Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/361

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THE EASTERN PYRENEES

are peaks that run up to 10,000 feet, and are covered with snow all the year, and if the glaciers be insignificant, glaciers are not essential to beauty. There are more mountain tarns here than elsewhere, and some of these the largest in the Pyrenees. In ecclesiastical architecture this is by far the richest portion of the chain, as the churches have not been wrecked by the Huguenots as in Béarn and Bigorre. And what is more, there is less rain, there are clearer and bluer skies. Some of the watering-places are sweet and sheltered nooks where one can be in summer sunlight early in April, even at the end of March, sheltered from every wind, and with excursions possible all about them, and what is more, are not so fashionable, not so savouring of Paris as Bagnères and Luchon, Cauterez, and Eauxbonnes. In the heats of summer no more cool and invigorating climate can be found than in some of those towns and villages on lofty plateaux, like Mont Louis. As to the Pyrenees in general, many best able to judge and with widest experience of mountain scenery, prefer them to the Alps of Switzerland and of Tyrol, so overrun with the tripper and the herds conducted by Cook. The colouring is richer and more varied, the foliage, the flowers more abundant; and the peasantry have not lost their simplicity, as have the Swiss.

I will conclude with the words of a Pyrenean poet, written in his Gascon dialect, but rendered into French: "Puisse-je remonter sur ces trônes flamboyants de porphyre et de glace, ou tout est froid, même l'éclair; j'irai révoir du haut de ces nues, ces horizons grands comme l'éternité, mais que je ne trouverais jamais assez illimités. Et quand aura sonné l'heure fatale et cruelle du repos, j'irais m'assoir au bord de l'Océan ou de la Méditerranée, mais tou jours en vue des Pyrénées."