Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/81

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PONT-L'ABBE—PONTOON

of Rohan, whose capital the town was, is occupied by the Musée le Brigant of art and archaeology. A monument to commemorate the Breton-Angevin Union, the deputies of which met at Pontivy in 1790, was erected in 1894, and there are statues of Dr Guépin, a democrat, and General de Lourmel (d. 1854). The town has a sub-prefecture, a tribunal of first instance, and a lycée for boys. Pontivy had its origin in a monastery founded in the 7th century by St Ivy, a monk of Lindisfarne.


PONT-L'ABBÉ, a town of western France in the department of Finistère, 13 m. S.W. of Quimper by rail. Pop. (1906), of the town 4485, of the commune 6432. The town is situated on the right bank of the estuary or river of Pont-l'Abbé, 2 m. from the sea. Its port carries on fishing, imports timber, coal, &c., and exports mine-props and the cereals and vegetables of the neighbourhood. Of the old buildings of the town the chief is a church of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, once attached to a Carmelite convent; an old castle is occupied by the hôtel de ville. The local costumes, trimmed with the bright-coloured embroideries for which the town is noted, are among the most striking in Brittany; the bigouden or head-dress of the women has given its name to the inhabitants. Pont-l'Abbé carries on flour-milling and the extraction of chemicals from seaweed.


PONTMARTIN, ARMANI) AUGUSTIN JOSEPH MARIE FERRARD, Comte de (1811~1890), French critic and man of letters, was born at Avignon (Vaucluse) on the 16th of July 1811. Imbued by family tradition with legitimise sympathies, he began by attacking the followers of the encyclopaedists and their successors. In the Assemblée nation ale he published his Causeries littéraires, a series of attacks on prominent Liberals, which created some sensation. Pontmartin was an indefatigable journalist, and most of his papers were eventually published in volume form: Conte; et réveries d'un planteur de choux (1845); Causeries du samedi (1857-1860); Nouveaux samedis (1865-1881), &c. But the most famous of all his books is Les Jeudis de Mme. Charbouneau (1862), which under the form of a novel offered a series of malicious and witty portraits of contemporary writers. Pontmartin died at Avignon on the 29th of March 1890.

See Hatzfeld and Meunier, Les Critiques littéraires du XIX” siécle (1894).


PONTOISE, a town of northern France, capital of an arrondissement of the department of Seine-et-Oise, 18 m. N.W. of Paris on the railway to Dieppe. Pop. (1906), 7963. Pontoise is picturesquely situated on the right bank of the Oise where it is joined by the Viosne. The traffic on the main river is large, and the tributary drives numerous mills. Of the many churches that used to exist in the town two only remain: St Maclou, a church of the 12th century, altered and restored in the 15th and 16th centuries by Pierre Lemercier, the famous architect of St Eustache at Paris, and containing a fine holy sepulchre of the 16th century; and Notre-Dame, of the close of the 16th century, which contains the tomb of St Gautier, abbot of Meulan in the 12th century. At the top of the flight of steps by which St Maclou is approached is the statue of General Leclerc, a native of the town and husband of Pauline Bonaparte. Grain and flour are the principal staples of the trade; a well-known fair is held in November. The town has a sub-prefecture, tribunals of first instance and of commerce and a communal college. At Mériel, near Pontoise, there are interesting remains of the Cistercian abbey of Le Val. Pontoise existed in the time of the Gauls as Briva Isarae (Bridge of the Oise). It was destroyed by the Normans in the 9th century, united with Normandy in 1032, and acquired by Philip I. in 1064. Capital of the French Vexin, it possessed an important stronghold and played a conspicuous part in the wars between the French and the dukes of Normandy and in the Hundred Years' War. The English took it in 1419, and again in 1437. In 1441 Charles VII. took it by storm after a three months' siege. After belonging to the count of Charolais down to the treaty of Conflans, it was given as a dowry to Ieanne of France when she was divorced by Louis XII. The parlement of Paris several times met in the town; and in 1561 the states general convoked at Orleans removed thither after the death of Francis II. During the Fronde it offered a refuge to Louis XIV. and Mazarin. Henry III. made it an apanage for his brother the duke of Anjou. At a later period it passed to the duke of Conti. Down to the Revolution it remained a monastic town.


PONTOON (Fr. ponton, from Lat. pans, a bridge), a flat bottomed boat, used as a ferry boat or lighter; especially a boat of particular design intended to form part of a military bridge. In modern hydraulic engineering the words ponton and pontoon are used to designate hollow water-tight structures which are secured to sunken wrecks and bring them up to the surface, and also the hollow chambers which serve as gates for docks and sluices, and are lowered and raised by the admission and pumping out of water.

Military Pantoon Bridges.-From time immemorial floating bridges of vessels bearing a roadway of beams and planks have been employed to facilitate the passage of rivers and arms of the sea. Xerxes crossed the Hellespont on a double bridge, oneiline supported on three hundred and sixty, the other on three hundred and fourteen vessels, anchored head and stern with their keels in the direction of the current. Darius threw similar bridges across the Bosporus and the Danube in his war against the Scythians, and the Ten Thousand employed a bridge of boats to cross the river Tigris in their retreat from Persia. Floating bridges have been repeatedly constructed over rivers in Europe and Asia, not merely temporarily for the passage of an army, but permanently for the requirements of the country; and to this day many of the great rivers in India are crossed, on the lines of the principal roads, by floating bridges, which are for the most part supported on boats such as are employed for ordinary traffic on the river.

But light vessels which can be taken out of the water and lifted on to carriages are required for transport with an army in the field. Alexander the Great occasionally carried with his army vessels divided into portions, which were put together on reaching the banks of a river, as in crossing the Hydaspes; he is even said to have carried his army over the Oxus' by means of rafts made of the hide tents of the soldiers stuffed with straw, when he found that all the river boats had been burnt. Cyrus crossed the Euphrates on stuffed skins. The practice of carrying about skins to be inflated when troops had to cross a river, which was adopted by both Greeks and Romans, still exists in the East. In the 4th century the emperor Julian crossed the Tigris, Euphrates and other rivers by bridges of boats made of 'skins stretched over osier frames. In the wars of the 17th century pontoons are found as regular components of the trains of armies, the Germans using a leather, the Dutch a tin and the French a copper “ skin ” over stout timber frames.

Modern military pontoons have been made of two forms, open as an undecked boat, or closed as a decked canoe or cylinder. During the Peninsular War the English employed open bateaux; but the experience gained in that war induced them to introduce the closed form. General Colleton devised a buoy pontoon, cylindrical with conical ends and made of wooden staves like a cask. Then General Sir Charles Pasley introduced demi-pontoons, like decked canoes with pointed bows and square sterns, a pair, attached stern wise, forming a single “pier ” of support for the roadway; they were constructed of light timber frames covered with sheet copper and were decked with wood; each demi-pontoon was divided internally into separate compartments by partitions which were made as water-tight as possible, and also supplied with the means of pumping out water; when transported overland with an army a pair of demi-pontoons and the superstructure of one bay formed the load for a single carriage weighing 27~7 5 cwt. when loaded. The, Pasley was superseded by the Blanshard pontoon, a tin coated cylinder with hemispherical ends, for which great mobility was claimed, two pontoons and two bays superstructure being carried on one waggon, giving a weight of about 45 cwt., which was intended to be drawn by four horses. The Blanshard pontoon was long used in, the British army, but was ultimately discarded; and British engineers came to the conclusion that it was desirable to return to the form of the open bateau to which the engineers of all the