Billeder på siden

the will of God drew tears and sobs from many who had come prepared to revile her. It was said that many of the clergy were so overcome at the sight that they were obliged to leave the platform on which they were ranged.

But the brutal soldiers, eager to feast their sight with the victim's agonies, murmured at delay, exclaiming to L’Advenu: 'How now, priest, do you mean to make us dine here ?' Although she was walking between the officers, accompanied by the good L’Advenu, to the stake, the impatient soldiers seized her violently to drag her thither. The pile was made secure with masonry, and after the ill-fated maid was bound to the stake, they placed a mitre upon her head, on which were inscribed in large letters the words RELAPSED HERETIC, APOSTATE, IDOLATRESS-and before the scaffold was placed a sort of scroll, enumerating the crimes of which she was accused. To the end she maintained that she had acted in obedience to the commands of God; and her last word was

Jesus.' As the flames spread, she desired L’Advenu, who had remained to comfort her, to withdraw out of danger, but to hold the crucifix aloft, that her last look might rest on the sign of the Redeemer. And this he did, continuing to pray with her in a loud voice. Such was the end of the heroic martyred Joan of Arc!

Scarcely, however, was the frightful tragedy concluded, before there was a movement of pity among the spectators. Some began to think they had committed a crime in burning a saint; others wished their own persons had been burned in the place of hers. Yet, notwithstanding these demonstrations of feeling, further indignities were heaped on her remains. The blackened corpse was shewn to the people, to convince them of her identity; then a second time the fire was kindled, and her body, reduced to ashes, was thrown into the Seine.

Thus perished, after a year's captivity, all that was mortal of this heroic girl. But her memory still dwells among us, not only to form the poet's inspiration, but to teach a stern lesson of those dark days when an ignorant superstition usurped the place of judgment. In happier times, her heroism and devotion would have won admiration even from her foes, and her hallucination under the circumstances, proceeding as it did from zeal in a righteous cause, has something in it almost worthy of respect.

The affairs of the English in France, far from being advanced by this execution, went every day more and more to decay: the great abilities of the Duke of Bedford, as regent, were unable to resist the strong inclination which had seized the French to return under the obedience of their rightful sovereign, and which that act of cruelty was ill fitted to remove. Besides losing one town and province after another, the English sustained a serious blow in the withdrawal of the Duke of Burgundy from their interests. Having only served them to satisfy a temporary pique against Charles, he now

relented in his animosity; and having received certain concessions, at the expense of the English claims, he gave in his adhesion to the French crown. This, with some subsequent movements, turned the balance so effectually against the English, that in a few years they were, with trifling exceptions, stripped of all their French possessions. Although Charles was thus successful in the restoration of the French monarchy, and in after-years favourably distinguished himself, it is hard to forgive the apathy with which he endured the captivity and

most likely would have lost all title to king of France. His death, which happened in 1461, was almost as terrible as that of Joan. He died from voluntary starvation, induced from a dread of being poisoned by his own son, that monster afterwards known as Louis XI.

In 1456, as an act of justice to her memory, an ecclesiastical court, headed by the Archbishop of Rheims, revised the case of Joan of Arc, and finding the allegations against her false, pronounced her to have been entirely innocent-a poor compensation, it will be admitted, for the torments and indignity of a cruel death.* Posterity has further done justice to the memory of the heroic Pucelle in numerous poems and dramas: a recollection of her person and deeds has also been preserved in France by different statues, one of the most beautiful being that executed by a daughter of LouisPhilippe, king of the French, in which she is represented in her suit of armour, and in that modesty of attitude which befitted her simplicity of character. Upon the pedestal of the statue erected to her memory in Rouen, on the spot of her unjust execution, was affixed an inscription in acknowledgment of her services to the state, which may be thus translated :


* Few facts in history seem better authenticated than the death of 'the Maid' at Rouen in 1431, and yet grave doubts have been raised on the point. There was a popular belief at the time that some one had been executed in the place of Joan; and many pretended Maids appeared, who, however, were punished as impostors. But a Father Vignier, in the 17th century, found among the archives of Metz a paper purporting to be written at the time, and giving an account of the arrival at Metz, on the 20th May 1436, of the Maid Jeanne, who was at once recognised by her two brothers, and was subsequently married to a Sieur de Hermoise. Vignier afterwards found in the family muniment-chest of a M. des Armoise, in Lorraine, a contract of marriage between Robert des Armoise, Knight, with Jeanne D'Arcy, surnamed the Maid of Orleans.' In addition to this, there was found, in 1740, among the archives of the Maison de Ville of Orleans, under the dates 1435, 1436, a record of certain payments to a messenger bringing letters from Jeanne the Maid, and also to her brother John du Lils or Lys. (De Lys was the name by which the family of Darc was ennobled.) A subsequent entry, Ist August 1439, records a gift on the part of the council of the city for services rendered by her at the siege. M. Delepierre, who has discussed the subject in his Doute historique (privately printed, 1855), adduces various other facts tending to the same conclusion.-Chambers's Encyclopædia.


[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

MONG the many females in humble life who have been

exemplary for their extraordinary perseverance under difficulties, their ingenious industry, and their selfsacrificing benevolence, a poor woman who lived in an

obscure situation in Liverpool is deserving of being placed in the foremost rank. This heroine in humble life—whom we shall describe under the name of Catherine or Kitty, by which she was usually known to her friends—was born in a populous village in Lancashire about the year 1786. Her parents, who were in poor circumstances, happened to become favourably known to an infirm and venerable lady, who kindly took Catherine home to stay with her as a humble companion and servant. By this humane lady she was taught to read, and trained not only to early habits of neatness and order, but to the knowledge as well as the practice of Christian dispositions and duties.

Although this lady had only a moderate income, she spent not a little on the poor, whom she likewise encouraged with her advice in

cases of difficulty, and cheered with her presence in distress. When she became too feeble to walk to the houses of her neighbours, she was occasionally carried out in a sedan-chair, her little servant walking by her side. Catherine afterwards used to describe these expeditions to her friends :—The old lady would say to me : “ Catherine, I am going out ;" and then she would be carried out in her sedan. She was too lame to walk, and could not easily get into a coach. I used to take a little basket and go by her side. We would soon stop at a cellar, into which she sent me to see how the poor woman was ; and when I had come out again, she would say : " How does she look? Is there any fire in the grate? Is there any coal in the house?” Then she would send me for anything that was wanted. And when we had come home, she would say : Go, put your feet upon the fender, and dry them, and tell me what you think of what you have seen." Then she would say : “ Catherine, poverty will probably be your portion ; but you have one talent which you may use for the good of others. You may sometimes read half an hour to a poor sick neighbour. You may read a chapter of the Bible to her when she could not read it herself; or you may run errands for those who have no one else to go for them. Promise me, then, my child, that you will try to do what you can for others, and I hope we may meet in another world.” Ah! there were few like my dear mistress.

This lady having died, her household was broken up, and Catherine returned to her family. She could not, however, be kept at home; and as no suitable place in domestic service could be obtained for her, she was sent with her brother to work at a cotton-mill in a village at some distance. This was in the year 1798, when she was only twelve years of age. That a child so youthful should have been despatched to such a scene of labour may excite surprise, but only in those who are in the habit of considering all factory systems as injurious, if not tyrannical. Many may be bad enough, but those conducted in country districts, and under good management, are, on the whole, not unfavourable to health or morals. The mill to which our young heroine and her brother were committed was one of the better regulated class. The hours were not long, and were precisely fixed. All had their appointed duty, which if they attended to, no complaint was made. There was an open airing-ground for recreation in good weather, and a library from which books were given freely out to those who chose to read. Great care was likewise taken to prevent any impropriety of behaviour. In short, nothing was wanting to render the attendance agreeable, or to encourage the diligent and orderly. In this mill, Catherine passed a few years, improving in health and intelligence, though without distinguishing herself from the mass of her companions. Perhaps, however, she excelled in the propriety of her deportment, from the instructions prompted her to be grateful for the care taken of her, as well as others, at the mill. She has often been heard to say: 'If ever there was a heaven upon earth, it was that apprentice-house, where we were brought up in such ignorance of evil; and where Mr Norton, the manager of the mill, was a father to us all.' It is to be wished that every one who takes the charge of a child, whether as a pupil, an apprentice, or a servant, should feel it a duty to do what may be done early to establish the principles and practice of virtue, and to deserve such grateful recollections as those of our heroine.

Mr Norton did not see Catherine after she quitted his establishment, and never probably was aware of the beneficial influence he had exerted on her mind; yet it was by the course of discipline and

during the most susceptible and dangerous season of her life.

Catherine left the cotton-mill to go to service in a family. The lady of the house was a very good manager, and a good mistress ; knew what a servant's duty was, and took care that it was well done. In her family, Catherine's habits of diligence, order, and fidelity were strengthened. Everything she saw there tended to advance her education. And is it not the true idea of education, that it comprehends all the daily and hourly influences, small as well as great, of the circumstances by which we are surrounded, and which are constantly acting upon us; bearing upon thought, and feeling, and every spring of action within us? It is beginning to be understood, that whatever acts upon our powers for their growth, or decrease, or direction; whatever acts upon desire, appetite, or passion, to excite or to repress it, to gratify or disappoint it; and whatever, either directly or indirectly, goes to the excitement and formation of dispositions, sentiments, principles, and habits, is to be viewed as a part of education. In this view of the subject, it is not a question whether children or men shall or shall not be educated. Education is constantly going on with every individual, old and young, from the first to the last hour of life, because every individual is, in every hour and every moment, acted upon by the circumstances amidst which he is placed ; and because the influence of these circumstances upon him will be in accordance with the tastes and desires he is forming or has formed, the principles he is adopting or has adopted, and his strength or weakness in the application of principles to conduct. The child at home is educated far more by the examples which he sees than by the lessons which he learns; and his mind is educating with far freer and stronger tendencies in his plays and in the streets, than in school and under the eye of his master,

Catherine was one of the most cheerful and faithful of servants. The pleasure with which she was accustomed to render any assistance to her fellow-servants was ever a matter of remark; and through this disposition, joined with a habit of accurate observation,

« ForrigeFortsæt »