Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 397 pages of information about Jeanne D'Arc.
you lose sight of her for one moment, the devil will carry her away.”  Perhaps this was the cause of the guard in Jeanne’s room, the ceaseless scrutiny to which she was exposed.  The vulgar slanderer was allowed to escape after this valuable testimony.  She comes into history like a will-o’-the-wisp, one of the marsh lights that mean nothing but putrescence and decay, and then flickers out again with her false witness into the wastes of inanity.  That she should have been treated so leniently and Jeanne so cruelly! say the historians.  Reason good:  she was nothing, came of nothing, and meant nothing.  It is profane to associate Jeanne’s pure and beautiful name with that of a mountebank.  This is the only woman in all her generation, so far as appears to us, who was not the partisan and devoted friend of the spotless Maid.

The aspect of that old-world city of Rouen, still so old and picturesque to the visitor of to-day, though all new since that time except the churches, is curious and interesting to look back upon.  It must have hummed and rustled with life through every street; not only with the English troops, and many a Burgundian man-at-arms, swaggering about, swearing big oaths and filling the air with loud voices,—­but with all the polished bands of the doctors, men first in fame and learning of the famous University, and beneficed priests of all classes, canons and deans and bishops, with the countless array that followed them, the cardinal’s tonsured Court in addition, standing by and taking no share in the business:  but all French and English alike, occupied with one subject, talking of the trial, of the new points brought out, of the opinions of this doctor and that, of Maitre Nicolas who had presumed on his lawyership to correct the bishop, and had suffered for it:  of the bold canon who ventured to whisper a suggestion to the prisoner, and who ever since had had the eye of the governor upon him:  of Warwick, keeping a rough shield of protection around the Maid but himself fiercely impatient of the law’s delay, anxious to burn the witch and be done with her.  And Jeanne herself, the one strange figure that nobody understood; was she a witch?  Was she an angelic messenger?  Her answers so simple, so bold, so full of the spirit and sentiment of truth, must have been reported from one to another.  This is what she said; does that look like a deceiver? could the devils inspire that steadfastness, that constancy and quiet? or was it not rather the angels, the saints as she said?  Never, we may be sure, had there been in Rouen a time of so much interest, such a theme for conversations, such a subject for all thoughts.  The eager court sat with their tonsured heads together, keen to seize every weak point.  Did you observe how she hesitated on this?  Let us push that, we’ll get an admission on that point to-morrow.  It is impossible to believe that in such an assembly every man was a partisan, much less that each one of them was thinking

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Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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