Beaumont-l'Eglise. From Panoramio.com
"Beaumont is composed of two villages, completely separated and quite distinct one from the other—Beaumont-l'Eglise, on the hill with its old Cathedral of the twelfth century, its Bishop's Palace which dates only from the seventeenth century, its inhabitants, scarcely one thousand in number, who are crowded together in an almost stifling way in its narrow streets; and Beaumont-la-Ville, at the foot of the hill, on the banks of the Ligneul, an ancient suburb, which the success of its manufactories of lace and fine cambric has enriched and enlarged to such an extent that it has a population of nearly ten thousand persons, several public squares, and an elegant sub-prefecture built in the modern style. These two divisions, the northern district and the southern district, have thus no longer anything in common except in an administrative way. Although scarcely thirty leagues from Paris, where one can go by rail in two hours, Beaumont-l'Eglise seems to be still immured in its old ramparts, of which, however, only three gates remain. A stationary, peculiar class of people lead there a life similar to that which their ancestors had led from father to son during the past five hundred years.
The Cathedral explains everything, has given birth to and preserved everything. It is the mother, the queen, as it rises in all its majesty in the centre of, and above, the little collection of low houses, which, like shivering birds, are sheltered under her wings of stone. One lives there simply for it, and only by it. There is no movement of business activity, and the little tradesmen only sell the necessities of life, such as are absolutely required to feed, to clothe, and to maintain the church and its clergy; and if occasionally one meets some private individuals, they are merely the last representatives of a scattered crowd of worshippers. The church dominates all; each street is one of its veins; the town has no other breath than its own. On that account, this spirit of another age, this religious torpor from the past, makes the cloistered city which surrounds it redolent with a savoury perfume of peace and of faith."
From Chapter II of The Dream (Le Reve) by Emile Zola
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