Imagens da página

We know it not, yet strange it is that she who had ventured so much for her countrymen should not have found fellow-sufferers, if not deliverers, in her extremity.

For months poor Joan languished in prison. Chains of iron were her necklace and bracelets. Her captors, not content with having secured her person, seemed bent upon taking vengeance for their numerous discomfitures, by an excess of cruelty toward their hapless, helpless prisoner. A hue-and-cry of heresy and witchcraft was raised against her; and for these she was condemned to die at the stake. Her woman's heart, which had been so wondrously nerved to face death on the battle-field, now broken by suffering and reproach, died within her at the thought of so terrible a fate. She gave herself up to the most passionate grief, and in that dark hour was induced to assent to an abjuration of her innocence upon the promise of release. During her imprisonment she had been urged to confess that she was guilty of the crimes which were charged upon her, but she had refused. Tortures were threatened, but she boldly maintained that in all things she had done the will of God. It is thought she did not understand the abjuration which she was now pressed to sign to be an acknowledgment of guilt. But the confession thus extorted availed her nothing. The enemy would not be satisfied with anything short of the sacrifice of her life.

Once more the eyes of a crowd are turned upon the maiden. Once more the father gazes on his child. Not as before in the Cathedral of Rheims, but in the market-place of Rouen. Then were heard the glad sounds of an ovation-now there is the hush of death. Then the light which fell upon that graceful, girlish form, stole softly through richly stained windows-the light which now encircles it, gleams from consuming flames. She is passing through the dark valley of the shadow of death, and with an energy lent from above, she seems to cast herself upon the Saviour, and with his name on her lips, expires. The old man bows in agony. It is his last grief-he turns away to die. Even those who had clamored for her death, shrunk from the scene with horror, as she was dragged forward, and placed upon the pile.

It was at this moment that, looking around her with an inspired countenance, Joan earnestly requested that a crucifix might be given to her. An Englishman hurried forward, and breaking a stick in two pieces, formed one roughly, which she received and pressed fervently to her bosom. So touching was her demeanor, so complete her resignation, that many left the market-place, incapable of watching her constancy to the close: the very officials were melted to tears, while the bailie of Rouen could scarcely falter out the requisite orders. "Dieu soit bénit!" exclaimed she, as she placed herself on the pile. The name of the Saviour was the last to quit her lips, and as long as she retained a single breath of life, she appeared to be pouring out her soul in prayer. When the smoke cleared away, the calcined ashes alone remained to France of the martyred heroine who had saved her in her peril; and, as usual, general lamentation was heard from those who, though preserved by her fortitude and constancy, had never evinced practical gratitude to rescue one whose devotion they could plausibly admire, yet were too pusillanimous to copy! Alas for poor humanity! which can adulate the prosperous, yet see the vast forest of great virtues cut down-yea, even aid in its extirpation-without an effort to preserve it, though protecting all beneath its shadow! How often does the mistaken motive called policy, which prompts to such ingratitude, deceive itself; and baseness finds no reward, but unavailing remorse becomes the profitless return for treachery! So was it with Joan: France felt herself more disgraced by the abandonment of her heroine, than by a thousand defeats; the gleam of the maid's consuming pyre was reflected in the universal glow of national shame, and-fitting instrument of such inhumanity-priestcraft put forth all its cunning in aid of cruelty, and professed to punish imposture by the grossest perversion of truth! We gladly drop a vail over this scene, for the heart shrinks less at the sufferings of the innocent victim than at the malignant deceit of her persecutors. Sad indeed is the moral, of how ignorance sears the mind's best feelings; how superstitious fanaticism obscures the judgment, until, unguided by the word, even the ministers of a religion professing peace outrage its dictates, while the presume

[graphic][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


native soil, grows to the height of about twenty feet, very straight, and perhaps too rigid to be called graceful. The leaves are large, oval, and of a glossy green color. The flowers resemble the rose in form and color. The fruit is of a dullish red, the size of a small orange, with a thick rind like that of the pomegranate. It is of a most exquisite flavor, uniting the delicious juice of the peach with the aroma of the finest strawberry. Dr. Garcin, in whose honor it received the botanic name Garcinia, says that it is esteemed the most delicious of East Indian fruits, and a great deal may be eaten without inconvenience. It is the only fruit which sick people are allowed to eat unsparingly. Dr. Solander, another eminent botanist, was seized, while in Batavia, with a putrid fever, and was brought very low, and attributed his recovery mainly to a free use of this most delicious fruit.

At a late exhibition of the Horticultural Society of London, beautiful specimens of the Mangosteen were exhibited, said by those who had tasted it in its native soil to be fully equal in flavor to the products of the Indian Archipelago.

A London paper, to which we are indebted for the original, from which our engravings are taken, says that the production of this delicious tropical fruit, lately accomplished in the stove of the Duke of Northumberland, at Sion House, is considered by those conversant with the difficulties attending the labor as one of the greatest triumphs of modern horticulture; this being, we believe, the only successful attempt made since the introduction of the plant into England, in 1729. The ripe fruit exhibited was one of the four produced by a tree sent over by Dr. Wallich, from the Calcutta Botanic Garden, in 1833; since which time it has received the unremitting attention of twenty-two years, before crowning the exertions of its cultivator with fruit.

On the following page we give one of the most beautiful subjects of the floral kingdom. Only a flower! That's all, reader. But blessed be the man that loves flowers, loves them for their own sakes, for their beauty, their associations, the joy they have given and always will give; so that, if there was not another creature on earth to admire or praise, he would just as much sit down among them as friends and companions!

He who does not appreciate floral beauty is to be pitied like any other man who is born imperfect. But men who contemptuously reject flowers as effeminate and unworthy of manhood, reveal their coarseness. Were flowers fit to eat or drink, were they stimulative of passions, or could

[graphic][merged small]

they be gambled with like stocks and public consciences, they would take them up just where finer minds would drop them, who love them as revelations of God's sense of beauty; as addressed to the taste, and to something finer and deeper than taste that power within us which spiritualizes matter, and communes with God through his work.

But flowers seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again, plain, honest, and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock. We speak of them as laughing, as gay and coquettish, as nodding and dancing. But no man of sensibility ever spoke of a flower as he would of a fungus, a pebble, or a sponge. They are more lifelike than many animals. We

| commune with flowers, we go to them if we are sad or glad; but a toad, a worm, an insect, we repel as if real life was not half so real as imaginary life.

But we are forgetting our subject. It is the Rhododendron Jasminiflorum, or Jessamine-flowered Rhododendron, which we give a correct representation of,-a native of Mount Ophir, in the Straits of Molucca. It is a rather dwarfish shrub, evergreen, the foliage very thick and glossy. The flowers are tubular, of a waxlike and dazzling whiteness. The anthers, or tops of the stamina, are of a beautiful scarlet, which, contrasted with the pure white of its petals, give it a unique and most striking appearance. It is very fragrant, and said to be of easy cultivation.

« AnteriorContinuar »