Translated by Anna Swanwick
CHARLES THE SEVENTH, King of France.
QUEEN ISABEL, his Mother.
PHILIP THE GOOD, Duke of Burgundy.
EARL DUNOIS, Bastard of Orleans.
LA HIRE, DUCRATEL, French Offers.
ARCHBISHOP OF RHEIMS.
CRATILLON, A Burgundian Knight.
RAOUL, a Lotharingian Knight.
TALBOT, the English General,
LIONEL, FASTOLFE, English Officers.
MONTGOMERY, a Welshman.
COUNCILLORS OF ORLEANS.
AN ENGLISH HERALD.
THIBAUT D’ARC, a wealthy Countryman.
MARGOT, LOUISON, JOHANNA, his Daughters.
ETIENNE, CLAUDE MARIE, RAIMOND, their Suitors.
BERTRAND, another Countryman.
APPARITION OF A BLACK KNIGHT.
CHARCOAL-BURNER AND HIS WIFE.
Soldiers and People, Officers of the Crown, Bishops, Monks, Marshals,
Magistrates, Courtiers, and other mute persons in the Coronation
A rural District. To the right, a Chapel with an Image of the Virgin; to the left, an ancient Oak.
THIBAUT D’ARC. His Three Daughters. Three young Shepherds, their Suitors.
THIBAUT. Ay, my good neighbors! we at least to-day Are Frenchmen still, free citizens and lords Of the old soil which our forefathers tilled. Who knows whom we to-morrow must obey? For England her triumphal banner waves From every wall: the blooming fields of France Are trampled down beneath her chargers’ hoofs; Paris hath yielded to her conquering arms, And with the ancient crown of Dagobert Adorns the scion of a foreign race. Our king’s descendant, disinherited, Must steal in secret through his own domain; While his first peer and nearest relative Contends against him in the hostile ranks; Ay, his unnatural mother leads them on. Around us towns and peaceful hamlets burn. Near and more near the devastating fire Rolls toward these vales, which yet repose in peace. Therefore, good neighbors, I have now resolved, While God still grants us safety, to provide For my three daughters; for ‘midst war’s alarms Women require protection, and true love Hath power to render lighter every load. [To the first Shepherd. Come, Etienne! You seek my Margot’s hand. Fields lying side by side and loving hearts Promise a happy union! [To the second. Claude! You’re silent, And my Louison looks upon the ground? How, shall I separate two loving hearts Because you have no wealth to offer me? Who now has wealth? Our barns and homes afford Spoil to the foe, and fuel to the fires. In times like these a husband’s faithful breast Affords the only shelter from the storm.
LOUISON. My father!
CLAUDE MARIE. My Louison!
LOUISON (embracing JOHANNA). My dear sister!
THIBAUT. I give to each a yard, a stall and herd, And also thirty acres; and as God Gave me his blessing, so I give you mine!
MARGOT (embracing JOHANNA). Gladden our father–follow our example! Let this day see three unions ratified!
THIBAUT. Now go; make all things ready; for the morn Shall see the wedding. Let our village friends Be all assembled for the festival.
[The two couples retire arm in arm.
THIBAUT, RAIMOND, JOHANNA.
THIBAUT. Thy sisters, Joan, will soon be happy brides; I see them gladly; they rejoice my age; But thou, my youngest, giv’st me grief and pain.
RAIMOND. What is the matter? Why upbraid thy child?
THIBAUT. Here is this noble youth, the flower and pride Of all our village; he hath fixed on thee His fond affections, and for three long years Has wooed thee with respectful tenderness; But thou dost thrust him back with cold reserve. Nor is there one ‘mong all our shepherd youths Who e’er can win a gracious smile from thee. I see thee blooming in thy youthful prime; Thy spring it is, the joyous time of hope; Thy person, like a tender flower, hath now Disclosed its beauty, but I vainly wait For love’s sweet blossom genially to blow, And ripen joyously to golden fruit! Oh, that must ever grieve me, and betrays Some sad deficiency in nature’s work! The heart I like not which, severe and cold, Expands not in the genial years of youth.
RAIMOND. Forbear, good father! Cease to urge her thus! A noble, tender fruit of heavenly growth Is my Johanna’s love, and time alone Bringeth the costly to maturity! Still she delights to range among the hills, And fears descending from the wild, free heath, To tarry ‘neath the lowly roofs of men, Where dwell the narrow cares of humble life. From the deep vale, with silent wonder, oft I mark her, when, upon a lofty hill Surrounded by her flock, erect she stands, With noble port, and bends her earnest gaze Down on the small domains of earth. To me She looketh then, as if from other times She came, foreboding things of import high.
THIBAUT. ‘Tis that precisely which displeases me! She shuns her sisters’ gay companionship; Seeks out the desert mountains, leaves her couch Before the crowing of the morning cock, And in the dreadful hour, when men are wont Confidingly to seek their fellow-men, She, like the solitary bird, creeps forth, And in the fearful spirit-realm of night, To yon crossway repairs, and there alone Holds secret commune with the mountain wind. Wherefore this place precisely doth she choose? Why hither always doth she drive her flock? For hours together I have seen her sit In dreamy musing ‘neath the Druid tree, Which every happy creature shuns with awe. For ’tis not holy there; an evil spirit Hath since the fearful pagan days of old Beneath its branches fixed his dread abode. The oldest of our villagers relate Strange tales of horror of the Druid tree; Mysterious voices of unearthly sound From its unhallowed shade oft meet the ear. Myself, when in the gloomy twilight hour My path once chanced to lead me near this tree, Beheld a spectral figure sitting there, Which slowly from its long and ample robe Stretched forth its withered hand, and beckoned me. But on I went with speed, nor looked behind, And to the care of God consigned my soul.
RAIMOND (pointing to the image of the Virgin). Yon holy image of the Virgin blest, Whose presence heavenly peace diffuseth round, Not Satan’s work, leadeth thy daughter here.
THIBAUT. No! not in vain hath it in fearful dreams And apparitions strange revealed itself. For three successive nights I have beheld Johanna sitting on the throne at Rheims, A sparkling diadem of seven stars Upon her brow, the sceptre in her hand, From which three lilies sprung, and I, her sire, With her two sisters, and the noble peers, The earls, archbishops, and the king himself, Bowed down before her. In my humble home How could this splendor enter my poor brain? Oh, ’tis the prelude to some fearful fall! This warning dream, in pictured show, reveals The vain and sinful longing of her heart. She looks with shame upon her lowly birth. Because with richer beauty God hath graced Her form, and dowered her with wondrous gifts Above the other maidens of this vale, She in her heart indulges sinful pride, And pride it is through which the angels fell, By which the fiend of hell seduces man.
RAIMOND. Who cherishes a purer, humbler mind Than doth thy pious daughter? Does she not With cheerful spirit work her sisters’ will? She is more highly gifted far than they, Yet, like a servant maiden, it is she Who silently performs the humblest tasks. Beneath her guiding hands prosperity Attendeth still thy harvest and thy flocks; And around all she does there ceaseless flows A blessing, rare and unaccountable.
THIBAUT. Ah truly! Unaccountable indeed! Sad horror at this blessing seizes me! But now no more; henceforth I will be silent. Shall I accuse my own beloved child? I can do naught but warn and pray for her. Yet warn I must. Oh, shun the Druid tree! Stay not alone, and in the midnight hour Break not the ground for roots, no drinks prepare, No characters inscribe upon the sand! ‘Tis easy to unlock the realm of spirits; Listening each sound, beneath a film of earth They lay in wait, ready to rush aloft. Stay not alone, for in the wilderness The prince of darkness tempted e’en the Lord.
THIBAUT, RAIMOND, JOHANNA. BERTRAND enters, a helmet in his hand.
RAIMOND. Hush! here is Bertrand coming back from town; What bears he in his hand?
BERTRAND. You look at me With wondering gaze; no doubt you are surprised To see this martial helm!
THIBAUT. We are indeed! Come, tell us how you come by it? Why bring This fearful omen to our peaceful vale?
[JOHANNA, who has remained indifferent during the two previous scenes, becomes attentive, and steps nearer.
BERTRAND. I scarce can tell you how I came by it. I had procured some tools at Vaucouleurs; A crowd was gathered in the market-place, For fugitives were just arrived in haste From Orleans, bringing most disastrous news. In tumult all the town together flocked, And as I forced a passage through the crowds, A brown Bohemian woman, with this helm, Approached me, eyed me narrowly, and said: “Fellow, you seek a helm; I know it well. Take this one! For a trifle it is yours.” “Go with it to the soldiers,” I replied, “I am a husbandman, and want no helm.” She would not cease, however, and went on: “None knoweth if he may not want a helm. A roof of metal for the Head just now Is of more value than a house of stone.” Thus she pursued me closely through the streets, Still offering the helm, which I refused. I marked it well, and saw that it was bright, And fair and worthy of a knightly head; And when in doubt I weighed it in my hand, The strangeness of the incident revolving, The woman disappeared, for suddenly The rushing crowd had carried her away. And I was left the helmet in my hand.
JOHANNA (attempting eagerly to seize it). Give me the helmet!
BERTRAND. Why, what boots it you? It is not suited to a maiden’s head.
JOHANNA (seizing it from him). Mine is the helmet–it belongs to me!
THIBAUT. What whim is this?
RAIMOND. Nay, let her have her way! This warlike ornament becomes her well, For in her bosom beats a manly heart. Remember how she once subdued the wolf, The savage monster which destroyed our herds, And filled the neighb’ring shepherds with dismay. She all alone–the lion-hearted maid Fought with the wolf, and from him snatched the lamb Which he was bearing in his bloody jaws. How brave soe’er the head this helm adorned, It cannot grace a worthier one than hers!
THIBAUT (to BERTRAND). Relate what new disasters have occurred. What tidings brought the fugitives?
BERTRAND. May God Have pity on our land, and save the king! In two great battles we have lost the day; Our foes are stationed in the heart of France, Far as the river Loire our lands are theirs– Now their whole force they have combined, and lay Close siege to Orleans.
THIBAUT. God protect the king!
BERTRAND. Artillery is brought from every side, And as the dusky squadrons of the bees Swarm round the hive upon a summer day, As clouds of locusts from the sultry air Descend and shroud the country round for miles, So doth the cloud of war, o’er Orleans’ fields, Pour forth its many-nationed multitudes, Whose varied speech, in wild confusion blent, With strange and hollow murmurs fill the air. For Burgundy, the mighty potentate, Conducts his motley host; the Hennegarians, The men of Liege and of Luxemburg, The people of Namur, and those who dwell In fair Brabant; the wealthy men of Ghent, Who boast their velvets, and their costly silks; The Zealanders, whose cleanly towns appear Emerging from the ocean; Hollanders Who milk the lowing herds; men from Utrecht, And even from West Friesland’s distant realm, Who look towards the ice-pole–all combine, Beneath the banner of the powerful duke, Together to accomplish Orleans’ fall.
THIBAUT. Oh, the unblest, the lamentable strife, Which turns the arms of France against itself!
BERTRAND. E’en she, the mother-queen, proud Isabel Bavaria’s haughty princess–may be seen, Arrayed in armor, riding through the camp; With poisonous words of irony she fires The hostile troops to fury ‘gainst her son, Whom she hath clasped to her maternal breast.
THIBAUT. A curse upon her, and may God prepare For her a death like haughty Jezebel’s!
BERTRAND. The fearful Salisbury conducts the siege, The town-destroyer; with him Lionel, The brother of the lion; Talbot, too, Who, with his murd’rous weapon, moweth down The people in the battle: they have sworn, With ruthless insolence to doom to shame The hapless maidens, and to sacrifice All who the sword have wielded, with the sword. Four lofty watch-towers, to o’ertop the town, They have upreared; Earl Salisbury from on high Casteth abroad his cruel, murd’rous glance, And marks the rapid wanderers in the streets. Thousands of cannon-balls, of pond’rous weight, Are hurled into the city. Churches lie In ruined heaps, and Notre Dame’s royal tower Begins at length to bow its lofty head. They also have formed powder-vaults below, And thus, above a subterranean hell, The timid city every hour expects, ‘Midst crashing thunder, to break forth in flames.
[JOHANNA listens with close attention, and places the helmet on her head.
THIBAUT. But where were then our heroes? Where the swords Of Saintrailles, and La Hire, and brave Dunois, Of France the bulwark, that the haughty foe With such impetuous force thus onward rushed? Where is the king? Can he supinely see His kingdom’s peril and his cities’ fall?
BERTRAND. The king at Chinon holds his court; he lacks Soldiers to keep the field. Of what avail The leader’s courage, and the hero’s arm, When pallid fear doth paralyze the host? A sudden panic, as if sent from God, Unnerves the courage of the bravest men. In vain the summons of the king resounds As when the howling of the wolf is heard, The sheep in terror gather side by side, So Frenchmen, careless of their ancient fame, Seek only now the shelter of the towns. One knight alone, I have been told, has brought A feeble company, and joins the king With sixteen banners.
JOHANNA (quickly). What’s the hero’s name?
BERTRAND. ‘Tis Baudricour. But much I fear the knight Will not be able to elude the foe, Who track him closely with too numerous hosts.
JOHANNA. Where halts the knight? Pray tell me, if you know.
BERTRAND. About a one day’s march from Vaucouleurs.
THIBAUT (to JOHANNA). Why, what is that to thee? Thou dost inquire Concerning matters which become thee not.
BERTRAND. The foe being now so strong, and from the king No safety to be hoped, at Vaucouleurs They have with unanimity resolved To yield them to the Duke of Burgundy. Thus we avoid the foreign yoke, and still Continue by our ancient royal line; Ay, to the ancient crown we may fall back Should France and Burgundy be reconciled.
JOHANNA (as if inspired). Speak not of treaty! Speak not of surrender! The savior comes, he arms him for the fight. The fortunes of the foe before the walls Of Orleans shall be wrecked! His hour is come, He now is ready for the reaper’s hand, And with her sickle will the maid appear, And mow to earth the harvest of his pride. She from the heavens will tear his glory down, Which he had hung aloft among the stars; Despair not! Fly not! for ere yonder corn Assumes its golden hue, or ere the moon Displays her perfect orb, no English horse Shall drink the rolling waters of the Loire.
BERTRAND. Alas! no miracle will happen now!
JOHANNA. Yes, there shall yet be one–a snow-white dove Shall fly, and with the eagle’s boldness, tear The birds of prey which rend her fatherland. She shall o’erthrow this haughty Burgundy, Betrayer of the kingdom; Talbot, too, The hundred-handed, heaven-defying scourge; This Salisbury, who violates our fanes, And all these island robbers shall she drive Before her like a flock of timid lambs. The Lord will be with her, the God of battle; A weak and trembling creature he will choose, And through a tender maid proclaim his power, For he is the Almighty!
THIBAULT. What strange power Hath seized the maiden?
RAIMOND. Doubtless ’tis the helmet Which doth inspire her with such martial thoughts. Look at your daughter. Mark her flashing eye, Her glowing cheek, which kindles as with fire.
JOHANNA. This realm shall fall! This ancient land of fame, The fairest that, in his majestic course, The eternal sun surveys–this paradise, Which, as the apple of his eye, God loves– Endure the fetters of a foreign yoke? Here were the heathen scattered, and the cross And holy image first were planted here; Here rest St. Louis’ ashes, and from hence The troops went forth who set Jerusalem free.
BERTRAND (in astonishment). Hark how she speaks! Why, whence can she obtain This glorious revelation? Father Arc! A wondrous daughter God hath given you!
JOHANNA. We shall no longer serve a native prince! The king, who never dies, shall pass away– The guardian of the sacred plough, who fills The earth with plenty, who protects our herds, Who frees the bondmen from captivity, Who gathers all his cities round his throne– Who aids the helpless, and appals the base, Who envies no one, for he reigns supreme; Who is a mortal, yet an angel too, Dispensing mercy on the hostile earth. For the king’s throne, which glitters o’er with gold, Affords a shelter for the destitute; Power and compassion meet together there, The guilty tremble, but the just draw near, And with the guardian lion fearless sport! The stranger king, who cometh from afar, Whose fathers’ sacred ashes do not lie Interred among us; can he love our land? Who was not young among our youth, whose heart Respondeth not to our familiar words, Can he be as a father to our sons?
THIBAUT. God save the king and France! We’re peaceful folk, Who neither wield the sword, nor rein the steed. –Let us await the king whom victory crowns; The fate of battle is the voice of God. He is our lord who crowns himself at Rheims, And on his head receives the holy oil. –Come, now to work! come! and let every one Think only of the duty of the hour! Let the earth’s great ones for the earth contend, Untroubled we may view the desolation, For steadfast stand the acres which we till. The flames consume our villages, our corn Is trampled ‘neath the tread of warlike steeds; With the new spring new harvests reappear, And our light huts are quickly reared again!
[They all retire except the maiden.
Farewell ye mountains, ye beloved glades, Ye lone and peaceful valleys, fare ye well! Through you Johanna never more may stray! For, ay, Johanna bids you now farewell. Ye meads which I have watered, and ye trees Which I have planted, still in beauty bloom! Farewell ye grottos, and ye crystal springs! Sweet echo, vocal spirit of the vale. Who sang’st responsive to my simple strain, Johanna goes, and ne’er returns again.
Ye scenes where all my tranquil joys I knew, Forever now I leave you far behind! Poor foldless lambs, no shepherd now have you! O’er the wide heath stray henceforth unconfined! For I to danger’s field, of crimson hue, Am summoned hence another flock to find. Such is to me the spirit’s high behest; No earthly, vain ambition fires my breast.
For who in glory did on Horeb’s height Descend to Moses in the bush of flame, And bade him go and stand in Pharaoh’s sight– Who once to Israel’s pious shepherd came, And sent him forth, his champion in the fight,– Who aye hath loved the lowly shepherd train,– He, from these leafy boughs, thus spake to me, “Go forth! Thou shalt on earth my witness be.
“Thou in rude armor must thy limbs invest, A plate of steel upon thy bosom wear; Vain earthly love may never stir thy breast, Nor passion’s sinful glow be kindled there. Ne’er with the bride-wreath shall thy locks be dressed, Nor on thy bosom bloom an infant fair; But war’s triumphant glory shall be thine; Thy martial fame all women’s shall outshine.
“For when in fight the stoutest hearts despair, When direful ruin threatens France, forlorn, Then thou aloft my oriflamme shalt bear, And swiftly as the reaper mows the corn, Thou shalt lay low the haughty conqueror; His fortune’s wheel thou rapidly shalt turn, To Gaul’s heroic sons deliverance bring, Relieve beleaguered Rheims, and crown thy king!”
The heavenly spirit promised me a sign; He sends the helmet, it hath come from him. Its iron filleth me with strength divine, I feel the courage of the cherubim; As with the rushing of a mighty wind It drives me forth to join the battles din; The clanging trumpets sound, the chargers rear, And the loud war-cry thunders in mine ear.
[She goes out.
The royal residence at Chinon. DUNOIS and DUCHATEL.
DUNOIS. No longer I’ll endure it. I renounce This recreant monarch who forsakes himself. My valiant heart doth bleed, and I could rain Hot tear-drops from mine eyes, that robber-swords Partition thus the royal realm of France; That cities, ancient as the monarchy, Deliver to the foe the rusty keys, While here in idle and inglorious ease We lose the precious season of redemption. Tidings of Orleans’ peril reach mine ear, Hither I sped from distant Normandy, Thinking, arrayed in panoply of war, To find the monarch with his marshalled hosts; And find him–here! begirt with troubadours, And juggling knaves, engaged in solving riddles, And planning festivals in Sorel’s honor, As brooded o’er the land profoundest peace! The Constable hath gone; he will not brook Longer the spectacle of shame. I, too, Depart, and leave him to his evil fate.
DUCHATEL. Here comes the king.
KING CHARLES. The same.
CHARLES. The Constable hath sent us back his sword And doth renounce our service. Now, by heaven! He thus hath rid us of a churlish man, Who insolently sought to lord it o’er us.
DUNOIS. A man is precious in such perilous times; I would not deal thus lightly with his loss.
CHARLES. Thou speakest thus from love of opposition; While he was here thou never wert his friend.
DUNOIS. He was a tiresome, proud, vexatious fool, Who never could resolve. For once, however, He hath resolved. Betimes he goeth hence, Where honor can no longer be achieved.
CHARLES. Thou’rt in a pleasant humor; undisturbed I’ll leave thee to enjoy it. Hark, Duchatel! Ambassadors are here from old King Rene, Of tuneful songs the master, far renowned. Let them as honored guests be entertained, And unto each present a chain of gold. [To the Bastard. Why smilest thou, Dunois?
DUNOIS. That from thy mouth Thou shakest golden chains.
DUCHATEL. Alas! my king! No gold existeth in thy treasury.
CHARLES. Then gold must be procured. It must not be That bards unhonored from our court depart. ‘Tis they who make our barren sceptre bloom, ‘Tis they who wreath around our fruitless crown Life’s joyous branch of never-fading green. Reigning, they justly rank themselves as kings, Of gentle wishes they erect their throne, Their harmless realm existeth not in space; Hence should the bard accompany the king, Life’s higher sphere the heritage of both!
DUCHATEL. My royal liege! I sought to spare thine ear So long as aid and counsel could be found; Now dire necessity doth loose my tongue. Naught hast thou now in presents to bestow, Thou hast not wherewithal to live to-morrow! The spring-tide of thy fortune is run out, And lowest ebb is in thy treasury! The soldiers, disappointed of their pay, With sullen murmurs, threaten to retire. My counsel faileth, not with royal splendor But meagerly, to furnish out thy household.
CHARLES. My royal customs pledge, and borrow gold From the Lombardians.
DUCHATEL. Sire, thy revenues, Thy royal customs are for three years pledged.
DUNOIS. And pledge meanwhile and kingdom both are lost.
CHARLES. Still many rich and beauteous lands are ours.
DUNOIS. So long as God and Talbot’s sword permit! When Orleans falleth into English hands Then with King Rene thou may’st tend thy sheep!
CHARLES. Still at this king thou lov’st to point thy jest; Yet ’tis this lackland monarch who to-day Hath with a princely crown invested me.
DUNOIS. Not, in the name of heaven, with that of Naples, Which is for sale, I hear, since he kept sheep.
CHARLES. It is a sportive festival, a jest, Wherein he giveth to his fancy play, To found a world all innocent and pure In this barbaric, rude reality. Yet noble–ay, right royal is his aim! He will again restore the golden age, When gentle manners reigned, when faithful love The heroic hearts of valiant knights inspired, And noble women, whose accomplished taste Diffuseth grace around, in judgment sat. The old man dwelleth in those bygone times, And in our workday world would realize The dreams of ancient bards, who picture life ‘Mid bowers celestial, throned on golden clouds. He hath established hence a court of love Where valiant knights may dwell, and homage yield To noble women, who are there enthroned, And where pure love and true may find a home. Me he hath chosen as the prince of love.
DUNOIS. I am not such a base, degenerate churl As love’s dominion rudely to assail. I am her son, from her derive my name, And in her kingdom lies my heritage. The Prince of Orleans was my sire, and while No woman’s heart was proof against his love, No hostile fortress could withstand his shock! Wilt thou, indeed, with honor name thyself The prince of love–be bravest of the brave! As I have read in those old chronicles, Love aye went coupled with heroic deeds, And valiant heroes, not inglorious shepherds, So legends tell us, graced King Arthur’s board. The man whose valor is not beauty’s shield Is all unworthy of her golden prize. Here the arena! combat for the crown, Thy royal heritage! With knightly sword Thy lady’s honor and thy realm defend– And hast thou with hot valor snatched the crown From streams of hostile blood,–then is the time, And it would well become thee as a prince, Love’s myrtle chaplet round thy brows to wreathe.
CHARLES (to a PAGE, who enters). What is the matter?
PAGE. Senators from Orleans Entreat an audience, sire.
CHARLES. Conduct them hither! [PAGE retires. Doubtless they succor need; what can I do, Myself all-succorless!
The same. Three SENATORS.
CHARLES. Welcome, my trusty citizens of Orleans! What tidings bring ye from my faithful town? Doth she continue with her wonted zeal Still bravely to withstand the leaguering foe?
SENATOR. Ah, sire! the city’s peril is extreme; And giant ruin, waxing hour by hour, Still onward strides. The bulwarks are destroyed– The foe at each assault advantage gains; Bare of defenders are the city walls, For with rash valor forth our soldiers rush, While few, alas! return to view their homes, And famine’s scourge impendeth o’er the town. In this extremity the noble Count Of Rochepierre, commander of the town, Hath made a compact with the enemy, According to old custom, to yield up, On the twelfth day, the city to the foe, Unless, meanwhile, before the town appear A host of magnitude to raise the siege.
[DUNOIS manifests the strongest indignation.
CHARLES. The interval is brief.
SENATOR. We hither come, Attended by a hostile retinue, To implore thee, sire, to pity thy poor town, And to send succor ere the appointed day, When, if still unrelieved, she must surrender.
DUNOIS. And could Saintrailles consent to give his voice To such a shameful compact?
SENATOR. Never, sir! Long as the hero lived, none dared to breathe A single word of treaty or surrender.
DUNOIS. He then is dead?
SENATOR. The noble hero fell, His monarch’s cause defending on our walls.
CHARLES. What! Saintrailles dead! Oh, in that single man A host is foundered!
[A Knight enters and speaks apart with DUNOIS, who starts with surprise.
DUNOIS. That too!
CHARLES. Well? What is it?
DUNOIS. Count Douglass sendeth here. The Scottish troops Revolt, and threaten to retire at once. Unless their full arrears are paid to-day.
DUCHATEL (shrugs his shoulders). Sire! I know not what to counsel.
CHARLES. Pledge, promise all, even unto half my realm.
DUCHATEL. ‘Tis vain! They have been fed with hope too often.
CHARLES. They are the finest troops of all my hosts! They must not now, not now abandon me!
SENATOR (throwing himself at the KING’S feet). Oh, king, assist us! Think of our distress!
CHARLES (in despair). How! Can I summon armies from the earth? Or grow a cornfield on my open palm? Rend me in pieces! Pluck my bleeding heart Forth from my breast, and coin it ‘stead of gold! I’ve blood for you, but neither gold nor troops.
[He sees SOREL approach, and hastens towards her with outstretched arms.
The same. AGNES SOREL, a casket in her hand.
CHARLES. My Agnes! Oh, my love! My dearest life! Thou comest here to snatch me from despair! Refuge I take within thy loving arms! Possessing thee I feel that nothing is lost.
SOREL. My king, beloved! [looking round with an anxious, inquiring gaze. Dunois! Say, is it true, Duchatel?
DUCHATEL. ‘Tis, alas!
SOREL. So great the need? No treasure left? The soldiers will disband?
DUCHATEL. Alas! It is too true!
SOREL (giving him the casket). Here-here is gold, Here too are jewels! Melt my silver down! Sell, pledge my castles–on my fair domains In Provence–treasure raise, turn all to gold, Appease the troops! No time to be lost!
[She urges him to depart.
CHARLES. Well now, Dunois! Duchatel! Do ye still Account me poor, when I possess the crown Of womankind? She’s nobly born as I; The royal blood of Valois not more pure; The most exalted throne she would adorn– Yet she rejects it with disdain, and claims No other title than to be my love. No gift more costly will she e’er receive Than early flower in winter, or rare fruit! No sacrifice on my part she permits, Yet sacrificeth all she had to me! With generous spirit she doth venture all Her wealth and fortune in my sinking bark.
DUNOIS. Ay, she is mad indeed, my king, as thou; She throws her all into a burning house, And draweth water in the leaky vessel Of the Danaides. Thee she will not save, And in thy ruin but involve herself.
SOREL. Believe him not! Full many a time he hath Perilled his life for thee, and now, forsooth, Chafeth because I risk my worthless gold! How? Have I freely sacrificed to thee What is esteemed far more than gold and pearls, And shall I now hold back the gifts of fortune? Oh, come! Let my example challenge thee To noble self-denial! Let’s at once Cast off the needless ornaments of life! Thy courtiers metamorphose into soldiers; Thy gold transmute to iron; all thou hast, With resolute daring, venture for thy crown! Peril and want we will participate! Let us bestride the war-horse, and expose Our tender person to the fiery glow Of the hot sun, take for our canopy The clouds above, and make the stones our pillow. The rudest warrior, when he sees his king Bear hardship and privation like the meanest Will patiently endure his own hard lot!
CHARLES (laughing). Ay! now is realized an ancient word Of prophesy, once uttered by a nun Of Clairmont, in prophetic mood, who said, That through a woman’s aid I o’er my foes Should triumph, and achieve my father’s crown. Far off I sought her in the English camp; I strove to reconcile a mother’s heart; Here stands the heroine–my guide to Rheims! My Agnes! I shall triumph through thy love!
SOREL. Thou’lt triumph through the valiant swords of friends.
CHARLES. And from my foes’ dissensions much I hope For sure intelligence hath reached mine ear, That ‘twixt these English lords and Burgundy Things do not stand precisely as they did; Hence to the duke I have despatched La Hire, To try if he can lead my angry vassal Back to his ancient loyalty and faith: Each moment now I look for his return.
DUCHATEL (at the window). A knight e’en now dismounteth in the court.
CHARLES. A welcome messenger! We soon shall learn Whether we’re doomed to conquer or to yield.
The same. LA HIRE.
CHARLES (meeting him). Hope bringest thou, or not? Be brief, La Hire, Out with thy tidings! What must we expect?
LA HIRE. Expect naught, sire, save from thine own good sword.
CHARLES. The haughty duke will not be reconciled! Speak! How did he receive my embassy?
LA HIRE. His first and unconditional demand, Ere he consent to listen to thine errand, Is that Duchatel be delivered up, Whom he doth name the murderer of his sire.
CHARLES. This base condition we reject with scorn!
LA HIRE. Then be the league dissolved ere it commence!
CHARLES. Hast thou thereon, as I commanded thee, Challenged the duke to meet him in fair fight On Montereau’s bridge, whereon his father fell?
LA HIRE. Before him on the ground I flung thy glove, And said: “Thou wouldst forget thy majesty, And like a knight do battle for thy realm.” He scornfully rejoined “He needed not To fight for that which he possessed already, But if thou wert so eager for the fray, Before the walls of Orleans thou wouldst find him, Whither he purposed going on the morrow;” Thereon he laughing turned his back upon me.
CHARLES. Say, did not justice raise her sacred voice, Within the precincts of my parliament?
LA HIRE. The rage of party, sire, hath silenced her. An edict of the parliament declares Thee and thy race excluded from the throne.
DUNOIS. These upstart burghers’ haughty insolence!
CHARLES. Hast thou attempted with my mother aught?
LA HIRE. With her?
CHARLES. Ay! How did she demean herself?
LA HIRE (after a few moments’ reflection). I chanced to step within St. Denis’ walls Precisely at the royal coronation. The crowds were dressed as for a festival; Triumphal arches rose in every street Through which the English monarch was to pass. The way was strewed with flowers, and with huzzas, As France some brilliant conquest had achieved, The people thronged around the royal car.
SOREL. They could huzza–huzza, while trampling thus Upon a gracious sovereign’s loving heart!
LA HIRE. I saw young Harry Lancaster–the boy– On good St. Lewis’ regal chair enthroned; On either side his haughty uncles stood, Bedford and Gloucester, and before him kneeled, To render homage for his lands, Duke Philip.
CHARLES. Oh, peer dishonored! Oh, unworthy cousin!
LA HIRE. The child was timid, and his footing lost As up the steps he mounted towards the throne. An evil omen! murmured forth the crowd, And scornful laughter burst on every side. Then forward stepped Queen Isabel–thy mother, And–but it angers me to utter it!
CHARLES. Say on.
LA HIRE. Within her arms she clasped the boy, And herself placed him on thy father’s throne.
CHARLES. Oh, mother! mother!
LA HIRE. E’en the murderous bands Of the Burgundians, at this spectacle, Evinced some tokens of indignant shame. The queen perceived it, and addressed the crowds, Exclaiming with loud voice: “Be grateful, Frenchmen, That I engraft upon a sickly stock A healthy scion, and redeem you from The misbegotten son of a mad sire!”
[The KING hides his face; AGNES hastens towards him and clasps him in her arms; all the bystanders express aversion and horror.
DUNOIS. She-wolf of France! Rage-breathing Megara!
CHARLES (after a pause, to the SENATORS). Yourselves have heard the posture of affairs. Delay no longer, back return to Orleans, And bear this message to my faithful town; I do absolve my subjects from their oath, Their own best interests let them now consult, And yield them to the Duke of Burgundy; ‘Yclept the Good, he need must prove humane.
DUNOIS. What say’st thou, sire? Thou wilt abandon Orleans!
SENATOR (kneels down). My king! Abandon not thy faithful town! Consign her not to England’s harsh control. She is a precious jewel in the crown, And none hath more inviolate faith maintained Towards the kings, thy royal ancestors.
DUNOIS. Have we been routed? Is it lawful, sire, To leave the English masters of the field, Without a single stroke to save the town? And thinkest thou, with careless breath, forsooth, Ere blood hath flowed, rashly to give away The fairest city from the heart of France?
CHARLES. Blood hath been poured forth freely, and in vain The hand of heaven is visibly against me; In every battle is my host o’erthrown, I am rejected of my parliament, My capital, my people, hail me foe, Those of my blood,–my nearest relatives,– Forsake me and betray–and my own mother Doth nurture at her breast the hostile brood. Beyond the Loire we will retire, and yield To the o’ermastering hand of destiny Which sideth with the English.
SOREL. God forbid That we in weak despair should quit this realm! This utterance came not from thy heart, my king, Thy noble heart, which hath been sorely riven By the fell deed of thy unnatural mother, Thou’lt be thyself again, right valiantly Thou’lt battle with thine adverse destiny, Which doth oppose thee with relentless ire.
CHARLES (lost in gloomy thought). Is it not true? A dark and ominous doom Impendeth o’er the heaven-abandoned house Of Valois–there preside the avenging powers, To whom a mother’s crime unbarred the way. For thirty years my sire in madness raved; Already have three elder brothers been Mowed down by death; ’tis the decree of heaven, The house of the Sixth Charles is doomed to fall.
SOREL. In thee ’twill rise with renovated life! Oh, in thyself have faith!–believe me, king, Not vainly hath a gracious destiny Redeemed thee from the ruin of thy house, And by thy brethren’s death exalted thee, The youngest born, to an unlooked-for throne Heaven in thy gentle spirit hath prepared The leech to remedy the thousand ills By party rage inflicted on the land. The flames of civil discord thou wilt quench, And my heart tells me thou’lt establish peace, And found anew the monarchy of France.
CHARLES. Not I! The rude and storm-vexed times require A pilot formed by nature to command. A peaceful nation I could render happy A wild, rebellious people not subdue. I never with the sword could open hearts Against me closed in hatred’s cold reserve.
SOREL. The people’s eye is dimmed, an error blinds them, But this delusion will not long endure; The day is not far distant when the love Deep rooted in the bosom of the French, Towards their native monarch, will revive, Together with the ancient jealousy, Which forms a barrier ‘twixt the hostile nations. The haughty foe precipitates his doom. Hence, with rash haste abandon not the field, With dauntless front contest each foot of ground, As thine own heart defend the town of Orleans! Let every boat be sunk beneath the wave, Each bridge be burned, sooner than carry thee Across the Loire, the boundary of thy realm, The Stygian flood, o’er which there’s no return.
CHARLES. What could be done I have done. I have offered, In single fight, to combat for the crown. I was refused. In vain my people bleed, In vain my towns are levelled with the dust. Shall I, like that unnatural mother, see My child in pieces severed with the sword? No; I forego my claim, that it may live.
DUNOIS. How, sire! Is this fit language for a king? Is a crown thus renounced? Thy meanest subject, For his opinion’s sake, his hate and love, Sets property and life upon a cast; When civil war hangs out her bloody flag, Each private end is drowned in party zeal. The husbandman forsakes his plough, the wife Neglects her distaff; children, and old men, Don the rude garb of war; the citizen Consigns his town to the devouring flames, The peasant burns the produce of his fields; And all to injure or advantage thee, And to achieve the purpose of his heart. Men show no mercy, and they wish for none, When they at honor’s call maintain the fight, Or for their idols or their gods contend. A truce to such effeminate pity, then, Which is not suited to a monarch’s breast. Thou didst not heedlessly provoke the war; As it commenced, so let it spend its fury. It is the law of destiny that nations Should for their monarchs immolate themselves. We Frenchmen recognize this sacred law, Nor would annul it. Base, indeed, the nation That for its honor ventures not its all.
CHARLES (to the SENATORS). You’ve heard my last resolve; expect no other. May God protect you! I can do no more.
DUNOIS. As thou dost turn thy back upon thy realm, So may the God of battle aye avert His visage from thee. Thou forsak’st thyself, So I forsake thee. Not the power combined Of England and rebellious Burgundy, Thy own mean spirit hurls thee from the throne. Born heroes ever were the kings of France; Thou wert a craven, even from thy birth. [To the SENATORS. The king abandons you. But I will throw Myself into your town–my father’s town– And ‘neath its ruins find a soldier’s grave.
[He is about to depart. AGNES SOREL detains him.
SOREL (to the KING). Oh, let him not depart in anger from thee! Harsh words his lips have uttered, but his heart Is true as gold. ‘Tis he, himself, my king, Who loves thee, and hath often bled for thee. Dunois, confess, the heat of noble wrath Made thee forget thyself; and oh, do thou Forgive a faithful friend’s o’erhasty speech! Come, let me quickly reconcile your hearts, Ere anger bursteth forth in quenchless flame.
[DUNOIS looks fixedly at the KING, and appears to await an answer.
CHARLES. Our way lies over the Loire. Duchatel, See all our equipage embarked.
DUNOIS (quickly to SOREL). Farewell.
[He turns quickly round, and goes out. The SENATORS follow.
SOREL (wringing her hands in despair). Oh, if he goes, we are forsaken quite! Follow, La Hire! Oh, seek to soften him!
[LA HIRE goes out.
CHARLES, SOREL, DUCHATEL.
CHARLES. Is, then, the sceptre such a peerless treasure? Is it so hard to loose it from our grasp? Believe me, ’tis more galling to endure The domineering rule of these proud vassals. To be dependent on their will and pleasure Is, to a noble heart, more bitter far Than to submit to fate. [To DUCHATEL, who still lingers. Duchatel, go, And do what I commanded.
DUCHATEL (throws himself at the KING’S feet). Oh, my king!
CHARLES. No more! Thou’st heard my absolute resolve!
DUCHATEL. Sire, with the Duke of Burgundy make peace! ‘Tis the sole outlet from destruction left!
CHARLES. Thou giv’st this counsel, and thy blood alone Can ratify this peace.
DUCHATEL. Here is my head. I oft have risked it for thee in the fight, And with a joyful spirit I, for thee, Would lay it down upon the block of death. Conciliate the duke! Deliver me To the full measure of his wrath, and let My flowing blood appease the ancient hate.
CHARLES (looks at him for some time in silence, and with deep emotion). Can it be true? Am I, then, sunk so low, That even friends, who read my inmost heart, Point out for my escape the path of shame? Yes, now I recognize my abject fall. My honor is no more confided in.
CHARLES. Be silent, and incense me not! Had I ten realms, on which to turn my back, With my friend’s life I would not purchase them. Do what I have commanded. Hence, and see My equipage embarked.
DUCHATEL. ‘Twill speedily Be done.
[He stands up and retires. AGNES SOREL weeps passionately.
The royal palace at Chinon. CHARLES, AGNES SOREL.
CHARLES (seizing the hand of AGNES). My Agnes, be not sorrowful! Beyond the Loire we still shall find a France; We are departing to a happier land, Where laughs a milder, an unclouded sky, And gales more genial blow; we there shall meet More gentle manners; song abideth there, And love and life in richer beauty bloom.
SOREL. Oh, must I contemplate this day of woe! The king must roam in banishment! the son Depart, an exile from his father’s house, And turn his back upon his childhood’s home! Oh, pleasant, happy land that we forsake, Ne’er shall we tread thee joyously again.
LA HIRE returns, CHARLES, SOREL.
SOREL. You come alone? You do not bring him back? [Observing him more closely. La Hire! What news? What does that look announce? Some new calamity?
LA HIRE. Calamity Hath spent itself; sunshine is now returned.
SOREL. What is it? I implore you.
LA HIRE (to the KING). Summon back The delegates from Orleans.
CHARLES. Why? What is it?
LA HIRE. Summon them back! Thy fortune is reversed. A battle has been fought, and thou hast conquered.
SOREL. Conquered! Oh, heavenly music of that word!
CHARLES. La Hire! A fabulous report deceives thee; Conquered! In conquest I believe no more.
LA HIRE. Still greater wonders thou wilt soon believe. Here cometh the archbishop. To thine arms He leadeth back Dunois.
SOREL. O beauteous flower Of victory, which doth the heavenly fruits Of peace and reconcilement bear at once!
The same, ARCHBISHOP of RHEIMS, DUNOIS, DUCHATEL, with RAOUL, a Knight in armor.
ARCHBISHOP (leading DUNOIS to the KING, and joining their hands). Princes, embrace! Let rage and discord cease, Since Heaven itself hath for our cause declared.
[DUNOIS embraces the KING.
CHARLES. Relieve my wonder and perplexity. What may this solemn earnestness portend? Whence this unlooked-for change of fortune?
ARCHBISHOP (leads the KNIGHT forward, and presents him to the KING). Speak!
RAOUL. We had assembled sixteen regiments Of Lotharingian troops to join your host; And Baudricourt, a knight of Vaucouleurs, Was our commander. Having gained the heights By Vermanton, we wound our downward way Into the valley watered by the Yonne. There, in the plain before us, lay the foe, And when we turned, arms glittered in our rear. We saw ourselves surrounded by two hosts, And could not hope for conquest or for flight. Then sank the bravest heart, and in despair We all prepared to lay our weapons down. The leaders with each other anxiously Sought counsel and found none; when to our eyes A spectacle of wonder showed itself. For suddenly from forth the thickets’ depths A maiden, on her head a polished helm, Like a war-goddess, issued; terrible Yet lovely was her aspect, and her hair In dusky ringlets round her shoulders fell. A heavenly radiance shone around the height; When she upraised her voice and thus addressed us: “Why be dismayed, brave Frenchmen? On the foe! Were they more numerous than the ocean sands, God and the holy maiden lead you on!” Then quickly from the standard-bearer’s hand She snatched the banner, and before our troop With valiant bearing strode the wondrous maid. Silent with awe, scarce knowing what we did, The banner and the maiden we pursue, And fired with ardor, rush upon the foe, Who, much amazed, stand motionless and view The miracle with fixed and wondering gaze. Then, as if seized by terror sent from God, They suddenly betake themselves to flight, And casting arms and armor to the ground, Disperse in wild disorder o’er the field. No leader’s call, no signal now avails; Senseless from terror, without looking back, Horses and men plunge headlong in the stream, Where they without resistance are despatched. It was a slaughter rather than a fight! Two thousand of the foe bestrewed the field, Not reckoning numbers swallowed by the flood, While of our company not one was slain.
CHARLES. ‘Tis strange, by heaven! most wonderful and strange!
SOREL. A maiden worked this miracle, you say? Whence did she come? Who is she?
RAOUL. Who she is She will reveal to no one but the king! She calls herself a seer and prophetess Ordained by God, and promises to raise The siege of Orleans ere the moon shall change. The people credit her, and thirst for war. The host she follows–she’ll be here anon.
[The ringing of bells is heard, together with the clang of arms.
Hark to the din! The pealing of the bells! ‘Tis she! The people greet God’s messenger.
CHARLES (to DUCHATEL). Conduct her thither. [To the ARCHBISHOP. What should I believe? A maiden brings me conquest even now, When naught can save me but a hand divine! This is not in the common course of things. And dare I here believe a miracle?
MANY VOICES (behind the scene). Hail to the maiden!–the deliverer!
CHARLES. She comes! Dunois, now occupy my place! We will make trial of this wondrous maid. Is she indeed inspired and sent by God She will be able to discern the king.
[DUNOIS seats himself; the KING stands at his right hand, AGNES SOREL near him; the ARCHBISHOP and the others opposite; so that the intermediate space remains vacant.
The same. JOHANNA, accompanied by the councillors and many knights, who occupy the background of the scene; she advances with noble bearing, and slowly surveys the company.
DUNOIS (after a long and solemn pause). Art thou the wondrous maiden—-
JOHANNA (interrupts him, regarding him with dignity). Bastard of Orleans, thou wilt tempt thy God! This place abandon, which becomes thee not! To this more mighty one the maid is sent.
[With a firm step she approaches the KING, bows one knee before him, and, rising immediately, steps back. All present express their astonishment, DUNOIS forsakes his seat, which is occupied by the KING.
CHARLES. Maiden, thou ne’er hast seen my face before. Whence hast thou then this knowledge?
JOHANNA. Thee I saw When none beside, save God in heaven, beheld thee.
[She approaches the KING, and speaks mysteriously.
Bethink thee, Dauphin, in the bygone night, When all around lay buried in deep sleep, Thou from thy couch didst rise and offer up An earnest prayer to God. Let these retire And I will name the subject of thy prayer.
CHARLES. What! to Heaven confided need not be From men concealed. Disclose to me my prayer, And I shall doubt no more that God inspires thee.
JOHANNA. Three prayers thou offeredst, Dauphin; listen now Whether I name them to thee! Thou didst pray That if there were appended to this crown Unjust possession, or if heavy guilt, Not yet atoned for, from thy father’s times, Occasioned this most lamentable war, God would accept thee as a sacrifice, Have mercy on thy people, and pour forth Upon thy head the chalice of his wrath.
CHARLES (steps back with awe). Who art thou, mighty one? Whence comest thou?
[All express their astonishment.
JOHANNA. To God thou offeredst this second prayer: That if it were his will and high decree To take away the sceptre from thy race, And from thee to withdraw whate’er thy sires, The monarchs of this kingdom, once possessed, He in his mercy would preserve to thee Three priceless treasures–a contented heart, Thy friend’s affection, and thine Agnes’ love.
[The KING conceals his face: the spectators express their astonishment. After a pause.
Thy third petition shall I name to thee?
CHARLES. Enough; I credit thee! This doth surpass Mere human knowledge: thou art sent by God!
ARCHBISHOP. Who art thou, wonderful and holy maid? What favored region bore thee? What blest pair, Beloved of Heaven, may claim thee as their child?
JOHANNA. Most reverend father, I am named Johanna, I am a shepherd’s lowly daughter, born In Dom Remi, a village of my king. Included in the diocese of Toul, And from a child I kept my father’s sheep. And much and frequently I heard them tell Of the strange islanders, who o’er the sea Had come to make us slaves, and on us force A foreign lord, who loveth not the people; How the great city, Paris, they had seized, And had usurped dominion o’er the realm. Then earnestly God’s Mother I implored To save us from the shame of foreign chains, And to preserve to us our lawful king. Not distant from my native village stands An ancient image of the Virgin blest, To which the pious pilgrims oft repaired; Hard by a holy oak, of blessed power, Standeth, far-famed through wonders manifold. Beneath the oak’s broad shade I loved to sit Tending my flock–my heart still drew me there. And if by chance among the desert hills A lambkin strayed, ’twas shown me in a dream, When in the shadow of this oak I slept. And once, when through the night beneath this tree In pious adoration I had sat, Resisting sleep, the Holy One appeared, Bearing a sword and banner, otherwise Clad like a shepherdess, and thus she spake: “‘Tis I; arise, Johanna! leave thy flock, The Lord appoints thee to another task! Receive this banner! Gird thee with this sword! Therewith exterminate my people’s foes; Conduct to Rheims thy royal master’s son, And crown him with the kingly diadem!” And I made answer: “How may I presume To undertake such deeds, a tender maid, Unpractised in the dreadful art of war!” And she replied: “A maiden pure and chaste Achieves whate’er on earth is glorious If she to earthly love ne’er yields her heart. Look upon me! a virgin, like thyself; I to the Christ, the Lord divine, gave birth, And am myself divine!” Mine eyelids then She touched, and when I upward turned my amaze, Heaven’s wide expanse was filled with angel-boys, Who bore white lilies in their hands, while tones Of sweetest music floated through the air. And thus on three successive nights appeared The Holy One, and cried,–“Arise, Johanna! The Lord appoints thee to another task!” And when the third night she revealed herself, Wrathful she seemed, and chiding spake these words: “Obedience, woman’s duty here on earth; Severe endurance is her heavy doom; She must be purified through discipline; Who serveth here, is glorified above!” While thus she spake, she let her shepherd garb Fail from her, and as Queen of Heaven stood forth Enshrined in radiant light, while golden clouds Upbore her slowly to the realms of bliss.
[All are moved; AGNES SOREL weeping, hides her face on the bosom of the KING.
ARCHBISHOP (after a long pause). Before divine credentials such as these Each doubt of earthly prudence must subside, Her deeds attest the truth of what she speaks, For God alone such wonders can achieve.
DUNOIS. I credit not her wonders, but her eyes Which beam with innocence and purity.
CHARLES. Am I, a sinner, worthy of such favor? Infallible, All-searching eye, thou seest Mine inmost heart, my deep humility!
JOHANNA. Humility shines brightly in the skies; Thou art abased, hence God exalteth thee.
CHARLES. Shall I indeed withstand mine enemies?
JOHANNA. France I will lay submissive at thy feet!
CHARLES. And Orleans, say’st thou, will not be surrendered?
JOHANNA. The Loire shall sooner roll its waters back.
CHARLES. Shall I in triumph enter into Rheims?
JOHANNA. I through ten thousand foes will lead you there.
[The knights make a noise with their lances and shields, and evince signs of courage.
DUNOIS. Appoint the maiden to command the host! We follow blindly whereso’er she leads! The Holy One’s prophetic eye shall guide, And this brave sword from danger shall protect her!
LA HIRE. A universe in arms we will not fear, If she, the mighty one, precede our troops. The God of battle walketh by her side; Let her conduct us on to victory!
[The knights clang their arms and step forward.
CHARLES. Yes, holy maiden, do thou lead mine host; My chiefs and warriors shall submit to thee. This sword of matchless temper, proved in war, Sent back in anger by the Constable, Hath found a hand more worthy. Prophetess, Do thou receive it, and henceforward be—-
JOHANNA. No, noble Dauphin! conquest to my liege Is not accorded through this instrument Of earthly might. I know another sword Wherewith I am to conquer, which to thee, I, as the Spirit taught, will indicate; Let it be hither brought.
CHARLES. Name it, Johanna.
JOHANNA. Send to the ancient town of Fierbois; There in Saint Catherine’s churchyard is a vault Where lie in heaps the spoils of bygone war. Among them is the sword which I must use. It by three golden lilies may be known, Upon the blade impressed. Let it be brought For thou, my liege, shalt conquer through this sword.
CHARLES. Perform what she commands.
JOHANNA. And a white banner, Edged with a purple border, let me bear. Upon this banner let the Queen of Heaven Be pictured with the beauteous Jesus child Floating in glory o’er this earthly ball. For so the Holy Mother showed it me.
CHARLES. So be it as thou sayest.
JOHANNA (to the ARCHBISHOP). Reverend bishop; Lay on my head thy consecrated hands! Pronounce a blessing, Father, on thy child!
[She kneels down.
ARCHBISHOP. Not blessings to receive, but to dispense Art thou appointed. Go, with power divine! But we are sinners all and most unworthy.
[She rises: a PAGE enters.
PAGE. A herald from the English generals.
JOHANNA. Let him appear, for he is sent by God!
[The KING motions to the PAGE, who retires.
The HERALD. The same.
CHARLES. Thy tidings, herald? What thy message! Speak!
HERALD. Who is it, who for Charles of Valois, The Count of Pointhieu, in this presence speaks?
DUNOIS. Unworthy herald! base, insulting knave! Dost thou presume the monarch of the French Thus in his own dominions to deny? Thou art protected by thine office, else—-
HERALD. One king alone is recognized by France, And he resideth in the English camp.
CHARLES. Peace, peace, good cousin! Speak thy message, herald!
HERALD. My noble general laments the blood Which hath already flowed, and still must flow. Hence, in the scabbard holding back the sword, Before by storm the town of Orleans falls, He offers thee an amicable treaty.
JOHANNA (stepping forward). Permit me, Dauphin, in thy stead, To parley with this herald.
CHARLES. Do so, maid! Determine thou, for peace, or bloody war.
JOHANNA (to the HERALD). Who sendeth thee? Who speaketh through thy mouth?
HERALD. The Earl of Salisbury; the British chief.
JOHANNA. Herald, ’tis false! The earl speaks not through thee. Only the living speak, the dead are silent.
HERALD. The earl is well, and full of lusty strength; He lives to bring down ruin on your heads.
JOHANNA. When thou didst quit the British army he lived. This morn, while gazing from Le Tournelle’s tower, A ball from Orleans struck him to the ground. Smilest thou that I discern what is remote? Not to my words give credence; but believe The witness of thine eyes! his funeral train Thou shalt encounter as you goest hence! Now, herald, speak, and do thine errand here.
HERALD. If what is hidden thou canst thus reveal, Thou knowest mine errand ere I tell it thee.
JOHANNA. It boots me not to know it. But do thou Give ear unto my words! This message bear In answer to the lords who sent thee here. Monarch of England, and ye haughty dukes, Bedford and Gloucester, regents of this realm! To heaven’s high King you are accountable For all the blood that hath been shed. Restore The keys of all the cities ta’en by force In opposition to God’s holy law! The maiden cometh from the King of Heaven And offers you or peace or bloody war. Choose ye! for this I say, that you may know it: To you this beauteous realm is not assigned By Mary’s son;–but God hath given it To Charles, my lord and Dauphin, who ere long Will enter Paris with a monarch’s pomp, Attended by the great ones of his realm. Now, herald, go, and speedily depart, For ere thou canst attain the British camp And do thine errand, is the maiden there, To plant the sign of victory at Orleans.
[She retires. In the midst of a general movement, the curtain falls.
Landscape, bounded by rocks.
TALBOT and LIONEL, English generals, PHILIP, DUKE OF BURGUNDY, FASTOLFE, and CHATILLON, with soldiers and banners.
TALBOT. Here let us make a halt beneath these rocks, And pitch our camp, in case our scattered troops, Dispersed in panic fear, again should rally. Choose trusty sentinels, and guard the heights! ‘Tis true the darkness shields us from pursuit, And sure I am, unless the foe have wings, We need not fear surprisal. Still ’tis well To practice caution, for we have to do With a bold foe, and have sustained defeat.
[FASTOLFE goes out with the soldiers.
LIONEL. Defeat! My general, do not speak that word. It stings me to the quick to think the French To-day have seen the backs of Englishmen. Oh, Orleans! Orleans! Grave of England’s glory! Our honor lies upon thy fatal plains Defeat most ignominious and burlesque! Who will in future years believe the tale! The victors of Poictiers and Agincourt, Cressy’s bold heroes, routed by a woman?
BURGUNDY. That must console us. Not by mortal power, But by the devil have we been o’erthrown!
TALBOT. The devil of our own stupidity! How, Burgundy? Do princes quake and fear Before the phantom which appals the vulgar? Credulity is but a sorry cloak For cowardice. Your people first took flight.
BURGUNDY. None stood their ground. The flight was general.
TALBOT. ‘Tis false! Your wing fled first. You wildly broke Into our camp, exclaiming: “Hell is loose, The devil combats on the side of France!” And thus you brought confusion ‘mong our troops.
LIONEL. You can’t deny it. Your wing yielded first.
BURGUNDY. Because the brunt of battle there commenced.
TALBOT. The maiden knew the weakness of our camp; She rightly judged where fear was to be found.
BURGUNDY. How? Shall the blame of our disaster rest With Burgundy?
LIONEL. By heaven! were we alone, We English, never had we Orleans lost!
BURGUNDY. No, truly! for ye ne’er had Orleans seen! Who opened you a way into this realm, And reached you forth a kind and friendly hand When you descended on this hostile coast? Who was it crowned your Henry at Paris, And unto him subdued the people’s hearts? Had this Burgundian arm not guided you Into this realm, by heaven you ne’er had seen The smoke ascending from a single hearth!
LIONEL. Were conquests with big words effected, duke, You, doubtless, would have conquered France alone.
BURGUNDY. The loss of Orleans angers you, and now You vent your gall on me, your friend and ally. What lost us Orleans but your avarice? The city was prepared to yield to me, Your envy was the sole impediment.
TALBOT. We did not undertake the siege for you.
BURGUNDY. How would it stand with you if I withdrew With all my host?
LIONEL. We should not be worse off Than when, at Agincourt, we proved a match For you and all the banded power of France.
BURGUNDY. Yet much you stood in need of our alliance; The regent purchased it at heavy cost.
TALBOT. Most dearly, with the forfeit of our honor, At Orleans have we paid for it to-day.
BURGUNDY. Urge me no further, lords. Ye may repent it! Did I forsake the banners of my king, Draw down upon my head the traitor’s name, To be insulted thus by foreigners? Why am I here to combat against France? If I must needs endure ingratitude, Let it come rather from my native king!
TALBOT. You’re in communication with the Dauphin, We know it well, but we soon shall find means To guard ourselves ‘gainst treason.
BURGUNDY. Death and hell! Am I encountered thus? Chatillon, hark! Let all my troops prepare to quit the camp. We will retire into our own domain.
[CHATILLON goes out.
LIONEL. God speed you there! Never did Britain’s fame More brightly shine than when she stood alone, Confiding solely in her own good sword. Let each one fight his battle for himself, For ’tis eternal truth that English blood Cannot, with honor, blend with blood of France.
The same. QUEEN ISABEL, attended by a PAGE.
ISABEL. What must I hear? This fatal strife forbear! What brain-bewildering planet o’er your minds Sheds dire perplexity? When unity Alone can save you, will you part in hate, And, warring ‘mong yourselves, prepare your doom?– I do entreat you, noble duke, recall Your hasty order. You, renowned Talbot, Seek to appease an irritated friend! Come, Lionel, aid me to reconcile These haughty spirits and establish peace.
LIONEL. Not I, madame. It is all one to me. ‘Tis my belief, when things are misallied, The sooner they part company the better.
ISABEL. How? Do the arts of hell, which on the field Wrought such disastrous ruin, even here Bewilder and befool us? Who began This fatal quarrel? Speak! Lord-general! Your own advantage did you so forget, As to offend your worthy friend and ally? What could you do without his powerful arm? ‘Twas he who placed your monarch on the throne, He holds him there, and he can hurl him thence; His army strengthens you–still more his name. Were England all her citizens to pour Upon our coasts, she never o’er this realm Would gain dominion did she stand alone; No! France can only be subdued by France!
TALBOT. A faithful friend we honor as we ought; Discretion warns us to beware the false.
BURGUNDY. The liar’s brazen front beseemeth him Who would absolve himself from gratitude.
ISABEL. How, noble duke? Could you so far renounce Your princely honor, and your sense of shame, As clasp the hand of him who slew your sire? Are you so mad to entertain the thought Of cordial reconcilement with the Dauphin, Whom you yourself have hurled to ruin’s brink? His overthrow you have well nigh achieved, And madly now would you renounce your work? Here stand your allies. Your salvation lies In an indissoluble bond with England?
BURGUNDY. Far is my thought from treaty with the Dauphin; But the contempt and insolent demeanor Of haughty England I will not endure.
ISABEL. Come, noble duke? Excuse a hasty word. Heavy the grief which bows the general down, And well you know misfortune makes unjust. Come! come! embrace; let me this fatal breach Repair at once, ere it becomes eternal.
TALBOT. What think you, Burgundy? A noble heart, By reason vanquished, doth confess its fault. A wise and prudent word the queen hath spoken; Come, let my hand with friendly pressure heal The wound inflicted by my angry tongue.
BURGUNDY. Discreet the counsel offered by the queen! My just wrath yieldeth to necessity.
ISABEL. ‘Tis well! Now, with a brotherly embrace Confirm and seal the new-established bond; And may the winds disperse what hath been spoken.
[BURGUNDY and TALBOT embrace.
LIONEL (contemplating the group aside). Hail to an union by the furies planned!
ISABEL. Fate hath proved adverse, we have lost a battle, But do not, therefore, let your courage sink. The Dauphin, in despair of heavenly aid, Doth make alliance with the powers of hell; Vainly his soul he forfeits to the devil, For hell itself cannot deliver him. A conquering maiden leads the hostile force; Yours, I myself will lead; to you I’ll stand In place of maiden or of prophetess.
LIONEL. Madame, return to Paris! We desire To war with trusty weapons, not with women.
TALBOT. GO! go! Since your arrival in the camp, Fortune hath fled our banners, and our course Hath still been retrograde. Depart at once!
BURGUNDY. Your presence here doth scandalize the host.
ISABEL (looks from one to the other with astonishment). This, Burgundy, from you? Do you take part Against me with these thankless English lords?
BURGUNDY. Go! go! The thought of combating for you Unnerves the courage of the bravest men.
ISABEL. I scarce among you have established peace, And you already form a league against me!
TALBOT. Go, in God’s name. When you have left the camp No devil will again appal our troops.
ISABEL. Say, am I not your true confederate? Are we not banded in a common cause?
TALBOT. Thank God! your cause of quarrel is not ours. We combat in an honorable strife.
BURGUNDY. A father’s bloody murder I avenge. Stern filial duty consecrates my arms.
TALBOT. Confess at once. Your conduct towards the Dauphin Is an offence alike to God and man.
ISABEL. Curses blast him and his posterity! The shameless son who sins against his mother!
BURGUNDY. Ay! to avenge a husband and a father!
ISABEL. To judge his mother’s conduct he presumed!
LIONEL. That was, indeed, irreverent in a son!
ISABEL. And me, forsooth, he banished from the realm.
TALBOT. Urged to the measure by the public voice.
ISABEL. A curse light on him if I e’er forgive him! Rather than see him on his father’s throne—-
TALBOT. His mother’s honor you would sacrifice!
ISABEL. Your feeble natures cannot comprehend The vengeance of an outraged mother’s heart. Who pleasures me, I love; who wrongs, I hate. If he who wrongs me chance to be my son, All the more worthy is he of my hate. The life I gave I will again take back From him who doth, with ruthless violence, The bosom rend which bore and nourished him. Ye, who do thus make war upon the Dauphin, What rightful cause have ye to plunder him? What crime hath he committed against you? What insult are you called on to avenge? Ambition, paltry envy, goad you on; I have a right to hate him–he’s my son.
TALBOT. He feels his mother in her dire revenge!
ISABEL. Mean hypocrites! I hate you and despise. Together with the world, you cheat yourselves! With robber-hands you English seek to clutch This realm of France, where you have no just right, Nor equitable claim, to so much earth As could be covered by your charger’s hoof. –This duke, too, whom the people style the Good, Doth to a foreign lord, his country’s foe, For gold betray the birthland of his sires. And yet is justice ever on your tongue. –Hypocrisy I scorn. Such as I am, So let the world behold me!
BURGUNDY. It is true! Your reputation you have well maintained.
ISABEL. I’ve passions and warm blood, and as a queen Came to this realm to live, and not to seem. Should I have lingered out a joyless life Because the curse of adverse destiny To a mad consort joined my blooming youth? More than my life I prize my liberty. And who assails me here—-But why should I Stoop to dispute with you about my rights? Your sluggish blood flows slowly in your veins! Strangers to pleasure, ye know only rage! This duke, too–who, throughout his whole career, Hath wavered to and fro, ‘twixt good and ill– Can neither love or hate with his whole heart. –I go to Melun. Let this gentleman, [Pointing to LIONEL. Who doth my fancy please, attend me there, To cheer my solitude, and you may work Your own good pleasure! I’ll inquire no more Concerning the Burgundians or the English.
[She beckons to her PAGE, and is about to retire.
LIONEL. Rely upon us, we will send to Melun The fairest youths whom we in battle take.
ISABEL. Skilful your arm to wield the sword of death, The French alone can round the polished phrase.
[She goes out.
TALBOT, BURGUNDY, LIONEL.
TALBOT. Heavens! What a woman!
LIONEL. Now, brave generals, Your counsel! Shall we prosecute our flight, Or turn, and with a bold and sudden stroke Wipe out the foul dishonor of to-day?
BURGUNDY. We are too weak, our soldiers are dispersed, The recent terror still unnerves the host.
TALBOT. Blind terror, sudden impulse of a moment, Alone occasioned our disastrous rout. This phantom of the terror-stricken brain, More closely viewed will vanish into air. My counsel, therefore, is, at break of day, To lead the army back, across the stream, To meet the enemy.
BURGUNDY. Consider well—-
LIONEL. Your pardon! Here is nothing to consider What we have lost we must at once retrieve, Or look to be eternally disgraced.
TALBOT. It is resolved. To-morrow morn we fight, This dread-inspiring phantom to destroy, Which thus doth blind and terrify the host Let us in fight encounter this she-devil. If she oppose her person to our sword, Trust me, she never will molest us more; If she avoid our stroke–and be assured She will not stand the hazard of a battle– Then is the dire enchantment at an end?
LIONEL. So be it! And to me, my general, leave This easy, bloodless combat, for I hope Alive to take this ghost, and in my arms, Before the Bastard’s eyes–her paramour– To bear her over to the English camp, To be the sport and mockery of the host.
BURGUNDY. Make not too sure.
TALBOT. If she encounter me, I shall not give her such a soft embrace. Come now, exhausted nature to restore Through gentle sleep. At daybreak we set forth.
[They go out.
JOHANNA with her banner, in a helmet and breastplate, otherwise attired as a woman. DUNOIS, LA HIRE, knights and soldiers appear above upon the rocky path, pass silently over, and appear immediately after on the scene.
JOHANNA (to the knights who surround her while the procession continues above). The wall is scaled and we are in the camp! Now fling aside the mantle of still night, Which hitherto hath veiled your silent march, And your dread presence to the foe proclaim. By your loud battle-cry–God and the maiden!
ALL (exclaim aloud, amidst the loud clang of arms). God and the maiden! [Drums and trumpets.
SENTINELS (behind the scene). The foe! The foe! The foe!
JOHANNA. Ho! torches here. Hurl fire into the tents! Let the devouring flames augment the horror, While threatening death doth compass them around!
[Soldiers hasten on, she is about to follow.
DUNOIS (holding her back). Thy part thou hast accomplished now, Johanna! Into the camp thou hast conducted us, The foe thou hast delivered in our hands, Now from the rush of war remain apart! The bloody consummation leave to us.
LA HIRE. Point out the path of conquest to the host; Before us, in pure hand, the banner bear. But wield the fatal weapon not thyself; Tempt not the treacherous god of battle, for He rageth blindly, and he spareth not.
JOHANNA. Who dares impede my progress? Who presume The spirit to control which guideth me? Still must the arrow wing its destined flight! Where danger is, there must Johanna be; Nor now, nor here, am I foredoomed to fall; Our monarch’s royal brow I first must see Invested with the round of sovereignty. No hostile power can rob me of my life, Till I’ve accomplished the commands of God.
[She goes out.
LA HIRE. Come, let us follow after her, Dunois, And let our valiant bosoms be her shield!
ENGLISH SOLDIERS hurry over the stage. Afterwards TALBOT.
1 SOLDIER. The maiden in the camp!
2 SOLDIER. Impossible! It cannot be! How came she in the camp?
3 SOLDIER. Why, through the air! The devil aided her!
4 AND 5 SOLDIERS. Fly! fly! We are dead men!
TALBOT (enters). They heed me not! They stay not at my call! The sacred bands of discipline are loosed! As hell had poured her damned legions forth, A wild, distracting impulse whirls along, In one mad throng, the cowardly and brave. I cannot rally e’en the smallest troop To form a bulwark gainst the hostile flood, Whose raging billows press into our camp! Do I alone retain my sober senses, While all around in wild delirium rave? To fly before these weak, degenerate Frenchmen Whom we in twenty battles have overthrown? Who is she then–the irresistible– The dread-inspiring goddess, who doth turn At once the tide of battle, and transform The lions bold a herd of timid deer? A juggling minx, who plays the well-learned part Of heroine, thus to appal the brave? A woman snatch from me all martial fame?
SOLDIER (rushing in). The maiden comes! Fly, general, fly! fly!
TALBOT (strikes him down). Fly thou, thyself, to hell! This sword shall pierce Who talks to me of fear, or coward flight!
[He goes out.
The prospect opens. The English camp is seen in flames. Drums, flight, and pursuit. After a while MONTGOMERY enters.
MONTGOMERY (alone). Where shall I flee? Foes all around and death! Lo! here The furious general, who with threatening sword, prevents Escape, and drives us back into the jaws of death. The dreadful maiden there–the terrible–who like Devouring flame, destruction spreads; while all around Appears no bush wherein to hide–no sheltering cave! Oh, would that o’er the sea I never had come here! Me miserable–empty dreams deluded me– Cheap glory to achieve on Gallia’s martial fields. And I am guided by malignant destiny Into this murderous flight. Oh, were I far, far hence. Still in my peaceful home, on Severn’s flowery banks, Where in my father’s house, in sorrow and in tears, I left my mother and my fair young bride.
[JOHANNA appears in the distance.
Wo’s me! What do I see! The dreadful form appears! Arrayed in lurid light, she from the raging fire Issues, as from the jaws of hell, a midnight ghost. Where shall I go? where flee? Already from afar She seizes on me with her eye of fire, and flings Her fatal and unerring coil, whose magic folds With ever-tightening pressure, bind my feet and make Escape impossible! Howe’er my heart rebels, I am compelled to follow with my gaze that form Of dread!
[JOHANNA advances towards him some steps; and again remains standing.
She comes! I will not passively await Her furious onset! Imploringly I’ll clasp Her knees! I’ll sue to her for life. She is a woman. I may perchance to pity move her by my tears!
[While he is on the point of approaching her she draws near.
JOHANNA. Prepare to die! A British mother bore thee!
MONTGOMERY (falls at her feet). Fall back, terrific one! Forbear to strike An unprotected foe! My sword and shield I’ve flung aside, and supplicating fall Defenceless at thy feet. A ransom take! Extinguish not the precious light of life! With fair possessions crowned, my father dwells In Wales’ fair land, where among verdant meads The winding Severn rolls his silver tide, And fifty villages confess his sway. With heavy gold he will redeem his son, When he shall hear I’m in the camp of France.
JHANNA. Deluded mortal! to destruction doomed! Thou’rt fallen in the maiden’s hand, from which Redemption or deliverance there is none. Had adverse fortune given thee a prey To the fierce tiger or the crocodile– Hadst robbed the lion mother of her brood– Compassion thou might’st hope to find and pity; But to encounter me is certain death. For my dread compact with the spirit realm– The stern inviolable–bindeth me, To slay each living thing whom battle’s God, Full charged with doom, delivers to my sword.
MONTGOMERY. Thy speech is fearful, but thy look is mild; Not dreadful art thou to contemplate near; My heart is drawn towards thy lovely form. Oh! by the mildness of thy gentle sex, Attend my prayer. Compassionate my youth.
JOHANNA. Name me not woman! Speak not of my sex! Like to the bodiless spirits, who know naught Of earth’s humanities, I own no sex; Beneath this vest of steel there beats no heart.
MONTGOMERY. Oh! by love’s sacred, all-pervading power, To whom all hearts yield homage, I conjure thee. At home I left behind a gentle bride, Beauteous as thou, and rich in blooming grace: Weeping she waiteth her betrothed’s return. Oh! if thyself dost ever hope to love, If in thy love thou hopest to be happy, Then ruthless sever not two gentle hearts, Together linked in love’s most holy bond!
JOHANNA. Thou dost appeal to earthly, unknown gods, To whom I yield no homage. Of love’s bond, By which thou dost conjure me, I know naught Nor ever will I know his empty service. Defend thy life, for death doth summon thee.
MONTGOMERY. Take pity on my sorrowing parents, whom I left at home. Doubtless thou, too, hast left Parents, who feel disquietude for thee.
JOHANNA. Unhappy man! thou dost remember me How many mothers of this land your arms Have rendered childless and disconsolate; How many gentle children fatherless; How many fair young brides dejected widows! Let England’s mothers now be taught despair, And learn to weep the bitter tear oft shed By the bereaved and sorrowing wives of France.
MONTGOMERY. ‘Tis hard in foreign lands to die unwept.
JOHANNA. Who called you over to this foreign land, To waste the blooming culture of our fields, To chase the peasant from his household hearth, And in our cities’ peaceful sanctuary To hurl the direful thunderbolt of war? In the delusion of your hearts ye thought To plunge in servitude the freeborn French, And to attach their fair and goodly realm, Like a small boat, to your proud English bark! Ye fools! The royal arms of France are hung Fast by the throne of God; and ye as soon From the bright wain of heaven might snatch a star As rend a single village from this realm, Which shall remain inviolate forever! The day of vengeance is at length arrived; Not living shall ye measure back the sea, The sacred sea–the boundary set by God Betwixt our hostile nations–and the which Ye ventured impiously to overpass.
MONTGOMERY (lets go her hands). Oh, I must die! I feel the grasp of death!
JOHANNA. Die, friend! Why tremble at the approach of death? Of mortals the irrevocable doom? Look upon me! I’m born a shepherd maid; This hand, accustomed to the peaceful crook, Is all unused to wield the sword of death. Yet, snatched away from childhood’s peaceful haunts, From the fond love of father and of sisters, Urged by no idle dream of earthly glory, But heaven-appointed to achieve your ruin, Like a destroying angel I must roam, Spreading dire havoc around me, and at length Myself must fall a sacrifice to death! Never again shall I behold my home! Still, many of your people I must slay, Still, many widows make, but I at length Myself shall perish, and fulfil my doom. Now thine fulfil. Arise! resume thy sword, And let us fight for the sweet prize of life.
MONTGOMERY (stands up). Now, if thou art a mortal like myself, Can weapons wound thee, it may be assigned To this good arm to end my country’s woe, Thee sending, sorceress, to the depths of hell. In God’s most gracious hands I leave my fate. Accursed one! to thine assistance call The fiends of hell! Now combat for thy life!
[He seizes his sword and shield, and rushes upon her; martial music is heard in the distance. After a short conflict MONTGOMERY falls.
JOHANNA (alone). To death thy foot did bear thee–fare thee well!
[She steps away from him and remains absorbed in thought.
Virgin, thou workest mightily in me! My feeble arm thou dost endue with strength, And steep’st my woman’s heart in cruelty. In pity melts the soul and the hand trembles, As it did violate some sacred fane, To mar the goodly person of the foe. Once I did shudder at the polished sheath, But when ’tis needed, I’m possessed with strength, And as it were itself a thing of life, The fatal weapon, in my trembling grasp, Self-swayed, inflicteth the unerring stroke.
A KNIGHT with closed visor, JOHANNA.
KNIGHT. Accursed one! thy hour of death has come! Long have I sought thee on the battle-field, Fatal delusion! get thee back to hell, Whence thou didst issue forth.
JOHANNA. Say, who art thou, Whom his bad genius sendeth in my way? Princely thy port, no Briton dost thou seem, For the Burgundian colors stripe thy shield, Before the which my sword inclines its point.
KNIGHT. Vile castaway! Thou all unworthy art To fall beneath a prince’s noble hand. The hangman’s axe should thy accursed head Cleave from thy trunk, unfit for such vile use The royal Duke of Burgundy’s brave sword.
JOHANNA. Art thou indeed that noble duke himself?
KNIGHT (raises his visor). I’m he, vile creature, tremble and despair! The arts of hell shall not protect thee more. Thou hast till now weak dastards overcome; Now thou dost meet a man.
DUNOIS and LA HIRE. The same.
DUNOIS. Hold, Burgundy! Turn! combat now with men, and not with maids.
LA HIRE. We will defend the holy prophetess; First must thy weapon penetrate this breast.
BURGUNDY. I fear not this seducing Circe; no, Nor you, whom she hath changed so shamefully! Oh, blush, Dunois! and do thou blush, La Hire To stoop thy valor to these hellish arts– To be shield-bearer to a sorceress! Come one–come all! He only who despairs Of heaven’s protection seeks the aid of hell.
[They prepare for combat, JOHANNA steps between.
BURGUNDY. Dost tremble for thy lover? Thus Before thine eyes he shall—-
[He makes a thrust at DUNOIS.
JOHANNA. Dunois, forbear! Part them, La Hire! no blood of France must flow: Not hostile weapons must this strife decide, Above the stars ’tis otherwise decreed. Fall back! I say. Attend and venerate The Spirit which hath seized, which speaks through me!
DUNOIS. Why, maiden, now hold back my upraised arm? Why check the just decision of the sword? My weapon pants to deal the fatal blow Which shall avenge and heal the woes of France.
[She places herself in the midst and separates the parties.
JOHANNA. Fall back, Dunois! Stand where thou art, La Hire! Somewhat I have to say to Burgundy.
[When all is quiet.
What wouldst thou, Burgundy? Who is the foe Whom eagerly thy murderous glances seek? This prince is, like thyself, a son of France,– This hero is thy countryman, thy friend; I am a daughter of thy fatherland. We all, whom thou art eager to destroy, Are of thy friends;–our longing arms prepare To clasp, our bending knees to honor thee. Our sword ‘gainst thee is pointless, and that face E’en in a hostile helm is dear to us, For there we trace the features of our king.
BURGUNDY. What, syren! wilt thou with seducing words Allure thy victim? Cunning sorceress, Me thou deludest not. Mine ears are closed Against thy treacherous words; and vainly dart Thy fiery glances ‘gainst this mail of proof. To arms, Dunois! With weapons let us fight, and not with words.
DUNOIS. First words, then weapons, Burgundy! Do words With dread inspire thee? ‘Tis a coward’s fear, And the betrayer of an evil cause.
JOHANNA. ‘Tis not imperious necessity Which throws us at thy feet! We do not come As suppliants before thee. Look around! The English tents are level with the ground, And all the field is covered with your slain. Hark! the war-trumpets of the French resound; God hath decided–ours the victory! Our new-culled laurel garland with our friend We fain would share. Come, noble fugitive! Oh, come where justice and where victory dwell! Even I, the messenger of heaven, extend A sister’s hand to thee. I fain would save And draw thee over to our righteous cause! Heaven hath declared for France! Angelic powers, Unseen by thee, do battle for our king; With lilies are the holy ones adorned, Pure as this radiant banner is our cause; Its blessed symbol is the queen of heaven.
BURGUNDY. Falsehood’s fallacious words are full of guile, But hers are pure and simple as a child’s. If evil spirits borrow this disguise, They copy innocence triumphantly. I’ll hear no more. To arms, Dunois! to arms! Mine ear, I feel, is weaker than mine arm.
JOHANNA. You call me an enchantress, and accuse Of hellish arts. Is it the work of hell To heal dissension and to foster peace? Comes holy concord from the depths below? Say, what is holy, innocent, and good, If not to combat for our fatherland? Since when hath nature been so self-opposed That heaven forsakes the just and righteous cause, While hell protects it? If my words are true, Whence could I draw them but from heaven above? Who ever sought me in my shepherd-walks, To teach the humble maid affairs of state? I ne’er have stood with princes, to these lips Unknown the arts of eloquence. Yet now, When I have need of it to touch thy heart, Insight and varied knowledge I possess; The fate of empires and the doom of kings Lie clearly spread before my childish mind, And words of thunder issue from my mouth.
BURGUNDY (greatly moved, looks at her with emotion and astonishment). How is it with me? Doth some heavenly power Thus strangely stir my spirit’s inmost depths? This pure, this gentle creature cannot lie! No, if enchantment blinds me, ’tis from heaven. My spirit tells me she is sent from God.
JOHANNA. Oh, he is moved! I have not prayed in vain, Wrath’s thunder-cloud dissolves in gentle tears, And leaves his brow, while mercy’s golden beams Break from his eyes and gently promise peace. Away with arms, now clasp him to your hearts, He weeps–he’s conquered, he is ours once more!
[Her sword and banner fall; she hastens to him with outstretched arms, and embraces him in great agitation. LA HIRE and DUNOIS throw down their swords, and hasten also to embrace him.
Residence of the KING at Chalons on the Marne.
DUNOIS, LA HIRE.
DUNOIS. We have been true heart-friends, brothers in arms, Still have we battled in a common cause, And held together amid toil and death. Let not the love of woman rend the bond Which hath resisted every stroke of fate.
LA HIRE. Hear me, my prince!
DUNOIS. You love the wondrous maid, And well I know the purpose of your heart. You think without delay to seek the king, And to entreat him to bestow on you Her hand in marriage. Of your bravery The well-earned guerdon he cannot refuse But know,–ere I behold her in the arms Of any other—-
LA HIRE. Listen to me, prince!
DUNOIS. ‘Tis not the fleeting passion of the eye Attracts me to her. My unconquered sense Had set at naught the fiery shafts of love Till I beheld this wondrous maiden, sent By a divine appointment to become The savior of this kingdom, and my wife; And on the instant in my heart I vowed A sacred oath, to bear her home, my bride. For she alone who is endowed with strength Can be the strong man’s friend. This glowing heart Longs to repose upon a kindred breast, Which can sustain and comprehend its strength.
LA HIRE. How dare I venture, prince, my poor deserts To measure with your name’s heroic fame! When Count Dunois appeareth in the lists, Each humbler suitor must forsake the field; Still it doth ill become a shepherd maid To stand as consort by your princely side. The royal current in your veins would scorn To mix with blood of baser quality.
DUNOIS. She, like myself, is holy Nature’s child, A child divine–hence we by birth are equal. She bring dishonor on a prince’s hand, Who is the holy angel’s bride, whose head Is by a heavenly glory circled round, Whose radiance far outshineth earthly crowns, Who seeth lying far beneath her feet All that is greatest, highest of this earth! For thrones on thrones, ascending to the stars, Would fail to reach the height where she abides In angel majesty!
LA HIRE. Our monarch must decide.
DUNOIS. Not so! she must Decide! Free hath she made this realm of France, And she herself must freely give her heart.
LA HIRE. Here comes the king!
CHARLES, AGNES, SOREL, DUCHATEL, and CHATILLON. The same.
CHARLES (to CHATILLON). He comes! My title he will recognize, And do me homage as his sovereign liege?
CHATILLON. Here, in his royal town of Chalons, sire, The duke, my master, will fall down before thee. He did command me, as my lord and king, To give thee greeting. He’ll be here anon.
SOREL. He comes! Hail beauteous and auspicious day, Which bringeth joy, and peace, and reconcilement!
CHATILLON. The duke, attended by two hundred knights, Will hither come; he at thy feet will kneel; But he expecteth not that thou to him Should yield the cordial greeting of a kinsman.
CHARLES. I long to clasp him to my throbbing heart.
CHATILLON. The duke entreats that at this interview, No word be spoken of the ancient strife!
CHARLES. In Lethe be the past forever sunk! The smiling future now invites our gaze.
CHATILLON. All who have combated for Burgundy Shall be included in the amnesty.
CHARLES. So shall my realm be doubled in extent!
CHATILLON. Queen Isabel, if she consent thereto, Shall also be included in the peace.
CHARLES. She maketh war on me, not I on her. With her alone it rests to end our quarrel.
CHATILLON. Twelve knights shall answer for thy royal word.
CHARLES. My word is sacred.
CHATILLON. The archbishop shall Between you break the consecrated host, As pledge and seal of cordial reconcilement.
CHARLES. Let my eternal weal be forfeited, If my hand’s friendly grasp belie my heart. What other surety doth the duke require?
CHATILLON (glancing at DUCHATEL). I see one standing here, whose presence, sire, Perchance might poison the first interview.
[DUCHATEL retires in silence.
CHARLES. Depart, Duchatel, and remain concealed Until the duke can bear thee in his sight.
[He follows him with his eye, then hastens after and embraces him.
True-hearted friend! Thou wouldst far more than this Have done for my repose! [Exit DUCHATEL.
CHATILLON. This instrument doth name the other points.
CHARLES (to the ARCHBISHOP). Let it be settled. We agree to all. We count no price too high to gain a friend. Go now, Dunois, and with a hundred knights, Give courteous conduct to the noble duke. Let the troops, garlanded with verdant boughs, Receive their comrades with a joyous welcome. Be the whole town arrayed in festive pomp, And let the bells with joyous peal, proclaim That France and Burgundy are reconciled.
[A PAGE enters. Trumpets sound.
Hark! What importeth that loud trumpet’s call?
PAGE. The Duke of Burgundy hath stayed his march.
DUNOIS. Up! forth to meet him!
[Exit with LA HIRE and CHATILLON.
CHARLES (to SOREL). My Agnes! thou dost weep! Even my strength Doth almost fail me at this interview. How many victims have been doomed to fall Ere we could meet in peace and reconcilement! But every storm at length suspends its rage, Day follows on the murkiest night; and still When comes the hour, the latest fruits mature!
ARCHBISHOP (at the window). The thronging crowds impede the duke’s advance; He scarce can free himself. They lift him now From off his horse; they kiss his spurs, his mantle.
CHARLES. They’re a good people, in whom love flames forth As suddenly as wrath. In how brief space They do forget that ’tis this very duke Who slew, in fight, their fathers and their sons; The moment swallows up the whole of life! Be tranquil, Sorel. E’en thy passionate joy Perchance might to his conscience prove a thorn. Nothing should either shame or grieve him here.
The DUKE OF BURGUNDY, DUNOIS, LA HIRE, CHATILLON, and two other knights of the DUKE’S train. The DUKE remains standing at the door; the KING inclines towards him; BURGUNDY immediately advances, and in the moment when he is about to throw himself upon his knees, the KING receives him in his arms.
CHARLES. You have surprised us; it was our intent To fetch you hither, but your steeds are fleet.
BURGUNDY. They bore me to my duty. [He embraces SOREL, and kisses her brow. With your leave! At Arras, niece, it is our privilege, And no fair damsel may exemption claim.
CHARLES. Rumor doth speak your court the seat of love, The mart where all that’s beautiful must tarry.
BURGUNDY. We are a traffic-loving people, sire; Whate’er of costly earth’s wide realms produce, For show and for enjoyment, is displayed Upon our mart at Bruges; but above all There woman’s beauty is pre-eminent.
SOREL. More precious far is woman’s truth; but it Appeareth not upon the public mart.
CHARLES. Kinsman, ’tis rumored to your prejudice That woman’s fairest virtue you despise.
BURGUNDY. The heresy inflicteth on itself The heaviest penalty. ‘Tis well for you, From your own heart, my king, you learned betimes What a wild life hath late revealed to me.
[He perceives the ARCHBISHOP, and extends his hand.
Most reverend minister of God! your blessing! You still are to be found on duty’s path, Where those must walk who would encounter you.
ARCHBISHOP. Now let my Master call me when he will; My heart is full, I can with joy depart, Since that mine eyes have seen this day!
BURGUNDY (to SOREL). ‘Tis said That of your precious stones you robbed yourself, Therefrom to forge ‘gainst me the tools of war! Bear you a soul so martial? Were you then So resolute to work my overthrow? Well, now our strife is over; what was lost Will in due season all be found again. Even your jewels have returned to you. Against me to make war they were designed; Receive them from me as a pledge of peace.
[He receives a casket from one of the attendants, and presents it to her to open. SOREL, embarrassed, looks at the KING.
CHARLES. Receive this present; ’tis a twofold pledge Of reconcilement and of fairest love.
BURGUNDY (placing a diamond rose in her hair). Why, is it not the diadem of France? With full as glad a spirit I would place The golden circle on this lovely brow.
[Taking her hand significantly.
And count on me if, at some future time You should require a friend.
[AGNES SOREL bursts into tears, and steps aside. THE KING struggles with his feelings. The bystanders contemplate the two princes with emotion.
BURGUNDY (after gazing round the circle, throws himself into the KING’S arms). Oh, my king!
[At the same moment the three Burgundian knights hasten to DUNOIS, LA HIRE, and the ARCHBISHOP. They embrace each other. The two PRINCES remain for a time speechless in each other’s arms.
I could renounce you! I could bear your hate!
CHARLES. Hush! hush! No further!
BURGUNDY. I this English king Could crown! Swear fealty to this foreigner! And you, my sovereign, into ruin plunge!
CHARLES. Forget it! Everything’s forgiven now! This single moment doth obliterate all. ‘Twas a malignant star! A destiny!
BURGUNDY (grasps his hand). Believe me, sire, I’ll make amends for all. Your bitter sorrow I will compensate; You shall receive your kingdom back entire, A solitary village shall not fail!
CHARLES. We are united. Now I fear no foe.
BURGUNDY. Trust me, it was not with a joyous spirit That I bore arms against you. Did you know? Oh, wherefore sent you not this messenger?
[Pointing to SOREL.
I must have yielded to her gentle tears. Henceforth, since breast to breast we have embraced, No power of hell again shall sever us! My erring course ends here. His sovereign’s heart Is the true resting-place for Burgundy.
ARCHBISHOP (steps between them). Ye are united, princes! France doth rise A renovated phoenix from its ashes. The auspicious future greets us with a smile. The country’s bleeding wounds will heal again, The villages, the desolated towns, Rise in new splendor from their ruined heaps, The fields array themselves in beauteous green; But those who, victims of your quarrel, fell, The dead, rise not again; the bitter tears, Caused by your strife, remain forever wept! One generation hath been doomed to woe; On their descendants dawns a brighter day; The gladness of the son wakes not the sire. This the dire fruitage of your brother-strife! Oh, princes, learn from hence to pause with dread, Ere from its scabbard ye unsheath the sword. The man of power lets loose the god of war, But not, obedient, as from fields of air Returns the falcon to the sportsman’s hand, Doth the wild deity obey the call Of mortal voice; nor will the Saviour’s hand A second time forth issue from the clouds.
BURGUNDY. Oh, sire! an angel walketh by your side. Where is she? Why do I behold her not?
CHARLES. Where is Johanna? Wherefore faileth she To grace the festival we owe to her?
ARCHBISHOP. She loves not, sire, the idleness of the court, And when the heavenly mandate calls her not Forth to the world’s observance, she retires, And doth avoid the notice of the crowd. Doubtless, unless the welfare of the realm Claims her regard, she communes with her God, For still a blessing on her steps attends.
The same. JOHANNA enters. She is clad in armor, and wears a garland in her hair.
CHARLES. Thou comest as a priestess decked, Johanna, To consecrate the union formed by thee!
BURGUNDY. How dreadful was the maiden in the fight! How lovely circled by the beams of peace! My word, Johanna, have I now fulfilled? Art thou contented? Have I thine applause?
JOHANNA. The greatest favor thou hast shown thyself. Arrayed in blessed light thou shinest now, Who didst erewhile with bloody, ominous ray, Hang like a moon of terror in the heavens. [Looking round. Many brave knights I find assembled here, And joy’s glad radiance beams in every eye; One mourner, one alone I have encountered; He must conceal himself, where all rejoice.
BURGUNDY. And who is conscious of such heavy guilt, That of our favor he must needs despair?
JOHANNA. May he approach? Oh, tell me that he may; Complete thy merit. Void the reconcilement That frees not the whole heart. A drop of hate Remaining in the cup of joy converts The blessed draught to poison. Let there be No deed so stained with blood that Burgundy Cannot forgive it on this day of joy.
BURGUNDY. Ha! now I understand!
JOHANNA. And thou’lt forgive? Thou wilt indeed forgive? Come in, Duchatel!
[She opens the door and leads in DUCHATEL, who remains standing at a distance.
The duke is reconciled to all his foes, And he is so to thee.
[DUCHATEL approaches a few steps nearer, and tries to read the countenance of the DUKE.
BURGUNDY. What makest thou Of me, Johanna? Know’st thou what thou askest?
JOHANNA. A gracious sovereign throws his portals wide, Admitting every guest, excluding none; As freely as the firmament the world, So mercy must encircle friend and foe. Impartially the sun pours forth his beams Through all the regions of infinity; The heaven’s reviving dew falls everywhere, And brings refreshment to each thirsty plant; Whate’er is good, and cometh from on high, Is universal, and without reserve; But in the heart’s recesses darkness dwells!
BURGUNDY. Oh, she can mould me to her wish; my heart Is in her forming hand like melted wax. –Duchatel, I forgive thee–come, embrace me! Shade of my sire! oh, not with wrathful eye Behold me clasp the hand that shed thy blood. Ye death-gods, reckon not to my account, That my dread oath of vengeance I abjure. With you, in yon drear realm of endless night, There beats no human heart, and all remains Eternal, steadfast, and immovable. Here in the light of day ’tis otherwise. Man, living, feeling man, is aye the sport Of the o’ermastering present.
CHARLES (to JOHANNA). Lofty maid! What owe I not to thee! How truly now Hast thou fulfilled thy word,–how rapidly Reversed my destiny! Thou hast appeased My friends, and in the dust o’erwhelmed my foes; From foreign yoke redeemed my cities. Thou Hast all achieved. Speak, how can I reward thee?
JOHANNA. Sire, in prosperity be still humane, As in misfortune thou hast ever been; And on the height of greatness ne’er forget The value of a friend in times of need; Thou hast approved it in adversity. Refuse not to the lowest of thy people The claims of justice and humanity, For thy deliverer from the fold was called. Beneath thy royal sceptre thou shalt gather The realm entire of France. Thou shalt become The root and ancestor of mighty kings; Succeeding monarchs, in their regal state, Shall those outshine, who filled the throne before. Thy stock, in majesty shall bloom so long As it stands rooted in the people’s love. Pride only can achieve its overthrow, And from the lowly station, whence to-day God summoned thy deliverer, ruin dire Obscurely threats thy crime-polluted sons!
BURGUNDY. Exalted maid! Possessed with sacred fire! If thou canst look into the gulf of time, Speak also of my race! Shall coming years With ampler honors crown my princely line!
JOHANNA. High as the throne, thou, Burgundy, hast built Thy seat of power, and thy aspiring heart Would raise still higher, even to the clouds, The lofty edifice. But from on high A hand omnipotent shall check its rise. Fear thou not hence the downfall of thy house! Its glory in a maiden shall survive; Upon her breast shall sceptre-bearing kings, The people’s shepherds, bloom. Their ample sway Shall o’er two realms extend, they shall ordain Laws to control the known world, and the new, Which God still veils behind the pathless waves.
CHARLES. Oh, if the Spirit doth reveal it, speak; Shall this alliance which we now renew In distant ages still unite our sons?
JOHANNA (after a pause). Sovereigns and kings! disunion shun with dread! Wake not contention from the murky cave Where he doth lie asleep, for once aroused He cannot soon be quelled? He doth beget An iron brood, a ruthless progeny; Wildly the sweeping conflagration spreads. –Be satisfied! Seek not to question further In the glad present let your hearts rejoice, The future let me shroud!
SOREL. Exalted maid! Thou canst explore my heart, thou readest there If after worldly greatness it aspires, To me to give a joyous oracle.
JOHANNA. Of empires only I discern the doom; In thine own bosom lies thy destiny!
DUNOIS. What, holy maid, will be thy destiny? Doubtless, for thee, who art beloved of heaven, The fairest earthly happiness shall bloom, For thou art pure and holy.
JOHANNA. Happiness Abideth yonder, with our God, in heaven.
CHARLES. Thy fortune be henceforth thy monarch’s care! For I will glorify thy name in France, And the remotest age shall call thee blest. Thus I fulfil my word. Kneel down! [He draws his sword and touches her with it. And rise! A noble! I, thy monarch, from the dust Of thy mean birth exalt thee. In the grave Thy fathers I ennoble–thou shalt bear Upon thy shield the fleur-de-lis, and be Of equal lineage with the best in France. Only the royal blood of Valois shall Be nobler than thine own! The highest peer Shall feel himself exalted by thy hand; To wed thee nobly, maid, shall be my care!
DUNOIS (advancing). My heart made choice of her when she was lowly. The recent honor which encircles her, Neither exalts her merit nor my love. Here in my sovereign’s presence, and before This holy bishop, maid, I tender thee My hand, and take thee as my princely wife, If thou esteem me worthy to be thine.
CHARLES. Resistless maiden! wonder thou dost add To wonder! Yes, I now believe that naught’s Impossible to thee! Thou hast subdued This haughty heart, which still hath scoffed till now At love’s omnipotence.
LA HIRE (advancing). If I have read Aright Johanna’s soul, her modest heart’s Her fairest jewel. She deserveth well The homage of the great, but her desires Soar not so high. She striveth not to reach A giddy eminence; an honest heart’s True love content’s her, and the quiet lot Which with this hand I humbly proffer her.
CHARLES. Thou, too, La Hire! two brave competitors,– Peers in heroic virtue and renown! –Wilt thou, who hast appeased mine enemies, My realms united, part my dearest friends? One only can possess her; I esteem Each to be justly worthy such a prize. Speak, maid! thy heart alone must here decide.
SOREL. The noble maiden is surprised, her cheek Is crimsoned over with a modest blush. Let her have leisure to consult her heart, And in confiding friendship to unseal Her long-closed bosom. Now the hour is come When, with a sister’s love, I also may Approach the maid severe, and offer her This silent, faithful breast. Permit us women Alone to weigh this womanly affair; Do you await the issue.
CHARLES (about to retire). Be it so!
JOHANNA. No, sire, not so! the crimson on my cheek Is not the blush of bashful modesty. Naught have I for this noble lady’s ear Which in this presence I may not proclaim. The choice of these brave knights much honors me, But I did not forsake my shepherd-walks, To chase vain worldly splendor, nor array My tender frame in panoply of war, To twine the bridal garland in my hair. Far other labor is assigned to me, Which a pure maiden can alone achieve. I am the soldier of the Lord of Hosts, And to no mortal man can I be wife.
ARCHBISHOP. To be a fond companion unto man Is woman born–when nature she obeys, Most wisely she fulfils high heaven’s decree! When His behest who called thee to the field Shall be accomplished, thou’lt resign thy arms, And once again rejoin the softer sex, Whose gentle nature thou dost now forego, And which from war’s stern duties is exempt.
JOHANNA. Most reverend sir! as yet I cannot say What work the Spirit will enjoin on me. But when the time comes round, his guiding voice Will not be mute, and it I will obey. Now he commands me to complete my task; My royal master’s brow is still uncrowned, ‘Twere better for me I had ne’er been born! Henceforth no more of this, unless ye would Provoke the Spirit’s wrath who in me dwells! The eye of man, regarding me with love, To me is horror and profanity.
CHARLES. Forbear! It is in vain to urge her further.
JOHANNA. Command the trumpets of the war to sound! This stillness doth perplex and harass me; An inward impulse drives me from repose, It still impels me to achieve my work, And sternly beckons me to meet my doom.
A KNIGHT, entering hastily.
CHARLES. What tidings? Speak!
KNIGHT. The foe has crossed the Marne, And marshalleth his army for the fight.
JOHANNA (inspired). Battle and tumult! Now my soul is free. Arm, warriors, arm! while I prepare the troops.
[She goes out.
CHARLES. Follow, La Hire! E’en at the gates of Rheims They will compel us to dispute the crown!
DUNOIS. No genuine courage prompts them. This essay Is the last effort of enraged despair.
CHARLES. I do not urge you, duke. To-day’s the time To compensate the errors of the past.
BURGUNDY. You shall be satisfied with me.
CHARLES. Myself Will march before you on the path of fame; Here, with my royal town of Rheims in view, I’ll fight, and gallantry achieve the crown. Thy knight, my Agnes, bids thee now farewell!
AGNES (embracing him). I do not weep, I do not tremble for thee; My faith, unshaken, cleaveth unto God! Heaven, were we doomed to failure, had not given So many gracious pledges of success! My heart doth whisper me that, victory-crowned, In conquered Rheims, I shall embrace my king.
[Trumpets sound with a spirited tone, and while the scene is changing pass into a wild martial strain. When the scene opens, the orchestra joins in, accompanied by warlike instruments behind the scene.
The scene changes to an open country skirted with trees. During the music soldiers are seen retreating hastily across the background.
TALBOT, leaning on FASTOLFE, and accompanied by soldiers. Soon after, LIONEL.
TALBOT. Here lay me down beneath the trees, and then Betake you back, with speed, unto the fight; I need no aid to die.
FASTOLFE. Oh, woful day! [LIONEL enters. Behold what sign awaits you, Lionel! Here lies our general wounded unto death.
LIONEL. Now, God forbid! My noble lord, arise! No moment this to falter and to sink. Yield not to death. By your all-powerful will Command your ebbing spirit still to live.
TALBOT. In vain! The day of destiny is come, Which will o’erthrow the English power in France. In desperate combat I have vainly risked The remnant of our force to ward it off. Struck by the thunderbolt I prostrate lie, Never to rise again. Rheims now is lost, Hasten to succor Paris!
LIONEL. Paris is with the Dauphin reconciled; A courier even now has brought the news.
TALBOT (tearing off his bandages). Then freely flow, ye currents of my blood, For Talbot now is weary of the sun!
LIONEL. I may no longer tarry: Fastolfe, haste! Convey our leader to a place of safety. No longer now can we maintain this post; Our flying troops disperse on every side, On, with resistless might, the maiden comes.
TALBOT. Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield! Against stupidity the very gods. Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason, Resplendent daughter of the head divine, Wise foundress of the system of the world, Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou, Bound to the tail of folly’s uncurbed steed, Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd, Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss. Accursed, who striveth after noble ends, And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans! To the fool-king belongs the world.
LIONEL. My lord, But for a few brief moments can you live– Think of your Maker!
TALBOT. Had we, like brave men, Been vanquished by the brave, we might, indeed, Console ourselves that ’twas the common lot; For fickle fortune aye revolves her wheel. But to be baffled by such juggling arts! Deserved our earnest and laborious life Not a more earnest issue?
LIONEL (extends his hand to him). Fare you well! The debt of honest tears I will discharge After the battle–if I then survive. Now Fate doth call me hence, where on the field Her web she waveth, and dispenseth doom. We in another world shall meet again; For our long friendship, this a brief farewell.
TALBOT. Soon is the struggle past, and to the earth, To the eternal sun, I render back These atoms, joined in me for pain and pleasure. And of the mighty Talbot, who the world Filled with his martial glory, there remains Naught save a modicum of senseless dust. Such is the end of man–the only spoil We carry with us from life’s battle-field, Is but an insight into nothingness, And utter scorn of all which once appeared To us exalted and desirable.
CHARLES, BURGUNDY, DUNOIS, DUCHATEL, and Soldiers.
BURGUNDY. The trench is stormed!
DUNOIS. The victory is ours!
CHARLES (perceiving TALBOT.) Look! Who is he, who yonder of the sun Taketh reluctant, sorrowful farewell? His armor indicates no common man; Go, succor him, if aid may yet avail.
[Soldiers of the KING’S retinue step forward.
FASTOLFE. Back! Stand apart! Respect the mighty dead, Whom ye in life ne’er ventured to approach!
BURGUNDY. What do I see? Lord Talbot in his blood!
[He approaches him. TALBOT gazes fixedly at him, and dies.
FASTOLFE. Traitor, avaunt! Let not the sight of thee Poison the dying hero’s parting glance.
DUNOIS. Resistless hero! Dread-inspiring Talbot! Does such a narrow space suffice thee now, And this vast kingdom could not satisfy The large ambition of thy giant soul! Now first I can salute you, sire, as king: The diadem but tottered on your brow, While yet a spirit tenanted this clay.
CHARLES (after contemplating the body in silence). A higher power hath vanquished him, not we! He lies upon the soil of France, as lies The hero on the shield he would not quit. Well, peace be with his ashes! Bear him hence!
[Soldiers take up the body and carry it away.
Here in the heart of France, where his career Of conquest ended, let his relics lie! So far no hostile sword attained before. A fitting tomb shall memorize his name; His epitaph the spot whereon he fell.
FASTOLFE (yielding his sword). I am your prisoner, sir.
CHARLES (returning his sword). Not so! Rude war Respects each pious office; you are free To render the last honors to the dead, Go now, Duchatel–still my Agnes trembles– Hasten to snatch her from anxiety– Bring her the tidings of our victory, And usher her in triumph into Rheims!
The same. LA HIRE.
DUNOIS. La Hire, where is the maiden?
LA HIRE. That I ask Of you; I left her fighting by your side.
DUNOIS. I thought she was protected by your arm, When I departed to assist the king.
BURGUNDY. Not long ago I saw her banner wave Amidst the thickest of the hostile ranks.
DUNOIS. Alas! where is she? Evil I forebode? Come, let us haste to rescue her. I fear Her daring soul hath led her on too far; Alone she combats in the midst of foes, And without succor yieldeth to the crowd.
CHARLES. Haste to her rescue!
LA HIRE. Come!
BURGUNDY. We follow all!
[They retire in haste. A deserted part of the battle-field. In the distance are seen the towers of Rheims illumined by the sun.
A KNIGHT in black armor, with closed visor. JOHANNA follows him to the front of the stage, where he stops and awaits her.
JOHANNA. Deluder! now I see thy stratagem! Thou hast deceitfully, through seeming flight, Allured me from the battle, doom and death Averting thus from many a British head. Destruction now doth overtake thyself.
BLACK KNIGHT. Why dost thou follow after me and track My steps with quenchless rage? I am not doomed To perish by thy hand.
JOHANNA. Deep in my soul I hate thee as the night, which is thy color; To blot thee out from the fair light of day An irresistible desire impels me. Who art thou? Raise thy visor. I had said That thou wert Talbot had I not myself Seen warlike Talbot in the battle fall.
BLACK KNIGHT. Is the divining-spirit mute in thee?
JOHANNA. His voice speaks loudly in my spirit’s depth The near approach of woe.
BLACK KNIGHT. Johanna D’Arc! Borne on the wings of conquest, thou hast reached The gates of Rheims. Let thy achieved renown Content thee. Fortune, like thy slave, till now Hath followed thee; dismiss her, ere in wrath She free herself; fidelity she hates; She serveth none with constancy till death.
JOHANNA. Why check me in the midst of my career? Why bid me falter and forsake my work? I will complete it and fulfil my vow!
BLACK KNIGHT. Nothing can thee, thou mighty one, withstand, In battle thou art aye invincible. But henceforth shun the fight; attend my warning.
JOHANNA. Not from my hand will I resign this sword Till haughty England’s prostrate in the dust.
BLACK KNIGHT. Behold! there Rheims ariseth with its towers, The goal and end of thy career. Thou seest The lofty minster’s sun-illumined dome; Thou in triumphal pomp wouldst enter there, Thy monarch crown, and ratify thy vow. Enter not there! Return! Attend my warning!
JOHANNA. What art thou, double-tongued, deceitful being, Who wouldst bewilder and appal me? Speak! By what authority dost thou presume To greet me with fallacious oracles?
[The BLACK KNIGHT is about to depart, she steps in his way.
No, thou shalt speak, or perish by my hand!
[She endeavors to strike him.
BLACK KNIGHT (touches her with his hand, she remains motionless). Slay what is mortal!
[Darkness, thunder and lightning. The KNIGHT sinks into the earth.
JOHANNA (stands at first in amazement, but soon recovers herself). ‘Twas nothing living. ‘Twas a base delusion, An instrument of hell, a juggling fiend, Uprisen hither from the fiery pool To shake and terrify my steadfast heart. Wielding the sword of God, whom should I fear! I will triumphantly achieve my work. My courage should not waver, should not fail Were hell itself to champion me to fight!
[She is about to depart.
LIONEL. Accursed one, prepare thee for the fight! Not both of us shall quit this field alive. Thou hast destroyed the bravest of our host The noble Talbot hath his mighty soul Breathed forth upon my bosom. I’ll avenge The hero, or participate his doom. And wouldst thou know who brings thee glory now, Whether he live or die,–I’m Lionel, The sole survivor of the English chiefs, And still unconquered is this valiant arm.
[He rushes upon her; after a short combat she strikes the sword out of his hand.
[He wrestles with her. JOHANNA seizes him by the crest and tears open his helmet; his face is thus exposed; at the same time she draws her sword with her right hand.
JOHANNA. Suffer, what thou soughtest! The Virgin sacrifices thee through me!
[At this moment she gazes in his face. His aspect softens her, she remains motionless and slowly lets her arm sink.
LIONEL. Why linger, why withhold the stroke of death? My glory thou hast taken–take my life! I want no mercy, I am in thy power.
[She makes him a sign with her hand to fly.
How! shall I fly and owe my life to thee? No, I would rather die.
JOHANNA (with averted face). I will not know That ever thou didst owe thy life to me.
LIONEL. I hate alike thee and thy proffered gift. I want no mercy–kill thine enemy Who loathes and would have slain thee.
JOHANNA. Slay me, then, And fly!
LIONEL. Ha! What is this?
JOHANNA (hiding her face). Woe’s me!
LIONEL (approaching her). ‘Tis said Thou killest all the English whom thy sword Subdues in battle–why spare me alone?
JOHANNA (raises her sword with a rapid movement as if to strike him, but lets it fall quickly when she gazes on his face). Oh, Holy Virgin!
LIONEL. Wherefore namest thou The Holy Virgin? she knows naught of thee; Heaven hath no part in thee.
JOHANNA (in the greatest anxiety). What have I done? Alas! I’ve broke my vow!
[She wrings her hands in despair.
LIONEL (looks at her with sympathy and approaches her). Unhappy maid! I pity thee! Thy sorrow touches me; Thou hast shown mercy unto me alone, My hatred yielded unto sympathy! Who art thou, and whence comest thou?
LIONEL. Thy youth, thy beauty, move my soul to pity! Thy look sinks in my heart. I fain would save thee! How may I do so? tell me. Come! oh, come! Renounce this fearful league–throw down these arms!
JOHANNA. I am unworthy now to carry them!
LIONEL. Then throw them from thee–quick! come, follow me!
JOHANNA (with horror). How! follow thee!
LIONEL. Thou may’st be saved. Oh, come! I will deliver thee, but linger not. Strange sorrow for thy sake doth seize my heart, Unspeakable desire to rescue thee—-
[He seizes her arm.
JOHANNA. The Bastard comes! ‘Tis they! They seek for me! If they should find thee—-
LIONEL. I’ll defend thee, maid.
JOHANNA. I die if thou shouldst perish by their hands!
LIONEL. Am I then dear to thee?
JOHANNA. Ye heavenly powers!
LIONEL. Shall I again behold thee–hear from thee?
JOHANNA. No! never!
LIONEL. Thus this sword I seize in pledge That I again behold thee!
[He snatches her sword.
JOHANNA. Madman, hold! Thou darest?
LIONEL. Now I yield to force–again I’ll see thee! [He retires.
JOHANNA, DUNOIS, LA HIRE.
LA HIRE. It is she! The maiden lives!
DUNOIS. Fear not, Johanna! friends are at thy side.
LA HIRE. Is not that Lionel who yonder flies?
DUNOIS. Let him escape! Maiden, the righteous cause Hath triumphed now. Rheims opens wide its gates; The joyous crowds pour forth to meet their king.
LA HIRE. What ails thee, maiden? She grows pale–she sinks!
[JOHANNA grows dizzy, and is about to fall.
DUNOIS. She’s wounded–rend her breastplate–’tis her arm! The wound is not severe.
LA HIRE. Her blood doth flow.
JOHANNA. Oh, that my life would stream forth with my blood!
[She lies senseless in LA HIRE’S arms.
A hall adorned as for a festival; the columns are hung with garlands; behind the scene flutes and hautboys.
Hushed is the din of arms, war’s storms subside, Glad songs and dance succeed the bloody fray, Through all the streets joy echoes far and wide, Altar and church are decked in rich array, Triumphal arches rise in vernal pride, Wreathes round the columns wind their flowery way, Wide Rheims cannot contain the mighty throng, Which to joyous pageant rolls along.
One thought alone doth every heart possess, One rapt’rous feeling o’er each breast preside. And those to-day are linked in happiness Whom bloody hatred did erewhile divide. All who themselves of Gallic race confess The name of Frenchman own with conscious pride, France sees the splendor of her ancient crown, And to her monarch’s son bows humbly down.
Yet I, the author of this wide delight, The joy, myself created, cannot share; My heart is changed, in sad and dreary plight It flies the festive pageant in despair; Still to the British camp it taketh flight, Against my will my gaze still wanders there, And from the throng I steal, with grief oppressed, To hide the guilt which weighs upon my breast!
What! I permit a human form To haunt my bosom’s sacred cell? And there, where heavenly radiance shone, Doth earthly love presume to dwell? The savior of my country, I, The warrior of God most high, Burn for my country’s foeman? Dare I name Heaven’s holy light, nor feel o’erwhelmed with shame?
[The music behind the scene passes into a soft and moving melody.
Woe is me! Those melting tones! They distract my ‘wildered brain! Every note, his voice recalling, Conjures up his form again
Would that spears were whizzing round! Would that battle’s thunder roared! ‘Midst the wild tumultuous sound My former strength were then restored.
These sweet tones, these melting voices, With seductive power are fraught! They dissolve, in gentle longing, Every feeling, every thought, Waking tears of plaintive sadness.
[After a pause, with more energy.
Should I have killed him? Could I, when I gazed Upon his face? Killed him? Oh, rather far Would I have turned my weapon ‘gainst myself! And am I culpable because humane? Is pity sinful? Pity! Didst then hear The voice of pity and humanity When others fell the victims of thy sword? Why was she silent when the gentle youth From Wales entreated thee to spare his life? Oh, cunning heart! Thou liest before high heaven! It is not pity’s voice impels thee now! Why was I doomed to look into his eyes! To mark his noble features! With that glance, Thy crime, thy woe commenced. Unhappy one! A sightless instrument thy God demands, Blindly thou must accomplish his behest! When thou didst see, God’s shield abandoned thee, And the dire snares of hell around thee pressed!
[Flutes are again heard, and she subsides into a quiet melancholy.
Harmless staff! Oh, that I ne’er Had for the sword abandoned thee! Had voices never reached mine ear, From thy branches, sacred tree! High queen of heaven! Oh, would that thou Hadst ne’er revealed thyself to me! Take back–I dare not claim it now– Take back thy crown, ’tis not for me!
I saw the heavens open wide, I gazed upon that face of love! Yet here on earth my hopes abide, They do not dwell in heaven above! Why, Holy One, on me impose This dread vocation? Could I steel, And to each soft emotion close This heart, by nature formed to feel?
Wouldst thou proclaim thy high command, Make choice of those who, free from sin, In thy eternal mansions stand; Send forth thy flaming cherubim! Immortal ones, thy law they keep, They do not feel, they do not weep! Choose not a tender woman’s aid, Not the frail soul of shepherd maid!
Was I concerned with warlike things, With battles or the strife of kings? In innocence I led my sheep Adown the mountain’s silent steep, But thou didst send me into life, Midst princely halls and scenes of strife, To lose my spirit’s tender bloom Alas, I did not seek my doom!
AGNES SOREL, JOHANNA.
SOREL (advances joyfully. When she perceives JOHANNA she hastens to her and falls upon her neck; then suddenly recollecting herself; she relinquishes her hold, and falls down before her). No! no! not so! Before thee in the dust—-
JOHANNA (trying to raise her). Arise! Thou dost forget thyself and me.
SOREL. Forbid me not! ’tis the excess of joy Which throws me at thy feet–I must pour forth My o’ercharged heart in gratitude to God; I worship the Invisible in thee. Thou art the angel who has led my lord To Rheims, to crown him with the royal crown. What I ne’er dreamed to see is realized! The coronation march will soon set forth; Arrayed in festal pomp the monarch stands; Assembled are the nobles of the realm, The mighty peers to bear the insignia; To the cathedral rolls the billowy crowd; Glad songs resound, the bells unite their peal: Oh, this excess of joy I cannot bear!
[JOHANNA gently raises her. AGNES SOREL pauses a moment, and surveys the MAIDEN more narrowly.
Yet thou remainest ever grave and stern; Thou canst create delight, yet share it not. Thy heart is cold, thou feelest not our joy, Thou hast beheld the glories of the skies; No earthly interest moveth thy pure breast.
[JOHANNA seizes her hand passionately, but soon lets it fall again.
Oh, couldst thou own a woman’s feeling heart! Put off this armor, war is over now, Confess thy union with the softer sex! My loving heart shrinks timidly from thee, While thus thou wearest Pallas’ brow severe.
JOHANNA. What wouldst thou have me do?
SOREL. Unarm thyself! Put off this coat of mail! The God of Love Fears to approach a bosom clad in steel. Oh, be a woman, thou wilt feel his power!
JOHANNA. What, now unarm myself? Midst battle’s roar I’ll bare my bosom to the stroke of death! Not now! Would that a sevenfold wall of brass Could hide me from your revels, from myself!
SOREL. Thou’rt loved by Count Dunois. His noble heart, Which virtue and renown alone inspire, With pure and holy passion glows for thee. Oh, it is sweet to know oneself beloved By such a hero–sweeter still to love him!
[JOHANNA turns away with aversion.
Thou hatest him?–No, no, thou only canst Not love him:–how could hatred stir thy breast! Those who would tear us from the one we love, We hate alone; but none can claim thy love. Thy heart is tranquil–if it could but feel—-
JOHANNA. Oh, pity me! Lament my hapless fate!
SOREL. What can be wanting to complete thy joy? Thou hast fulfilled thy promise, France is free, To Rheims, in triumph, thou hast led the king, Thy mighty deeds have gained thee high renown, A happy people praise and worship thee; Thy name, the honored theme of every tongue; Thou art the goddess of this festival; The monarch, with his crown and regal state, Shines not with greater majesty than thou!
JOHANNA. Oh, could I hide me in the depths of earth!
SOREL. Why this emotion? Whence this strange distress? Who may to-day look up without a fear If thou dost cast thine eyes upon the ground! It is for me to blush, me, who near thee Feel all my littleness; I cannot reach The lofty virtue, thy heroic strength! For–all my weakness shall I own to thee? Not the renown of France, my Fatherland, Not the new splendor of the monarch’s crow, Not the triumphant gladness of the crowds, Engage this woman’s heart. One only form Is in its depths enshrined; it hath no room For any feeling save for one alone: He is the idol, him the people bless, Him they extol, for him they strew these flowers, And he is mine, he is my own true love!
JOHANNA. Oh, thou art happy! thou art blessed indeed! Thou lovest, where all love. Thou may’st, unblamed Pour forth thy rapture, and thine inmost heart, Fearless discover to the gaze of man! Thy country’s triumph is thy lover’s too. The vast, innumerable multitudes, Who, rolling onward, crowd within these walls, Participate thy joy, they hallow it; Thee they salute, for thee they twine the wreath, Thou art a portion of the general joy; Thou lovest the all-inspiring soul, the sun, And what thou seest is thy lover’s glory!
SOREL (falling on her neck). Thou dost delight me, thou canst read my heart! I did thee wrong, thou knowest what love is, Thou tell’st my feelings with a voice of power. My heart forgets its fear and its reserve, And seeks confidingly to blend with thine—-
JOHANNA (tearing herself from her with violence). Forsake me! Turn away! Do not pollute Thyself by longer intercourse with me! Be happy! go–and in the deepest night Leave me to hide my infamy, my woe!
SOREL. Thou frighten’st me, I understand thee not, I ne’er have understood thee–for from me Thy dark mysterious being still was veiled. Who may divine what thus disturbs thy heart, Thus terrifies thy pure and sacred soul!
JOHANNA. Thou art the pure, the holy one! Couldst thou Behold mine inmost heart, thou, shuddering, Wouldst fly the traitoress, the enemy!
DUNOIS, DUCHATEL, and LA HIRE, with the banner of JOHANNA.
DUNOIS. Johanna, thee we seek. All is prepared; The king hath sent us, ’tis his royal will That thou before him shouldst thy banner bear, The company of princes thou shalt join; And march immediately before the king: For he doth not deny it, and the world Shall witness, maiden, that to thee alone He doth ascribe the honor of this day.
LA HIRE. Here is the banner. Take it, noble maiden Thou’rt stayed for by the princes and the people.
JOHANNA. I march before him? I the banner bear?
DUNOIS. Whom else would it become? What other hand Is pure enough to bear the sacred ensign! Amid the battle thou hast waved it oft; To grace our glad procession bear it now.
[LA HIRE presents the banner to her, she draws back, shuddering.
JOHANNA. Away! away!
LA HIRE. Art thou terrified At thine own banner, maiden? Look at it!
[He displays the banner.
It is the same thou didst in conquest wave. Imaged upon it is the queen of heaven, Floating in glory o’er this earthly ball; For so the Holy Mother showed it thee.
[JOHANNA gazing upon it with horror.
‘Tis she herself! so she appeared to me. See, how she looks at me and knits her brow, And anger flashes from her threatening eye!
SOREL. Alas, she raveth! Maiden, be composed! Collect thyself! Thou seest nothing real! That is her pictured image; she herself Wanders above, amid the angelic choir!
JOHANNA. Thou comest, fearful one, to punish me? Destroy, o’erwhelm, thy lightnings hurl, And let them fall upon my guilty head. Alas, my vow I’ve broken. I’ve profaned And desecrated thy most holy name!
DUNOIS. Woe’s us! What may this mean? What unblest words?
LA HIRE (in astonishment, to DUCHATEL). This strange emotion canst thou comprehend?
DUCHATEL. That which I see, I see–I long have feared it.
DUNOIS. What sayest thou?
DUCHATEL. I dare not speak my thoughts. I would to heaven that the king were crowned!
LA HIRE. How! hath the awe this banner doth inspire Turned back upon thyself? before this sign Let Britons tremble; to the foes of France ‘Tis fearful, but to all true citizens It is auspicious.
JOHANNA. Yes, thou sayest truly! To friends ’tis gracious! but to enemies It causeth horror!
[The Coronation march is heard.
DUNOIS. Take thy banner, then! The march begins–no time is to be lost!
[They press the banner upon her; she seizes it with evident emotion, and retires; the others follow.
[The scene changes to an open place before the Cathedral.
Spectators occupy the background; BERTRAND, CLAUDE MARIE, and ETIENNE come forward; then MARGOT and LOUISON. The Coronation march is heard in the distance.
BERTRAND. Hark to the music! They approach already! What had we better do? Shall we mount up Upon the platform, or press through the crowd, That we may nothing lose of the procession?
ETIENNE. It is not to be thought of. All the streets Are thronged with horsemen and with carriages. Beside these houses let us take our stand, Here we without annoyance may behold The train as it goes by.
CLAUDE MARIE. Almost it seems As were the half of France assembled here, So mighty is the flood that it hath reached Even our distant Lotharingian land And borne us thither!
BERTRAND. Who would sit at home When great events are stirring in the land! It hath cost plenty, both of sweat and blood, Ere the crown rested on its rightful head! Nor shall our lawful king, to whom we give The crown, be worse accompanied than he Whom the Parisians in St. Denis crowned! He is no loyal, honest-minded man Who doth absent him from this festival, And joins not in the cry: “God save the King!”
MARGOT and LOUISON join them.
LOUISON. We shall again behold our sister, Margot! How my heart beats!
MARGOT. In majesty and pomp We shall behold her, saying to ourselves: It is our sister, it is our Johanna!
LOUISON. Till I have seen her, I can scarce believe That she, whom men the Maid of Orleans name, The mighty warrior, is indeed Johanna, Our sister whom we lost!
[The music draws nearer.
MARGOT. Thou doubtest still! Thou wilt thyself behold her!
See, they come!
Musicians, with flutes and hautboys, open the procession. Children follow, dressed in white, with branches in their hands; behind them two heralds. Then a procession of halberdiers, followed by magistrates in their robes. Then two marshals with their staves; the DUKE of BURGUNDY, bearing the sword; DUNOIS with the sceptre, other nobles with the regalia; others with sacrificial offerings. Behind these, KNIGHTS with the ornaments of their order; choristers with incense; two BISHOPS with the ampulla; the ARCHBISHOP with the crucifix. JOHANNA follows, with her banner, she walks with downcast head and wavering steps; her sisters, on beholding her, express their astonishment and joy. Behind her comes the KING under a canopy, supported by four barons; courtiers follow, soldiers conclude the procession; as soon as it has entered the church the music ceases.
LOUISON, MARGOT, CLAUDE MARIE, ETIENNE, BERTRAND.
MARGOT. Saw you our sister?
CLAUDE MARIE. She in golden armor, Who with the banner walked before the king?
MARGOT. It was Johanna. It was she, our sister!
LOUISON. She recognized us not! She did not feel That we, her sisters, were so near to her. She looked upon the ground, and seemed so pale, And trembled so beneath her banner’s weight When I beheld her, I could not rejoice.
MARGOT. So now, arrayed in splendor and in pomp, I have beheld our sister–who in dreams Would ever have imagined or conceived, When on our native hills she drove the flock, That we should see her in such majesty?
LOUISON. Our father’s dream is realized, that we In Rheims before our sister should bow down. That is the church, which in his dream he saw And each particular is now fulfilled. But images of woe he also saw! Alas! I’m grieved to see her raised so high!
BERTRAND. Why stand we idly here? Let’s to the church To view the coronation!
MARGOT. Yes! perchance We there may meet our sister; let us go!
LOUISON. We have beheld her. Let us now return Back to our village.
MARGOT. How? Ere we with her Have interchanged a word?
LOUISON. She doth belong To us no longer; she with princes stands And monarchs. Who are we, that we should seek With foolish vanity to near her state? She was a stranger while she dwelt with us!
MARGOT. Will she despise, and treat us with contempt?
BERTRAND. The king himself is not ashamed of us, He kindly greets the meanest of the crowd. How high soever she may be exalted, The king is raised still higher!
[Trumpets and kettle-drums are heard from the church.
CLAUDE MARIE. Let’s to the church!
[They hasten to the background, where they are lost among the crowd.
THIBAUT enters, clad in black. RAIMOND follows him, and tries to hold him back.
RAIMOND. Stay, father Thibaut! Do not join the crowds! Here, at this joyous festival you meet None but the happy, whom your grief offends. Come! Let us quit the town with hasty steps.
THIBAUT. Hast thou beheld my child? My wretched child? Didst thou observe her?
RAIMMOND. I entreat you, fly!
THIBAUT. Didst mark her tottering and uncertain steps, Her countenance, so pallid and disturbed? She feels her dreadful state; the hour is come To save my child, and I will not neglect it.
[He is about to retire.
RAIMOND. What would you do?
THIBAUT. Surprise her, hurl her down From her vain happiness, and forcibly Restore her to the God whom she denies.
RAIMOND. Oh, do not work the ruin of your child!
THIBAUT. If her soul lives, her mortal part may die.
[JOHANNA rushes out of the church, without her banner. The people press around her, worship her, and kiss her garments. She is detained in the background by the crowd.
She comes! ’tis she! She rushes from the church. Her troubled conscience drives her from the fane! ‘Tis visibly the judgment of her God!
RAIMOND. Farewell! Require not my attendance further! Hopeful I came, and sorrowful depart. Your daughter once again I have beheld, And feel again that she is lost to me!
[He goes out. THIBAUT retires on the opposite side.
JOHANNA, People. Afterwards her Sisters.
JOHANNA (she has freed herself from the crowd and comes forward). Remain I cannot–spirits chase me forth! The organ’s pealing tones like thunder sound, The dome’s arched roof threatens to overwhelm me! I must escape and seek heaven’s wide expanse! I left my banner in the sanctuary, Never, oh, never, will I touch it more! It seemed to me as if I had beheld My sisters pass before me like a dream. ‘Twas only a delusion!–they, alas! Are far, far distant–inaccessible– E’en as my childhood, as mine innocence!
MARGOT (stepping forward). ‘Tis she! It is Johanna!
LOUISON (hastening toward her). Oh, my sister!
JOHANNA. Then it was no delusion–you are here– Thee I embrace, Louison! Thee, my Margot? Here in this strange and crowded solitude, I clasp once more my sisters’ faithful breasts!
MARGOT. She knows us still, she is our own kind sister.
JOHANNA. Your love hath led you to me here so far! So very far! You are not wroth with her Who left her home without one parting word!
LOUISON. God’s unseen providence conducted thee.
MARGOT. Thy great renown, which agitates the world, Which makes thy name the theme of every tongue, Hath in our quiet village wakened us, And led us hither to this festival. To witness all thy glory we are come; And we are not alone!
JOHANNA (quickly). Our father’s here! Where is he? Why doth he conceal himself?
MARGOT. Our father is not with us.
JOHANNA. Not with you? He will not see me, then! You do not bring His blessing for his child?
LOUISON. He knoweth not That we are here.
JOHANNA. Not know it! Wherefore not? You are embarrassed, and you do not speak; You look upon the ground! Where is our father?
MARGOT. Since thou hast left—-
LOUISON (making a sign to MARGOT). Margot!
MARGOT. Our father hath Become dejected.
LOUISON. Console thyself! Our sire’s foreboding spirit well thou knowest! He will collect himself, and be composed, When he shall learn from us that thou art happy.
MARGOT. And thou art happy? Yes, it must be so, For thou art great and honored!
JOHANNA. I am so, Now I again behold you, once again Your voices hear, whose fond, familiar tones Bring to my mind my dear paternal fields. When on my native hills I drove my herd, Then I was happy as in paradise– I ne’er can be so more, no, never more!
[She hides her face on LOUISON’S bosom. CLAUDE MARIE, ETIENNE, and BERTRAND appear, and remain timidly standing in the distance.
MARGOT. Come, Bertrand! Claude Marie! come, Etienne! Our sister is not proud: she is so gentle, And speaks so kindly,–more so than of yore, When in our village she abode with us.
[They draw near, and hold out their hands; JOHANNA gazes on them fixedly, and appears amazed.
JOHANNA. Where am I? Tell me! Was it all a dream, A long, long dream? And am I now awake? Am I away from Dom Remi? Is’t so? I fell asleep beneath the Druid tree, And I am now awake; and round me stand The kind, familiar forms? I only dreamed Of all these battles, kings, and deeds of war,– They were but shadows which before me passed; For dreams are always vivid ‘neath that tree. How did you come to Rheims? How came I here? No, I have never quitted Dom Remi! Confess it to me, and rejoice my heart.
LOUISON. We are at Rheims. Thou hast not merely dreamed Of these great deeds–thou hast achieved them all. Come to thyself, Johanna! Look around– Thy splendid armor feel, of burnished gold!
[JOHANNA lays her hand upon her breast, recollects herself, and shrinks back.
BERTRAND. Out of my hand thou didst receive this helm.
CLAUDE MARIE. No wonder thou shouldst think it all a dream; For nothing in a dream could come to pass More wonderful than what thou hast achieved.
JOHANNA (quickly). Come, let us fly! I will return with you Back to our village, to our father’s bosom.
LOUISON. Oh, come! Return with us!
JOHANNA. The people here Exalt me far above what I deserve. You have beheld me weak and like a child; You love me, but you do not worship me.
MARGOT. Thou wilt abandon this magnificence.
JOHANNA. I will throw off the hated ornaments Which were a barrier ‘twixt my heart and yours, And I will be a shepherdess again, And like a humble maiden I will serve you, And will with bitter penitence atone, That I above you vainly raised myself.
The KING comes forth from the church. He is in the coronation robes. AGNES SOREL, ARCHBISHOP, BURGUNDY, DUNOIS, LA HIRE, DUCHATEL, KNIGHTS, COURTIERS, and PEOPLE.
Many voices shout repeatedly, while the KING advances,– Long live the king! Long live King Charles the Seventh!
[The trumpets sound. Upon a signal from the KING, the HERALDS with their staves command silence.
KING. Thanks, my good people! Thank you for your love! The crown which God hath placed upon our brow Hath with our valiant swords been hardly won: With noble blood ’tis wetted; but henceforth The peaceful olive branch shall round it twine. Let those who fought for us receive our thanks; Our pardon, those who joined the hostile ranks, For God hath shown us mercy in our need, And our first royal word shall now be, mercy!
PEOPLE. Long live the king! Long live King Charles the good!
KING. From God alone, the highest potentate, The monarchs of the French receive the crown; But visibly from his Almighty hand Have we received it. [Turning to the MAIDEN. Here stands the holy delegate of heaven, Who hath restored to you your rightful king, And rent the yoke of foreign tyranny. Her name shall equal that of holy Denis, The guardian and protector of this realm, And to her fame an altar shall be reared.
PEOPLE. Hail to the maiden, the deliverer!
KING (to JOHANNA). If thou art born of woman, like ourselves, Name aught that can augment thy happiness. But if thy fatherland is there above, If in this virgin form thou dost conceal The radiant glory of a heavenly nature, From our deluded sense remove the veil, And let us see thee in thy form of light As thou art seen in heaven, that in the dust We may bow down before thee.
[A general silence; every eye is fixed upon the MAIDEN.
JOHANNA (with a sudden cry). God! my father!
THIBAUT comes forth from the crowd, and stands opposite to her. Many voices exclaim,–
THIBAUT. Yes, her miserable father, Who did beget her, and whom God impels Now to accuse his daughter.
BURGUNDY. Ha! What’s this?
DUCHATEL. Now will the fearful truth appear!
THIBAUT (to the KING). Thou think’st That thou art rescued through the power of God? Deluded prince! Deluded multitude! Ye have been rescued through the arts of hell!
[All step back with horror.
DUNOIS. Is this man mad?
THIBAUT. Not I, but thou art mad. And this wise bishop, and these noble lords, Who think that through a weak and sinful maid The God of heaven would reveal himself. Come, let us see if to her father’s face She will maintain the specious, juggling arts Wherewith she hath deluded king and people. Now, in the name of the blest Trinity, Belongst thou to the pure and holy ones?
[A general silence; all eyes are fixed upon her; she remains motionless.
SOREL. God! she is dumb!
THIBAUT. Before that awful name, Which even in the depths of hell is feared, She must be silent! She a holy one, By God commissioned? On a cursed spot It was conceived; beneath the Druid tree Where evil spirits have from olden time Their Sabbath held. There her immortal soul She bartered with the enemy of man For transient, worldly glory. Let her bare Her arm, and ye will see impressed thereon The fatal marks of hell!
BURGUNDY. Most horrible! Yet we must needs believe a father’s words Who ‘gainst his daughter gives his evidence.
DUNOIS. The madman cannot be believed Who in his child brings shame upon himself.
SOREL (to JOHANNA). Oh, maiden, speak! this fatal silence break! We firmly trust thee! we believe in thee! One syllable from thee, one single word Shall be sufficient. Speak! annihilate This horrid accusation. But declare Thine innocence, and we will all believe thee.
[JOHANNA remains motionless; AGNES steps back with horror.
LA HIRE. She’s frightened. Horror and astonishment Impede her utterance. Before a charge So horrible e’en innocence must tremble.
[He approaches her.
Collect thyself, Johanna! innocence Hath a triumphant look, whose lightning flash Strikes slander to the earth! In noble wrath Arise! look up, and punish this base doubt, An insult to thy holy innocence.
[JOHANNA remains motionless; LA HIRE steps back; the excitement increases.
DUNOIS. Why do the people fear, the princes tremble? I’ll stake my honor on her innocence! Here on the ground I throw my knightly gage; Who now will venture to maintain her guilt?
[A loud clap of thunder; all are horror-struck.
THIBAUT. Answer, by Him whose thunders roll above! Give me the lie! Proclaim thine innocence; Say that the enemy hath not thy heart!
[Another clap of thunder, louder than the first; the people fly on all sides.
BURGUNDY. God guard and save us! What appalling signs!
DUCHATEL (to the KING). Come, come, my king! Forsake this fearful place!
ARCHBISHOP (to JOHANNA). I ask thee in God’s name. Art thou thus silent From consciousness of innocence or guilt? If in thy favor the dread thunder speaks, Touch with thy hand this cross, and give a sign!
[JOHANNA remains motionless. More violent peals of thunder. The KING, AGNES SOREL, the ARCHBISHOP, BURGUNDY, LA HIRE, DUCHATEL retire.
DUNOIS. Thou art my wife; I have believed in thee From the first glance, and I am still unchanged. In thee I have more faith than in these signs, Than in the thunder’s voice, which speaks above. In noble anger thou art silent thus; Enveloped in thy holy innocence, Thou scornest to refute so base a charge. Still scorn it, maiden, but confide in me; I never doubted of thine innocence. Speak not one word; only extend thy hand In pledge and token that thou wilt confide In my protection and thine own good cause.
[He extends his hand to her; she turns from him with a convulsive motion; he remains transfixed with horror.
JOHANNA, DUCHATEL, DUNOIS, afterwards RAIMOND.
DUCHATEL (returning). Johanna d’Arc! uninjured from the town The king permits you to depart. The gates Stand open to you. Fear no injury,– You are protected by the royal word. Come follow me, Dunois! You cannot here Longer abide with honor. What an issue!
[He retires. DUNOIS recovers from his stupor, casts one look upon JOHANNA, and retires. She remains standing for a moment quite alone. At length RAIMOND appears; he regards her for a time with silent sorrow, and then approaching takes her hand.
RAIMOND. Embrace this opportunity. The streets Are empty now. Your hand! I will conduct you.
[On perceiving him, she gives the first sign of consciousness. She gazes on him fixedly, and looks up to heaven; then taking his hand she retires.
A wild wood: charcoal-burners’ huts in the distance. It is quite dark; violent thunder and lightning; firing heard at intervals.
CHARCOAL-BURNER and his WIFE.
CHARCOAL-BURNER. This is a fearful storm, the heavens seem As if they would vent themselves in streams of fire; So thick the darkness which usurps the day, That one might see the stars. The angry winds Bluster and howl like spirits loosed from hell. The firm earth trembles, and the aged elms Groaning, bow down their venerable tops. Yet this terrific tumult, o’er our heads, Which teacheth gentleness to savage beasts, So that they seek the shelter of their caves, Appeaseth not the bloody strife of men– Amidst the raging of the wind and storm At intervals is heard the cannon’s roar; So near the hostile armaments approach, The wood alone doth part them; any hour May see them mingle in the shock of battle.
WIFE. May God protect us then! Our enemies, Not long ago, were vanquished and dispersed. How comes it that they trouble us again?
CHARCOAL-BURNER. Because they now no longer fear the king, Since that the maid turned out to be a witch At Rheims, the devil aideth us no longer, And things have gone against us.
WIFE. Who comes here?
RAIMOND and JOHANNA enter.
RAIMOND. See! here are cottages; in them at least We may find shelter from the raging storm. You are not able longer to endure it. Three days already you have wandered on, Shunning the eye of man–wild herbs and root Your only nourishment. Come, enter in. These are kind-hearted cottagers.
[The storm subsides; the air grows bright and clear.
CHARCOAL-BURNER. You seem To need refreshment and repose–you’re welcome To what our humble roof can offer you!
WIFE. What has a tender maid to do with arms? Yet truly! these are rude and troublous times When even women don the coat of mail! The queen herself, proud Isabel, ’tis said, Appears in armor in the hostile camp; And a young maid, a shepherd’s lowly daughter, Has led the armies of our lord the king.
CHARCOAL-BURNER. What sayest thou? Enter the hut, and bring A goblet of refreshment for the damsel.
[She enters the hut.
RAIMOND (to JOHANNA). All men, you see, are not so cruel; here E’en in the wilderness are gentle hearts. Cheer up! the pelting storm hath spent its rage, And, beaming peacefully, the sun declines.
CHARCOAL-BURNER. I fancy, as you travel thus in arms, You seek the army of the king. Take heed! Not far remote the English are encamped, Their troops are roaming idly through the wood.
RAIMOND. Alas for us! how then can we escape?
CHARCOAL-BURNER. Stay here till from the town my boy returns. He shall conduct you safe by secret paths. You need not fear-we know each hidden way.
RAIMOND (to JOHANNA). Put off your helmet and your coat-of-mail, They will not now protect you, but betray.
[JOHANNA shakes her head.
CHARCOAL-BURNER. The maid seems very sad–hush! who comes here?
CHARCOAL-BURNER’S WIFE comes out of the hut with a bowl. A Boy.
WIFE. It is our boy whom we expected back. [To JOHANNA. Drink, noble maiden! may God bless it to you!
CHARCOAL-BURNER (to his son). Art come, Anet? What news?
[The boy looks at JOHANNA, who is just raising the bowl to her lips; he recognizes her, steps forward, and snatches it from her.
BOY. Oh, mother! mother! Whom do you entertain? This is the witch Of Orleans!
CHARCOAL-BURNER (and his WIFE). God be gracious to our souls!
[They cross themselves and fly.
JOHANNA (calmly and gently) Thou seest, I am followed by the curse, And all fly from me. Do thou leave me, too; Seek safety for thyself.
RAIMOND. I leave thee! now Alas, who then would bear thee company?
JOHANNA. I am not unaccompanied. Thou hast Heard the loud thunder rolling o’er my head– My destiny conducts me. Do not fear; Without my seeking I shall reach the goal.
RAIMOND. And whither wouldst thou go? Here stand our foes, Who have against thee bloody vengeance sworn– There stand our people who have banished thee.
JOHANNA. Naught will befall me but what heaven ordains.
RAIMOND. Who will provide thee food? and who protect thee From savage beasts, and still more savage men? Who cherish thee in sickness and in grief?
JOHANNA. I know all roots and healing herbs; my sheep Taught me to know the poisonous from the wholesome. I understand the movements of the stars, And the clouds’ flight; I also hear the sound Of hidden springs. Man hath not many wants, And nature richly ministers to life.
RAIMOND (seizing her hand). Wilt thou not look within? Oh, wilt thou not Repent thy sin, be reconciled to God, And to the bosom of the church return?
JOHANNA. Thou hold’st me guilty of this heavy sin?
RAIMOND. Needs must I–thou didst silently confess—-
JOHANNA. Thou, who hast followed me in misery, The only being who continued true, Who slave to me when all the world forsook, Thou also hold’st me for a reprobate Who hath renounced her God—- [RAIMOND is silent. Oh, this is hard!
RAIMOND (in astonishment). And thou wert really then no sorceress?
JOHANNA. A sorceress!
RAIMOND. And all these miracles Thou hast accomplished through the power of God And of his holy saints?
JOHANNA. Through whom besides?
RAIMOND. And thou wert silent to that fearful charge? Thou speakest now, and yet before the king, When words would have availed thee, thou wert dumb!
JOHANNA. I silently submitted to the doom Which God, my lord and master, o’er me hung.
RAIMOND. Thou couldst not to thy father aught reply?
JOHANNA. Coming from him, methought it came from God; And fatherly the chastisement will prove.
RAIMOND. The heavens themselves bore witness to thy guilt!
JOHANNA. The heavens spoke, and therefore I was silent.
RAIMOND. Thou with one word couldst clear thyself, and hast In this unhappy error left the world?
JOHANNA. It was no error–’twas the will of heaven.
RAIMOND. Thou innocently sufferedst this shame, And no complaint proceeded from thy lips! –I am amazed at thee, I stand o’erwhelmed. My heart is troubled in its inmost depths. Most gladly I receive the word as truth, For to believe thy guilt was hard indeed. But could I ever dream a human heart Would meet in silence such a fearful doom!
JOHANNA. Should I deserve to be heaven’s messenger Unless the Master’s will I blindly honored? And I am not so wretched as thou thinkest. I feel privation–this in humble life Is no misfortune; I’m a fugitive,– But in the waste I learned to know myself. When honor’s dazzling radiance round me shone, There was a painful struggle in my breast; I was most wretched, when to all I seemed Most worthy to be envied. Now my mind Is healed once more, and this fierce storm in nature, Which threatened your destruction, was my friend; It purified alike the world and me! I feel an inward peace–and come, what may, Of no more weakness am I conscious now!
RAIMOND. Oh, let us hasten! come, let us proclaim Thine innocence aloud to all the world! JOHANNA. He who sent this delusion will dispel it! The fruit of fate falls only when ’tis ripe! A day is coming that will clear my name, When those who now condemn and banish me, Will see their error and will weep my doom.
RAIMOND. And shall I wait in silence, until chance—-
JOHANNA (gently taking her hand). Thy sense is shrouded by an earthly veil, And dwelleth only on external things, Mine eye hath gazed on the invisible! –Without permission from our God no hair Falls from the head of man. Seest thou the sun Declining to the west? So certainly As morn returneth in her radiant light, Infallibly the day of truth shall come!
QUEEN ISABEL, with soldiers, appears in the background.
ISABEL (behind the scene). This is the way toward the English camp!
RAIMOND. Alas! the foe!
[The soldiers advance, and perceiving JOBANNA fall back in terror.
ISABEL. What now obstructs the march?
SOLDIERS. May God protect us!
ISABEL. Do ye see a spirit? How! Are ye soldiers! Ye are cowards all! [She presses forward, but starts back on beholding the MAIDEN. What do I see! [She collects herself quickly and approaches her. Submit thyself! Thou art My prisoner!
JOHANNA. I am.
[RAIMOND flies in despair.
ISABEL (to the soldiers). Lay her in chains!
[The soldiers timidly approach the MAIDEN; she extends her arms and is chained.
Is this the mighty, the terrific one, Who chased your warriors like a flock of lambs, Who, powerless now, cannot protect herself? Doth she work miracles with credulous fools, And lose her influence when she meets a man?
[To the MAIDEN.
Why didst thou leave the army? Where’s Dunois, Thy knight and thy protector.
JOHANNA. I am banished.
[ISABEL, stepping back astonished.
ISABEL. What say’st thou? Thou art banished? By the Dauphin?
JOHANNA. Inquire no further! I am in thy power, Decide my fate.
ISABEL. Banished, because thou hast Snatched him from ruin, placed upon his brow The crown at Rheims, and made him King of France? Banished! Therein I recognize my son! –Conduct her to the camp, and let the host Behold the phantom before whom they trembled! She a magician? Her sole magic lies In your delusion and your cowardice! She is a fool who sacrificed herself To save her king, and reapeth for her pains A king’s reward. Bear her to Lionel. The fortune of the French! send him bound; I’ll follow anon.
JOHANNA. To Lionel? Slay me at once, ere send me unto him.
ISABEL (to the soldiers). Obey your orders, soldiers! Bear her hence.
JOHANNA (to the soldiers). Ye English, suffer not that I escape Alive out of your hands! Revenge yourselves! Unsheath your weapons, plunge them in my heart, And drag me lifeless to your general’s feet! Remember it was I who slew your heroes, Who never showed compassion, who poured forth Torrents of English blood, who from your sons Snatched the sweet pleasure of returning home! Take now a bloody vengeance! Murder me! I now am in your power; I may perchance Not always be so weak.
CONDUCTOR OF THE SOLDIERS. Obey the queen!
JOHANNA. Must I be yet more wretched than I was! Unpitying Virgin! Heavy is thy hand Hast thou completely thrust me from thy favor? No God appears, no angel shows himself; Closed are heaven’s portals, miracles have ceased.
[She follows the SOLDIERS.
The French Camp. DUNOIS, between the ARCHBISHOP and DUCHATEL.
ARCHBISHOP. Conquer your sullen indignation, prince! Return with us! Come back unto your king! In this emergency abandon not The general cause, when we are sorely pressed, And stand in need of your heroic arm.
DUNOIS. Why are ye sorely pressed? Why doth the foe Again exalt himself? all was achieved;– France was triumphant–war was at an end;– The savior you have banished; you henceforth May save yourselves; I’ll not again behold The camp wherein the maid abideth not.
DUCHATEL. Think better of it, prince! Dismiss us not With such an answer!
DUNOIS. Silence, Duchatel! You’re hateful to me; I’ll hear naught from you; You were the first who doubted of her truth.
ARCHBISHOP. Who had not wavered on that fatal day, And been bewildered, when so many signs Bore evidence against her! We were stunned, Our hearts were crushed beneath the sudden blow. –Who in that hour of dread could weigh the proofs? Our calmer judgment now returns to us, We see the maid as when she walked with us, Nor have we any fault to charge her with. We are perplexed–we fear that we have done A grievous wrong. The king is penitent, The duke remorseful, comfortless La Hire, And every heart doth shroud itself in woe.
DUNOIS. She a deluder? If celestial truth Would clothe herself in a corporeal form, She needs must choose the features of the maiden. If purity of heart, faith, innocence, Dwell anywhere on earth, upon her lips And in her eyes’ clear depths they find their home.
ARCHBISHOP. May the Almighty, through a miracle, Shed light upon this awful mystery, Which baffles human insight. Howsoe’er This sad perplexity may be resolved, One of two grievous sins we have committed! Either in fight we have availed ourselves Of hellish arms, or banished hence a saint! And both call down upon this wretched land The vengeance and the punishment of heaven.
The same, a NOBLEMAN, afterwards RAIMOND.
NOBLEMAN. A shepherd youth inquires after your highness, He urgently entreats an interview, He says he cometh from the maiden—-
DUNOIS. Haste! Conduct him hither! He doth come from her!
[The NOBLEMAN opens the door to RAIMOND, DUNOIS hastens to meet him.
Where is she? Where is the maid?
RAIMOND. Hail! noble prince! And blessed am I that I find with you This holy man, the shield of the oppressed, The father of the poor and destitute!
DUNOIS. Where is the maiden?
ARCHBISHOP. Speak, my son, inform us!
RAIMOND. She is not, sir, a wicked sorceress! To God and all his saints I make appeal. An error blinds the people. You’ve cast forth God’s messenger, you’ve banished innocence!
DUNOIS. Where is she?
RAIMOND. I accompanied her flight Towards the woods of Ardennes; there she hath Revealed to me her spirit’s inmost depths. In torture I’ll expire, and will resign My hopes of everlasting happiness, If she’s not guiltless, sir, of every sin!
DUNOIS. The sun in heaven is not more pure than she! Where is she? Speak!
RAIMOND. If God hath turned your hearts, Oh hasten, I entreat you–rescue her She is a prisoner in the English camp.
DUNOIS. A prisoner say you?
ARCHBISHOP. Poor unfortunate!
RAIMOND. There in the forest as we sought for shelter, We were encountered by Queen Isabel, Who seized and sent her to the English host. Oh, from a cruel death deliver her Who hath full many a time delivered you!
DUNOIS. Sound an alarm! to arms! up! beat the drums. Forth to the field! Let France appear in arms! The crown and the palladium are at stake! Our honor is in pledge! risk blood and life! She must be rescued ere the day is done!
A watch-tower–an opening above. JOHANNA and LIONEL.
FASTOLFE (entering hastily). The people can no longer be restrained. With fury they demand the maiden’s death. In vain your opposition. Let her die And throw her head down from the battlements! Her blood alone will satisfy the host.
ISABEL (coming in). With ladders they begin to scale the walls. Appease the angry people! Will you wait Till in blind fury they o’erthrow the tower, And we beneath its towers are destroyed? Protect her here you cannot. Give her up!
LIONEL. Let them storm on. In fury let them rage! Firm is this castle, and beneath its ruins I will be buried ere I yield to them. –Johanna, answer me! only be mine, And I will shield thee ‘gainst a world in arms.
ISABEL. Are you a man?
LIONEL. Thy friends have cast thee off. To thy ungrateful country then dost owe Duty and faith no longer. The false cowards Who sought thy hand, forsake thee in thy need. They for thy honor venture not the fight, But I, against my people and ‘gainst thine, Will be thy champion. Once thou didst confess My life was dear to thee; in combat then I stood before thee as thine enemy– Thou hast not now a single friend but me.
JOHANNA. Thou art my people’s enemy and mine. Between us there can be no fellowship. Thee I can never love, but if thy heart Cherish affection for me, let it bring A blessing on my people. Lead thy troops Far from the borders of my fatherland; Give up the keys of all the captured towns, Restore the booty, set the captives free, Send hostages the compact to confirm, And peace I offer thee in my king’s name.
ISABEL. Wilt thou, a captive, dictate laws to us?
JOHANNA. It must be done; ’tis useless to delay. Never, oh never, will this land endure The English yoke; sooner will France become A mighty sepulchre for England’s hosts. Fallen in battle are your bravest chiefs. Think how you may achieve a safe retreat; Your fame is forfeited, your power is lost.
ISABEL. Can you endure her raving insolence?
A CAPTAIN enters hastily.
CAPTAIN. Haste, general! Prepare the host for battle. The French with flying banners come this way, Their shining weapons glitter in the vale.
JOHANNA (with enthusiasm). My people come this way! Proud England now Forth in the field! now boldly must you fight!
FASTOLFE. Deluded woman, moderate your joy! You will not see the issue of this day.
JOHANNA. My friends will win the fight and I shall die! The gallant heroes need my arm no more.
LIONEL. These dastard enemies I scorn. They have In twenty battles fled before our arms, Ere this heroic maiden fought for them. All the whole nation I despise, save one, And this one they have banished. Come, Fastolfe, We soon will give them such another day As that of Poictiers and of Agincourt. Do you remain with the fortress, queen, And guard the maiden till the fight is o’er. I leave for your protection fifty knights.
FASTOLFE. How! general, shall we march against the foe And leave this raging fury in our rear?
JOHANNA. What! can a fettered woman frighten thee?
LIONEL. Promise, Johanna, not to free thyself.
JOHANNA. To free myself is now my only wish.
ISABEL. Bind her with triple chains. I pledged my life That she shall not escape.
[She is bound with heavy chains.
LIONEL (to JOHANNA). Thou will’st it so! Thou dost compel us! still it rests with thee! Renounce the French–the English banner bear, And thou art free, and these rude, savage men Who now desire thy blood shall do thy will.
FASTOLFE (urgently). Away, away, my general!
JOHANNA. Spare thy words, The French are drawing near. Defend thyself!
[Trumpets sound, LIONEL hastens forth.
FASTOLFE. You know your duty, queen! if fate declares Against us, should you see our people fly.
ISABEL (showing a dagger). Fear not. She shall not live to see our fall.
FASTOLFE (to JOHANNA). Thou knowest what awaits thee, now implore A blessing on the weapons of thy people.
ISABEL, JOHANNA, SOLDIERS.
JOHANNA. Ay! that I will! no power can hinder me. Hark to that sound, the war-march of my people! How its triumphant notes inspire my heart! Ruin to England! victory to France! Up, valiant countrymen! The maid is near; She cannot, as of yore, before you bear Her banner–she is bound with heavy chains; But freely from her prison soars her soul, Upon the pinions of your battle-song.
ISABEL (to a SOLDIER). Ascend the watch-tower which commands the field, And thence report the progress of the fight.
JOHANNA. Courage, my people! ‘Tis the final struggle– Another victory, and the foe lies low!
ISABEL. What see’st thou?
SOLDIER. They’re already in close fight. A furious warrior on a Barbary steed, In tiger’s skin, leads forward the gens d’armes.
JOHANNA. That’s Count Dunois! on, gallant warrior! Conquest goes with thee.
SOLDIER. The Burgundian duke Attacks the bridge.
ISABEL. Would that ten hostile spears Might his perfidious heart transfix, the traitor!
SOLDIER. Lord Fastolfe gallantly opposes him. Now they dismount–they combat man to man Our people and the troops of Burgundy.
ISABEL. Behold’st thou not the Dauphin? See’st thou not The royal wave?
SOLDIER. A cloud of dust Shrouds everything. I can distinguish naught.
JOHANNA. Had he my eyes, or stood I there aloft, The smallest speck would not elude my gaze! The wild fowl I can number on the wing, And mark the falcon in his towering flight.
SOLDIER. There is a fearful tumult near the trench; The chiefs, it seems, the nobles, combat there.
ISABEL. Still doth our banner wave?
SOLDIER. It proudly floats.
JOHANNA. Could I look through the loopholes of the wall, I with my lance the battle would control.
SOLDIER. Alas! What do I see? Our general’s Surrounded by the foe!
ISABEL (points the dagger at JOHANNA). Die, wretch!
SOLDIER (quickly). He’s free! The gallant Fastolfe in the rear attacks The enemy–he breaks their serried ranks.
ISABEL (withdrawing the dagger). There spoke thy angel!
SOLDIER. Victory! They fly.
ISABEL. Who fly?
SOLDIER. The French and the Burgundians fly; The field is covered o’er with fugitives.
JOHANNA. My God! Thou wilt not thus abandon me!
SOLDIER. Yonder they lead a sorely wounded knight; The people rush to aid him–he’s a prince.
ISABEL. One of our country, or a son of France?
SOLDIER. They loose his helmet–it is Count Dunois.
JOHANNA (seizes her fetters with convulsive violence). And I am nothing but a fettered woman!
SOLDIER. Look yonder! Who the azure mantle wears Bordered with gold?
JOHANNA. That is my lord, the king.
SOLDIER. His horse is restive, plunges, rears and falls– He struggles hard to extricate himself.
[JOHANNA accompanies these words with passionate movements.
Our troops are pressing on in full career, They near him, reach him–they surround him now.
JOHANNA. Oh, have the heavens above no angels more!
ISABEL (laughing scornfully). Now is the time, deliverer–now deliver!
JOHANNA (throws herself upon her knees, and prays with passionate violence). Hear me, O God, in my extremity! In fervent supplication up to Thee, Up to thy heaven above I send my soul. The fragile texture of a spider’s web, As a ship’s cable, thou canst render strong; Easy it is to thine omnipotence To change these fetters into spider’s webs– Command it, and these massy chains shall fall, And these thick walls be rent, Thou, Lord of old, Didst strengthen Samson, when enchained and blind He bore the bitter scorn of his proud foes. Trusting in thee, he seized with mighty power The pillars of his prison, bowed himself, And overthrew the structure.
SOLDIER. The king is taken!
JOHANNA (springing up). Then God be gracious to me!
[She seizes her chains violently with both hands, and breaks them asunder. At the same moment rushing upon the nearest soldier, she seizes his sword and hurries out. All gaze after her, transfixed with astonishment.
The same, without JOHANNA.
ISABEL (after a long pause). How was it? Did I dream? Where is she gone? How did she break these ponderous iron chains? A world could not have made me credit it, If I had not beheld it with these eyes.
SOLDIER (from the tower). How? Hath she wings? Hath the wind borne her down?
ISABEL. Is she below?
SOLDIER. She strides amidst the fight: Her course outspeeds my sight–now she is here– Now there–I see her everywhere at once! –She separates the troops–all yield to her: The scattered French collect–they form anew! –Alas! what do I see! Our people cast Their weapons to the ground, our banners sink—-
ISABEL. What? Will she snatch from us the victory?
SOLDIER. She presses forward, right towards the king. She reaches him–she bears him from the fight– Lord Fastolfe falls–the general is taken!
ISABEL. I’ll hear no more! Come down!
SOLDIER. Fly, queen! you will be taken by surprise. Armed soldiers are advancing tow’rds the tower.
[He comes down.
ISABEL (drawing her sword). Then fight, ye cowards!
LA HIRE with soldiers. At his entrance the people of the QUEEN lay down their arms.
LA HIRE (approaching her respectfully). Queen, submit yourself– Your knights have yielded–to resist is vain! –Accept my proffered services. Command Where you would be conducted.
ISABEL. Every place The same, where I encounter not the Dauphin.
[She resigns her sword, and follows him with the soldiers.
The Scene changes to the battle-field.
Soldiers with flying banners occupy the background. Before them the KING and the DUKE OF BURGUNDY appear, bearing JOHANNA in their arms; she is mortally wounded, and apparently lifeless. They advance slowly to the front of the stage. AGNES SOREL rushes in.
SOREL (throwing herself on the bosom of the KING). You’re free–you live–I have you back again!
KING. Yes, I am free–I am so at this price!
[Pointing to JOHANNA.
SOREL. Johanna! God! she’s dying!
BURGUNDY. She is gone An angel passeth hence! See, how she lies, Easy and tranquil, like a sleeping child! The peace of heaven around her features plays, The breath of life no longer heaves her breast, But vital warmth still lingers in her hand.
KING. She’s gone! She never will awaken more, Her eye will gaze no more on earthly things. She soars on high, a spirit glorified, She seeth not our grief, our penitence.
SOREL. Her eyes unclose–she lives!
BURGUNDY (in astonishment). Can she return Back from the grave, triumphant e’en o’er death? She riseth up! She standeth!
JOHANNA (standing up, and looking round). Where am I?
BURGUNDY. With thine own people, maiden–with thy friends!
KING. Supported by thy friend, and by thy king.
JOHANNA (after looking at him fixedly for some time). No! I am not a sorceress! Indeed I am not one.
KING. Thou’rt holy, as an angel; A cloud of error dimmed our mental sight.
JOHANNA (gazing round her with a joyful smile). And am I really, then, among my friends, And am no more rejected and despised? They curse me not–kindly they look on me! –Yes, all around me now seems clear again! That is my king!–the banners these of France! My banner I behold not–where is it? Without my banner I dare not appear; To me it was confided by my Lord, And I before his throne must lay it down; I there may show it, for I bore it truly.
KING (averting his face). Give her the banner!
[It is given to her. She stands quite unsupported, the banner in her hand. The heaven is illumined by a rosy light.
JOHANNA. See you the rainbow yonder in the air? Its golden portals heaven doth wide unfold, Amid the angel choir she radiant stands, The eternal Son she claspeth to her breast, Her arms she stretcheth forth to me in love. How is it with me? Light clouds bear me up– My ponderous mail becomes a winged robe; I mount–I fly–back rolls the dwindling earth– Brief is the sorrow–endless is the joy!
[Her banner falls and she sinks lifeless on the ground. All remain for some time in speechless sorrow. Upon a signal from the KING, all the banners are gently placed over her, so that she is entirely concealed by them.