Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/13

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THE PYRENEES


CHAPTER I

THE PYRENEAN CHAIN


The wall of division—A triple chain—Contrasts—Deforesting—The Catalan of Roussillon—The Basque of Navarre—Roman roads—The three ports—Central ridge—Trough to the north—Watershed—Glacial moraines—Lakes—Cirques—Abrupt termination of the lower valleys—Cave dwellers—Dolmens—That of Buzy—Landes of Pontacq—The Iberian stock—Development of language—Auxiliary verbs—The Basque villages and people.


THE Pyrenees stand up as a natural wall of demarcation between two nations, the French and the Spaniards, just as the mountains of Dauphiné sever the French from the Italians. It has been remarked that these natural barriers are thrown up to part Romance-speaking peoples, whereas the mountain ranges sink to comparative insignificance between the French and the Germans. Over the Jura the French tongue has flowed up the Rhone to Sierre, above the Lake of Geneva, so the Spanish or Catalan has overleaped the Pyrenees in Roussillon, and the Basque tongue has those who speak it in both cis-Pyrenean and trans-Pyrenean Navarre. The Pyrenees are the upcurled lips of the huge limestone sea-bed, that at some vastly remote period was snapped from east to west, and through the fissure thus