« AnteriorContinuar »
Dogs! cowards ! dastards !-I would ne'er have fled,
But that they left me 'midst my enemies.
Reig. Salisbury is a desperate homicide;
He fighteth as one weary of his life.
The other lords, like lions wanting food,
Do rush upon us as their hungry prey.
Alen. Froissard, a countryman of ours, records,
England all Olivers and Rowlands bred,
During the timc Edward the third did reign.
More truly now may this be verified;
For none but Samsons, and Goliasses,
It sendeth forth to skirmish. One to ten !
Lean raw-bon'd rascals! who would e'er suppose
They had such courage and audacity?
Char. Let's leave this town: for they are hair-brain'd
And hunger will enforce them to be more eager:
Of old I know them ; rather with their teeth
The walls they'll tear down, than forsake the siege.
Reig. I think, by some odd gimmals or device,
Their arms are set, like clocks, still to strike on;
Else ne'er could they hold out so, as they do.
By my consent, we'll e'en let them alone.
Alen. Be it so.
Enter the Bastard of ORLEANS. Bast. Where's the prince Dauphin, I have news for
him. Char. Bastard of Orleans, thrice welcome to us. Bast. Methinks, your looks are sad, your cheer ap
pallid? Hath the late overthrow wrought this offence?
Be not dismay'd, for succour is at hand:
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.
The spirit of deep prophecy she hath,
Exceeding the nine sibyls of old Rome;
What's past, and what's to come, she can descry.
Speak, shall I call her in ? Believe my words,
For they are certain and unfallible.
Char. Go, call her in: [Erit Bastard.] But, first, to
try her skill,
Reignier, stand thou as Dauphin in my place:
Question her proudly, let thy looks be stern :-
By this means shall we sound what skill she hath.
Enter La Pucelle, Bastard of ORLEANS, and Others. Reig. Fair maid, is't thou wilt do these wond’rous
feats ? Puc. Reignier, is't thou that thinkest to beguile me? Where is the Dauphin ?-come, come from behind; I know thee well, though never seen before. Be not amaz’d, there's nothing hid from me: In private will I talk with thee apart;Stand back, you lords, and give us leave a while.
Reig. She takes upon her bravely at first dash.
Puc. Dauphin, I am by birth a shepherd's daughter, My wit untrain’d in any kind of art. Heaven, and our Lady gracious, hath it pleas'd To shine on my contemptible estate: Lo, whilst I waited on my tender lambs,
And to sun's parching heat display'd my cheeks,
God's mother deigned to appear to me;
And, in a vision full of majesty,
Will’d me to leave my base vocation,
And free my country from calamity :
Her aid she promis’d, and assur'd success :
In complete glory she reveald herself;
And, whereas I was black and swart before,
With those clear rays which she infus'd on me,
That beauty am I bless'd with, which you see.
Ask me what question thou canst possible,
And I will answer unpremeditated :
My courage try by combat, if thou dar'st,
And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.
Resolve on this: Thou shalt be fortunate,
If thou receive me for thy warlike mate.
Char. Thou hast astonished me with thy high terms,
Only this proof I'll of thy valour make,-
In single combat thou shalt buckle with me;
And, if thou vanquishest, thy words are true;
Otherwise, I renounce all confidence.
Puc. I am prepar’d: here is my keen edg’d sword,
Deck'd with five flower-de-luces on each side ;
The which at Touraine, in Saint Katharine's church-yard,
Out of a deal of old iron I chose forth.
Char. Then come o’God's name, I fear no woman.
Puc. And, while I live, I'll ne'er fly from a man.
[They fight. Char. Stay, stay thy hands; thou art an Amazon, And fightest with the sword of Deborah.
Puc. Christ's mother helps me, else I were too weak.
Char. Whoe'er helps thee, 'tis thou that must help me:
Impatiently I burn with thy desire;
My heart and hands thou hast at once subdu'd.
Excellent Pucelle, if thy name be so,
Let me thy servant, and not sovereign, be;
'Tis the French Dauphin sueth to thee thus.
Puc. I must not yield to any rites of love,
For my profession's sacred from above:
When I have chased all thy foes from hence,
Then will I think upon a recompense.
Char. Meantime, look gracious on thy prostrate thrall.
Reig. My lord, methinks, is very long in talk.
Alen. Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock; Else ne'er could he so long protract his speech.
Reig. Shall we disturb him, since he keeps no mean?
Alen. He may mean more than we poor men do know: These women are shrewd tempters with their tongues.
Reig. My lord, where are you? what devise you on? Shall we give over Orleans, or no?
Puc. Why, no, I say, distrustful recreants ! Fight till the last gasp; I will be your guard.
Char. What she says, I'll confirm ; we'll fight it out.
Puc. Assigned am I to be the English scourge.
This night the siege assuredly I'll raise :
Expect Saint Martin's summer, halcyon days,
Since I have entered into these wars.
Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
Till, by broad spreading, it disperse to nought.
With Henry's death, the English circle ends;
Dispersed are the glories it included.
Now am I like that proud insulting ship,
Which Cæsar and his fortune bare at once.
Char. Was Mahomet inspired with a dove :
Thou with an eagle art inspired then.
Helen, the mother of great Constantine,
Nor yet Saint Philip's daughters, were like thee.
Bright star of Venus, falln down on the earth,
How may I reverently worship thee enough?
Alen. Leave off delays, and let us raise the siege.
Reig. Woman, do what thou canst to save our ho-
nours ; Drive them from Orleans, and be immortaliz’d,
Char. Presently we'll try >Come, let's away about it: No prophet will I trust, if she prove false. [Exeunt.
SCENE III.-- London. Hill before the Tower,
Enter, at the Gates, the Duke of GLOSTER, with his Ser
ving-men, in blue Coats.
Glo. I am come to survey the Tower this day;
Since Henry's death, I fear, there is conveyance.-
Where be these warders, that they wait not here?
Open the gates; Gloster it is that calls.
[ Servants knock. 1 Ward. [Within.] Who is there that knocks so im
periously? i Serv. It is the noble duke of Gloster. 2 Ward. [Within.] Whoe'er he be, you may not be