The English Mail-Coach and Joan of Arc
Thomas de Quincey
Part 3 out of 3
4thly, in the function, almost a consecrated function, of publishing
and diffusing through the land the great political events, and
especially the great battles, during a conflict of unparalleled
grandeur. These honorary distinctions are all described
circumstantially in the First or introductory Section ('The Glory of
Motion'). The three first were distinctions maintained at all times;
but the fourth and grandest belonged exclusively to the war with
Napoleon; and this it was which most naturally introduced Waterloo into
the dream. Waterloo, I understand, was the particular feature of the
'Dream-Fugue' which my censors were least able to account for. Yet
surely Waterloo, which, in common with every other great battle, it had
been our special privilege to publish over all the land, most naturally
entered the dream under the licence of our privilege. If not--if there
be anything amiss--let the Dream be responsible. The Dream is a law to
itself; and as well quarrel with a rainbow for showing, or for
_not_ showing, a secondary arch. So far as I know, every element in
the shifting movements of the Dream derived itself either primarily
from the incidents of the actual scene, or from secondary features
associated with the mail. For example, the cathedral aisle derived
itself from the mimic combination of features which grouped themselves
together at the point of approaching collision--viz. an arrow-like
section of the road, six hundred yards long, under the solemn lights
described, with lofty trees meeting overhead in arches. The guard's
horn, again--a humble instrument in itself--was yet glorified as the
organ of publication for so many great national events. And the
incident of the Dying Trumpeter, who rises from a marble bas-relief,
and carries a marble trumpet to his marble lips for the purpose of
warning the female infant, was doubtless secretly suggested by my own
imperfect effort to seize the guard's horn, and to blow the warning
blast. But the Dream knows best; and the Dream, I say again, is the
JOAN OF ARC
This article appeared originally in _Taifs Magazine_ for March and
August, 1847; it was reprinted by De Quincey in 1854 in the third
volume of his _Collected Writings_. It is found in _Works_,
Masson's ed., Vol. V, pp. 384-416; Riverside ed., Vol. VI, pp. 178-215.
64 10 LORRAINE, now in great part in the possession of Germany, is the
district in which Domrémy, Joan's birthplace, is situated.
65 14 VAUCOULEURS: a town near Domrémy; cf. p. 70.
65 28 EN CONTUMACE: "in contumacy," a legal term applied to one who,
when summoned to court, fails to appear.
66 13 ROUEN: the city in Normandy where Joan was burned at the stake.
66 25 THE LILIES OF FRANCE: the royal emblem of France from very early
times until the Revolution of 1789, when "the wrath of God and man
combined to wither them."
67 5 M. MICHELET: Jules Michelet (1798-1874) is said to have spent
forty years in the preparation of his great work, the _History of
France_. Cf. the same, translated by G. H. Smith, 2 vols., Appleton,
Vol. II, pp. 119-169; or _Joan of Arc_, from Michelet's _History
of France_, translated by O. W. Wight, New York, 1858.
67 8 RECOVERED LIBERTY: The Revolution of 1830 had expelled the
restored Bourbon kings.
67 20 THE BOOK AGAINST PRIESTS: Michelet's lectures as professor of
history in the Collège de France, in which he attacked the Jesuits,
were published as follows: _Des Jésuites_, 1843; _Du Prêtre, de
la Femme et de la Famille_, 1844; _Du Peuple_, 1845. To the
second De Quincey apparently refers.
67 26 BACK TO THE FALCONER'S LURE: The lure was a decoy used to recall
the hawk to its perch,--sometimes a dead pigeon, sometimes an
artificial bird, with some meat attached.
68 6 ON THE MODEL OF LORD PERCY: These lines, as Professor Hart notes,
in Percy's Folio, ed. Hales and Furnivall, Vol. II, p. 7, run:
The stout Erle of Northumberland
a vow to God did make,
his pleasure in the Scottish woods
3 som_m_ers days to take.
68 27 PUCELLE D'ORLÉANS: Maid of Orleans (the city on the Loire which
69 1 THE COLLECTION, ETC.: The work meant is Quicherat, _Procès de
Condamnation et Réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc_, 5 vols., Paris,
1841-1849. Cf. De Quincey's note.
69 21 DELENDA EST ANGLIA VICTRIX! "Victorious England must be
destroyed!" Cf. _Delenda est Carthago_! "Carthage must be
destroyed!" _Delenda est Karthago_ is the version of Florus (II,
15) of the words used by Cato the Censor, just before the Third Punic
War, whenever he was called upon to record his vote in the Senate on
any subject under discussion.
69 27 HYDER ALI (1702-1782), a Mahometan adventurer, made himself
maharajah of Mysore and gave the English in India serious trouble; he
was defeated in 1782 by Sir Eyre Coote. Tippoo Sahib, his son and
successor, proved less dangerous and was finally killed at Seringapatam
70 4 NATIONALITY IT WAS NOT: i.e. nationalism--patriotism--it was not.
Cf. _Revolt of the Tartars_, Riverside ed., Vol. XII, p. 4;
Masson's ed., Vol. VII, p. 370, where De Quincey speaks of the Torgod
as "tribes whose native ferocity was exasperated by debasing forms of
superstition, and by a nationality as well as an inflated conceit of
their own merit absolutely unparalleled." Cf. also footnote, p. 94.
70 4 SUFFREN: the great French admiral who in 1780-1781 inflicted so
much loss upon the British.
70 10 MAGNANIMOUS JUSTICE OF ENGLISHMEN: As Professor Hart observes,
the treatment of Joan in _Henry VI_ is hardly magnanimous.
71 29 THAT ODIOUS MAN: Cf. pp. 79-80.
72 12 THREE GREAT SUCCESSIVE BATTLES: Rudolf of Lorraine fell at Crécy
(1346); Frederick of Lorraine at Agincourt (1415); the battle of
Nicopolis, which sacrificed the third Lorrainer, took place in 1396.
73 24 CHARLES VI (1368-1422) had killed several men during his first
fit of insanity. He was for the rest of his life wholly unfit to
govern. He declared Henry V of England, the conqueror of Agincourt, his
successor, thus disinheriting the Dauphin, his son.
74 2 THE FAMINES, ETC.: Horrible famines occurred in France and England
in 1315, 1336, and 1353. Such insurrections as Wat Tyler's, in 1381,
are probably in De Quincey's mind.
74 6 THE TERMINATION OF THE CRUSADES: The Crusades came to an end about
1271. "The ulterior results of the crusades," concludes Cox in
_Encyclopedia Britannica_, "were the breaking up of the feudal
system, the abolition of serfdom, the supremacy of a common law over
the independent jurisdiction of chiefs who claimed the right of private
74 7 THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLARS: This most famous of the military
orders, founded in the twelfth century for the defense of the Latin
kingdom of Jerusalem, having grown so powerful as to be greatly feared,
was suppressed at the beginning of the fourteenth century.
74 7 THE PAPAL INTERDICTS: "De Quincey has probably in mind such an
interdict as that pronounced in 1200, by Innocent III, against France.
All ecclesiastical functions were suspended and the land was in
desolation."--HART. England was put under interdict several times, as
in 1170 (for the murder of Becket) and 1208.
74 8 THE TRAGEDIES CAUSED OR SUFFERED BY THE HOUSE OF ANJOU, AND BY THE
EMPEROR: "The Emperor is Konradin, the last of the Hohenstaufen,
beheaded by Charles of Anjou at Naples, 1268. The subsequent cruelties
of Charles in Sicily caused the popular uprising known as the Sicilian
Vespers, 1282, in which many thousands of Frenchmen were
74 10 THE COLOSSAL FIGURE OF FEUDALISM, ETC.: The English yeomen at
Crecy, overpowering the mounted knights of France, took from feudalism
its chief support,--the superiority of the mounted knight to the
unmounted yeoman. Cf. Green, _History of the English People_, Book
IV, Chap. II.
74 15 THE ABOMINABLE SPECTACLE OF A DOUBLE POPE: For thirty-eight years
this paradoxical state of things endured.
75 15 THE ROMAN MARTYROLOGY: a list of the martyrs of the Church,
arranged according to the order of their festivals, and with accounts
of their lives and sufferings.
76 4 "ABBEYS THERE WERE," ETC.: Cf. Wordsworth, _Peter Bell_, Part
Temples like those among the Hindoos,
And mosques, and spires, and abbey windows,
And castles all with ivy green.
76 17 THE VOSGES ... HAVE NEVER ATTRACTED MUCH NOTICE, ETC.: They came
into like prominence after De Quincey's day in the Franco-Prussian War
76 31 THOSE MYSTERIOUS FAWNS, ETC.: In some of the romances of the
Middle Ages, especially those containing Celtic material, a knight,
while hunting, is led by his pursuit of a white fawn (or a white stag
or boar) to a _fee_ (i.e. an inhabitant of the "Happy Other-world")
or into the confines of the "Happy Other-world" itself. Sometimes, as
in the _Guigemar_ of Marie de France, the knight passes on to a
series of adventures in consequence of his meeting with the white fawn.
I owe this note to the kindness of Mr. S. W. Kinney, A.M., of
76 33 THAT ANCIENT STAG: See _Englische Studien,_ Vol. V, p. 16,
where additions are made to the following account from Hardwicke's
_Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore,_ Manchester and London,
1872, p. 154:
This chasing of the white doe or the white hart by the spectre huntsman
has assumed various forms. According to Aristotle a white hart was
killed by Agathocles, King of Sicily, which a thousand years beforehand
had been consecrated to Diana by Diomedes. Alexander the Great is said
by Pliny to have caught a white stag, placed a collar of gold about its
neck, and afterwards set it free. Succeeding heroes have in after days
been announced as the capturers of this famous white hart. Julius
Caesar took the place of Alexander, and Charlemagne caught a white hart
at both Magdeburg, and in the Holstein woods. In 1172 William [Henry]
the Lion is reported to have accomplished a similar feat, according to
a Latin inscription on the walls of Lubeck Cathedral. Tradition says
the white hart has been caught on Rothwell Hay Common, in Yorkshire,
and in Windsor Forest.
This reference I owe indirectly to Professor J. M. Manly, of Chicago.
77 4 OR, BEING UPON THE MARCHES OF FRANCE, A MARQUIS: _Marquis_ is
derived from _march,_ and was originally the title of the guardian
of the frontier, or march.
77 13 AGREED WITH SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY THAT A GOOD DEAL MIGHT BE SAID
ON BOTH SIDES: This expression, as has been pointed out to me, is from
the middle of _Spectator_ No. 122, where Sir Roger, having been
appealed to on a question of fishing privileges, replied, "with an air
of a man who would not give his judgment rashly, that much might be
said on both sides." It is likely, however, that De Quincey may have
connected it in his mind with the discussion of witchcraft at the
beginning of _Spectator_ No. 117, where Addison balances the
grounds for belief and unbelief somewhat as De Quincey does here.
78 7 BERGERETA: a very late Latin form of French _bergerette,_ "a
78 15 M. SIMOND, IN HIS "TRAVELS": The reference is to _Journal of a
Tour and Residence in Great Britain during the years 1810 and 1811,_
by Louis Simond, 2d ed. (Edinburgh, 1817), to which is added an
appendix on France, written in December, 1815, and October, 1816. De
Quincey refers to this story with horror several times, but such scenes
are not yet wholly unknown.
79 21 A CHEVALIER OF ST. LOUIS: The French order of St. Louis was
founded by Louis XIV in 1693 for military service. After its
discontinuance at the Revolution this order was reinstated in 1814; but
no knights have been created since 1830. "Chevalier" is the lowest rank
in such an order; it is here erroneously used by De Quincey as a title
79 22 "CHEVALIER, AS-TU DONNÉ," etc.: "Chevalier, have you fed the
hog?" "MA FILLE," ETC.: "My daughter, have you," etc. "PUCELLE," ETC.:
"Maid of Orleans, have you saved the lilies (i.e. France)?"
79 28 IF THE MAN THAT TURNIPS CRIES: Cf. _Johnsoniana_, ed. R.
Napier, London, 1884, where, in _Anecdotes of Johnson_, by Mrs.
Piozzi, p. 29, is found: "'T is a mere play of words (added he)"--
Johnson is speaking of certain "verses by Lopez de Vega"--"and you
might as well say, that
"If the man who turnips cries,
Cry not when his father dies,
'T is a proof that he had rather
Have a turnip than his father."
This reference is given in Bartlett's _Familiar Quotations_.
80 4 THE ORIFLAMME OF FRANCE: the red banner of St. Denis, preserved in
the abbey of that name, near Paris, and borne before the French king as
a consecrated flag.
80 22 TWENTY YEARS AFTER, TALKING WITH SOUTHEY: In 1816 De Quincey was
a resident of Grasmere; Southey lived for many years at Keswick, a few
miles away; they met first in 1807. For De Quincey's estimate of
Southey's _Joan of Arc_, see _Works_, Riverside ed., Vol. VI,
pp. 262-266; Masson's ed., Vol. V, pp. 238-242.
80 28 CHINON is a little town near Tours.
81 3 SHE "PRICKS" FOR SHERIFFS: The old custom was to prick with a pin
the names of those chosen by the sovereign for sheriffs.
82 9 AMPULLA: the flask containing the sacred oil used at coronations.
82 10 THE ENGLISH BOY: Henry VI was nine months old when he was
proclaimed king of England and France in 1422, Charles VI of France,
and Henry V, his legal heir, having both died in that year. Henry's
mother was the eldest daughter of Charles VI.
82 13 DRAWN FROM THE OVENS OF RHEIMS: Rheims, where the kings of France
were crowned, was famous for its biscuits and gingerbread.
82 26 TINDAL'S "CHRISTIANITY AS OLD AS THE CREATION": Matthew Tindal
(1657-1732) published this work in 1732; its greatest interest lies in
the fact that to this book more than to any other Butler's
_Analogy_ was a reply. Tindal's argument was that natural religion,
as taught by the deists, was complete; that no revelation was
necessary. A life according to nature is all that the best religion can
teach. Such doctrine as this Joan preached in the speech ascribed to
82 27 A PARTE ANTE: "from the part gone before"; Joan's speech being
three centuries earlier than the book from which it was taken.
83 9 THAT DIVINE PASSAGE IN "PARADISE REGAINED": from Book I, II. 196-
84 34 PATAY IS NEAR ORLEANS: Troyes was the capital of the old province
86 25 "NOLEBAT," ETC.: "She would not use her sword or kill any one."
87 24 MADE PRISONER BY THE BURGUNDIANS: The English have accused the
French officers of conniving at Joan's capture through jealousy of her
successes. Compiègne is fifty miles northeast of Paris.
87 27 BISHOP OF BEAUVAIS: Beauvais is forty-three miles northwest of
Paris, in Normandy. This bishop, Pierre Cauchon, rector of the
University at Paris, was devoted to the English party.
87 30 "BISHOP THAT ART," ETC.: Cf. Shakespeare's _Macbeth_, Act I,
sc. v, 1. 13.
87 33 A TRIPLE CROWN: The papacy is meant, of course. The pope's tiara
is a tall cap of golden cloth, encircled by three coronets.
88 17 JUDGES EXAMINING THE PRISONER: The judge in France questions a
prisoner minutely when he is first taken, before he is remanded for
trial. De Quincey displays here his inveterate prejudice against the
French; but this practice is widely regarded as the vital error of
French criminal procedure.,
89 5 A WRETCHED DOMINICAN: a member of the order of mendicant friars
established in France by Domingo de Guzman in 1216. Their official name
was Fratres Predicatores, "Preaching Friars," and their chief objects
were preaching and instruction. Their influence was very great until
the rise of the Jesuit order in the sixteenth century. The Dominicans
Le Maitre and Graverent (the Grand Inquisitor) both took part in the
89 31 FOR A LESS CAUSE THAN MARTYRDOM: Cf. Genesis ii. 24.
91 14 FROM THE FOUR WINDS: There may be a reminiscence here of Ezekiel
xxxvii. 1-10, especially verse 9: "Come from the four winds, O breath,
and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."
91 30 LUXOR. See note 13 27.
92 15 DAUGHTER OF CÆSARS: She was the daughter of the German emperor,
Francis I, whose sovereignty, as the name "Holy Roman Empire" shows,
was supposed to continue that of the ancient Roman emperors.
92 17 CHARLOTTE CORDAY (1768-93) murdered the revolutionist Marat in
the belief that the good of France required it; two days later she paid
the penalty, as she had expected, with her life.
93 18 GRAFTON, A CHRONICLER: Richard Grafton died about 1572. He was
printer to Edward VI. His chronicle was published in 1569.
93 20 "FOULE FACE": _Foule_ formerly meant "ugly."
9321 HOLINSHEAD: Raphael Holinshed died about 1580. His great work,
_Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland_, was used by
Shakespeare as the source of several plays. He writes of Joan: "Of
favor [appearance] was she counted likesome; of person stronglie made,
and manlie; of courage, great, hardie, and stout withall."
94 (footnote) SATANIC: This epithet was applied to the work of some of
his contemporaries by Southey in the preface to his _Vision of
Judgement_, 1821. It has been generally assumed that Byron and
Shelley are meant. See Introduction to Byron's _Vision of Judgment_
in the new Murray edition of Byron, Vol. IV.
96 (footnote) BURGOO: a thick oatmeal gruel or porridge used by seamen.
According to the _New English Dictionary_ the derivation is
unknown; but in the _Athenaeum_, Oct. 6, 1888, quoted by Hart, the
word is explained as a corruption of Arabic _burghul_.
101 30 ENGLISH PRINCE, REGENT OF FRANCE: John, Duke of Bedford, uncle
of Henry VI. "In genius for war as in political capacity," says J. R.
Green, "John was hardly inferior to Henry [the Fifth, his brother]
himself" (_A History of the English People_, Book IV, Chap. VI).
101 31 MY LORD OF WINCHESTER: Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester,
half-brother of Henry IV. He was the most prominent English prelate of
his time and was the only Englishman in the Court that condemned Joan.
As to the story of his death, to which De Quincey alludes, see
Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI, Act III, sc. in. Beaufort became cardinal in
102 17 WHO IS THIS THAT COMETH FROM DOMRÉMY? This is an evident
imitation of the famous passage from Isaiah Ixiii. I: "Who is this that
cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?" "Bloody coronation
robes" is rather obscure, but probably refers to the fact that Joan had
shed her own blood to bring about the coronation of her sovereign; she
is supposed to have appeared in armor at the actual coronation
ceremony, and this armor might with reason be imagined as "bloody."
102 22 SHE ... SHALL TAKE MY LORD'S BRIEF: that is, she shall act as
the bishop's counsel. In the case of Beauvais, as in that of
Winchester, it must be remembered that in all monarchical countries the
bishops are "lords spiritual," on an equality with the greater secular
nobles, the "lords temporal."
Back to Full Books