Of many a ruin'd dwelling: nor within
Less dreary was the scene; at evening hour
No more the merry viol's note was heard, 87
No more the aged matron at her door
Humm'd cheery to her spinning-wheel, and mark'd
Her children dancing to the roundelay.
The chieftains, strengthening still the massy walls,
Survey them with the prying eye of fear.
The eager youth in dreadful preparation
Strive in the mimic war. Silent and stern,
With the hurrying restlessness of fear, they urge
Their gloomy labours. In the city dwelt
An utter silence of all pleasant sounds,
But all day long the armourers' beat was heard,
And all the night it echoed.

Soon the foe
Led to our walls the siege : as on they move
The clarions clangor, and the cheerful fife,
According to the thundering drum's deep sound,
Direct their measured march. Before the ranks
Stalks the stern form of Salisbury, the scourge
Of France; and Talbot tower'd by his side,
Talbot, at whose dread name the froward child
Clings mute and trembling to his nurse's breast.
Suffolk was there, and Hungerford, and Scales,
And Fastoiffe, victor in the frequent fight.
Dark as the autumnal storm they roll'd along,
A countless host! From the high tower I mark'd
The dreadful scene; I saw the iron blaze
Of javelins sparkling to the noontide sun,
Their banners tossing to the troubled gale,
And–fearful music—heard upon the wind

: The modulated step of multitudes.

“There in the midst, shuddering with fear, I saw The dreadful stores of death; tremendous roll'd Over rough roads the harsh wheels; the brazen tubes Flash'd in the sun their fearful splendour far, And last the loaded waggons creak'd along.

• Nor were our chieftains, whilst their care procured
Human defence, neglectful to implore
That heavenly aid, deprived of which the strength
Of man is weakness. Bearing through our streets
The precious relics of the holy dead,
The monks and nuns pour'd many an earnest prayer,
Devoutly join'd by all. Saint Aignan's shrine,
Was throng'd by supplicants, the general voice
Call'd on Saint Aignan's name * again to save
His people, as of yore, before he past
Into the fulness of eternal rest,
When by the Spirit to the lingering camp
Of Etius borne, he brought the timely aid,
And Attila with all his multitudes
Far off retreated to their field of shame.”

And now Dunois, for he had seen the camp
Well-order'd, enterd. a One night more in peace
England shall rest,” he cried, were yet the storm
Burst on her guilty head! Then, their proud vaunts
Forgotten, or remember'd to their shame,
Wainly her chiefs shall curse the hour when first
They pitch'd their tents round Orleans.»
“Of that siege,”
The Maid of Arc replied, a gladly I hear
The detail. Isabel proceed! for soon

Destined to rescue this devoted town,
The tale of all the ills she hath endur'd,
I listen, sorrowing for the past, and feel
High satisfaction at the saviour power
To me commission'd.”
Thus the Virgin spake,

Nor Isabel delay d. “And now more near
The hostile host advancing pitch their tents.
Unnumber'd streamers wave, and clamorous shouts,
Anticipating conquest, rend the air
With universal uproar. From their camp
A herald comes; his garb emblazon'd o'er
With leopards and the lilies of our realm,
Foul shame to France! The summons of the foe
He brought.”

The Bastard interrupting cried,
« I was with Gaucour and the assembled chiefs,
When by his office privileged and proud
That herald spake, as certain of success
As he had made a league with Victory :—
“Nobles of France rebellious ! from the chief
Of yon victorious host, the mighty Earl
Of Salisbury, now there in place of him
Your Regent John of Bedford : in his name
I come, and in our sovereign Lord the King's,
Henry. Ye know full well our Master's claim,
Incontrovertible, to this good realm,
By right descent, and solemnly confirm'd
By your great Monarch and our mighty King
Fifth Henry, in the treaty ratified
At Troyes, 89 wherein your Monarch did disclaim
All future right and title to this crown,
His own exempted, for his son and heirs
Down to the end of time. This sign'd and seal’d
At the holy altar, and by nuptial knot
Of Henry and your princess, yields the realm,
Charles dead and Henry, to his infant son
Henry of Windsor. Who then dares oppose
My Master's title, in the face of God
Of wilful perjury, most atrocious crime,
Stands guilty, and of flat rebellion gainst
The Lord's anointed. He at Paris crown'd
With loud acclaim from duteous multitudes,
Thus speaks by me:—Deliver up your town
To Salisbury, and yield yourselves and arms,
So shall your lives be safe : and such his grace,
If of your free accord to him you pay
Due homage as your sovereign Lord and King,
Your rich estates, your houses shall be safe,
And you in favour stand, as is the Duke,
Philip of Burgundy. But—mark me well!
If obstinately wilful, you persist
To scorn his proffer'd mercy; not one stone
Upon another of this wretched town
Shall then be left; and when the English host
Triumphant in the dust have trod the towers
Of Orleans, who survive the dreadful war
Shall die like traitors by the hangman's hand.
Ye men of France, remember Caen and Roan!'

« He ceased : nor Gaucour for a moment paus'd To form reply. ‘Herald ! to all thy vaunts Of English sovereignty let this suffice For answer: France will only own as king Him whom the people chuse. On Charles's brow,

Transmitted through a long and good descent, The crown remains. We know no homage due To English robbers, and disclaim the peace Inglorious made at Troyes by factious men Hostile to France. Thy Master's proffer'd grace Meets the contempt it merits. Herald, yes, We shall remember Meaux, and Caen, and Roan' Go tell the mighty Earl of Salisbury, That, as like Blanchard, Gaucour dares his power; Like Blanchard, he can mock his cruelty, And triumph by enduring. Speak I well, Ye men of Orleans?' Never did I hear A shout so universal as ensued Of approbation. The assembled host As with one voice pour'd forth their loyalty, And struck their sounding shields; and walls and towers Echoed the loud uproar. The herald went. The work of war began.” “A fearful scene,” Cried Isabel. “The iron storm of death Clash'd in the sky; from the strong engines hurl’d Huge rocks with tempest force convulsed the air; Then was there heard at once the clang of arms, The bellowing cannons, and the soldier's shout, The female's shriek, the affrighted infant's cry, The groan of death discord of dreadful sounds That jarr'd the soul! Nor while the encircling foe Leaguer'd the walls of Orleans, idly slept Our friends : for winning down the Loire its way The frequent vessel with provision fraught, And men, and all the artillery of death, Cheer'd us with welcome succour. At the bridge These safely stranded mock'd the foeman's force. This to prevent, Salisbury their watchful chief 9° A mighty work prepares. Around our walls Encircling walls he builds, surrounding thus The city. Firm'd with massiest buttresses, At equal distance, sixty forts protect The pile. But chief where in the sieged town The six great avenues meet in the midst, 9 Six castles there he rear'd impregnable, With deep-dug moats and bridges drawn aloft, Where over the strong gate suspended hung The dread portcullis. Thence the gunner's eye From his safe shelter could with ease survey Intended sally, or approaching aid, And point destruction. It were long to tell And tedious, how with many a bold assault The men of Orleans rush’d upon their foes; How after difficult fight the enemy Possess'd the Tournelles, 9° and the embattled tower That shadows from the bridge the subject Loire; Though numbering now three thousand daring men, Frequent and fierce the garrison repell'd Their far out-numbering foes. From every aid Included, they in Orleans groan'd beneath All ills accumulate. The shatter'd roofs Gave to the dews of night free passage there, And ever and anon the ponderous stone, Ruining where'er it fell, with hideous crash Came like an earthquake, startling from his sleep The affrighted soldier. From the brazen slings The wild-sire balls shower'd through the midnight sky;9%

And often their huge engines cast among us
The dead and loathsome cattle of their camp,
As though our enemies, to their deadly league
Forcing the common air, would make us breathe
Poisonous pollution. 94 Through the streets were seen
The frequent fire, and heaps of dead, in haste
Piled up and steaming to infected heaven.
For ever the incessant storm of death
Pours down, and shrouded in unwholesome vaults 9%
The wretched females hide, not idle there
Wasting the hours in tears, but all employ'd,
Or to provide the hungry soldier's meal,
Or tear their garments to bind up his wounds—
A sad equality of wretcheduess!

« Now came the worst of ills, for Famine came : The provident hand deals out its scanty dole, Yielding so little its supply to life As but protracted death. The loathliest food Hunted with eager eye, and dainty deem'd; The dog is slain that at his master's feet Ilowling with hunger lay; with jealous fear, Hating a rival's look, the husband hides His miserable meal; the famish'd babe Clings closely to his dying mother's breast; And...horrible to tell'...where thrown aside There lay unburied in the open streets Huge heaps of carcasses, the soldier stands Eager to mark the carrion crow for food. 98

“O peaceful scenes of childhood! pleasant fields! Haunts of mine infancy, where I have stray'd Tracing the brook along its winding way, Or pluck'd the primrose, or with giddy speed Chased the gay butterfly from flower to flower! O days in vain remember'd how my soul, Sick with calamity, and the sore ills Of hunger, dwelt upon you!... quiet home! Thinking of you amid the waste of war, I could in bitterness have cursed the great Who made me what I was a helpless one, Orphand, and wanting bread!»

« And be they curst!»

Conrade exclaim’d, his dark eye flashing rage;
• And be they curst! O groves and woodland shades,
How blest indeed were you, if the iron rod
Should one day from Oppression's hand be wrench'd
By everlasting Justice! Come that hour,
When in the Sun the Angel of the Lord 97
Shall stand and cry to all the fowls of heaven,
“Gather ye to the supper of your God,
That ye may eat the flesh of mighty men,
Of captains, and of kings!' Then shall be peace.”

« And now, lest all should perish,” she pursued, « The women and the infirm must from the town Go forth and seek their fate.

I will not now Recal the moment when on my poor Francis With a long look I hung! At dead of night Made mute by fear, we mount the secret bark, And glide adown the stream with silent oars: Thus thrown upon the mercy of mankind, I wander'd reckless where, till wearied out, And cold at heart, I laid me down to die:

So by this warrior found. Him I had known

And loved, for all loved Conrade who had known him;
Nor did I feel so pressing the hard hand
Of want in Orleans, ere he parted thence
On perilous envoy. For of his small farew—

• Of this enough,” said Conrade; a Holy Maid! One duty yet awaits me to perform. Orleans her envoy sent me, to demand Aid from her idle Sovereign. Willingly Did I achieve the hazardous enterprise, For rumour had already made me fear The ill that hath fallen on me. It remains, Ere I do banish me from human kind, That I re-enter Orleans, and announce Thy march. T is night...and hark! how dead a silence! Fit hour to tread so perilous a path!»

So saying, Conrade from the tent went forth.


The night was calm, and many a moving cloud
Shadow'd the moon. Along the forest glade
With swift foot Conrade past, and now had reach'd
The plain, where whilome by the pleasant Loire,
Cheer'd with the song, the rustics had beheld
The day go down upon their merriment:
No song of Peace now echoed on its banks,
There tents were pitch'd, and there the sentinel,
Slow pacing on his sullen rounds, beheld
The frequent corse roll down the tainted stream.
Conrade with wider sweep pursued his way,
Shunning the camp, now bush'd in sleep and still.
And now no sound was heard save of the Loire,
Murmuring along. The noise of coming feet
Alarm'd him; nearer drew the fearful sound
As of pursuit; anon...the clash of arms!
That instant rising o'er a broken cloud
The moon-beams shone, where two with force combined
Prest on a single foe; he, warding still
Their swords, retreated in the unequal fight,
As he would make the city. Conrade shook
His long lance for the war, and strode along.
Full in the breast of one with forceful arm
Plunged be the spear of death; and, as dismay’d
The other sled, “Now haste we to the gates,
Frenchman on he cried. On to the stream they speed,
And plunging stemm'd with sincwy stroke the tide,
Soon on the opposite shore arrived and safe.

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“There is no food in Orleans,” he replied,
«Scarce a meal more! the assembled chiefs resolved,
If thou shouldst bring no tidings of near aid, -
To cut their way to safety, or by death
Prevent the pangs of famine. 98 One they sought
Who venturous in the English camp should spy
Where safest they might rush upon the foe. !
The perilous task I chose, then desperate
Of happiness.”
So saying, they approach'd
The gate. The sentinel, soon as he heard
Thitherward footsteps, with uplifted lance w
Challenged the darkling travellers. At their voice
He draws the strong bolts back, and painful turns
The massy entrance. To the careful chiefs
They pass. At midnight of their extreme state
Counselling they sat, serious and stern. To them
« Assembled warriors! sent from God,
There is a holy Maid by miracles
Made manifest. Twelve hundred chosen men :
Follow her hallow'd standard. These Dunois,

The strength of France, arrays. With the next noon
Ye shall behold their march.”
Seized the assembled chiefs, and joy by doubt
Little repress'd. Open the granaries!»
Xaintrailles exclaim'd; a give we to all the host
With hand unsparing now the plenteous meal;
To-morrow we are safe! for Heaven all just
Hath seen our sufferings and decreed their end.
Let the glad tidings echo through the town
God is with us!»
* Rest not in too full faith,”
Graville replied, “ on this miraculous aid...
Some frenzied female whose wild fantasy,
Shaping vain dreams, infects the credulous
With her own madness! That Dunois is there,
Leading in arms twelve hundred chosen men,
May give good hope, yet let not we our food
Be lavish'd, lest the warrior in the fight
Should haply fail, and Orleans be the prey
Of England so
« Chief! I tell thee,” Conrade cried,
* I did myself behold the sepulchre,
Fulfilling what she spake, give up those arms
Which surely for no common end the grave
Through many an age hath held inviolate.
She is the delegate of the Most High,
And shall deliver Orleans!»
Gaucour then:—
* Be it as thou hast said. High hope I feel,
For surely to no vulgar tale these chiefs
Would yield a light belief. Our scanty stores
Must yield us, ere another week elapse,
To death or England. Tell through all our troops
There is a holy virgin sent from God;
They in that faith invincible shall war
With more than mortal fury.”
Thus the Chief,
And what he said seem'd good. The men of Orleans,
Long by their foeman bay'd, a victim band
To war, and woe, and want, such transport felt,
As when the Mexicans, 99 with eager eye
| Gazing to Huixachtla's distant top,
On that last night, doubtful if ever morn

Again shall cheer them, mark the mystic fire
Flame on the breast of some brave prisoner,
A dreadful altar. As they see the blaze
Beaming on Iztapalapan's near towers,
Or on Tezcuco's calmy lake flash'd far,
Songs of thanksgiving and the shout of joy
Wake the loud echo; the glad husband tears
The mantling aloe from the female's face,
And children, now deliver'd from the dread
Of everlasting darkness, look abroad,
Hail the good omen, and expect the sun
Uninjured still to run his flaming race.

Thus while in that besieged town the night Wan'd sleepless, silent slept the hallow'd host. And now the morning came. From his hard couch, Lightly upstarting and bedight in arms, The Bastard moved along, with provident eye Marshalling the troops. All high in hope they march; And now the sun shot from the southern sky His moon-tide radiance, when afar they hear The hum of men, and mark the distant towers Of Orleans, and the bulwarks of the foe, And many a streamer wantoning in air. These as they saw and thought of all the ills Their brethren had endured, beleaguer'd there For many a month; such ardour for the fight Burnt in each bosom, as young Ali felt, Then when Mohammed of the assembled tribe Ask'd who would be his vizir. Fierce in faith, Forth from the race of Hashem stept the youth, « Prophet of God! lo...I will be the man!» And well did Ali merit that high post, Victorious upon Beder's fertile vale, And on mount Ohud, and before the walls Of Chaibar, when down-cleaving to the chest His giant foe, he grasp'd the massy gate, Shook with strong arm and tore it from the fort, And lifted it in air, portentous shield!

«Behold the tower of Orleans!» cried Dunois.
« Lo! this the vale where on the banks of Loire,
Of yore, at close of day the rustic band
Danced to the roundelay. In younger years
As oft I glided down the silver stream,
Frequent upon the lifted oar I paused,
Listening the sound of far-off merriment.
There wave the hostile banners' martial Maid,
Give thou the signal'... let me rush upon
These ministers of murder, who have sack'd
The fruitful fields, and made the hamlet haunts
Silent, or hearing but the widow's groan.
Give thou the signal, Maiden!»

Her dark eye
Fix'd sadly on the foe, the holy Maid
Answer'd him. “ Ere the bloody sword be drawn,
And slaughter be let loose, befits us send
Some peaceful messenger, who shall make known
The will of Heaven. So timely warn d, our foes
Haply may yet repent, and quit in peace
Besieged Orleans, for I fain would spare
The bloody price of victory.”

So she said: And as she spake, a soldier from the ranks Came forward: « I will be thy messenger, Maiden of God! and to the English camp

Will bear thy bidding.»
• Go,” the Virgin cried:
« Say to the Lord of Salisbury, and the chiefs
Of England, Suffolk, Fastolffe, Talbot, Scales,
Invaders of the country, say, thus says
The Maid of Orleans. With your troops retire
In peace. Of every captured town the keys
Restore to Charles; so bloodless you may seek
Your native island; for the God of Hosts
Thus hath decreed. To Charles the rightful heir,
By long descent and by the willing choice
of duteous subjects, hath the Lord assign'd
His conquest. In his name the Virgin comes
Arm'd with his sword; yet not of mercy void.
Depart in peace: for ere the morrow dawns,
Victorious upon yonder wall shall wave
The holy banner.” To the English camp
Fearless the warrior strode.
At mid-day meal
With all the dissonance of boisterous mirth,
The British chiefs caroused and quaff d the bowl
To future conquest. By the sentinel
Conducted came the Frank.
« Chiefs,” he exclaim'd,
< Salisbury, and ye the representatives
Of the English king, usurper of this realm,
To ye the leaders of the invading host
I come, no welcome messenger. Thus saith
The Maid of Orleans. “With your troops retire
In peace. Of every captured town the keys
Restore to Charles; so bloodless you may seek
Your native island; for the God of Hosts
Thus hath decreed. To Charles the rightsul heir,
By long descent and by the willing choice
Of duteous subjects, hath the Lord assign'd
His conquest. In his name the Virgin comes
Arm'd with his sword; yet not of mercy void.
Depart in peace: for ere the morrow dawns,
Victorious upon yonder wall shall wave
The holy banner.' "
Wonder made a pause:
To this the laugh succeeds. “What on Fastolffe cried,
“A woman warrior hath your monarch sent
To save devoted Orleans? By the rood,
I thank His Grace. If she be young and fair,
No worthless prize, my lords! Go, tel; your Maid,
Joyful we wait her coming.»
There was one
Among the English chiefs who had grown old
In arms, yet had not age unnerved his limbs,
But from the flexile nimbleness of youth
Braced to unyielding stiffness. One who saw
The warrior at the feast, might well have deem'd
That Talbot with his whole collected might
Wielded the sword in war, for on his neck
The veins were full,” and every muscle bore
The character of strength. He his stern eye
Fix'd on the herald, and before he spake,
His silence threaten’d.”
• Get thee gone!» cyclaim'd
The indignant chief; w away! nor think to scare
With girlish fantasies the English host
That scorns your bravest warriors. Hie thee thence,
Insolent herald! tell this frantic girl,
This courtly minion, to avoid my wrath,
For if she dares the war, I will not stain

My good blood-rusted sword—but she shall meet The mockery of the camp!» « Nay, scare her not,”

Replied their chief; a go, tell this Maid of Orleans,

That Salisbury longs to meet her in the fight.
Nor let her fear that rude and iron chains
Shall gall her tender limbs; for I myself
Will be her prison, and——w

« Contemptuous man :
No more la the Frank exclaim'd, as to his check
Rush'd the red anger. “Bearing words of peace
And timely warning came I to your camp;
Here with rude mockery and with insolence

| Receiv'd. Bear witness, chieftains! that the French,

Free from blood-guiltiness, shall meet the war.”

• And who art thou?» cried Suffolk, and his eye Grew fierce and wrath-inflam'd : « What fool art thou, Who at this woman's bidding comest to brave The host of England thou shalt have thy meed on Then turning to the sentinel he cried, Prepare a stake and let the men of Orleans, And let this woman who believes her name May privilege her apostle, see the fire Consume him.” Build the stake! for by my God He shall be kalender'd of this new faith First martyr.” As he spake, a sudden flush Came o'er the herald's cheek, and his heart beat With quicker action; but the sudden flush, Alarmed Nature's impulse, faded soon To such a steady hue as spake the soul Roused up with all its powers, and unsubdued, And glorying in endurance. Through the camp, Soon as the tidings spread, a shout arose, A hideous shout, more savage than the howl Of midnight wolves; and round the Frank they throngd, To gaze upon their victim. He pass'd on; And as they led him to the appointed place Look'd round, as though forgetful of himself, And cried aloud, “Oh ' woe it is to think So many men shall never see the sun Go down lye English mothers, mourn ye now ! Daughters of England, weep! for hard of heart Still your mad leaders urge the impious war, And for their folly and their wickedness, Your sons, your husbands, by the sword must fall. Long-suffering is the Lord, and slow to wrath, But heavy are his judgments!" He who spake was young and comely; had his cheek been pale with dread, and had his eye look'd fearfully Sure he had won compassion; but the blood Gave now a livelier meaning to his cheek, As with a prophet's look and prophet's voice He raised his ominous warning: they who heard Wonder'd, and they who rear'd the stake urged on With half-unwilling hands their slacken'd toil, And doubted what might follow. Not unseen Rear'd they the stake, and piled around the wood; in sight of Orleans and the Maiden's host,” Had Suffolk's arrogant fierceness bade the work Of death be done. The Maiden's host beheld; At once in eager wrath they raised the loud And general clamour, “Lead us to the foe!”

* Not upon us, O God!» the Maid exclaim’d,
« Not upon us cry out the innocent blood!»
And bade the signal sound. In the English camp
The clarion and the trumpet's blare was heard,
In haste they seize their arms, in haste they form,
Some by bold words seeking to hide their fear
Even from themselves, some silently in prayer,
For much their hearts misgave them.
But the rage
Of Suffolk swell'd within him. “Speed your work!,
Exclaim'd the savage earl; a kindle the pile
That France may see the fire, and in defeat
Feel aggravated shame!»
And now they bound
The herald to the stake : he cried aloud,
And fix'd his eye on Suffolk, -i, Let not him
Who girdeth on his harness boast himself
As he that puts it off to they come! they come!
God and the Mlaid! »
The host of France approach'd,
And Suffolk, eagerly beheld the fire
Draw near the pile; sudden a fearful shout
Toward Orleans turn'd his eye, and thence he saw
A mailed man upon a mailed steed
Come thundering dom.
As when Chederles comes too
To aid the Moslem on his deathless steed,
Swaying his sword with such resistless arm,
Such mightiest force, as he had newly quaffd
The hidden waters of eternal youth,
Till with the copious draught of life and strength
Inebriate; such, so fierce, so terrible,
Came Conrade through the camp. Aright, aleft,
The affrighted foemen scatter from his spear;
Onward he drives, and now the circling throng
Fly from the stake, and now he checks his course,
And cuts the herald's bonds, and bids him live,
And arm, and fight, and conquer.
« Haste thee hence
To Orleans,” cried the warrior. “Tell the chiefs
There is confusion in the English camp.
Bid them come forth.” On Conrade's steed the youth
Leapt up, and hasten’d onward. He the while
Turn'd to the war.
Like two conflicting clouds,
Pregnant with thunder, rush'd the hostile hosts.
Then man met man, then on the batter'd shield
Rung the loud lance, and through the darken'd sky
Fast fell the arrowy storm. Amid his foes
The Bastard's arm sway’d irresistible
The strokes of death; and by his side the Maid
Led the fierce fight, the Maid, though all unused
To such rude conflict, now inspired by Heaven,
Flashing her flamy falchion through the troops,
That like the thunderbolt, where'er it fell,
Scatter'd the trembling ranks. The Saracen,
Though arm'd from Cashbin or Damascus, wields
A weaker sword; nor might that magic blade
Compare with this, which Oriana saw
Flame in the ruffian Ardan's robber hand,
When, sick and cold as death, she turn'd away
Her dizzy eyes, lest they should see the fall
Of her own Amadis. Nor plated shield,
Nor the strong hauberk, nor the crested casque,
Stay that descending sword. Dreadful she moved,
Like as the Angel of the Lord went forth

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