Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why We Love Joan


When we reflect that her century was the brutalest, the wickedest, the
rottenest in history since the darkest ages, we are lost in wonder at
the miracle of such a product from such a soil. The contrast between her
and her century is the contrast between day and night. She was truthful
when lying was the common speech of men; she was honest when honesty was
become a lost virtue; she was a keeper of promises when the keeping of a
promise was expected of no one; she gave her great mind to great
thoughts and great purposes when other great minds wasted themselves
upon pretty fancies or upon poor ambitions; she was modest, and fine,
and delicate when to be loud and coarse might be said to be universal;
she was full of pity when a merciless cruelty was the rule; she was
steadfast when stability was unknown, and honorable in an age which had
forgotten what honor was; she was a rock of convictions in a time when
men believed in nothing and scoffed at all things; she was unfailingly
true to an age that was false to the core; she maintained her personal
dignity unimpaired in an age of fawnings and servilities; she was of a
dauntless courage when hope and courage had perished in the hearts of
her nation; she was spotlessly pure in mind and body when society in the
highest places was foul in both--she was all these things in an age when
crime was the common business of lords and princes, and when the highest
personages in Christendom were able to astonish even that infamous era
and make it stand aghast at the spectacle of their atrocious lives black
with unimaginable treacheries, butcheries, and beastialities.

--From Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by Mark Twain