Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 15

HER POPULARITY

Nor indeed does it appear that this marvel, if marvel it were, had wrought any strong impression on the mind of Charles himself. Within a very few days he had relapsed into his former doubts and misgivings as to Joan's pretended mission. In feet, it will be foimd, though not hitherto noticed, yet as applying to the whole career of the Maid of Orleans, that the ascendancy which she acquired was permanent only with the mass of the people or of the army, while those who saw her nearer, and could study her more closely, soon felt their faith in her decline. On further observation they might, no doubt, admire more and more her high strain of patriotism and of piety ; but they found her, as was natural, utterly unacquainted with war or politics, and guileless as one of her own flock in worldly affairs. Even an old chronicler of the time has these words : "It was a marvellous thing how she could thus demean herself and do so much in these wars ; for in all other things she was the most simple shepherdess that was ever seen."* But the crowd which gazed at her from a distance began to espy some- thing more than human, and to circulate and credit reports of her miraculous powers. Her journey of one hundred and fifty leagues, in great part thri5ugh a hostile country, without being met by a single enemy, or arrested by a single obstacle, was urged as a plain proof of Divine support. Again, it was pretended that Baudricourt had not given his consent to the journey imtil she had annoimced to him that her coimtrymen were sustaining a defeat even while she spoke, and until he had received news of the battle of Herrings, fought on that very day--a story, we may observe in passing, which a mere comparison of the dates is suflScient to dis- prove.--Another little incident that befell the Maid at Chinon greatly added to her reputation. As she was passing by, a soldier had addressed to her some ribald jest, for which she had gently reproved him, saying that such words ill became any man who might be so near his end. It happened that on the same afternoon this soldier was drowned in attempting to ford the river, and the reproof of Joan was immediately invested by popular apprehension with the force of prophecy.2

* Memoirs concerning the Maid (Collection, vol. viii. p. 153).
2 Deposition of Father Pasqueral at the Trial of Revision.

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