Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/449

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.


AUGUST, 1888.


THE OCTROI AT ISSOIRE: A CITY MADE RICH BY TAXATION.
By DAVID STARR JORDAN,

PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF INDIANA.

IF you look on a good map of France, you will find, a little south of the center, a small, squarish area, painted red, and bearing the name of Puy-de-Dôme. This Puy-de-Dôme is a strange region, made up of fertile valleys separated from each other by ragged hills which were once volcanoes in Palæozoic times. These volcanoes have long since retired from active life, and are black and dismal now, their faces scored by lava-furrows, like gigantic tear-stains dried on their rugged cheeks. In their craters are ponds of black water full of perch and trout—as black as the rocks above which they swim. The highest of these hills the people call the Puy-de-Dôme—the Cathedral-peak. There is an observatory on the top of it, and all the country that you can see from the mountain-summit makes up the "department" of Puy-de-Dôme.

On the south side of the department, near what one might call the "county line," you will find, if your map is a good one, the little city of Issoire. Issoire is a very old town. The Romans knew it. They found it when they invaded Gaul, 1900 years ago, and they called it Iciodorum. They found it again in the year 287, when they came up to convert the Gauls to Christianity, a thing which they had neglected to do upon their first visit. The Romans brought with them a pious monk, St. Austremoine by name, and the people of Iciodorum captured him, and he was duly roasted in accordance with their heathenish customs. So, as the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, Issoire came in