Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

THE MAID OF ORLEANS PLAY
by Friedrich Schiller

ACT II SCENE II.

        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.

        [Coming back.]

ISABEL.
Skilful your arm to wield the sword of death,
The French alone can round the polished phrase.

        [She goes out.]

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 2 SCENE 3 Maid of Orleans

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