A Little Tour In France, By Henry James



























































































 -   Although there are few
picturesque houses, however, there are two or three
curious old churches.  Notre Dame la Grande, in - Page 126
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Although There Are Few Picturesque Houses, However, There Are Two Or Three Curious Old Churches.

Notre Dame la Grande, in the market-place, a small romanesque structure of the twelfth century, has a most interesting and venerable exterior.

Composed, like all the churches of Poitiers, of a light brown stone with a yellowish tinge, it is covered with primitive but ingenious sculptures, and is really an impressive monument. Within, it has lately been daubed over with the most hideous decorative painting that was ever inflicted upon passive pillars and indifferent vaults. This battered yet coherent little edifice has the touching look that resides in everything supremely old: it has arrived at the age at which such things cease to feel the years; the waves of time have worn its edges to a kind of patient dul- ness; there is something mild and smooth, like the stillness, the deafness, of an octogenarian, even in its rudeness of ornament, and it has become insensible to differences of a century or two. The cathedral interested me much less than Our Lady the Great, and I have not the spirit to go into statistics about it. It is not statistical to say that the cathedral stands half-way down the hill of Poitiers, in a quiet and grass-grown _place_, with an approach of crooked lanes and blank garden-walls, and that its most striking dimension is the width of its facade. This width is extraordinary, but it fails, somehow, to give nobleness to the edifice, which looks within (Murray makes the remark) like a large public hall.

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