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TO

EDITH SOUTHEY.

EDITH! I brought thee late a humble gift,
The songs of earlier youth; it was a wreath
With many an unripe blossom garlanded
And many a weed, yet mingled with some flowers
Which will not wither. Dearest! now I bring
A worthier offering ; thou wilt prize it well,
For well thou know'st amid what painful cares
My solace was in this; and tho' to me
There is no music in the hollowness
Of common praise, yet well content am I
Now to look back upon my youth's green prime,
Nor idly, nor unprofitably past,
Imping in such adventurous essay
The wing, and strengthening it for steadier flight.

VOL. I.

. PREFACE.

The history of Joan of Arc is as mysterious as it is remarkable. That she believed herself inspired, few will deny; that she was inspired, no one will venture to assert; and it is difficult to believe that she was herself imposed upon by Charles and Dunois. That she discovered the King when he disguised himself among the courtiers to deceive her, and that, as a proof of her mission, she demanded a sword from a tomb in the church of St. Catharine, are facts in which all historians agree. If this had been done by collusion, the Maid must have known herself an impostor, and with that knowledge could not have performed the enterprize

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she undertook. Enthusiasm, and that of no common kind, was necessary, to enable a young maiden at once to assume the profession of arms, to lead her troops to battle, to fight among the foremost, and to subdue with an inferior force an enemy then believed invincible. It is not possible that one who felt herself the puppet of a party, could have performed these things. The artifices of a court could not have persuaded her that she discovered Charles in disguise ; nor could they have prompted her to demand the sword which they might have hidden, without discovering the deceit.

The Maid, then, was not knowingly an impostor; nor could she have been the instrument of the court; and to say that she believed herself inspired, will neither account for her singling out the King, or prophetically claiming the sword. After crowning Charles, she declared that her mission was accomplished, and demanded leave to retire. Enthusiasm would not have ceased here; and if they

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who imposed on her could persuade her still to go with their armies, they could still have continued her delusion.

This mysteriousness renders the story of JOAN OF ARC peculiarly fit for poetry. The aid of angels and devils is not necessary to raise her above mankind; she has no gods to lackey her, and inspire her with courage, and heal her wounds : the Maid of Orleans acts wholly from the workings of her own mind, from the deep feeling of inspiration. The palpable agency of superior powers would destroy the obscurity of her character, and sink her to the mere heroine of a fairy tale.

The alterations which I have made in the history are few and trifling. The death of Salisbury is placed later, and of the Talbots earlier than they occurred. As the battle of Patay is the concluding action of the Poem, I have given it all the previous solemnity of a settled engagement. What.

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