Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/454
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
in midsummer, a great fen covered with rank marsh grasses. Without artificial drainage, it is unfit for cultivation, so that it remains to-day one of the most sparsely populated sections of the country. As a whole, then, the southwest of France presents the extremes of economic attractiveness, at the same time being devoid of those geographical barriers which elsewhere have strongly influenced the movements of races.
The first impression conveyed by the general map of the cephalic index for all France, in respect of this particular region above described, is that here at last all correspondence between the nature of the country and the character of the population ceases. A wedge of the broad-headed Alpine stock centering in the uplands of Auvergne pushes its way toward the southwest to
the base of the Pyrenees. This Alpine offshoot extends uninterruptedly from the sterile plateau of Auvergne, straight across the fertile plains of the Garonne and deep into the swamps and fens of Landes. While the geographical trend of the country is from southeast to northwest parallel to the Garonne, the population seems to be striped at right angles to it—namely, in the direction