The English Mail-Coach and Joan of Arc
Thomas de Quincey

Part 2 out of 3

Ah, what a wilderness of floral beauty was hidden, or was suddenly
revealed, upon the tropic islands through which the pinnace moved! And
upon her deck what a bevy of human flowers: young women how lovely,
young men how noble, that were dancing together, and slowly drifting
towards _us_ amidst music and incense, amidst blossoms from forests
and gorgeous corymbi from vintages, amidst natural carolling, and the
echoes of sweet girlish laughter. Slowly the pinnace nears us, gaily
she hails us, and silently she disappears beneath the shadow of our
mighty bows. But then, as at some signal from heaven, the music, and
the carols, and the sweet echoing of girlish laughter--all are hushed.
What evil has smitten the pinnace, meeting or overtaking her? Did ruin
to our friends couch within our own dreadful shadow? Was our shadow the
shadow of death? I looked over the bow for an answer, and, behold! the
pinnace was dismantled; the revel and the revellers were found no more;
the glory of the vintage was dust; and the forests with their beauty
were left without a witness upon the seas. "But where," and I turned to
our crew--"where are the lovely women that danced beneath the awning of
flowers and clustering corymbi? Whither have fled the noble young men
that danced with _them_?" Answer there was none. But suddenly the
man at the mast-head, whose countenance darkened with alarm, cried out,
"Sail on the weather beam! Down she comes upon us: in seventy seconds
she also will founder."


I looked to the weather side, and the summer had departed. The sea was
rocking, and shaken with gathering wrath. Upon its surface sat mighty
mists, which grouped themselves into arches and long cathedral aisles.
Down one of these, with the fiery pace of a quarrel from a cross-bow,
ran a frigate right athwart our course. "Are they mad?" some voice
exclaimed from our deck. "Do they woo their ruin?" But in a moment, as
she was close upon us, some impulse of a heady current or local vortex
gave a wheeling bias to her course, and off she forged without a shock.
As she ran past us, high aloft amongst the shrouds stood the lady of
the pinnace. The deeps opened ahead in malice to receive her, towering
surges of foam ran after her, the billows were fierce to catch her. But
far away she was borne into desert spaces of the sea: whilst still by
sight I followed her, as she ran before the howling gale, chased by
angry sea-birds and by maddening billows; still I saw her, as at the
moment when she ran past us, standing amongst the shrouds, with her
white draperies streaming before the wind. There she stood, with hair
dishevelled, one hand clutched amongst the tackling--rising, sinking,
fluttering, trembling, praying; there for leagues I saw her as she
stood, raising at intervals one hand to heaven, amidst the fiery crests
of the pursuing waves and the raving of the storm; until at last, upon
a sound from afar of malicious laughter and mockery, all was hidden for
ever in driving showers; and afterwards, but when I knew not, nor how,


Sweet funeral bells from some incalculable distance, wailing over the
dead that die before the dawn, awakened me as I slept in a boat moored
to some familiar shore. The morning twilight even then was breaking;
and, by the dusky revelations which it spread, I saw a girl, adorned
with a garland of white roses about her head for some great festival,
running along the solitary strand in extremity of haste. Her running
was the running of panic; and often she looked back as to some dreadful
enemy in the rear. But, when I leaped ashore, and followed on her steps
to warn her of a peril in front, alas! from me she fled as from another
peril, and vainly I shouted to her of quicksands that lay ahead. Faster
and faster she ran; round a promontory of rocks she wheeled out of
sight; in an instant I also wheeled round it, but only to see the
treacherous sands gathering above her head. Already her person was
buried; only the fair young head and the diadem of white roses around
it were still visible to the pitying heavens; and, last of all, was
visible one white marble arm. I saw by the early twilight this fair
young head, as it was sinking down to darkness--saw this marble arm, as
it rose above her head and her treacherous grave, tossing, faltering,
rising, clutching, as at some false deceiving hand stretched out from
the clouds--saw this marble arm uttering her dying hope, and then
uttering her dying despair. The head, the diadem, the arm--these all
had sunk; at last over these also the cruel quicksand had closed; and
no memorial of the fair young girl remained on earth, except my own
solitary tears, and the funeral bells from the desert seas, that,
rising again more softly, sang a requiem over the grave of the buried
child, and over her blighted dawn.

I sat, and wept in secret the tears that men have ever given to the
memory of those that died before the dawn, and by the treachery of
earth, our mother. But suddenly the tears and funeral bells were hushed
by a shout as of many nations, and by a roar as from some great king's
artillery, advancing rapidly along the valleys, and heard afar by
echoes from the mountains. "Hush!" I said, as I bent my ear earthwards
to listen--"hush!--this either is the very anarchy of strife, or else"
--and then I listened more profoundly, and whispered as I raised my
head--"or else, oh heavens! it is _victory_ that is final, victory
that swallows up all strife."


Immediately, in trance, I was carried over land and sea to some distant
kingdom, and placed upon a triumphal car, amongst companions crowned
with laurel. The darkness of gathering midnight, brooding over all the
land, hid from us the mighty crowds that were weaving restlessly about
ourselves as a centre: we heard them, but saw them not. Tidings had
arrived, within an hour, of a grandeur that measured itself against
centuries; too full of pathos they were, too full of joy, to utter
themselves by other language than by tears, by restless anthems, and
_Te Deums_ reverberated from the choirs and orchestras of earth.
These tidings we that sat upon the laurelled car had it for our
privilege to publish amongst all nations. And already, by signs audible
through the darkness, by snortings and tramplings, our angry horses,
that knew no fear or fleshly weariness, upbraided us with delay.
Wherefore _was_ it that we delayed? We waited for a secret word,
that should bear witness to the hope of nations as now accomplished for
ever. At midnight the secret word arrived; which word was--_Waterloo
and Recovered Christendom!_ The dreadful word shone by its own light;
before us it went; high above our leaders' heads it rode, and spread a
golden light over the paths which we traversed. Every city, at the
presence of the secret word, threw open its gates. The rivers were
conscious as we crossed. All the forests, as we ran along their
margins, shivered in homage to the secret word. And the darkness
comprehended it.

Two hours after midnight we approached a mighty Minster. Its gates,
which rose to the clouds, were closed. But, when the dreadful word that
rode before us reached them with its golden light, silently they moved
back upon their hinges; and at a flying gallop our equipage entered the
grand aisle of the cathedral. Headlong was our pace; and at every
altar, in the little chapels and oratories to the right hand and left
of our course, the lamps, dying or sickening, kindled anew in sympathy
with the secret word that was flying past. Forty leagues we might have
run in the cathedral, and as yet no strength of morning light had
reached us, when before us we saw the aerial galleries of organ and
choir. Every pinnacle of fretwork, every station of advantage amongst
the traceries, was crested by white-robed choristers that sang
deliverance; that wept no more tears, as once their fathers had wept;
but at intervals that sang together to the generations, saying,

"Chant the deliverer's praise in every tongue,"

and receiving answers from afar,

"Such as once in heaven and earth were sung."

And of their chanting was no end; of our headlong pace was neither
pause nor slackening.

Thus as we ran like torrents--thus as we swept with bridal rapture over
the Campo Santo [Footnote: "_Campo Santo_":--It is probable that
most of my readers will be acquainted with the history of the Campo
Santo (or cemetery) at Pisa, composed of earth brought from Jerusalem
from a bed of sanctity as the highest prize which the noble piety of
crusaders could ask or imagine. To readers who are unacquainted with
England, or who (being English) are yet unacquainted with the cathedral
cities of England, it may be right to mention that the graves within-
side the cathedrals often form a flat pavement over which carriages and
horses _might_ run; and perhaps a boyish remembrance of one
particular cathedral, across which I had seen passengers walk and
burdens carried, as about two centuries back they were through the
middle of St. Paul's in London, may have assisted my dream.] of the
cathedral graves--suddenly we became aware of a vast necropolis rising
upon the far-off horizon--a city of sepulchres, built within the
saintly cathedral for the warrior dead that rested from their feuds on
earth. Of purple granite was the necropolis; yet, in the first minute,
it lay like a purple stain upon the horizon, so mighty was the
distance. In the second minute it trembled through many changes,
growing into terraces and towers of wondrous altitude, so mighty was
the pace. In the third minute already, with our dreadful gallop, we
were entering its suburbs. Vast sarcophagi rose on every side, having
towers and turrets that, upon the limits of the central aisle, strode
forward with haughty intrusion, that ran back with mighty shadows into
answering recesses. Every sarcophagus showed many bas-reliefs--bas-
reliefs of battles and of battle-fields; battles from forgotten ages,
battles from yesterday; battle-fields that, long since, nature had
healed and reconciled to herself with the sweet oblivion of flowers;
battle-fields that were yet angry and crimson with carnage. Where the
terraces ran, there did _we_ run; where the towers curved, there
did _we_ curve. With the flight of swallows our horses swept round
every angle. Like rivers in flood wheeling round headlands, like
hurricanes that ride into the secrets of forests, faster than ever
light unwove the mazes of darkness, our flying equipage carried earthly
passions, kindled warrior instincts, amongst the dust that lay around
us--dust oftentimes of our noble fathers that had slept in God from
Crécy to Trafalgar. And now had we reached the last sarcophagus, now
were we abreast of the last bas-relief, already had we recovered the
arrow-like flight of the illimitable central aisle, when coming up this
aisle to meet us we beheld afar off a female child, that rode in a
carriage as frail as flowers. The mists which went before her hid the
fawns that drew her, but could not hide the shells and tropic flowers
with which she played--but could not hide the lovely smiles by which
she uttered her trust in the mighty cathedral, and in the cherubim that
looked down upon her from the mighty shafts of its pillars. Face to
face she was meeting us; face to face she rode, as if danger there were
none. "Oh, baby!" I exclaimed, "shalt thou be the ransom for Waterloo?
Must we, that carry tidings of great joy to every people, be messengers
of ruin to thee!" In horror I rose at the thought; but then also, in
horror at the thought, rose one that was sculptured on a bas-relief--a
Dying Trumpeter. Solemnly from the field of battle he rose to his feet;
and, unslinging his stony trumpet, carried it, in his dying anguish, to
his stony lips--sounding once, and yet once again; proclamation that,
in _thy_ ears, oh baby! spoke from the battlements of death.
Immediately deep shadows fell between us, and aboriginal silence. The
choir had ceased to sing. The hoofs of our horses, the dreadful rattle
of our harness, the groaning of our wheels, alarmed the graves no more.
By horror the bas-relief had been unlocked unto life. By horror we,
that were so full of life, we men and our horses, with their fiery
fore-legs rising in mid air to their everlasting gallop, were frozen to
a bas-relief. Then a third time the trumpet sounded; the seals were
taken off all pulses; life, and the frenzy of life, tore into their
channels again; again the choir burst forth in sunny grandeur, as from
the muffling of storms and darkness; again the thunderings of our
horses carried temptation into the graves. One cry burst from our lips,
as the clouds, drawing off from the aisle, showed it empty before us.--
"Whither has the infant fled?--is the young child caught up to God?"
Lo! afar off, in a vast recess, rose three mighty windows to the
clouds; and on a level with their summits, at height insuperable to
man, rose an altar of purest alabaster. On its eastern face was
trembling a crimson glory. A glory was it from the reddening dawn that
now streamed _through_ the windows? Was it from the crimson robes
of the martyrs painted _on_ the windows? Was it from the bloody
bas-reliefs of earth? There, suddenly, within that crimson radiance,
rose the apparition of a woman's head, and then of a woman's figure.
The child it was--grown up to woman's height. Clinging to the horns of
the altar, voiceless she stood--sinking, rising, raving, despairing;
and behind the volume of incense that, night and day, streamed upwards
from the altar, dimly was seen the fiery font, and the shadow of that
dreadful being who should have baptized her with the baptism of death.
But by her side was kneeling her better angel, that hid his face with
wings; that wept and pleaded for _her_; that prayed when _she_ could
_not_; that fought with Heaven by tears for _her_ deliverance; which
also, as he raised his immortal countenance from his wings, I saw, by
the glory in his eye, that from Heaven he had won at last.


Then was completed the passion of the mighty fugue. The golden tubes of
the organ, which as yet had but muttered at intervals--gleaming amongst
clouds and surges of incense--threw up, as from fountains unfathomable,
columns of heart-shattering music. Choir and anti-choir were filling
fast with unknown voices. Thou also, Dying Trumpeter, with thy love
that was victorious, and thy anguish that was finishing, didst enter
the tumult; trumpet and echo--farewell love, and farewell anguish--rang
through the dreadful _sanctus_. Oh, darkness of the grave! that
from the crimson altar and from the fiery font wert visited and
searched by the effulgence in the angel's eye--were these indeed thy
children? Pomps of life, that, from the burials of centuries, rose
again to the voice of perfect joy, did ye indeed mingle with the
festivals of Death? Lo! as I looked back for seventy leagues through
the mighty cathedral, I saw the quick and the dead that sang together
to God, together that sang to the generations of man. All the hosts of
jubilation, like armies that ride in pursuit, moved with one step. Us,
that, with laurelled heads, were passing from the cathedral, they
overtook, and, as with a garment, they wrapped us round with thunders
greater than our own. As brothers we moved together; to the dawn that
advanced, to the stars that fled; rendering thanks to God in the
highest--that, having hid His face through one generation behind thick
clouds of War, once again was ascending, from the Campo Santo of
Waterloo was ascending, in the visions of Peace; rendering thanks for
thee, young girl! whom having overshadowed with His ineffable passion
of death, suddenly did God relent, suffered thy angel to turn aside His
arm, and even in thee, sister unknown! shown to me for a moment only to
be hidden for ever, found an occasion to glorify His goodness. A
thousand times, amongst the phantoms of sleep, have I seen thee
entering the gates of the golden dawn, with the secret word riding
before thee, with the armies of the grave behind thee,--seen thee
sinking, rising, raving, despairing; a thousand times in the worlds of
sleep have I seen thee followed by God's angel through storms, through
desert seas, through the darkness of quicksands, through dreams and the
dreadful revelations that are in dreams; only that at the last, with
one sling of His victorious arm, He might snatch thee back from ruin,
and might emblazon in thy deliverance the endless resurrections of His

JOAN OF ARC [Footnote: "_Arc_":--Modern France, that should know a
great deal better than myself, insists that the name is not D'Arc--
_i.e._, of Arc--but _Darc_. Now it happens sometimes that, if
a person whose position guarantees his access to the best information
will content himself with gloomy dogmatism, striking the table with his
fist, and saying in a terrific voice, "It _is_ so, and there's an
end of it," one bows deferentially, and submits. But, if, unhappily for
himself, won by this docility, he relents too amiably into reasons and
arguments, probably one raises an insurrection against him that may
never be crushed; for in the fields of logic one can skirmish, perhaps,
as well as he. Had he confined himself to dogmatism, he would have
intrenched his position in darkness, and have hidden his own vulnerable
points. But coming down to base reasons he lets in light, and one sees
where to plant the blows. Now, the worshipful reason of modern France
for disturbing the old received spelling is that Jean Hordal, a
descendant of La Pucelle's brother, spelled the name _Darc_ in
1612. But what of that? It is notorious that what small matter of
spelling Providence had thought fit to disburse amongst man in the
seventeenth century was all monopolised by printers; now, M. Hordal was
_not_ a printer.]

What is to be thought of _her_? What is to be thought of the poor
shepherd girl from the hills and forests of Lorraine, that--like the
Hebrew shepherd boy from the hills and forests of Judea--rose suddenly
out of the quiet, out of the safety, out of the religious inspiration,
rooted in deep pastoral solitudes, to a station in the van of armies,
and to the more perilous station at the right hand of kings? The Hebrew
boy inaugurated his patriotic mission by an _act_, by a victorious
_act_, such as no man could deny. But so did the girl of Lorraine,
if we read her story as it was read by those who saw her nearest.
Adverse armies bore witness to the boy as no pretender; but so they did
to the gentle girl. Judged by the voices of all who saw them _from a
station of good will_, both were found true and loyal to any promises
involved in their first acts. Enemies it was that made the difference
between their subsequent fortunes. The boy rose to a splendour and a
noonday prosperity, both personal and public, that rang through the
records of his people, and became a byword among his posterity for a
thousand years, until the sceptre was departing from Judah. The poor,
forsaken girl, on the contrary, drank not herself from that cup of rest
which she had secured for France. She never sang together with the
songs that rose in her native Domrémy as echoes to the departing steps
of invaders. She mingled not in the festal dances at Vaucouleurs which
celebrated in rapture the redemption of France. No! for her voice was
then silent; no! for her feet were dust. Pure, innocent, noble-hearted
girl! whom, from earliest youth, ever I believed in as full of truth
and self-sacrifice, this was amongst the strongest pledges for
_thy_ truth, that never once--no, not for a moment of weakness--
didst thou revel in the vision of coronets and honour from man.
Coronets for thee! Oh, no! Honours, if they come when all is over, are
for those that share thy blood. [Footnote: "_Those that share thy
blood_":--A collateral relative of Joanna's was subsequently ennobled
by the title of _Du Lys_.] Daughter of Domrémy, when the gratitude
of thy king shall awaken, thou wilt be sleeping the sleep of the dead.
Call her, King of France, but she will not hear thee. Cite her by the
apparitors to come and receive a robe of honour, but she will be found
_en contumace_. When the thunders of universal France, as even yet
may happen, shall proclaim the grandeur of the poor shepherd girl that
gave up all for her country, thy ear, young shepherd girl, will have
been deaf for five centuries. To suffer and to do, that was thy portion
in this life; that was thy destiny; and not for a moment was it hidden
from thyself. Life, thou saidst, is short; and the sleep which is in
the grave is long; let me use that life, so transitory, for the glory
of those heavenly dreams destined to comfort the sleep which is so
long! This pure creature--pure from every suspicion of even a visionary
self-interest, even as she was pure in senses more obvious--never once
did this holy child, as regarded herself, relax from her belief in the
darkness that was travelling to meet her. She might not prefigure the
very manner of her death; she saw not in vision, perhaps, the aerial
altitude of the fiery scaffold, the spectators without end, on every
road, pouring into Rouen as to a coronation, the surging smoke, the
volleying flames, the hostile faces all around, the pitying eye that
lurked but here and there, until nature and imperishable truth broke
loose from artificial restraints--these might not be apparent through
the mists of the hurrying future. But the voice that called her to
death, _that_ she heard for ever.

Great was the throne of France even in those days, and great was He
that sat upon it; but well Joanna knew that not the throne, nor he that
sat upon it, was for _her_; but, on the contrary, that she was for
_them_; not she by them, but they by her, should rise from the
dust. Gorgeous were the lilies of France, and for centuries had the
privilege to spread their beauty over land and sea, until, in another
century, the wrath of God and man combined to wither them; but well
Joanna knew, early at Domrémy she had read that bitter truth, that the
lilies of France would decorate no garland for _her_. Flower nor
bud, bell nor blossom, would ever bloom for _her_!

* * * * *

But stay. What reason is there for taking up this subject of Joanna
precisely in the spring of 1847? Might it not have been left till the
spring of 1947, or, perhaps, left till called for? Yes, but it _is_
called for, and clamorously. You are aware, reader, that amongst the
many original thinkers whom modern France has produced, one of the
reputed leaders is M. Michelet. All these writers are of a
revolutionary cast; not in a political sense merely, but in all senses;
mad, oftentimes, as March hares; crazy with the laughing gas of
recovered liberty; drunk with the wine cup of their mighty Revolution,
snorting, whinnying, throwing up their heels, like wild horses in the
boundless pampas, and running races of defiance with snipes, or with
the winds, or with their own shadows, if they can find nothing else to
challenge. Some time or other, I, that have leisure to read, may
introduce _you_, that have not, to two or three dozen of these
writers; of whom I can assure you beforehand that they are often
profound, and at intervals are even as impassioned as if they were come
of our best English blood. But now, confining our attention to M.
Michelet, we in England--who know him best by his worst book, the book
against priests, etc.--know him disadvantageously. That book is a
rhapsody of incoherence. But his "History of France" is quite another
thing. A man, in whatsoever craft he sails, cannot stretch away out of
sight when he is linked to the windings of the shore by towing-ropes of
History. Facts, and the consequences of facts, draw the writer back to
the falconer's lure from the giddiest heights of speculation. Here,
therefore--in his "France"--if not always free from flightiness, if now
and then off like a rocket for an airy wheel in the clouds, M.
Michelet, with natural politeness, never forgets that he has left a
large audience waiting for him on earth, and gazing upward in anxiety
for his return; return, therefore, he does. But History, though clear
of certain temptations in one direction, has separate dangers of its
own. It is impossible so to write a history of France, or of England--
works becoming every hour more indispensable to the inevitably
political man of this day--without perilous openings for error. If I,
for instance, on the part of England, should happen to turn my labours
into that channel, and (on the model of Lord Percy going to Chevy

"A vow to God should make
My pleasure in the Michelet woods
Three summer days to take,"

probably, from simple delirium, I might hunt M. Michelet into
_delirium tremens_. Two strong angels stand by the side of History,
whether French history or English, as heraldic supporters: the angel of
research on the left hand, that must read millions of dusty parchments,
and of pages blotted with lies; the angel of meditation on the right
hand, that must cleanse these lying records with fire, even as of old
the draperies of _asbestos_ were cleansed, and must quicken them
into regenerated life. Willingly I acknowledge that no man will ever
avoid innumerable errors of detail; with so vast a compass of ground to
traverse, this is impossible; but such errors (though I have a bushel
on hand, at M. Michelet's service) are not the game I chase; it is the
bitter and unfair spirit in which M. Michelet writes against England.
Even _that_, after all, is but my secondary object; the real one is
Joanna, the Pucelle d'Orléans herself.

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. [Footnote:
"_Only now forthcoming_":--In 1847 _began_ the publication (from
official records) of Joanna's trial. It was interrupted, I fear,
by the convulsions of 1848; and whether even yet finished I do not
know.] 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 labour of sifting its perplexities--to the
magnanimity and justice of enemies. To this class belongs the Maid of
Arc. The ancient 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 honour 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 son Tippoo, though so far
inferior, and Napoleon, have all benefited by this disposition among
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. Suffren, 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'Orléans, 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 [Footnote:
"_Jean_":--M. Michelet asserts that there was a mystical meaning at
that era in calling a child _Jean_; it implied a secret commendation of
a child, if not a dedication, to St. John the evangelist, the beloved
disciple, the apostle of love and mysterious visions. But, really, as
the name was so exceedingly common, few people will detect a mystery in
calling a _boy_ by the name of Jack, though it _does_ seem mysterious
to call a girl Jack. It may be less so in France, where a beautiful
practice has always prevailed of giving a boy his mother's name--
preceded and strengthened by a male name, as _Charles Anne_, _Victor
Victoire_. In cases where a mother's memory has been unusually dear to
a son, this vocal memento of her, locked into the circle of his own
name, gives to it the tenderness of a testamentary relic, or a funeral
ring. I presume, therefore, that La Pucelle must have borne the
baptismal name of Jeanne Jean; the latter with no reference, perhaps,
to so sublime a person as St. John, but simply to some relative.])
D'Arc was born at Domrémy, a village on the marches 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 Domrémy, 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 _Champenois_.

These disputes, however, turn on refinements too nice. Domrémy 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
highroad 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 and
intersection for these four diverging arms, will finish the reader's
geographical education, by showing him to a hair's-breadth where it was
that Domrémy stood. These roads, so grandly situated, as great trunk
arteries between two mighty realms,[Footnote: And reminding one of that
inscription, so justly admired by Paul Richter, which a Russian Czarina
placed on a guide-post near Moscow: _This is the road that leads to
Constantinople._] and haunted for ever by wars or rumours of wars,
decussated (for anything I know to the contrary) absolutely under
Joanna's bedroom window; one rolling away to the right, past M. D'Arc's
old barn, and the other unaccountably preferring to sweep round that
odious man's pig-sty to the left.

On whichever 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 France be assailed by a formidable enemy,
and instantly you saw a Duke of Lorraine insisting on having his own
throat cut in support of France; which favour accordingly was
cheerfully granted to him in three great successive battles: twice by
the English, viz., at Crécy and Agincourt, once by the Sultan at

This sympathy with France during great eclipses, in those that during
ordinary seasons were always teasing her with brawls and guerilla
inroads, strengthened the natural piety to France of those that were
confessedly the children of her own house. The outposts of France, as
one may call the great frontier provinces, were of all localities the
most devoted to the Fleurs de Lys. To witness, at any great crisis, the
generous devotion to these lilies of the little fiery cousin that in
gentler weather was for ever tilting at the breast of France, could not
but fan the zeal of France's legitimate daughters; while to occupy a
post of honour on the frontiers against an old hereditary enemy of
France would naturally stimulate this zeal by a sentiment of martial
pride, by a sense of danger always threatening, and of hatred always
smouldering. That great four-headed road was a perpetual memento to
patriotic ardour. To say "This way lies the road to Paris, and that
other way to Aix-la-Chapelle; this to Prague, that to Vienna,"
nourished the warfare of the heart by daily ministrations of sense. The
eye that watched for the gleams of lance or helmet from the hostile
frontier, the ear that listened for the groaning of wheels, made the
highroad itself, with its relations to centres so remote, into a manual
of patriotic duty.

The situation, therefore, _locally_, of Joanna was full of profound
suggestions to a heart that listened for the stealthy steps of change
and fear that too surely were in motion. But, if the place were grand,
the time, the burden of the time, was far more so. The air overhead in
its upper chambers was _hurtling_ with the obscure sound; was dark
with sullen fermenting of storms that had been gathering for a hundred
and thirty years. The battle of Agincourt in Joanna's childhood had
reopened the wounds of France. Crécy and Poictiers, those withering
overthrows for the chivalry of France, had, before Agincourt occurred,
been tranquilised by more than half a century; but this resurrection of
their trumpet wails made the whole series of battles and endless
skirmishes take their stations as parts in one drama. The graves that
had closed sixty years ago seemed to fly open in sympathy with a sorrow
that echoed their own. The monarchy of France laboured in extremity,
rocked and reeled like a ship fighting with the darkness of monsoons.
The madness of the poor king (Charles VI), falling in at such a crisis,
like the case of women labouring in child-birth during the storming of
a city, trebled the awfulness of the time. Even the wild story of the
incident which had immediately occasioned the explosion of this
madness--the case of a man unknown, gloomy, and perhaps maniacal
himself, coming out of a forest at noonday, laying his hand upon the
bridle of the king's horse, checking him for a moment to say, "Oh,
king, thou art betrayed," and then vanishing, no man knew whither, as
he had appeared for no man knew what--fell in with the universal
prostration of mind that laid France on her knees, as before the slow
unweaving of some ancient prophetic doom. The famines, the
extraordinary diseases, the insurrections of the peasantry up and down
Europe--these were chords struck from the same mysterious harp; but
these were transitory chords. There had been others of deeper and more
ominous sound. The termination of the Crusades, the destruction of the
Templars, the Papal interdicts, the tragedies caused or suffered by the
house of Anjou, and by the Emperor--these were full of a more permanent
significance. But, since then, the colossal figure of feudalism was
seen standing, as it were on tiptoe, at Crécy, for flight from earth:
that was a revolution unparalleled; yet _that_ was a trifle by
comparison with the more fearful revolutions that were mining below the
Church. By her own internal schisms, by the abominable spectacle of a
double Pope--so that no man, except through political bias, could even
guess which was Heaven's vicegerent, and which the creature of Hell--
the Church was rehearsing, as in still earlier forms she had already
rehearsed, those vast rents in her foundations which no man should ever

These were the loftiest peaks of the cloudland in the skies that to the
scientific gazer first caught the colors of the _new_ morning in
advance. But the whole vast range alike of sweeping glooms overhead
dwelt upon all meditative minds, even upon those that could not
distinguish the tendencies nor decipher the forms. It was, therefore,
not her own age alone, as affected by its immediate calamities, that
lay with such weight upon Joanna's mind, but her own age as one section
in a vast mysterious drama, unweaving through a century back, and
drawing nearer continually to some dreadful crisis. Cataracts and
rapids were heard roaring ahead; and signs were seen far back, by help
of old men's memories, which answered secretly to signs now coming
forward on the eye, even as locks answer to keys. It was not wonderful
that in such a haunted solitude, with such a haunted heart, Joanna
should see angelic visions, and hear angelic voices. These voices
whispered to her for ever the duty, self-imposed, of delivering France.
Five years she listened to these monitory voices with internal
struggles. At length she could resist no longer. Doubt gave way; and
she left her home for ever in order to present herself at the dauphin's
court. The education of this poor girl was mean according to the
present standard: was ineffably grand, according to a purer philosophic
standard: and only not good for our age because for us it would be
unattainable. She read nothing, for she could not read; but she had
heard others read parts of the Roman martyrology. She wept in sympathy
with the sad "Misereres" of the Romish Church; she rose to heaven with
the glad triumphant "Te Deums" of Rome; she drew her comfort and her
vital strength from the rites of the same Church. But, next after these
spiritual advantages, she owed most to the advantages of her situation.
The fountain of Domrémy was on the brink of a boundless forest; and it
was haunted to that degree by fairies that the parish priest
(_curé_) was obliged to read mass there once a year, in order to
keep them in any decent bounds. Fairies are important, even in a
statistical view: certain weeds mark poverty in the soil; fairies mark
its solitude. As surely as the wolf retires before cities does the
fairy sequester herself from the haunts of the licensed victualer. A
village is too much for her nervous delicacy; at most, she can tolerate
a distant view of a hamlet. We may judge, therefore, by the uneasiness
and extra trouble which they gave to the parson, in what strength the
fairies mustered at Domrémy, and, by a satisfactory consequence, how
thinly sown with men and women must have been that region even in its
inhabited spots. But the forests of Domrémy--those were the glories of
the land: for in them abode mysterious powers and ancient secrets that
towered into tragic strength. "Abbeys there were, and abbey windows"--
"like Moorish temples of the Hindoos"--that exercised even princely
power both in Lorraine and in the German Diets. These had their sweet
bells that pierced the forests for many a league at matins or vespers,
and each its own dreamy legend. Few enough, and scattered enough, were
these abbeys, so as in no degree to disturb the deep solitude of the
region; yet many enough to spread a network or awning of Christian
sanctity over what else might have seemed a heathen wilderness. This
sort of religious talisman being secured, a man the most afraid of
ghosts (like myself, suppose, or the reader) becomes armed into courage
to wander for days in their sylvan recesses. The mountains of the
Vosges, on the eastern frontier of France, have never attracted much
notice from Europe, except in 1813-14 for a few brief months, when they
fell within Napoleon's line of defence against the Allies. But they are
interesting for this among other features, that they do not, like some
loftier ranges, repel woods; the forests and the hills are on sociable
terms. "Live and let live" is their motto. For this reason, in part,
these tracts in Lorraine were a favourite hunting-ground with the
Carlovingian princes. About six hundred years before Joanna's
childhood, Charlemagne was known to have hunted there. That, of itself,
was a grand incident in the traditions of a forest or a chase. In these
vast forests, also, were to be found (if anywhere to be found) those
mysterious fawns that tempted solitary hunters into visionary and
perilous pursuits. Here was seen (if anywhere seen) that ancient stag
who was already nine hundred years old, but possibly a hundred or two
more, when met by Charlemagne; and the thing was put beyond doubt by
the inscription upon his golden collar. I believe Charlemagne knighted
the stag; and, if ever he is met again by a king, he ought to be made
an earl, or, being upon the marches of France, a marquis. Observe, I
don't absolutely vouch for all these things: my own opinion varies. On
a fine breezy forenoon I am audaciously sceptical; but as twilight sets
in my credulity grows steadily, till it becomes equal to anything that
could be desired. And I have heard candid sportsmen declare that,
outside of these very forests, they laughed loudly at all the dim tales
connected with their haunted solitudes, but, on reaching a spot
notoriously eighteen miles deep within them, they agreed with Sir Roger
de Coverley that a good deal might be said on both sides.

Such traditions, or any others that (like the stag) connect distant
generations with each other, are, for that cause, sublime; and the
sense of the shadowy, connected with such appearances that reveal
themselves or not according to circumstances, leaves a colouring of
sanctity over ancient forests, even in those minds that utterly reject
the legend as a fact.

But, apart from all distinct stories of that order, in any solitary
frontier between two great empires--as here, for instance, or in the
desert between Syria and the Euphrates--there is an inevitable
tendency, in minds of any deep sensibility, to people the solitudes
with phantom images of powers that were of old so vast. Joanna,
therefore, in her quiet occupation of a shepherdess, would be led
continually to brood over the political condition of her country by the
traditions of the past no less than by the mementoes of the local

M. Michelet, indeed, says that La Pucelle was not a shepherdess. I beg
his pardon; she was. What he rests upon I guess pretty well: it is the
evidence of a woman called Haumette, the most confidential friend of
Joanna. Now, she is a good witness, and a good girl, and I like her;
for she makes a natural and affectionate report of Joanna's ordinary
life. But still, however good she may be as a witness, Joanna is
better; and she, when speaking to the dauphin, calls herself in the
Latin report _Bergereta_. Even Haumette confesses that Joanna
tended sheep in her girlhood. And I believe that, if Miss Haumette were
taking coffee along with me this very evening (February 12, 1847)--in
which there would be no subject for scandal or for maiden blushes,
because I am an intense philosopher, and Miss H. would be hard upon 450
years old--she would admit the following comment upon her evidence to
be right. A Frenchman, about forty years ago--M. Simond, in his
"Travels"--mentions accidentally the following hideous scene as one
steadily observed and watched by himself in chivalrous France not very
long before the French Revolution: A peasant was plowing; and the team
that drew his plow was a donkey and a woman. Both were regularly
harnessed; both pulled alike. This is bad enough; but the Frenchman
adds that, in distributing his lashes, the peasant was obviously
desirous of being impartial; or, if either of the yokefellows had a
right to complain, certainly it was not the donkey. Now, in any country
where such degradation of females could be tolerated by the state of
manners, a woman of delicacy would shrink from acknowledging, either
for herself or her friend, that she had ever been addicted to any mode
of labour not strictly domestic; because, if once owning herself a
prædial servant, she would be sensible that this confession extended by
probability in the hearer's thoughts to the having incurred indignities
of this horrible kind. Haumette clearly thinks it more dignified for
Joanna to have been darning the stockings of her horny-hoofed father,
M. D'Arc, than keeping sheep, lest she might then be suspected of
having ever done something worse. But, luckily, there was no danger of
_that_: Joanna never was in service; and my opinion is that her
father should have mended his own stockings, since probably he was the
party to make the holes in them, as many a better man than D'Arc does--
meaning by _that_ not myself, because, though probably a better man
than D'Arc, I protest against doing anything of the kind. If I lived
even with Friday in Juan Fernandez, either Friday must do all the
darning, or else it must go undone. The better men that I meant were
the sailors in the British navy, every man of whom mends his own
stockings. Who else is to do it? Do you suppose, reader, that the
junior lords of the admiralty are under articles to darn for the navy?

The reason, meantime, for my systematic hatred of D'Arc is this: There
was a story current in France before the Revolution, framed to ridicule
the pauper aristocracy, who happened to have long pedigrees and short
rent rolls: viz., that a head of such a house, dating from the
Crusades, was overheard saying to his son, a Chevalier of St. Louis,
"_Chevalier, as-tu donné au cochon à manger_?" Now, it is clearly
made out by the surviving evidence that D'Arc would much have preferred
continuing to say, "_Ma fille, as-tu donné au cochon à manger_?" to
saying, "_Pucelle d'Orléans, as-tu sauvé les fleurs-de-lys_?" There
is an old English copy of verses which argues thus:

"If the man that turnips cries
Cry not when his father dies,
Then 'tis plain the man had rather
Have a turnip than his father."

I cannot say that the logic of these verses was ever _entirely_ to
my satisfaction. I do not see my way through it as clearly as could be
wished. But I see my way most clearly through D'Arc; and the result is
--that he would greatly have preferred not merely a turnip to his
father, but the saving a pound or so of bacon to saving the Oriflamme
of France.

It is probable (as M. Michelet suggests) that the title of Virgin or
Pucelle had in itself, and apart from the miraculous stories about her,
a secret power over the rude soldiery and partisan chiefs of that
period; for in such a person they saw a representative manifestation of
the Virgin Mary, who, in a course of centuries, had grown steadily upon
the popular heart.

As to Joanna's supernatural detection of the dauphin (Charles VII)
among three hundred lords and knights, I am surprised at the credulity
which could ever lend itself to that theatrical juggle. Who admires
more than myself the sublime enthusiasm, the rapturous faith in
herself, of this pure creature? But I am far from admiring stage
artifices which not La Pucelle, but the court, must have arranged; nor
can surrender myself to the conjurer's legerdemain, such as may be seen
every day for a shilling. Southey's "Joan of Arc" was published in
1796. Twenty years after, talking with Southey, I was surprised to find
him still owning a secret bias in favor of Joan, founded on her
detection of the dauphin. The story, for the benefit of the reader new
to the case, was this: La Pucelle was first made known to the dauphin,
and presented to his court, at Chinon; and here came her first trial.
By way of testing her supernatural pretensions, she was to find out the
royal personage amongst the whole ark of clean and unclean creatures.
Failing in this _coup d'essai_, she would not simply disappoint
many a beating heart in the glittering crowd that on different motives
yearned for her success, but she would ruin herself, and, as the oracle
within had told her, would, by ruining herself, ruin France. Our own
Sovereign Lady Victoria rehearses annually a trial not so severe in
degree, but the same in kind. She "pricks" for sheriffs. Joanna pricked
for a king. But observe the difference: our own Lady pricks for two men
out of three; Joanna for one man out of three hundred. Happy Lady of
the Islands and the Orient!--she _can_ go astray in her choice only
by one-half: to the extent of one-half she _must_ have the
satisfaction of being right. And yet, even with these tight limits to
the misery of a boundless discretion, permit me, Liege Lady, with all
loyalty, to submit that now and then you prick with your pin the wrong
man. But the poor child from Domremy, shrinking under the gaze of a
dazzling court--not _because_ dazzling (for in visions she had seen
those that were more so), but because some of them wore a scoffing
smile on their features--how should _she_ throw her line into so
deep a river to angle for a king, where many a gay creature was
sporting that masqueraded as kings in dress! Nay, even more than any
true king would have done: for, in Southey's version of the story, the
dauphin says, by way of trying the virgin's magnetic sympathy with

"On the throne,
I the while mingling with the menial throng,
Some courtier shall be seated."

This usurper is even crowned: "the jeweled crown shines on a menial's
head." But, really, that is "_un peu fort_"; and the mob of
spectators might raise a scruple whether our friend the jackdaw upon
the throne, and the dauphin himself, were not grazing the shins of
treason. For the dauphin could not lend more than belonged to him.
According to the popular notion, he had no crown for himself;
consequently none to lend, on any pretence whatever, until the
consecrated Maid should take him to Rheims. This was the _popular_
notion in France. But certainly it was the dauphin's interest to
support the popular notion, as he meant to use the services of Joanna.
For if he were king already, what was it that she could do for him
beyond Orleans? That is to say, what more than a merely _military_
service could she render him? And, above all, if he were king without a
coronation, and without the oil from the sacred ampulla, what advantage
was yet open to him by celerity above his competitor, the English boy?
Now was to be a race for a coronation: he that should win _that_
race carried the superstition of France along with him: he that should
first be drawn from the ovens of Rheims was under that superstition
baked into a king.

La Pucelle, before she could be allowed to practise as a warrior, was
put through her manual and platoon exercise, as a pupil in divinity, at
the bar of six eminent men in wigs. According to Southey (v. 393, bk.
iii., in the original edition of his "Joan of Arc,") she "appalled the
doctors." It's not easy to do _that_: but they had some reason to
feel bothered, as that surgeon would assuredly feel bothered who, upon
proceeding to dissect a subject, should find the subject retaliating as
a dissector upon himself, especially if Joanna ever made the speech to
them which occupies v. 354-391, bk. iii. It is a double impossibility:
1st, because a piracy from Tindal's "Christianity as old as the
Creation"--a piracy _a parte ante_, and by three centuries; 2d, it
is quite contrary to the evidence on Joanna's trial. Southey's "Joan"
of A.D. 1796 (Cottle, Bristol) tells the doctors, among other secrets,
that she never in her life attended--1st, Mass; nor 2d, the Sacramental
Table; nor 3d, Confession. In the meantime, all this deistical
confession of Joanna's, besides being suicidal for the interest of her
cause, is opposed to the depositions upon _both_ trials. The very
best witness called from first to last deposes that Joanna attended
these rites of her Church even too often; was taxed with doing so; and,
by blushing, owned the charge as a fact, though certainly not as a
fault. Joanna was a girl of natural piety, that saw God in forests and
hills and fountains, but did not the less seek him in chapels and
consecrated oratories.

This peasant girl was self-educated through her own natural
meditativeness. If the reader turns to that divine passage in "Paradise
Regained" which Milton has put into the mouth of our Saviour when first
entering the wilderness, and musing upon the tendency of those great
impulses growing within himself-----

"Oh, what a multitude of thoughts at once
Awakened in me swarm, while I consider
What from within I feel myself, and hear
What from without comes often to my ears,
Ill sorting with my present state compared!
When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing; all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do,
What might be public good; myself I thought
Born to that end----"

he will have some notion of the vast reveries which brooded over the
heart of Joanna in early girlhood, when the wings were budding that
should carry her from Orleans to Rheims; when the golden chariot was
dimly revealing itself that should carry her from the kingdom of
_France Delivered_ to the Eternal Kingdom.

It is not requisite for the honour of Joanna, nor is there in this
place room, to pursue her brief career of _action._ That, though
wonderful, forms the earthly part of her story; the spiritual part is
the saintly passion of her imprisonment, trial, and execution. It is
unfortunate, therefore, for Southey's "Joan of Arc" (which, however,
should always be regarded as a _juvenile_ effort), that precisely
when her real glory begins the poem ends. But this limitation of the
interest grew, no doubt, from the constraint inseparably attached to
the law of epic unity. Joanna's history bisects into two opposite
hemispheres, and both could not have been presented to the eye in one
poem, unless by sacrificing all unity of theme, or else by involving
the earlier half, as a narrative episode, in the latter; which,
however, might have been done, for it might have been communicated to a
fellow-prisoner, or a confessor, by Joanna herself. It is sufficient,
as concerns _this_ section of Joanna's life, to say that she
fulfilled, to the height of her promises, the restoration of the
prostrate throne. France had become a province of England, and for the
ruin of both, if such a yoke could be maintained. Dreadful pecuniary
exhaustion caused the English energy to droop; and that critical
opening La Pucelle used with a corresponding felicity of audacity and
suddenness (that were in themselves portentous) for introducing the
wedge of French native resources, for rekindling the national pride,
and for planting the dauphin once more upon his feet. When Joanna
appeared, he had been on the point of giving up the struggle with the
English, distressed as they were, and of flying to the south of France.
She 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, and then beleaguered by the English with an elaborate application
of engineering skill unprecedented in Europe. Entering the city after
sunset on the 29th of April, she sang mass on Sunday, May 8th, for the
entire disappearance of the besieging force. On the 29th of June she
fought and gained over the English the decisive battle of Patay; on the
9th of July she took Troyes by a _coup-de-main_ from a mixed
garrison of English and Burgundians; on the 15th of that month she
carried the dauphin into Rheims; on Sunday the 17th she crowned him;
and there she rested from her labour of triumph. All that was to be
_done_ she had now accomplished; what remained was--to

All this forward movement was her own; excepting one man, the whole
council was against her. Her enemies were all that drew power from
earth. Her supporters were her own strong enthusiasm, and the headlong
contagion by which she carried this sublime frenzy into the hearts of
women, of soldiers, and of all who lived by labour. Henceforward she
was thwarted; and the worst error that she committed was to lend the
sanction of her presence to counsels which she had ceased to approve.
But she had now accomplished the capital objects which her own visions
had dictated. These involved all the rest. Errors were now less
important; and doubtless it had now become more difficult for herself
to pronounce authentically what _were_ errors. The noble girl had
achieved, as by a rapture of motion, the capital end of clearing out a
free space around her sovereign, giving him the power to move his arms
with effect, and, secondly, the inappreciable end of winning for that
sovereign what seemed to all France the heavenly ratification of his
rights, by crowning him with the ancient solemnities. She had made it
impossible for the English now to step before her. They were caught in
an irretrievable blunder, owing partly to discord among the uncles of
Henry VI, partly to a want of funds, but partly to the very
impossibility which they believed to press with tenfold force upon any
French attempt to forestall theirs. They laughed at such a thought;
and, while they laughed, _she_ did it. Henceforth the single
redress for the English of this capital oversight, but which never
_could_ have redressed it effectually, was to vitiate and taint the
coronation of Charles VII as the work of a witch. That policy, and not
malice (as M. Michelet is so happy to believe), was the moving
principle in the subsequent prosecution of Joanna. Unless they unhinged
the force of the first coronation in the popular mind by associating it
with power given from hell, they felt that the sceptre of the invader
was broken.

But she, the child that, at nineteen, had wrought wonders so great for
France, was she not elated? Did she not lose, as men so often
_have_ lost, all sobriety of mind when standing upon the pinnacle
of success so giddy? Let her enemies declare. During the progress of
her movement, and in the centre of ferocious struggles, she had
manifested the temper of her feelings by the pity which she had
everywhere expressed for the suffering enemy. She forwarded to the
English leaders a touching invitation to unite with the French, as
brothers, in a common crusade against infidels--thus opening the road
for a soldierly retreat. She interposed to protect the captive or the
wounded; she mourned over the excesses of her countrymen; she threw
herself off her horse to kneel by the dying English soldier, and to
comfort him with such ministrations, physical or spiritual, as his
situation allowed. "Nolebat," says the evidence, "uti ense suo, aut
quemquam interficere." She sheltered the English that invoked her aid
in her own quarters. She wept as she beheld, stretched on the field of
battle, so many brave enemies that had died without confession. And, as
regarded herself, her elation expressed itself thus: on the day when
she had finished her work, she wept; for she knew that, when her
_triumphal_ task was done, her end must be approaching. Her
aspirations pointed only to a place which seemed to her more than
usually full of natural piety, as one in which it would give her
pleasure to die. And she uttered, between smiles and tears, as a wish
that inexpressibly fascinated her heart, and yet was half fantastic, a
broken prayer that God would return her to the solitudes from which he
had drawn her, and suffer her to become a shepherdess once more. It was
a natural prayer, because nature has laid a necessity upon every human
heart to seek for rest and to shrink from torment. Yet, again, it was a
half-fantastic prayer, because, from childhood upward, visions that she
had no power to mistrust, and the voices which sounded in her ear for
ever, had long since persuaded her mind that for _her_ no such
prayer could be granted. Too well she felt that her mission must be
worked out to the end, and that the end was now at hand. All went wrong
from this time. She herself had created the _funds_ out of which
the French restoration should grow; but she was not suffered to witness
their development or their prosperous application. More than one
military plan was entered upon which she did not approve. But she still
continued to expose her person as before. Severe wounds had not taught
her caution. And at length, in a sortie from Compiègne (whether through
treacherous collusion on the part of her own friends is doubtful to
this day), she was made prisoner by the Burgundians, and finally
surrendered to the English.

Now came her trial. This trial, moving of course under English
influence, was conducted in chief by the Bishop of Beauvais. He was a
Frenchman, sold to English interests, and hoping, by favour of the
English leaders, to reach the highest preferment. "Bishop that art,
Archbishop that shalt be, Cardinal that mayest be," were the words that
sounded continually in his ear; and doubtless a whisper of visions
still higher, of a triple crown, and feet upon the necks of kings,
sometimes stole into his heart. M. Michelet is anxious to keep us in
mind that this bishop was but an agent of the English. True. But it
does not better the case for his countryman that, being an accomplice
in the crime, making himself the leader in the persecution against the
helpless girl, he was willing to be all this in the spirit, and with
the conscious vileness of a cat's-paw. 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 hellishness of attack. Oh, child of
France! shepherdess, peasant girl! trodden under foot by all around
thee, how I honour thy flashing intellect, quick as God's lightning,
and true as God's lightning to its mark, that ran before France and
laggard Europe by many a century, confounding the malice of the
ensnarer, and making dumb the oracles of falsehood! Is it not
scandalous, is it not humiliating to civilization, that, even at this
day, France exhibits the horrid spectacle of judges examining the
prisoner against himself; seducing him, by fraud, into treacherous
conclusions against his own head; using the terrors of their power for
extorting confessions from the frailty of hope; nay (which is worse),
using the blandishments of condescension and snaky kindness for thawing
into compliances of gratitude those whom they had failed to freeze into
terror? Wicked judges! barbarian jurisprudence!--that, sitting in your
own conceit on the summits of social wisdom, have yet failed to learn
the first principles of criminal justice--sit ye humbly and with
docility at the feet of this girl from Domrémy, that tore your webs of
cruelty into shreds and dust. "Would you examine me as a witness
against myself?" was the question by which many times she defied their
arts. Continually she showed that their interrogations were irrelevant
to any business before the court, or that entered into the ridiculous
charges against her. General questions were proposed to her on points
of casuistical divinity; two-edged questions, which not one of
themselves could have answered, without, on the one side, landing
himself in heresy (as then interpreted), or, on the other, in some
presumptuous expression of self-esteem. Next came a wretched Dominican,
that pressed her with an objection, which, if applied to the Bible,
would tax every one of its miracles with unsoundness. The monk had the
excuse of never having read the Bible. M. Michelet has no such excuse;
and it makes one blush for him, as a philosopher, to find him
describing such an argument as "weighty," whereas it is but a varied
expression of rude Mahometan metaphysics. Her answer to this, if there
were room to place the whole in a clear light, was as shattering as it
was rapid. Another thought to entrap her by asking what language the
angelic visitors of her solitude had talked--as though heavenly
counsels could want polyglot interpreters for every word, or that God
needed language at all in whispering thoughts to a human heart. Then
came a worse devil, who asked her whether the Archangel Michael had
appeared naked. Not comprehending the vile insinuation, Joanna, whose
poverty suggested to her simplicity that it might be the _costliness_
of suitable robes which caused the demur, asked them if they fancied
God, who clothed the flowers of the valleys, unable to find raiment for
his servants. The answer of Joanna moves a smile of tenderness, but the
disappointment of her judges makes one laugh exultingly. Others
succeeded by troops, who upbraided her with leaving her father; as if
that greater Father, whom she believed herself to have been serving,
did not retain the power of dispensing with his own rules, or had not
said that for a less cause than martyrdom man and woman should leave
both father and mother.

On Easter Sunday, when the trial had been long proceeding, the poor
girl fell so ill as to cause a belief that she had been poisoned. It
was not poison. Nobody had any interest in hastening a death so
certain. M. Michelet, whose sympathies with all feelings are so quick
that one would gladly see them always as justly directed, reads the
case most truly. Joanna had a twofold malady. She was visited by a
paroxysm of the complaint called _homesickness_. The cruel nature
of her imprisonment, and its length, could not but point her solitary
thoughts, in darkness and in chains (for chained she was), to Domrémy.
And the season, which was the most heavenly period of the spring, added
stings to this yearning. That was one of her maladies--_nostalgia_,
as medicine calls it; the other was weariness and exhaustion from daily
combats with malice. She saw that everybody hated her and thirsted for
her blood; nay, many kind-hearted creatures that would have pitied her
profoundly, as regarded all political charges, had their natural
feelings warped by the belief that she had dealings with fiendish
powers. She knew she was to die; that was _not_ the misery! the
misery was that this consummation could not be reached without so much
intermediate strife, as if she were contending for some chance (where
chance was none) of happiness, or were dreaming for a moment of
escaping the inevitable. Why, then, _did_ she contend? Knowing that
she would reap nothing from answering her persecutors, why did she not
retire by silence from the superfluous contest? It was because her
quick and eager loyalty to truth would not suffer her to see it
darkened by frauds which _she_ could expose, but others, even of
candid listeners, perhaps, could not; it was through that imperishable
grandeur of soul which taught her to submit meekly and without a
struggle to her punishment, but taught her _not_ to submit--no, not
for a moment--to calumny as to facts, or to misconstruction as to
motives. Besides, there were secretaries all around the court taking
down her words. That was meant for no good to _her_. But the end
does not always correspond to the meaning. And Joanna might say to
herself, "These words that will be used against me to-morrow and the
next day, perhaps, in some nobler generation, may rise again for my
justification." Yes, Joanna, they _are_ rising even now in Paris,
and for more than justification!

Woman, sister, there are some things which you do not execute as well
as your brother, man; no, nor ever will. Pardon me if I doubt whether
you will ever produce a great poet from your choirs, or a Mozart, or a
Phidias, or a Michael Angelo, or a great philosopher, or a great
scholar. By which last is meant--not one who depends simply on an
infinite memory, but also on an infinite and electrical power of
combination; bringing together from the four winds, like the angel of
the resurrection, what else were dust from dead men's bones, into the
unity of breathing life. If you _can_ create yourselves into any of
these great creators, why have you not?

Yet, sister woman, though I cannot consent to find a Mozart or a
Michael Angelo in your sex, cheerfully, and with the love that burns in
depths of admiration, I acknowledge that you can do one thing as well
as the best of us men--a greater thing than even Milton is known to
have done, or Michael Angelo; you can die grandly, and as goddesses
would die, were goddesses mortal. If any distant worlds (which
_may_ be the case) are so far ahead of us Tellurians in optical
resources as to see distinctly through their telescopes all that we do
on earth, what is the grandest sight to which we ever treat them? St.
Peter's at Rome, do you fancy, on Easter Sunday, or Luxor, or perhaps
the Himalayas? Oh, no! my friend; suggest something better; these are
baubles to _them_; they see in other worlds, in their own, far
better toys of the same kind. These, take my word for it, are nothing.
Do you give it up? The finest thing, then, we have to show them is a
scaffold on the morning of execution. I assure you there is a strong
muster in those far telescopic worlds, on any such morning, of those
who happen to find themselves occupying the right hemisphere for a peep
at _us_. How, then, if it be announced in some such telescopic
world by those who make a livelihood of catching glimpses at our
newspapers, whose language they have long since deciphered, that the
poor victim in the morning's sacrifice is a woman? How, if it be
published in that distant world that the sufferer wears upon her head,
in the eyes of many, the garlands of martyrdom? How, if it should be
some Marie Antoinette, the widowed queen, coming forward on the
scaffold, and presenting to the morning air her head, turned gray by
sorrow--daughter of Caesars kneeling down humbly to kiss the
guillotine, as one that worships death? How, if it were the noble
Charlotte Corday, that in the bloom of youth, that with the loveliest
of persons, that with homage waiting upon her smiles wherever she
turned her face to scatter them--homage that followed those smiles as
surely as the carols of birds, after showers in spring, follow the
reappearing sun and the racing of sunbeams over the hills--yet thought
all these things cheaper than the dust upon her sandals, in comparison
of deliverance from hell for her dear suffering France! Ah! these were
spectacles indeed for those sympathising people in distant worlds; and
some, perhaps, would suffer a sort of martyrdom themselves, because
they could not testify their wrath, could not bear witness to the
strength of love and to the fury of hatred that burned within them at
such scenes, could not gather into golden urns some of that glorious
dust which rested in the catacombs of earth.

On the Wednesday after Trinity Sunday in 1431, being then about
nineteen years of age, the Maid of Arc underwent her martyrdom. She was
conducted before mid-day, guarded by eight hundred spearmen, to a
platform of prodigious height, constructed of wooden billets supported
by occasional walls of lath and plaster, and traversed by hollow spaces
in every direction for the creation of air currents. The pile "struck
terror," says M. Michelet, "by its height"; and, as usual, the English
purpose in this is viewed as one of pure malignity. But there are two
ways of explaining all that. It is probable that the purpose was
merciful. On the circumstances of the execution I shall not linger.
Yet, to mark the almost fatal felicity of M. Michelet in finding out
whatever may injure the English name, at a moment when every reader
will be interested in Joanna's personal appearance, it is really
edifying to notice the ingenuity by which he draws into light from a
dark corner a very unjust account of it, and neglects, though lying
upon the highroad, a very pleasing one. Both are from English pens.
Grafton, a chronicler, but little read, being a stiff-necked John Bull,
thought fit to say that no wonder Joanna should be a virgin, since her
"foule face" was a satisfactory solution of that particular merit.
Holinshead, on the other hand, a chronicler somewhat later, every way
more important, and at one time universally read, has given a very
pleasing testimony to the interesting character of Joanna's person and
engaging manners. Neither of these men lived till the following
century, so that personally this evidence is none at all. Grafton
sullenly and carelessly believed as he wished to believe; Holinshead
took pains to inquire, and reports undoubtedly the general impression
of France. But I cite the case as illustrating M. Michelet's candour.
[Footnote: Amongst the many ebullitions of M. Michelet's fury against
us poor English are four which will be likely to amuse the reader; and
they are the more conspicuous in collision with the justice which he
sometimes does us, and the very indignant admiration which, under some
aspects, he grants to us. 1. Our English literature he admires with
some gnashing of teeth. He pronounces it "fine and sombre," but, I
lament to add, "skeptical, Judaic, Satanic--in a word, antichristian."
That Lord Byron should figure as a member of this diabolical
corporation will not surprise men. It _will_ surprise them to hear
that Milton is one of its Satanic leaders. Many are the generous and
eloquent Frenchmen, besides Chateaubriand, who have, in the course of
the last thirty years, nobly suspended their own burning nationality,
in order to render a more rapturous homage at the feet of Milton; and
some of them have raised Milton almost to a level with angelic natures.
Not one of them has thought of looking for him _below_ the earth.
As to Shakspere, M. Michelet detects in him a most extraordinary mare's
nest. It is this: he does "not recollect to have seen the name of God"
in any part of his works. On reading such words, it is natural to rub
one's eyes, and suspect that all one has ever seen in this world may
have been a pure ocular delusion. In particular, I begin myself to
suspect that the word "_la gloire_" never occurs in any Parisian
journal. "The great English nation," says M. Michelet, "has one immense
profound vice"--to wit, "pride." Why, really, that may be true; but we
have a neighbour not absolutely clear of an "immense profound vice," as
like ours in colour and shape as cherry to cherry. In short, M.
Michelet thinks us, by fits and starts, admirable--only that we are
detestable; and he would adore some of our authors, were it not that so
intensely he could have wished to kick them.

2. M. Michelet thinks to lodge an arrow in our sides by a very odd
remark upon Thomas à Kempis: which is, that a man of any conceivable
European blood--a Finlander, suppose, or a Zantiote--might have written
Tom; only not an Englishman. Whether an Englishman could have forged
Tom must remain a matter of doubt, unless the thing had been tried long
ago. That problem was intercepted for ever by Tom's perverseness in
choosing to manufacture himself. Yet, since nobody is better aware than
M. Michelet that this very point of Kempis _having_ manufactured
Kempis is furiously and hopelessly litigated, three or four nations
claiming to have forged his work for him, the shocking old doubt will
raise its snaky head once more--whether this forger, who rests in so
much darkness, might not, after all, be of English blood. Tom, it may
be feared, is known to modern English literature chiefly by an
irreverent mention of his name in a line of Peter Pindar's (Dr Wolcot)
fifty years back, where he is described as

"Kempis Tom,
Who clearly shows the way to Kingdom Come"

Few in these days can have read him, unless in the Methodist version of
John Wesley Among those few, however, happens to be myself, which arose
from the accident of having, when a boy of eleven, received a copy of
the "De Imitatione Christi" as a bequest from a relation who died very
young, from which cause, and from the external prettiness of the book--
being a Glasgow reprint by the celebrated Foulis, and gaily bound--I
was induced to look into it, and finally read it many times over,
partly out of some sympathy which, even in those days, I had with its
simplicity and devotional fervour, but much more from the savage
delight I found in laughing at Tom's Latinity that, I freely grant to M
Michelet, is inimitable. Yet, after all, it is not certain whether the
original _was_ Latin. But, however that may have been, if it is
possible that M Michelet [Footnote: "_If M. Michelet can be
accurate_"--However, on consideration, this statement does not depend
on Michelet. The bibliographer Barbier has absolutely _specified_
sixty in a separate dissertation, _soixante traductions_ among
those even that have not escaped the search. The Italian translations
are said to be thirty. As to mere editions, not counting the early MSS.
for half a century before printing was introduced, those in Latin
amount to 2000, and those in French to 1000. Meantime it is very clear
to me that this astonishing popularity so entirely unparalleled in
literature, could not have existed except in Roman Catholic times, nor
subsequently have lingered in any Protestant land. It was the denial of
Scripture fountains to thirsty lands which made this slender rill of
Scripture truth so passionately welcome.] can be accurate in saying
that there are no less than sixty French versions (not editions,
observe, but separate versions) existing of the "De Imitatione," how
prodigious must have been the adaptation of the book to the religious
heart of the fifteenth century! Excepting the Bible, but excepting
_that_ only in Protestant lands, no book known to man has had the
same distinction. It is the most marvellous bibliographical fact on

3. Our English girls, it seems, are as faulty in one way as we English
males in another. None of us men could have written the _Opera
Omnia_ of Mr. à Kempis; neither could any of our girls have assumed
male attire like La Pucelle. But why? Because, says Michelet, English
girls and German think so much of an indecorum. Well, that is a good
fault, generally speaking. But M. Michelet ought to have remembered a
fact in the martyrologies which justifies both parties--the French
heroine for doing, and the general choir of English girls for _not_
doing. A female saint, specially renowned in France, had, for a reason
as weighty as Joanna's--viz., expressly to shield her modesty among
men--worn a male military harness. That reason and that example
authorised La Pucelle; but our English girls, as a body, have seldom
any such reason, and certainly no such saintly example, to plead. This
excuses _them_. Yet, still, if it is indispensable to the national
character that our young women should now and then trespass over the
frontier of decorum, it then becomes a patriotic duty in me to assure
M. Michelet that we _have_ such ardent females among us, and in a
long series; some detected in naval hospitals when too sick to remember
their disguise; some on fields of battle; multitudes never detected at
all; some only suspected; and others discharged without noise by war
offices and other absurd people. In our navy, both royal and
commercial, and generally from deep remembrances of slighted love,
women have sometimes served in disguise for many years, taking
contentedly their daily allowance of burgoo, biscuit, or cannon-balls--
anything, in short, digestible or indigestible, that it might please
Providence to send. One thing, at least, is to their credit: never any
of these poor masks, with their deep silent remembrances, have been
detected through murmuring, or what is nautically understood by
"skulking." So, for once, M. Michelet has an _erratum_ to enter
upon the fly-leaf of his book in presentation copies.

4. But the last of these ebullitions is the most lively. We English, at
Orleans, and after Orleans (which is not quite so extraordinary, if all
were told), fled before the Maid of Arc. Yes, says M. Michelet, you
_did_: deny it, if you can. Deny it, _mon cher_? I don't mean
to deny it. Running away, in many cases, is a thing so excellent that
no philosopher would, at times, condescend to adopt any other step. All
of us nations in Europe, without one exception, have shown our
philosophy in that way at times. Even people "_qui ne se rendent
pas_" have deigned both to run and to shout, "_Sauve qui peut_!"
at odd times of sunset; though, for my part, I have no pleasure in
recalling unpleasant remembrances to brave men; and yet, really, being
so philosophic, they ought _not_ to be unpleasant. But the amusing
feature in M. Michelet's reproach is the way in which he _improves_
and varies against us the charge of running, as if he were singing a
catch. Listen to him: They "_showed their backs_" did these
English. (Hip, hip, hurrah! three times three!) "_Behind good walls
they let themselves be taken_." (Hip, hip! nine times nine!) They
"_ran as fast as their legs could carry them_" (Hurrah! twenty-
seven times twenty-seven!) They "_ran before a girl_"; they did.
(Hurrah! eighty-one times eighty-one!) This reminds one of criminal
indictments on the old model in English courts, where (for fear the
prisoner should escape) the crown lawyer varied the charge perhaps
through forty counts. The law laid its guns so as to rake the accused
at every possible angle. While the indictment was reading, he seemed a
monster of crime in his own eyes; and yet, after all, the poor fellow
had but committed one offence, and not always _that_. N. B.--Not
having the French original at hand, I make my quotations from a
friend's copy of Mr. Walter Kelly's translation; which seems to me
faithful, spirited, and idiomatically English--liable, in fact, only to
the single reproach of occasional provincialisms.]

The circumstantial incidents of the execution, unless with more space
than I can now command, I should be unwilling to relate. I should fear
to injure, by imperfect report, a martyrdom which to myself appears so
unspeakably grand. Yet, for a purpose, pointing not at Joanna, but at
M. Michelet--viz, to convince him that an Englishman is capable of
thinking more highly of La Pucelle than even her admiring countrymen--I
shall, in parting, allude to one or two traits in Joanna's demeanour on
the scaffold, and to one or two in that of the bystanders, which
authorise me in questioning an opinion of his upon this martyr's
firmness. The reader ought to be reminded that Joanna D'Arc was
subjected to an unusually unfair trial of opinion. Any of the elder
Christian martyrs had not much to fear of _personal_ rancour. The
martyr was chiefly regarded as the enemy of Cæsar; at times, also,
where any knowledge of the Christian faith and morals existed, with the
enmity that arises spontaneously in the worldly against the spiritual.
But the martyr, though disloyal, was not supposed to be therefore anti-
national; and still less was _individually_ hateful. What was hated
(if anything) belonged to his class, not to himself separately. Now,
Joanna, if hated at all, was hated personally, and in Rouen on national
grounds. Hence there would be a certainty of calumny arising against
_her_ such as would not affect martyrs in general. That being the
case, it would follow of necessity that some people would impute to her
a willingness to recant. No innocence could escape _that_. Now, had
she really testified this willingness on the scaffold, it would have
argued nothing at all but the weakness of a genial nature shrinking
from the instant approach of torment. And those will often pity that
weakness most who, in their own persons, would yield to it least.
Meantime, there never was a calumny uttered that drew less support from
the recorded circumstances. It rests upon no _positive_ testimony,
and it has a weight of contradicting testimony to stem. And yet,
strange to say, M, Michelet, who at times seems to admire the Maid of
Arc as much as I do, is the one sole writer among her _friends_ who
lends some countenance to this odious slander. His words are that, if
she did not utter this word _recant_ with her lips, she uttered it
in her heart. "Whether she _said_ the word is uncertain; but I
affirm that she _thought_ it."

Now, I affirm that she did not; not in any sense of the word
"_thought_" applicable to the case. Here is France calumniating La
Pucelle; here is England defending her. M. Michelet can only mean that,
on _a priori_ principles, every woman must be presumed liable to
such a weakness; that Joanna was a woman; _ergo_, that she was
liable to such a weakness. That is, he only supposes her to have
uttered the word by an argument which presumes it impossible for
anybody to have done otherwise. I, on the contrary, throw the onus of
the argument not on presumable tendencies of nature, but on the known
facts of that morning's execution, as recorded by multitudes. What
else, I demand, than mere weight of metal, absolute nobility of
deportment, broke the vast line of battle then arrayed against her?
What else but her meek, saintly demeanour won, from the enemies that
till now had believed her a witch, tears of rapturous admiration? "Ten
thousand men," says M. Michelet himself--"ten thousand men wept"; and
of these ten thousand the majority were political enemies knitted
together by cords of superstition. What else was it but her constancy,
united with her angelic gentleness, that drove the fanatic English
soldier--who had sworn to throw a fagot on her scaffold as _his_
tribute of abhorrence, that _did_ so, that fulfilled his vow--
suddenly to turn away a penitent for life, saying everywhere that he
had seen a dove rising upon wings to heaven from the ashes where she
had stood? What else drove the executioner to kneel at every shrine for
pardon to _his_ share in the tragedy? And, if all this were
insufficient, then I cite the closing act of her life as valid on her
behalf, were all other testimonies against her. The executioner had
been directed to apply his torch from below. He did so. The fiery smoke
rose upward in billowing volumes. A Dominican monk was then standing
almost at her side. Wrapped up in his sublime office, he saw not the
danger, but still persisted in his prayers. 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.
That girl, whose latest breath ascended in this sublime expression of
self-oblivion, did not utter the word _recant_ either with her lips or
in her heart. No; she did not, though one should rise from the dead to
swear it.

* * * * *

Bishop of Beauvais! thy victim died in fire upon a scaffold--thou upon
a down bed. But, for the departing minutes of life, both are oftentimes
alike. At the farewell crisis, when the gates of death are opening, and
flesh is resting from its struggles, oftentimes the tortured and the
torturer have the same truce from carnal torment; both sink together
into sleep; together both sometimes kindle into dreams. When the mortal
mists were gathering fast upon you two, bishop and shepherd girl--when
the pavilions of life were closing up their shadowy curtains about you
--let us try, through the gigantic glooms, to decipher the flying
features of your separate visions.

The shepherd girl that had delivered France--she, from her dungeon,
she, from her baiting at the stake, she, from her duel with fire, as
she entered her last dream--saw Domrémy, saw the fountain of Domrémy,
saw the pomp of forests in which her childhood had wandered. That
Easter festival which man had denied to her languishing heart--that
resurrection of springtime, which the darkness of dungeons had
intercepted from _her_, hungering after the glorious liberty of
forests--were by God given back into her hands as jewels that had been
stolen from her by robbers. With those, perhaps (for the minutes of
dreams can stretch into ages), was given back to her by God the bliss
of childhood. By special privilege for _her_ might be created, in
this farewell dream, a second childhood, innocent as the first; but
not, like _that_, sad with the gloom of a fearful mission in the
rear. This mission had now been fulfilled. The storm was weathered; the
skirts even of that mighty storm were drawing off. The blood that she
was to reckon for had been exacted; the tears that she was to shed in
secret had been paid to the last. The hatred to herself in all eyes had
been faced steadily, had been suffered, had been survived. And in her
last fight upon the scaffold she had triumphed gloriously; victoriously
she had tasted the stings of death. For all, except this comfort from
her farewell dream, she had died--died amid the tears of ten thousand
enemies--died amid the drums and trumpets of armies--died amid peals
redoubling upon peals, volleys upon volleys, from the saluting clarions
of martyrs.

Bishop of Beauvais! because the guilt-burdened man is in dreams haunted
and waylaid by the most frightful of his crimes, and because upon that
fluctuating mirror--rising (like the mocking mirrors of _mirage_ in
Arabian deserts) from the fens of death-most of all are reflected the
sweet countenances which the man has laid in ruins; therefore I know,
bishop, that you also, entering your final dream, saw Domrémy. That
fountain, of which the witnesses spoke so much, showed itself to your
eyes in pure morning dews; but neither dews, nor the holy dawn, could
cleanse away the bright spots of innocent blood upon its surface. By
the fountain, bishop, you saw a woman seated, that hid her face. But,
as _you_ draw near, the woman raises her wasted features. Would
Domrémy know them again for the features of her child? Ah, but _you_
know them, bishop, well! Oh, mercy! what a groan was _that_ which the
servants, waiting outside the bishop's dream at his bedside, heard from
his labouring heart, as at this moment he turned away from the fountain
and the woman, seeking rest in the forests afar off. Yet not _so_ to
escape the woman, whom once again he must behold before he dies. In the
forests to which he prays for pity, will he find a respite? What a
tumult, what a gathering of feet is there! In glades where only wild
deer should run armies and nations are assembling; towering in the
fluctuating crowd are phantoms that belong to departed hours. There is
the great English Prince, Regent of France. There is my Lord of
Winchester, the princely cardinal, that died and made no sign. There is
the bishop of Beauvais, clinging to the shelter of thickets. What
building is that which hands so rapid are raising? Is it a martyr's
scaffold? Will they burn the child of Domrémy a second time? No; it is
a tribunal that rises to the clouds; and two nations stand around it,
waiting for a trial. Shall my Lord of Beauvais sit again upon the
judgment-seat, and again number the hours for the innocent? Ah, no! he
is the prisoner at the bar. Already all is waiting: the mighty audience
is gathered, the Court is hurrying to their seats, the witnesses are
arrayed, the trumpets are sounding, the judge is taking his place. Oh,
but this is sudden! My lord, have you no counsel? "Counsel I have none;
in heaven above, or on earth beneath, counsellor there is none now that
would take a brief from _me_: all are silent." Is it, indeed, come to
this? Alas! the time is short, the tumult is wondrous, the crowd
stretches away into infinity; but yet I will search in it for somebody
to take your brief; I know of somebody that will be your counsel. Who
is this that cometh from Domrémy? Who is she in bloody coronation robes
from Rheims? Who is she that cometh with blackened flesh from walking
the furnaces of Rouen? This is she, the shepherd girl, counsellor that
had none for herself, whom I choose, bishop, for yours. She it is, I
engage, that shall take my lord's brief. She it is, bishop, that would
plead for you; yes, bishop, _she_--when heaven and earth are silent.



"In October 1849 there appeared in _Blackwood's Magazine_ an
article entitled _The English Mail-Coach, or the Glory of Motion_.
There was no intimation that it was to be continued; but in December
1849 there followed in the same magazine an article in two sections,
headed by a paragraph explaining that it was by the author of the
previous article in the October number, and was to be taken in
connexion with that article. One of the sections of this second article
was entitled _The Vision of Sudden Death_, and the other _Dream-
Fugue on the above theme of Sudden Death_. When De Quincey revised
the papers in 1854 for republication in volume iv of the Collective
Edition of his writings, he brought the whole under the one general
title of _The English Mail-Coach_, dividing the text, as at
present, into three sections or chapters, the first with the sub-title
_The Glory of Motion_, the second with the sub-title _The Vision
of Sudden Death_, and the third with the sub-title _Dream-Fugue,
founded on the preceding theme of Sudden Death_. Great care was
bestowed on the revision. Passages that had appeared in the magazine
articles were omitted; new sentences were inserted; and the language
was retouched throughout."--MASSON. Cf. as to the revision, Professor
Dowden's article, "How De Quincey worked," _Saturday Review_, Feb.
23, 1895. This selection is found in _Works_, Masson's ed., Vol.
XIII, pp. 270-327; Riverside ed., Vol. I, pp. 517-582.

1 6 HE HAD MARRIED THE DAUGHTER OF A DUKE: "Mr. John Palmer, a native
of Bath, and from about 1768 the energetic proprietor of the Theatre
Royal in that city, had been led, by the wretched state in those days
of the means of intercommunication between Bath and London, wand his
own consequent difficulties in arranging for a punctual succession of
good actors at his theatre, to turn his attention to the improvement of
the whole system of Post-Office conveyance, and of locomotive machinery
generally, in the British Islands. The result was a scheme for
superseding, on the great roads at least, the then existing system of
sluggish and irregular stage-coaches, the property of private persons
and companies, by a new system of government coaches, in connexion with
the Post-Office, carrying the mails and also a regulated number of
passengers, with clockwork precision, at a rate of comparative speed,
which he hoped should ultimately be not less than ten miles an hour.
The opposition to the scheme was, of course, enormous; coach
proprietors, innkeepers, the Post-Office officials themselves, were all
against Mr. Palmer; he was voted a crazy enthusiast and a public bore.
Pitt, however, when the scheme was submitted to him, recognized its
feasibility; on the 8th of August 1784 the first mail-coach on Mr.
Palmer's plan started from London at 8 o'clock in the morning and
reached Bristol at 11 o'clock at night; and from that day the success
of the new system was assured.--Mr. Palmer himself, having been
appointed Surveyor and Comptroller-General of the Post-Office, took
rank as an eminent and wealthy public man, M. P. for Bath and what not,
and lived till 1818. De Quincey makes it one of his distinctions that
he "had married the daughter of a duke," and in a footnote to that
paragraph he gives the lady's name as "Lady Madeline Gordon." From an
old Debrett, however, I learn that Lady Madelina Gordon, second
daughter of Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon, was first married, on the
3d of April 1789, to Sir Robert Sinclair, Bart., and next, on the 25th
of November 1805, to _Charles Palmer, of Lockley Park, Berks, Esq._
If Debrett is right, her second husband was not John Palmer of Mail-
Coach celebrity, and De Quincey is wrong."--MASSON.

1 (footnote) INVENTION OF THE CROSS: Concerning the _Inventio sanctae
crucis_, see Smith, _Dictionary of Christian Antiquities_, Vol.
I, p. 503.

2 4 NATIONAL RESULT: Cf. De Quincey's paper on _Travelling, Works,_
Riverside ed., Vol. II, especially pp. 313-314; Masson's ed., Vol. I,
especially pp. 270-271.

be called respectively the autumn, winter, spring, and summer terms.
Michaelmas, the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, is on September
29. Hilary and Trinity are other names for Lent term and Act term
respectively. Act term is the last term of the academic year; its name
is that originally given to a disputation for a Master's degree; such
disputations took place at the end of the year generally, and hence
gave a name to the summer term. Although the rules concerning residence
at Oxford are more stringent than in De Quincey's time, only eighteen
weeks' residence is required during the year, six in Michaelmas, six in
Lent, and six in Easter and Act.

3 17 GOING DOWN: Cf. "Going down with victory," i.e. from London into
the country.

3 30 POSTING-HOUSES: inns where relays of horses were furnished for
coaches and carriages. Cf. De Quincey on _Travelling, loc. cit._

4 3 AN OLD TRADITION... from the reign of Charles II: Then no one sat
outside; later, outside places were taken by servants, and were quite

4 9 ATTAINT THE FOOT: The word is used in its legal sense. The blood of
one convicted of high treason is "attaint," and his deprivations extend
to his descendants, unless Parliament remove the attainder.

4 14 PARIAHS: The fate of social outcasts seems to have taken early and
strong hold upon De Quincey's mind; one of the _Suspiria_ was to
have enlarged upon this theme. Strictly speaking, the Pariahs is that
one of the lower castes of Hindoo society of which foreigners have seen
most; it is not in all districts the lowest caste, however.

5 6 OBJECTS NOT APPEARING, ETC.: _De non apparentibus et non
existentibus eadem est lex_, a Roman legal phrase.

5 16 "SNOBS": Apparently snob originally meant "shoemaker"; then, in
university cant, a "townsman" as opposed to a "gownsman." Cf. _Gradus
ad Cantabrigiam_ (1824), quoted in _Century Dictionary_: "_Snobs_.--A
term applied indiscriminately to all who have not the honour of being
members of the university; but in a more particular manner to the
'profanum vulgus,' the tag-rag and bob-tail, who vegetate on the sedgy
banks of Camus." This use is in De Quincey's mind. Later, in the
strikes of that time, the workmen who accepted lower wages were called
_snobs_; those who held out for higher, _nobs_.

7 33 FO FO... FI FI: "This paragraph is a caricature of a story told in
Staunton's Account of the Earl of Macartney's Embassy to China in

8 4 ÇA IRA ("This will do," "This is the go"): "a proverb of the French
Revolutionists when they were hanging the aristocrats in the streets,
&c., and the burden of one of the most popular revolutionary songs, 'Ça
ira, ça ira, ça ira.'"--MASSON.

8 18 ALL MORALITY,--ARISTOTLE'S, ZENO'S, CICERO'S: Each of these three
has a high place in the history of ethical teaching. Aristotle wrote
the so-called _Nicomachean Ethics_. According to his teaching,
"ethical virtue is that permanent direction of the will which guards
the mean [_to méson_] proper for us... Bravery is the mean between
cowardice and temerity; temperance, the mean between inordinate desire
and stupid indifference; etc." (Ueberweg, _History of Philosophy_,
Vol. I, p. 169). Zeno, who died about 264 B.C., founded about 308 the
Stoic sect, which took its name from the "Painted Porch" (_Stoa
poklae_) in the Agora at Athens, where the master taught. The Stoics
held that men should be free from passion, and undisturbed by joy or
grief, submitting themselves uncomplainingly to their fate. Such
austere views are, of course, as far as possible removed from those of
the Eudæmonist, who sought happiness as the end of life. Cicero was
the author of De Officiis, "Of Duties."

9 9 ASTROLOGICAL SHADOWS: misfortunes due to being born under an
unlucky star; house of life is also an astrological term.

9 24 VON TROIL'S ICELAND: The Letters on Iceland (Pinkerton's Voyages
and Travels, Vol. I, p. 621), containing Observations ... made during a
Voyage undertaken in the year 1772, by Uno Von Troil, D.D., of
Stockholm, contains no chapter of the kind. Such a chapter had
appeared, however, in N. Horrebow's (Danish, 1758) Natural History of
Iceland: "Chap. LXXII. Concerning snakes. No snakes of any kind are to
be met with throughout the whole island." In Boswell's Johnson, Vol.
IV, p. 314, Temple ed., there is a much more correct allusion, which
may have been in De Quincey's mind: "Langton said very well to me
afterwards, that he could repeat Johnson's conversation before dinner,
as Johnson had said that he could repeat a complete chapter of The
Natural History of Iceland, from the Danish of Horrebow, the whole of
which was exactly thus: 'Chap. LXXII. Concerning Snakes. There are no
snakes to be met with throughout the whole island.'"

9 25 A PARLIAMENTARY RAT: one who deserts his own party when it is

10 16 "JAM PROXIMUS," etc.: Æneid, II, lines 311-312: "Now next (to
Deiphobus' house) Ucalegon (i.e. his house) blazes!"

11 27 QUARTERINGS: See p. 47, footnote, and note 47 2.

11 32 WITHIN BENEFIT OF CLERGY: Benefit of clergy was, under old
English law, the right of clerics, afterward extended to all who could
read, to plead exemption from trial before a secular judge. This
privilege was first legally recognized in 1274, and was not wholly
abolished until 1827.

12 9 QUARTER SESSIONS: This court is held in England in the counties by
justices of the peace for the trial of minor criminal offenses and to
administer the poor laws, etc.

12 26 FALSE ECHOES OF MARENGO: General Desaix was shot through the
heart at the battle of Marengo (June 14, 1800); he died without a word,
and his body was found by Rovigo (cf. Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo,
London, 1835, Vol. I, p. 181), "stripped of his clothes, and surrounded
by other naked bodies." Napoleon, however, published three different
versions of an heroic and devoted message from Desaix to himself, the
original version being: "Go, tell the First Consul that I die with this
regret,--that I have not done enough for posterity." (Cf. Lanfrey,
History of Napoleon the First, 2d ed., London, 1886, Vol. II, p. 39.)
Napoleon himself was credited likewise with the words De Quincey
adopts. "Why is it not permitted me to weep" is one version (Bussey,
_History of Napoleon_, London, 1840, Vol. I, p. 302). Cf. Hazlitt,
_Life of Napoleon_, 2d ed., London, 1852, Vol. II, p. 317,

On the 1st of June, 1794, the English fleet under Lord Howe defeated
the French under Villaret-Joyeuse, taking six ships and sinking a
seventh, the _Vengeur_. This ship sank, as a matter of fact, with
part of her crew on board, imploring kid which there was not time to
give them. Some two hundred and fifty men had been taken off by the
English; the rest were lost. On the 9th of July Barrere published a
report setting forth "how the _Vengeur_, ... being entirely
disabled, ... refused to strike, though sinking; how the enemies fired
on her, but she returned their fire, shot aloft all her tricolor
streamers, shouted _Vive la République_, ... and so, in this mad
whirlwind of fire and shouting and invincible despair, went down into
the ocean depths; _Vive la République_ and a universal volley from
the upper deck being the last sounds she made." Cf. Carlyle, _Sinking
of the Vengeur_, and _French Revolution, Book_ XVIII, Chap. VI.

12 (footnote) LA GARDE MEURT, ETC.: "This phrase, attributed to
Cambronne, who was made prisoner at Waterloo, was vehemently denied by
him. It was invented by Rougemont, a prolific author of _mots_, two
days after the battle, in the _Indépendant_."--Fournier's _L'Esprit
dans l'Histoire_, trans. Bartlett, _Familiar Quotations_, p. 661.

13 25 BRUMMAGEM: Birmingham became early the chief place of manufacture
of cheap wares. Hence the name _Brummagem_, a vulgar pronunciation
of the name of the city, has become in England a common name for cheap,
tawdry jewelry. Cf. also Shakespeare, Richard III, Act I, sc. iv, 1.

False, fleeting, perjured Clarence.

13 27 LUXOR occupies part of the site of ancient Thebes, capital of
Egypt; its antiquities are famous.

Shakespeare, _Richard_ III, Act V, sc. in, 11. 12-13:

Besides, the king's name is a tower of strength,
Which they upon the adverse party want.

14 20 FELT MY HEART BURN WITHIN ME: Cf. Luke xxiv. 32.

in question has not been identified. I am indebted indirectly to
Professor W. Strunk, Jr., of Cornell University, for reference to
Johann Caius' Of English Dogs, translated by A. Fleming, in Arber's
English Garner, original edition, Vol. III, p. 253 (new edition, Social
England Illustrated, pp. 28-29), where, after telling how Henry the
Seventh, perceiving that four mastiffs could overcome a lion, ordered
the dogs all hanged, the writer continues: "I read an history
answerable to this, of the selfsame HENRY, who having a notable and an
excellent fair falcon, it fortuned that the King's Falconers, in the
presence and hearing of his Grace, highly commended his Majesty's
Falcon, saying, that it feared not to intermeddle with an eagle, it was
so venturous and so mighty a bird; which when the king heard, he
charged that the falcon should be killed without delay: for the
selfsame reason, as it may seem, which was rehearsed in the conclusion
of the former history concerning the same king."

15 l OMRAHS... FROM AGRA AND LAHORE: There seems to be a reminiscence
here of Wordsworth's Prelude, Book X, 11. 18-20:

The Great Mogul, when he
Erewhile went forth from Agra or Lahore,
Rajahs and Omrahs in his train.

Omrah, which is not found in Century Dictionary, is itself really
plural of Arabic amir (ameer), a commander, nobleman.

15 23 THE 6TH OF EDWARD LONGSHANKS: a De Quinceyan jest, of course.
This wrould refer to a law of the sixth year of Edward I, or 1278, but
there are but fifteen chapters in the laws of that year.

16 8 NOT MAGNA LOQUIMUR,... BUT VIVIMUS: not "we speak great things,"
but "we live" them.

17 21 MARLBOROUGH FOREST is twenty-seven miles east of Bath, where De
Quincey attended school.

18 18 ULYSSES, ETC.: The allusion is, of course, to the slaughter of
the suitors of Penelope, his wife, by Ulysses, after his return. Cf.
Odyssey, Books XXI-XXII.

19 3 ABOUT WATERLOO: i.e. about 1815. This phrase is one of many that
indicate the deep impression made by this event upon the English mind.
Cf. p. 58.

19 17 "SAY, ALL OUR PRAISES," ETC.: Cf. Pope, Moral Essays: Epistle
III, Of the Use of Riches, II. 249-250:

But all our praises why should lords engross,
Rise, honest Muse! and sing the Man of Ross.

20 3 TURRETS: "Tourettes fyled rounde" appears in Chaucer's Knight's
Tale, 1. 1294, where it means the ring on a dog's collar through which
the leash was passed. Skeat explains _torets_ as "probably eyes in
which rings will turn round, because each eye is a little larger than
the thickness of the ring." Cf. Chaucer's _Treatise on the
Astrolabe_, Part I, sec. 2, "This ring renneth in a maner turet,"
"this ring runs in a kind of eye." But Chaucer does not refer to

21 2 MR. WATERTON TELLS ME: Charles Waterton, the naturalist, was born
in 1782 and died in 1865. His _Wanderings in South America_ was
published in 1825.

23 11 EARTH AND HER CHILDREN: This paragraph is about one fifth of the
length of the corresponding paragraph as it appeared in
_Blackwood_. For the longer version see Masson's ed., Vol. XIII, p.
289, note 2.

24 14 THE GENERAL POST-OFFICE: The present office was opened Sept. 23,
1829. St. Martin's-le-Grand is a church within the "city" of London, so
named to distinguish it from St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, which faces
what is now Trafalgar Square, and is, as the name indicates, outside
the "city." The street takes its name from the church.

28 10 BARNET is a Hertfordshire village, eleven miles north of London.

originally one of the three official papers of the kingdom; afterwards
any official announcement, as this of a great victory.

30 17 FEY: This is not a Celtic word; it is the Anglo-Saxon _faege_
retained in Lowland Scotch, which is the most northerly English
dialect. The word appears frequently in descriptions of battles, the
Anglo-Saxon fatalistic philosophy teaching that, certain warriors
entered the conflict _faege_, "doomed." Now the meaning is altered
slightly: "You are surely fey," would be said in Scotland, as Professor
Masson remarks, to a person observed to be in extravagantly high
spirits, or in any mood surprisingly beyond the bounds of his ordinary
temperament,--the notion being that the excitement is supernatural, and
a presage of his approaching death, or of some other calamity about to
befall him.

31 27 THE INSPIRATION OF GOD, ETC.: This is an indication--more
interesting than agreeable, perhaps--of the heights to which the
martial ardor of De Quincey's toryism rises.

Suetonius in his life of Julius Cæsar, Chap. LXXXVII: "The day before
he died, some discourse occurring at dinner in M. Lepidus' house upon
that subject, which was the most agreeable way of dying, he expressed
his preference for what is sudden and unexpected" (repentinum
inopinatumque praetulerat). The story is told by Plutarch and Appian

35 13 _BIATHANATOS_: "De Quincey has evidently taken this from John
Donne's treatise: _BIATHANATOS, A Declaration of that Paradoxe or
Thesis, That Self-homicide is not so naturally Sin, that it may never
be otherwise_, 1644. See his paper on _Suicide, etc._, Masson's
ed., VIII, 398 [Riverside, IX, 209]. But not even Donne's precedent
justifies the word formation. The only acknowledged compounds are
_biaio-thanasia_, 'violent death,' and _biaio-thanatos_, 'dying
a violent death.' Even _bia thanatos_, 'death by violence,' is not
classical."--HART. But the form _biathanatos_ is older than Donne
and is said to be common in MSS. It should be further remarked that
neither of the two compounds cited is classical. As to De Quincey's
interpretation of Cæsar's meaning here, cf. Merivale's _History of
the Romans under the Empire_, Chap. XXI, where he translates Cæsar's
famous reply: "That which is least expected." Cf. also Shakespeare,
_Julius Cæsar_, Act II, sc. ii, 1. 33.

37 25 "NATURE, FROM HER SEAT," ETC.: Cf. Milton's _Paradise Lost_,
Book IX, 11. 780-784:

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd, she eat:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.

38 2 SO SCENICAL, ETC.: De Quincey's love for effects of this sort
appears everywhere. Cf. the opening paragraphs of the _Revolt of the
Tartars_, Masson's ed., Vol. VII; Riverside ed., Vol. XII.

39 4 JUS DOMINII: "the law of ownership," a legal term.

39 14 JUS GENTIUM: "the law of nations," a legal term.

39 30 "MONSTRUM HORRENDUM," ETC..: _Æneid_, III, 658. Polyphemus,
one of the Cyclopes, whose eye was put out by Ulysses, is meant. Cf.
_Odyssey_, IX, 371 et seq.; _Æneid_, III, 630 _et seq_.

40 1 ONE OF THE CALENDARS, ETC.: The histories of the three Calenders,
sons of kings, will be found in most selections from the _Arabian
Nights_. A Calender is one of an order of Dervishes founded in the
fourteenth century by an Andalusian Arab; they are wanderers who preach
in market places and live by alms.

40 10 AL SIRAT: According to Mahometan teaching this bridge over Hades
was in width as a sword's edge. Over it souls must pass to Paradise.

40 12 UNDER THIS EMINENT MAN, ETC.: For these two sentences the
original in _Blackwood_ had this, with its addition of good De
Quinceyan doctrine: "I used to call him _Cyclops Mastigophorus_,
Cyclops the Whip-bearer, until I observed that his skill made whips
useless, except to fetch off an impertinent fly from a leader's head,
upon which I changed his Grecian name to _Cyclops Diphrelates_
(Cyclops the Charioteer). I, and others known to me, studied under him
the diphrelatic art. Excuse, reader, a word too elegant to be pedantic.
And also take this remark from me as a _gage d'amitié_--that no word
ever was or _can_ be pedantic which, by supporting a distinction,
supports the accuracy of logic, or which fills up a chasm for the

_Life_, Chap. XIX, and Japp's _De Quincey Memorials_, Vol. II,
pp. 45,47,49-

42 11 THE WHOLE PAGAN PANTHEON: i.e. all the gods put together; from
the Greek _Pantheion_, a temple dedicated to all the gods.

43 2 SEVEN ATMOSPHERES OF SLEEP, ETC.: Professor Hart suggests that De
Quincey is here "indulging in jocular arithmetic. The three nights plus
the three days, plus the present night, equal seven." Dr. Cooper
compares with this a reference to the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. But it
seems doubtful whether any explanation is necessary.

43 17 LILLIPUTIAN LANCASTER: the county town of Lancashire, in which
Liverpool and Manchester, towns of recent and far greater growth, are

44 (footnote) "Giraldus Cambrensis," or Gerald de Barry (1146-1220),
was a Welsh historian; one of his chief works is the _Itinerarium
Cambrica_, or Voyage in Wales.

47 2 QUARTERING: De Quincey's derivation of this word in his footnote
is correct, but its use in this French sense is not common. De Quincey,
however, has it above, p. 11.

49 8 THE SHOUT OF ACHILLES: Cf. Homer, _Iliad_, XVIII, 217 _et

50 10 BUYING IT, ETC.: De Quincey refers, no doubt, to the pay of
common soldiers and to the practice of employing mercenaries.

52 1 FASTER THAN EVER MILL-RACE, ETC.: the change in the wording of
this sentence in De Quincey's revision is, as Masson remarks,
particularly characteristic of his sense of melody; it read in
_Blackwood_, "We ran past them faster than ever mill-race in our
inexorable flight."

52 15 HERE WAS THE MAP, ETC.: This sentence is an addition in the
reprint. Masson remarks "how artistically it causes the due pause
between the horror as still in rush of transaction and the backward
look at the wreck when the crash was past."

53 18 "WHENCE THE SOUND," ETC.: _Paradise Lost_, Book XI, 11. 558-

54 3 WOMAN'S IONIC FORM: In thus using the word Ionic, De Quincey
doubtless has in mind the character of Ionic architecture, with its
tall and graceful column, differing from the severity of the Doric on
the one hand and from the floridity of the Corinthian on the other.
Probably he is thinking of a caryatid. Cf. the following version of the
old story of the origin of the styles of Greek architecture in
Vitruvius, IV, Chap. I (Gwilt's translation), quoted by Hart: "They
measured a man's foot, and finding its length the sixth part of his
height, they gave the column a similar proportion, that is, they made
its height six times the thickness of the shaft measured at the base.
Thus the Doric order obtained its proportion, its strength, and its
beauty from the human figure. With a similar feeling they afterward
built the Temple of Diana. But in that, seeking a new proportion, they
used the female figure as a standard; and for the purpose of producing
a more lofty effect they first made it eight times its thickness in
height. Under it they placed a base, after the manner of a shoe to the
foot; they also added volutes to its capital, like graceful curling
hair hanging on each side, and the front they ornamented with
_cymatia_ and festoons in the place of hair. On the shafts they
sunk channels, which bear a resemblance to the folds of a matronal
garment. Thus two orders were invented, one of a masculine character,
without ornament, the other bearing a character which resembled the
delicacy, ornament, and proportion of a female. The successors of these
people, improving in taste, and preferring a more slender proportion,
assigned seven diameters to the height of the Doric column, and eight
and a half to the Ionic."

55 3 CORYMBI: clusters of fruit or flowers.

55 28 QUARREL: the bolt of a crossbow, an arrow having a square, or
four-edged head (from Middle Latin _quadrellus_, diminutive of
_quadrum_, a square).


61 20 THEN A THIRD TIME THE TRUMPET SOUNDED: There are throughout this
passage, as Dr. Cooper remarks, many reminiscences of the language of
the Book of Revelation. Cf. this with Revelation viii. 10; cf. 61 28
with Revelation xii. 5, and 62 5 with ix. 13.

Masson prints as a postscript, was a part of De Quincey's introduction
to the volume of the Collective Edition containing this piece:

"'THE ENGLISH MAIL-COACH.'--This little paper, according to my original
intention, formed part of the 'Suspiria de Profundis'; from which, for
a momentary purpose, I did not scruple to detach it, and to publish it
apart, as sufficiently intelligible even when dislocated from its place
in a larger whole. To my surprise, however, one or two critics, not
carelessly in conversation, but deliberately in print, professed their
inability to apprehend the meaning of the whole, or to follow the links
of the connexion between its several parts. I am myself as little able
to understand where the difficulty lies, or to detect any lurking
obscurity, as these critics found themselves to unravel my logic.
Possibly I may not be an indifferent and neutral judge in such a case.
I will therefore sketch a brief abstract of the little paper according
to my original design, and then leave the reader to judge how far this
design is kept in sight through the actual execution.

"Thirty-seven years ago, or rather more, accident made me, in the dead
of night, and of a night memorably solemn, the solitary witness of an
appalling scene, which threatened instant death in a shape the most
terrific to two young people whom I had no means of assisting, except
in so far as I was able to give them a most hurried warning of their
danger; but even _that_ not until they stood within the very shadow
of the catastrophe, being divided from the most frightful of deaths by
scarcely more, if more at all, than seventy seconds.

"Such was the scene, such in its outline, from which the whole of this
paper radiates as a natural expansion. This scene is circumstantially
narrated in Section the Second, entitled 'The Vision of Sudden Death.'

"But a movement of horror, and of spontaneous recoil from this dreadful
scene, naturally carried the whole of that scene, raised and idealised,
into my dreams, and very soon into a rolling succession of dreams. The
actual scene, as looked down upon from the box of the mail, was
transformed into a dream, as tumultuous and changing as a musical
fugue. This troubled dream is circumstantially reported in Section the
Third, entitled 'Dream-Fugue on the theme of Sudden Death.' What I had
beheld from my seat upon the mail,--the scenical strife of action and
passion, of anguish and fear, as I had there witnessed them moving in
ghostly silence,--this duel between life and death narrowing itself to
a point of such exquisite evanescence as the collision neared; all
these elements of the scene blended, under the law of association, with
the previous and permanent features of distinction investing the mail
itself; which features at that time lay--1st, in velocity
unprecedented, 2dly, in the power and beauty of the horses, 3dly, in
the official connexion with the government of a great nation, and,


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