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JOAN OF ARC-MARGARET.

"A holy maid hither with me I bring,

Which, by a vision sent to her from heaven,
Ordained is to raise this tedious siege,

And drive the English forth the bounds of France."

CONTINUING the thread of historic narrative from Henry V., as the foundation of this play, Shakspeare introduces, in the first part of Henry VI., the celebrated JOAN OF ARC. The first act prepares us for a description of her exploits, and the delineation of her character, by recounting the losses sustained by England, in France, at the death of Henry. These he relates as communicated to GLOUCESTER, whilst tending the body of the deceased king, as it lies in state.

JOAN OF ARC, as LA PUCELLE, appears before CHARLES, King of France, ready to fight for her country. Although "by birth a shepherd's daughter," she wills "to leave" her "base vocation;" and, as proof of her energy, she pleads with him—

"My courage try by combat, if thou dar'st,
And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex."

He accepts her challenge, and, being vanquished, acknowledges her mission. She next appears in all her enthusiasm, chasing the English and TALBOT, their commander, before her; she captures Orleans, and places the "waving colours on the walls." The temporary successes of the English, however, touch her fame, and CHARLES taunts her; to which she boldly replies by blaming him for the want of precaution on the part of the sentinels.

By a ruse, she afterwards gains admission to Rouen, in disguise, accompanied by soldiers, as if selling corn; and, by a given signal, encourages the advance of the French, afterwards taunting TALBOT with her success. CHARLES employs her to parley with BURGUNDY, and thus to draw him from the English to the French side; and in this she completely succeeds-as he says, bewitching him.

In the fifth act, Shakspeare insinuates the idea of JOAN being indebted for all her past success to the agency of fiends. He represents her as addressing them

"Cannot my body nor blood-sacrifice

Entreat you to your wonted furtherance?
Then take my soul."

Her destruction is now at hand. She falls into the hands of the DUKE OF York; and being committed to the flames, pours out a torrent of remonstrances before her conquerors, and bitter denunciations on their country.

MARGARET is introduced as if by accident. Taken prisoner by SUFFOLK, who admires her beauty, she declares herself the daughter of a king, and entreats him to name what ransom shall be paid for her. Shakspeare represents her as acting with great tact; and at last, by cunning questions, she finds that the destiny marked out for her by SUFFOLK, is that of Queen of HENRY VI. With great caution she sends to the King

"Such commendations as become a maid,

A virgin, and his servant."

The sequel to which will require our attention in another part of this play.

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JOAN OF ARC.

have condemn'd;

Pucelle. First, let me tell you whom you
Not one begotten of a shepherd swain,
But issu'd from the progeny of kings;
Virtuous, and holy; chosen from above,
By inspiration of celestial grace,
To work exceeding miracles on earth.
I never had to do with wicked spirits:
But you, that are polluted with your lusts,
Stain'd with the guiltless blood of innocents,
Corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices,—
Because you want the grace that others have,
You judge it straight a thing impossible
To compass wonders, but by help of devils.
No, misconceived? Joan of Arc hath been
A virgin from her tender infancy,
Chaste and immaculate in very thought;
Whose maiden blood, thus rigorously effus'd,
Will

cry for vengeance at the gates, of heaven.
York. Ay, ay;-away with her to execution.
Warwick. And hark ye, sirs; because she is a maid,

Spare for no fagots, let there be enough:

Place barrels of pitch upon the fatal stake,

That so her torture may be shortened.

Pucelle. Will nothing turn your unrelenting hearts?

KING HENRY VI., Part I.-Act V. Scene IV.

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