Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

to add to their usually scant resources by the manufacture and sale of these liqueurs, the best known of which by far is that bearing the brand of * Chartreuse,' because prepared by the monks of La Grande Chartreuse in Dauphiny. Its fame and quality seem to be attested by the price at which this particular liqueur—the Chartreuse--is quoted in some London wine merchants' circulars, viz. twelve shillings and sixpence a single bottle, or nearly three times the price of brandy! Nor do these houses of cænobites always confine themselves to the manufacture of deftly concocted alcoholic beverages. To the porter's lodge of not a few among them are annexed miniature bazaars, or shops for the disposal chiefly of'objets de piété,' such as rosaries, prayer-books, crosses, photographs of ecclesiastical dignitaries and buildings, besides knicknacks of a more mundane character. And, at least in one stately abbey which the writer had the advantage of visiting, quite a series of manufactures for sale are gradually springing up, including wine, both red and white (the latter being advertised as exceptionally pure and therefore suitable for Eucharistic celebrations); chocolate ; wax and stearine candles of many qualities; pastilles ; and tonic lozenges, the virtue of which latter are belauded in a strain not wholly unworthy to comdare with the style in vogue with vendors of Holloway's Pills and the like. A facetious Paris newspaper, referring to the abbey in question, lately asked whether it was about to constitute itself a grocer's shop pure and simple, and to cater for the public in open competition with the secular tradesman. Relishing, apparently, the humorous banter of the Parisian journalist, the monkish editor of a religious magazine published at the abbey-himself something of a scholar and perhaps a little of a wag-taking the bull by the horns, reproduced the squib for the delectation of his pious readers !

In concluding these notes on Périgord, it may be worth observing that a certain philological interest attaches to the fact that out of about five hundred parishes within its limits, we have counted up considerably more than a hundred that have an identical termination; there being nearly six score towns, villages and hamlets in the department of the Dordogne (conterminous with Périgord) all ending in the syllable ac: such as Bergerac, Ribérac, Paysac, Champagnac, Jumilhac, and a hundred more. This termination abounds also, but to a less remarkable extent, in the neighbouring provinces of Quercy, Rouergue, Auvergne, and some others.

CHAPTER XII.

QUERCY.

Guienne a geographical expression for several provinces. —General

characteristics.-Quercy and the Langue d'Oc.--Montvalent. Gramat.-Figeac.-Cahors.-Capdenac.

SISMONDI appositely speaks of the Provinces of Guienne in the plural. For Guienne, as a historical expression, represents a duchy comprising six or seven provinces, large and small, the four most important of which, it will be remembered, are Bordelais, Périgord, Quercy, and Rouergue, together with the smaller counties of Agenais, Bazadais, and Condomais, which cling on to the southern skirts of the other four. Of these provinces in the aggregate—that is, of Guienne as a whole-several salient characteristics may be predicated. Thus it is for the most part mountainous, ranging from the circlet of verdant hills amid which Périgueux is set, to the rocky ridges and considerable elevation of the highlands of Rouergue. Such a country is sure to be furrowed by waterways in plenty, some of ample volume like the Garonne

pre

and the Gironde, the Lot and the Dordogne, others again of more modest dimensions, such as the L'Isle and the Dronne, the Aveyron and the Celle ; while of the smallest class of rivers like the Dourdou there are many, and of mere torrents such as the Louche the name is legion. A third characteristic of Guienne is that it forms unquestionably one of the principal wine districts of France. Just as in England two or three shires are eminently apple counties, although the apple flourishes in every country side ; so Champagne, Burgundy, and the country of which Bordeaux is the capital are pre-eminently the vine-growing districts of France, notwithstanding that vineyards clothe the hillsides more or less in every department, save perhaps those of the extreme north.

And if we survey Guienne from west to east, from the ocean-washed coast of the Bordelais across Périgord and Quercy to the farther extremity of Rouergue, we may note some special characteristic attaching to each of those provinces in particular. The choicest brands of the claret vintage, for instance, are pressed from the grapes of Médoc and elsewhere in the Bordelais. In Périgord we have feudal keeps and Saracenic churches. Quercy, again, offers many points of interest. About Cahors, its capital, are congregated vine gardens yielding some choice vintages. Towers and castles are not wanting here and there to add point to the landscape, or to form the centrepiece of a town view. Historical associations, too, abound, from the days when Cæsar subdued the Cadurci to those of Bertrand de Gourdon (a town in Quercy), who dealt our own Richard I. his death-wound, and, later on, to the heroic struggle of the Protestant party led by Henry of Navarre against the League, which we shall presently have occasion to notice more at length. To Quercy, moreover, belongs the credit, according to a respectable authority of old (Vidal the grammarian), of being one of four provinces—Auvergne, Limousin, Provence, and Quercy-in which was cultivated to its highest perfection the Langue d'Oc, otherwise known as the Romance or Provençal language. Indeed, the latest authority on this subject, Mr. Hueffer, includes the whole of Guienne within the broad area where flourished the Provençal dialect; for, drawing a line from the mouth of the Gironde, north of Bordeaux, to the mouth of the Saône at Lyons, he pronounces all the provinces south of the line to have been the true home of the Troubadours and of that musical Provençal tongue in which they sang their romantic lays of war and love.

The railway eastwards from Périgueux across Quercy traverses a mountainous country, winding through a succession of valleys, some broad and

« AnteriorContinuar »