 1730 M. Antoine de la Barre de Beaumarchais wrote, " Jeanne was an enthusiast.She and three other women had been seduced by the famous preacher, Brother Richard. He had filled their minds with visions and revelations, and overheated their feeble brains. On the strength of his word they believed that they were Saints, and henceforth they had never a foolish fancy but they took it for an inspiration. Jeanne was preferred above her companions: the King made his profit out of her pious lunacy, and pretended to hold her in profound respect. His object was to encourage his party by deluding them into the belief that God had sent him a new Deborah to drive out the foreign invaders."
Of these edifying remarks (not, of course, by the famous author of Le Mariage de Figaro) — remarks based on ignorance of history, we read an echo in 1908. "Several saintly women led, like Jeanne, a singular life, and communicated with the Church Triumphant. It was, so to say, un béguinage volant" (a flying squadron of béguines, or fantastic devotees) "which followed the army.
This is the statement of M. Anatole France in his Life of the Maid.
A considerable and industrious student, M. Vallet de Viriville, in 1863, reintroduced the way of thinking about Jeanne d'Arc which had been adopted by Beaumarchais. Admitting that she had genius, and defining genius rather oddly as " the quintessence of common sense," he placed her as " one of a group "; her precursors and imitators. Most of these were, or pretended to be, visionaries, dreamers of dreams; some were more or less, usually less, accredited and listened to by princes and even by popes. Many were charlatans; one was a lovely lady of pleasure, Madame d'Or; and several were married women who can scarcely be called, as M. de Viriville does call them, Pucelles!
The common point of all was that they saw and heard, or affected to see and hear, Visions and Voices. But surely this point is rather more of an accident than of a differentia. Shelley, Socrates, Mohammed, Luther, Pascal, and Cromwell were of the visionary habit; but, essentially, they were men of genius in poetry, philosophy, war, religion, and so forth. In the same way Jeanne essentially and pre-eminently belongs to the group of genius, while all the sham Pucelles and vapid dreamers do not.
It is fair to M. de Viriville to add that though he included Jeanne in his motley group of married Pucelles, Saints, charlatans, light o' loves, and crazy wenches, he added that " in her, good sense shone with extraordinary brilliance. . . . She was profoundly religious, remarkably pious, but neither a mystic nor a miracleworker." He declines to confuse her with the other women of " the flying squadron of béguines." She was a practical person.
Dr. Dumas, a distinguished authority on nervous diseases and aberrant constitutions, also writes, " the will and the intellect of Jeanne were sane and straight " (par son intelligence, par sa volonté, Jeanne reste saine et droite). At the same time he assures us that "no mortal could be more destitute than Jeanne of clear and practical ideas," and that there can be no "literary hypothesis" more blinding than that which credits her with good sense! Dr. Dumas is a too headlong disciple of the one historian on whom he relies. That author sometimes deviates into crediting Jeanne with " all the good sense of the people," and with " very correct ideas "; in great matters both of war and peace.
I am unable to reconcile the conflicting statements which the great historian and the great " scientist " manage to combine in their verdicts on the Maid. If " her intelligence and will were sane and straight," how did she manage to be "devoid of clear and practical ideas"? If she were "conspicuous for good sense" in that essential respect she was remote indeed from the crew of crazy Molls. Historian and savant both seem to have ideas far from the clear and the consistent.
Next, we are told that even Jeanne's martial mission was not of her own invention, conscious or sub-conscious, but was imagined and imposed on her by fraudulent priests, who, apparently, understood the military situation and the needs of France better than Dunois and de Gaucourt! This also is no new theory.
In 1435, four years after her martyrdom, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, was present at the negotiations for the Treaty of Arras, which reconciled France and Burgundy, and dealt a death blow at the English domination over France. He found, as he writes in his Memoirs, that there were many opinions about Jeanne d'Arc, many explanations of her career.
The simple people deemed that she had a mission from Heaven, and was inspired by veritable saints and angels. Others, the scholars of Paris University, believed that her inspiration came from evil spirits. Others, yet more scientific, held that she was the innocent victim of natural subjective hallucinations. Finally (here the Pope's evidence comes in), there was a party which maintained that some French statesman, seeing the jealousies of the nobles of Charles VII, — none would accept another's lead, — found in the Maid a professedly divine leader, whom all might follow. This view is set forth by two French historians in 1548 and 1570.
Jeanne had been, it was believed, the mistress of Robert de Baudricourt, or of Poton de Saintrailles, or of the Bastard of Orleans, and she was instructed in her part by one statesman or another. The cunning statesman invented the mission, and pulled the strings of the clever puppet.
Our knowledge of history makes this last opinion untenable. It is now held by none; but as we see, it has recently been revived in a modified form. The old explanation of that serious historian, Beaumarchais (1730), was that Jeanne was but one of a group of female visionaries, all inspired and directed by the foolish popular preacher, Brother Richard. The similar opinion, that she was known by the clergy of her native place to be a visionary, and that they invented her military mission and imposed it on her through her Voices, while Brother Richard took her in hand later, has been put forward by M. Anatole France.
Dr. Dumas of the Sorbonne has hailed M. France's revival of the old system of " indoctrination " as the last word of Science on the subject.
If I stated the scientific theory in my own words, I might readily be suspected of maliciously distorting it. I translate, therefore, the scientific formula as given by Dr. Dumas. " It is outside of the Maid that M. Anatole France resolutely seeks the source of her political inspirations and Messianic ideas. Thus, behind her first visions, he already detects the influence of some unknown clerical person who wished to turn these visions to the good of the kingdom, and to the conclusion of peace. Jeannette brought, for her part, her piety, her horror of war, her love of the unhappy and afflicted, her memories of her nights of anguish, and of her frightful dreams. The clerical person contributed the Mission; and out of the Voices which at first only said, "Jeannette, be a good girl," he made the Voices which said, " Daughter of God, leave thy village and go into France to let consecrate the Dauphin."
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