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"If it be sin to seek the wounded lamb,
"To bind its wounds, and bathe them with my tears,
"This is what Nature taught! No, Fathers! no,
"It is not Nature that can teach to sin:
"Nature is all Benevolence, all Love,
"All Beauty! In the greenwood's quiet shade
"There fe no vice that to the indignant cheek
"Bids the red current rush; no misery there;
"No wretched mother, who with pallid face
"And famine-fall'n, hangs o'er her hungry babes,
"With such a look, so wan, so woe-begone,
"As shall one day, with damning eloquence,
"Against the mighty plead!... Nature teach sin!
"O blasphemy against the Holy One,
"Who made us in the image of Himself,
"Who made us all for happiness and love,
"Infinite happiness, infinite love,
"Partakers of his own eternity."
Solemn and slow the reverend Priest replied, — "Much, woman, do I doubt that all-wise Heaven
"Would thus vouchsafe its gracious miracles
"On one fore-doom'd to misery; for so doom'd
"Is that deluded one, who, of the mass
"Unheeding, and the Church's saving power,
"Deems nature sinless. Therefore, mark me well,
"Brethren, I would propose this woman try
"The holy ordeal. Let her, bound and stript,
"Lest haply in her clothes should be conceal'd
"Some holy relic so profaned, be cast
"In the deep pond; there if she float, no doubt
"Some fiend upholds, but if she instant sink,
"Sure sign is that that Providence displays
"Her free from witchcraft. This done, let her walk
"Blinded and bare o'er ploughshares heated red,
"And o'er these past, her naked arm plunge deep
"In scalding water. If from these she pass
"Unhurt, to holy father of the church,
"Most blessed Pope, we then refer the cause
"For judgement: and this Chief, the Son of Orleans, "Who comes to vouch the royal person known "By her miraculous power, shall pass with her "The sacred trial."
"Grace of God!" exclaim'd The astonish'd Bastard; "plunge me in the pool, "O'er red-hot ploughshares make me dance to please "Your dotard fancies! Fathers of the church, "Where is your gravity? what! elder-like "Would ye this fairer than Susannah eye? "Ye call for ordeals; and I too demand "The noblest ordeal, on the English host "By victory to approve the mission sent "From favouring Heaven. To the Pope refer "For judgement! Know ye not that France even now "Stands tottering on destruction!"
. r; Starting wild,
With a strange look, the mission'd Maid exclaim'd, "The sword of God is here! the grave shall speak "To manifest me!"
Even as she spake,
A pale blue flame rose from the trophied tomb
"Hear ye?" the Damsel cried;" these are the arms "Which shall flash terror o'er the hostile host. "These, in the presence of our Lord the King, "And of the assembled people, I will take "Here from the sepulchre, where many an age, "Incorruptible, they have lain conceal'd, "For me preserved, the delegate of Heaven."
Recovering from amaze, the Priest replied: "Thou art indeed the delegate of Heaven! "What thou hast said surely thou shalt perform! "We ratify thy mission. Go in peace."
JOAN OF ARC.
THE FOURTH BOOK.
The feast was spread, the sparkling bowl went round, And to the assembled court the minstrel harp'd The song of other days. Sudden they heard The horn's loud blast. "This is no time for cares; "Feast ye the messenger without!" cried Charles; "Enough is given of the wearying day "To the public weal."
Obedient to the King The guard invites the traveller to his fare. "Nay, I will see the monarch," he replied, "And he shall hear my tidings; duty-urged, "I have for many a long league hasten'd on, "And will not be repell'd.'' Then with strong arm Removing him who barr'd his onward way,