Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Auvergne

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

AUVERGNE, a district, and formerly a province, of France, corresponding to the departments of Cantal and Fuy-de-D6me, with the arrondissement of Brioude in Haute- Loirs. It is divided into Lower and Upper by the River Rue ; the distinction between the two portions being well marked by their physical features. Upper Auvergne is rugged and mountainous, and is covered with evidences of volcanic activity, while Lower Auvergne consists largely of fertile and well-watered expanses. In climate, too, there is a marked difference ; the former suffering from violent extremes, and the latter enjoying a mild and equable temperature. The whole district is largely agricultural, and special attention is paid to the rearing of cattle, horses, and mules. The mountains are rich in minerals, such as iron, lead, copper, and coal ; and numerous medi cinal springs are scattered along their slopes. The inhabi tants, who to a certain extent are the descendants of the ancient Arverni, are a strong, ungainly race, habituated to toilsome labour. For a long time they have been accus tomed to leave their homes for the purpose of seeking their fortunes abroad, returning after they have acquired a competency. Spain was at one period a favourite resort, but the current of emigration is now principally towards Paris or the Belgian towns. In Paris alone it has been calculated that the Auvergnats number 50,000. They speak a distinct dialect, and are also recognised by their pronunciation. A closer resemblance to Latin, and the presence of many sounds, such as ts, tz, dj, which are foreign to ordinary French, are among the most striking features of the patois; the vocabulary also contains words introduced by the English at the time of their occupation of the country in the 14th century. Of the existing literature a con siderable proportion is spurious. Auvergne was early raised to the rank of a countship, and passed into the hands of various families, the most important of which is known as La Tour d Auvergne. It was finally united to the crown by Louis XIII. Of the numerous books which have been written on this interesting province, the following may be mentioned : Aigneperse, Petit Diet, des parsonnages d Auvergne, 1850; Michel, L ancicnne Auvergne, 3 vols. fol. ; Imberdis, L Auvergne historique, and Hist, des (jucrres rclig. en Auvergne pendant Ics XVI e et XVII e sieclcs ; Allard, Les caux thermo-mincrales d Auvergne.