A Little Tour In France, By Henry James

 -   There are a nave
and two aisles, the latter about as high as the nave;
and there are some very - Page 127
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There Are A Nave And Two Aisles, The Latter About As High As The Nave; And There Are Some Very

Fearful modern pictures, which you may see much better than you usually see those specimens of the old masters that

Lurk in glow- ing side-chapels, there being no fine old glass to dif- fuse a kindly gloom. The sacristan of the cathedral showed me something much better than all this bright bareness; he led me a short distance out of it to the small Temple de Saint-Jean, which is the most curious object at Poitiers. It is an early Christian chapel, one of the earliest in France; originally, it would seem, - that is, in the sixth or seventh century, - a bap- tistery, but converted into a church while the Christian era was still comparatively young. The Temple de Saint-Jean is therefore a monument even more vener- able than Notre Dame la Grande, and that numbness of age which I imputed to Notre Dame ought to reside in still larger measure in its crude and colorless little walls. I call them crude, in spite of their having been baked through by the centuries, only because, although certain rude arches and carvings are let into them, and they are surmounted at either end with a small gable, they have (so far as I can remember) little fascination of surface. Notre Dame is still ex- pressive, still pretends to be alive; but the Temple has delivered its message, and is completely at rest. It retains a kind of atrium, on the level of the street, from which you descend to the original floor, now un- covered, but buried for years under a false bottom. A semicircular apse was, apparently at the time of its conversion into a church, thrown out from the east wall.

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