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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/476

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Part II.
FRENCH ARCHITECTURE.

from village to village, visiting every church, and examining every architectural remain, comparing one with another, tracing their affinities, and finally classifying and mapping the whole. It is probable that the labor of one man would hardly suffice for this purpose. Monographs would be required to complete the task, but it is one of such singular interest that it is hoped it may soon be undertaken.

One of the great difficulties in attempting anything of the sort at present is the nomenclature. When the science is further advanced, such names as Silurian, Cambrian, etc., will no doubt be invented, but at present we must be content with the political name which seems most nearly to express the ethnographical distribution; though in scarcely a single instance will these be found strictly correct, all in consequence being open to adverse criticism. In France it frequently happened that two or more ethnographic provinces were united under one sceptre—eventually all were merged into one—and during the various changes that took place in the Middle Ages, it was only by accident that the political boundary exactly agreed for any great length of time with the ethnographical.

In Germany, on the contrary, a single race is and was cut up into numerous political divisions, so that it becomes, from the opposite cause alone, equally difficult to apply a nomenclature which shall correctly represent the facts of the case.

In such a work as this it would be manifestly absurd to attempt to adjust all this with anything like minute accuracy, but the principal features are so easily recognized that no great confusion can arise in the application of such names as are usually employed, and it is to be hoped that before long a better system of nomenclature will be invented and applied.

We may rest assured of one thing, at all events, which is, that the architectural remains in France are as sufficient for the construction of an ethnographic map of that country as the rocks are for the compilation of a geological survey. If the one opens out to the student an immense expanse of scientific knowledge, the other is hardly of less interest, though in a less extended field. There are few studies more pleasing than that of tracing the history of man through his works, and none bring the former condition of humanity so vividly back to us as those records which have been built into the walls of their temples or their palaces by those who were thus unconsciously recording their feelings for the instruction of their posterity.

The first thing that strikes the student in examining architecturally the map of France is the recurrence of the same phenomena as was remarked in that of Italy, a division into two nearly equal halves by a boundary line running east and west. In both countries, to the southward of this line the land was occupied by a Romanesque people