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Jeanne d'Arc by Mrs. Oliphant

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mother and brothers of Jeanne, one of the latter being now a knight,
Pierre de Lys, a gentleman of coat armour--against the heirs and
representatives of Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, and Lemaître, the
Deputy Inquisitor--with other persons chiefly concerned in the
judgment. Some of these men were dead, some, wisely, not to be found.
The result was such a mass of testimony as put every incident of the
life of the Maid in the fullest light from her childhood to her death,
and in consequence secured a triumphant and full acquittal of herself
and her name from every reproach. This remarkable and indeed unique
occurrence does not seem, however, to have roused any enthusiasm.
Perhaps France felt herself too guilty: perhaps the extraordinary calm
of contemporary opinion which was still too near the catastrophe to
see it fully: perhaps that difficulty in the diffusion of news which
hindered the common knowledge of a trial--a thing too heavy to be
blown upon the winds,--while it promulgated the legend, a thing so
much more light to carry: may be the cause of this. But it is an
extraordinary fact that Jeanne's name remained in abeyance for many
ages, and that only in this century has it come to any sort of glory,
in the country of which Jeanne is the first and greatest of patriots
and champions, a country, too, to which national glory is more dear
than daily bread.

In the new and wonderful spring of life that succeeded the revolution
of 1830, the martyr of the fifteenth century came to light as by a
revelation. The episode of the Pucelle in Michelet's /History of
France/ touched the heart of the world, and remains one of the finest
efforts of history and the most popular picture of the saint. And
perhaps, though so much less important in point of art, the maiden
work of another maiden of Orleans--the little statue of Jeanne, so
pure, so simple, so spiritual, made by the Princess Marie of that
house, the daughter of the race which the Maid held in visionary love,
and which thus only has ever attempted any return of that devotion--
had its part in reawakening her name and memory. It fell again,
however, after the great work of Quicherat had finally given to the
country the means of fully forming its opinion on the subject which
Fabre's translation, though unfortunately not literal and adorned with
modern decorations, was calculated to render popular. A great crop of
statues and some pictures not of any great artistic merit have since
been dedicated to the memory of the Maid: but yet the public
enthusiasm has never risen above the tide mark of literary applause.

There has been, however, a great movement of enthusiasm lately to gain
for Jeanne the honour of canonisation[2]; but it seems to have failed,
or at least to have sunk again for the moment into silence. Perhaps
these honours are out of date in our time. One of the most recent
writers on the subject, M. Henri Blaze de Bury, suggests that one
reason which retards this final consecration is "England, certainly
not a negligible quantity to a Pope of our time." Let no such illusion
move any mind, French or ecclesiastical. Canonisation means to us, I
presume, and even to a great number of Catholics, simply the highest
honour that can be paid to a holy and spotless name. In that sense
there is no distinction of nation, and the English as warmly as the
French, both being guilty towards her, and before God on her account--
would welcome all honour that could be paid to one who, more truly
than any princess of the blood, is Jeanne of France, the Maid, alone
in her lofty humility and valour, and in everlasting fragrance of
modesty and youth.
[1] The writer must add that personally, as a Scot, she has no right
to use this pronoun. Scotland is entirely guiltless of this crime.
The Scots were fighting on the side of France through all these
wars, a little perhaps for love of France, but much more out of
natural hostility to the English. Yet at this time of day, except
to state that fact, it is scarcely necessary to throw off the
responsibility. The English side is now our side, though it was
not so in the fifteenth century: and a writer of the English
tongue must naturally desire that there should at least be fair

[2] I am informed, however, that she is already "Venerable," not a
very appropriate title--the same, I presume, as Bienheureuse,
which is prettier,--and may therefore be addressed by the faithful
in prayer, though her rank is only, as it were, brevet rank, and
her elevation incomplete.

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