Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE

MONTHLY

CRITICAL GAZETTE

JULY 1, 1824.--No, 2.

* The applause bestowed on the plan and execution of the first Number of this Review has been at once so unequivocal and universal, as to render it unnecessary to refer to it, except for the purpose of declaring, that the attentions and exertions which have secured such unanimity of public feeling', shall neither be abated nor relaxed.

The Conductors lament, however, an unforeseen necessity for appealing to the liberality of their Patrons. No precedent having existed of a work which assembled every publication of the month, they miscalculated the quantity requi site to combine interest with completeness; and, in consequence, the first Number exceeded the proposed number of pages. The second Number, however, presents still more Articles, and they consequently have had no alternative but io continue the quantity, and advance the price from 1s. 6d., as originally proposed, to 2s. ;-yet, as this Review will still continue to be the cheapest in existence, though it may without arrogance be described as the only complete and eficient one, it is to be koped that this necessary alteration will not dissatisfy any liberal mind.

BIOGRAPHY.

Memoirs of Jeanne D'Arc.- 2 vols. small 8vo. Harding and Co. THIS is a justification of the Pucelle; and, in our opinion, clears the calumniated reputation of the extraordinary female who forms its subject. It is to be wondered, that, with such a rich mine of documents existing in France as the intelligent author of these memoirs has explored, Jeanne D'Arc did not receive the highest honours which republican France could have bestowed on the most illustrious of her liberators. Pagan times would, undoubtedly, have honoured her with an apotheosis. It was almost a miracle for so young a creature to preserve so much dignity, prudence, and modesty, amidst the rude licence of a camp. Her purity of thought was equal to her courage; and her courage to her talent.

The author thus details the first access of the phrenetic delusion (so we consider it) to which we refer :

“ It was about the year 1423, or 1424, that Jeanne, for the first time, conceived herself visited by supernatural agents ; at which period the battles of Crevant de Verneuil took place, which threatened to annihilate the party of Charles VII.”

The following account reminds us strongly of the late William Huntingdon's simple, yet highly eloquent, description of a similar call or hallucination, while in the act of pruning a vine in his garden:

“ Jeanne D'Arc, then about thirteen years of age, (such is her own account,) at twelve o'clock one summer's day..being in her father's garden, suddenly beheld, on the Crit. Gaz. Vol. 1. No. %.

0

*

right side of the village-church, a dazzling light, while an unknown voice echoed in her ear the wisest counsels; telling her to frequent the church; to be always good and virtuous; and to rely upon the protection of Heaven. She was much frightened at this; but did not hesitate in believing it was sent from Heaven: and, in order to testify her gratitude, she voluntarily undertook to consecrate her virginity to the Lord.”

The following account of the introduction of the Pucelle to Charles VII. after her extraordinary journey through 150 leagues of hostile territory, performed in eleven days, and in the depth of winter, is not less novel than historically interesting :

As soon as the king understood that Jeanne was coming, he stepped aside, in order to ascertain whether she would not mistake some other person for himself; La Pucelle, however, distinguished the monarch in the crowd ; stating that supernatural voices had made him known to her.

“ Charles struck with this, took Jeanne aside, and conversed with her in private, for a considerable time ; during which intercourse, it appears, that she stated circumstances that completely secured his good opinion.

“ The king having ended his discourse with her, advanced towards his courtiers, and stated, that the young girl had communicated to him certain secret affairs, which led him to place in her the greatest confidence.

“ Measures were now adopted for proceeding in the examinations, to which it was thought proper La Pucelle should be subjected; and, to give more celebrity to these sittings, it was determined that they should be held at Poitiers, in presence of the king, the parliament, and an assembly of theologians. Jeanne D'Arc was interrogated ; and, with an admirable presence of mind, answered all the litigious questions which were put to her. On being pressed to give some certain proofs respecting her divine mission, she made this dignified reply : 'Je ne suis pas venue à Poitiers pour faire des signes : mais conduisez moi à Orleáns, et je vous monterai des signes pourquoi je suis renvoyée.'

After many sittings, the assembly of the doctors, at length, came to a decision, that the king might lawfully accept the services of La Pucelle.

“ Charles VII. either at Chinon or at Tours, caused a complete suit of armour to be prepared, that was made to fit the body of Jeanne. The sword, with which La Pucelle armed herself, bore the impression of five crosses; the weapon was found behind the grand altar of the church of St. Catherine de Fierbois, where it was discovered from the instructions given by Jeanne herself. The ecclesiastics, whom she had requested to search for this weapon, furnished a scabbard covered with crimson velvet, and powdered with golden fleurs-de-lis. Jeanne, however, would only carry the sword in a plain leathern scabbard : she likewise ordered a standard, and gave directions in what manner it should be decorated. This ensign La Pucelle bore in her own hand, as frequently as circumstances would permit; and, on being asked the reason for so doing, she made answer, . It was because she would not carry the sword to shed blood.””

The author then proceeds, and relates from the documents, or Diary of the Siege of Orleans, that Jeanne D'Arc having received from the king the authority attached to a general of the army, proceeded to Blois; and after several attempts, and summonses to the English, finally entered Orleans in triumph, armed cap-a-pie, mounted on a white horse, and causing her standard to be carried before her. In one of her subsequent sallies from the town, an arrow from the enemy entered her neck and shoulder, and she instantly fell. Being immediately surrounded by the English, she drove them back, sword in hand, defending herself with as much skill as personal bravery.

After the record of La Pucelle's triumph, in the first volume of this work, the most painfully interesting portion of the second is, the fatal catastrophe of her extraordinary adventures, on falling into the hands of the Burgundians, and being sold by them to the English. We feel, a sentiment of personal shame for our countrymen, in reading the series of base treacheries, perjuries, cruelties, and outrages, practised on this innocent, noble young creature, against whom nothing could be alleged, but her conspicuously pious and patriotic devotion to the cause of her country. Every thing she did, and said, and suffered, demonstrates the innocence of her heart, the brilliancy of her natural talents, and the purity, good faith, and grandeur of her sentiments. It is shocking to reflect, that any human being (especially a young female), so perfectly worthy of admiration, and so clear of offence, after the most rigorous sifting of thought and action, should have suffered such protracted tortures of mind and body, as were inflicted on the guiltless Jeanne D'Arc.

It appears, that the most learned body then in the world, the University of Paris, as soon as they learned that Jeanne had fallen into the hands of the Burgundians, wrote to the Duke of Burgundy, requesting that the young girl might be cited before an ecclesiastical tribunal on suspicion of magic and sorcery. She was in consequence removed from Crotery to Rouen, where her treatment was so rigorous as to amount to cruelty,--cruelty as great as, either under the instigation of religious bigotry or secular policy, ever stained the unrelenting hand of power. Some authors affirm, that, for a certain period, she was shut up in an iron cage.

The feet of the wretched captive were confined in iron fetters, and a chain, encircling her body, was attached, by means of a lock, to an immense bar of wood. It is stated that, while in prison, she had been violently assaulted, molested, beaten, and her hair torn; that an English lord'strove to violate her person; and that the Bishop of Beauvais, her most relentless persecutor and betrayer, told one of the assessors, that the Earl of Warwick, hearing the cries of the Pucelle, went to her rescue, threatened the guards, and appointed others to supply their places.

“ On being asked, why she had borne her banner foremost at the coronation of Charles VII. at Rheims, she answered, * It is but just, that such as contributed to the work, should share the honour.' An answer worthy of everlasting record, as Voltaire expresses himself,

" When it was demanded, whether she had given the soldiers to understand, that her banner was the symbol of prosperity, she exclaimed, “No! I said to them, for all assurance, Enter boldly into the midst of the English ; and I entered there myself.' Can any one deny the sublimity of the ejaculation ?"

We abstain from any lengthened commentary on the following description, the chords of every human heart, whose avenues of sympathy have not been closed against the throb of pity, must vibrate with horror and regret, on perusing the melancholy detail of youth, beauty, and talent-of more than human virtue-perishing, unpitiedly, amidst insult, agony, and despair.

The English, impatient to behold the sacrifice of their unhappy victim, began to murmur at these delays, upon which, without any ceremonious sign or form of judgment, they destined the heroine to the flames, ordering the executioner to do his duty.

“ As soon as the wretched Jeanne was fastened to the stake, the executioner set fire to the faggots. On witnessing the approach of the flames, Jeanne cried out, in a loud voice, ' Jesus !--- Brother Martin, L’Advenu, was so anxiously engaged in preparing the unhappy sufferer to meet her fate with Christian resignation, that he did not perceive the fire rapidly gaining on his own person. Jeanne, however, grateful for his charity, watched over his safety, and had still sufficient presence of mind and courage to give him notice of his danger, and request him to withdraw.

“ The executioner sought to shorten her agonies, by increasing the fierceness of the flames. Enveloped on all sides by smoke and fire, Jeanne, nevertheless, continued to

[ocr errors]

a

100 Bingley's Celebrated Roman Characters. (BIOGRAPHY. call upon Almighty God, and the male and female saints of Paradise; and, with the last parting sigh of life, as her head dropped upon her bosom, she repeated the name of Jesus.

This work, which we recommend to our readers, as containing extřemely interesting and valuable matter, and uniting the utile et dulce of well-authenticated history, with highly romantic incident, concludes with an investigation concerning the historical questions occasionally mooted, as to whether La Pucelle was really burnt as witch at Rouen. To our view, the fact does not admit of question. That Jeanne, previous to her being taken prisoner, was obviously oppressed with a consciousness, that she had disobeyed an injunction, to please the king, by remaining on the scene after her mission was concluded, we admit. We also allow, that she might have foreseen the consequences of her being overperfect amidst imperfection. Too marked a virtue in the midst of licence, is a constant reproof, and becomes hateful to those it benefits. La Pucelle's enchantments had been theurgic, not necromantic. She had used no glamoury but the white art. She had invoked no flame, but that of heaven, on the altar : but, like Prometheus, she had devoted it to human benefit; and her reward was to be the same,--the ingratitude of whom she served;

the chain, and the scoff; the relentless vulture, and the blasted and barren rock.

Biography of celebrated Roman Characters, with numerous Ánét=

dotes, illustrative of their Lives and Actions. By the Rev. William

Bingley, M.A. F.L.S.-1 vol. 8vo. pp. 348. Harvey and Darton. This posthumous work of the late Mr. Bingley, merits our favourable report, without being entitled to our saying, that it furnishes to scholars

any information that they may not collect from their classical reading, or to the unlearned any entertainment that they cannot derive from the numerous and various translations furnished long since, by the talents of the country; yet no small praise is due to it, for the ingenious reflections and illustrations with which the substance of the volume is enriched and illumined, (to say nothing of the quantity, variety, and value of the intelligence, so ingeniously and elaborately conglomerated and brought together, as it were, in a single field of the biographical telescope), as well as for the general excellence of the plan, the acuteness and accuracy of the characteristical comments, and the easy and graceful, if not elegant and commanding, language, in which the whole is clothed.

The list of Roman characters, in the display of which Mr. Bingley employed his ever active and useful abilities, include no fewer than sixty-eight ; proceeding from Numa Pompilius to Caius Gracchus, in the political and military provinces of action; and, in the literary sphere, from Livius Andronicus, whose dramatic productions were the first that amused the Roman people, to Claudius Claudianus, a poet who flourished under Arcadius and Honorius. On the first of these orders of characters, the author enters with the formality of introductory observations ; but he conducts us to the latter, which he gives by way of Appendix, through the medium of prefatory remarks, that,

as well on account of their justness, as their elucidative style, we shall transcribe:

" In perusing the preceding pages, (those dedicated to the consideration of the poi litical and military Romans,) the youthful reader cannot fail to have observed, that the Romans must be characterised as a military nation. Their attention was exclusively directed to foreign conquests; and their institutions all powerfully tended to awaken and nurse the spirit of warlike enterprize. The consuls and generals, whose offices seldom exceeded the duration of a year, were anxious to distinguish that short period by some brilliant memorial of their name; so that, if legitimate causes of war with foreign nations did not present themselves, the pretexts of aggression were readily invented by the cravings of ambition and vanity. While we cannot but admire the fortitude and patience, which the Romans exhibited, while defending themselves from foreign enemies, humanity must reprobate that thirst of empire, which desolated whole provinces, and trampled under foot the most sacred duties of justice. We will dedicate the remaining pages of our little volume to a concise review of Roman literature. This change of subject may not be uninteresting from its variety, and will exhibit a contrast to scenes of war and carnage. The limits of our work will compel us to give but a faint sketch of Roman genius : let the reader, by consulting more diffusive criticism, enlarge his knowledge; we must content ourselves with pointing out the general landmarks."

Mr. Bingley then tells those who shall consult his book, that, as

some writers have ascribed to the Latin tongue the four ages, which poets have assigned to the moral condition of mankind,- the ages of gold, of silver, of brass, and of iron;" so he “ adopts the arrangement which disposes the ages of the Latin language into infancy and boyhood; youth; manhood; and old age, in its vigour and in its languor." The period of the first of these divisions, he extends from the time of Romulus to that of the second Punic war; that of the youth of the Roman language, from the second Punic war, to the age of Cicero; the duration of its manhood, from the time of Sylla, to the death of Augustus ; and the period of its old age, from the death of Augustus, to the decease of Trajan. The remarks preceding each of the lists of the writers who flourished in one or other of these periods, are succinct, but correct and cogent; and the notices of the several authors mentioned, include, for the most part, besides the mere statement of the place of their birth, the province they occupied in literature, the age their talents adorned, and some critical observations, which are not less acute than just.

Life of Shakspeare ; and Enquiries into the Originality of his Dramatic Plots and Characters. By A. Skittowe. -8vo. pp. 328. Longman

and Co. SHAKSPEARE has furnished a rich soil, in which the most unpruned luxuriance of commentary and annotation has taken deep root. It would appear, that there is no means of exhausting its opulent and vital redundancy. This is a new but just tribute of illustration to his genius; and if it be distinguished by less blind and idolatrous worship, than many of those by which it has been preceded, it is characterised by features of stronger interest, originality, and discrimination. The entire failure of modern dramatists, in representing passion, or embodying characters, gives to the unequalled powers of the bard of Avon a stronger relievo. In the writings of most dramatists, whether English or Continental, a character is always a genus,

« AnteriorContinuar »