For years the makers of this book have spent the summer time in wandering about the French country; led here by the fame of some old monument, or there by an incident of history. They have found the real, unspoiled France, often unexplored by any except the French themselves, and practically unknown to foreigners, even to the ubiquitous maker of guide-books. For weeks together they have travelled without meeting an English-speaking person. It is, therefore, not surprising that they were unable to find, in any convenient form in English, a book telling of the Cathedrals of the South which was at once accurate and complete. For the Cathedrals of that country are monuments not only of architecture and its history, but of the history of peoples, the psychology of the christianising and unifying of the barbarian and the Gallo-Roman, and many things besides, epitomised perhaps in the old words, “the struggle between the world, the flesh, and the devil.” In French, works on Cathedrals are numerous and exhaustive; but either so voluminous as to be unpractical except for the specialist—as the volumes of Viollet-le-Duc,—or so technical as to make each Cathedral seem one in an endless, monotonous procession, differing from the others only in size, style, and age. This is distinctly unfair to these old churches which have personalities and idiosyncrasies as real as those of individuals. It has been the aim of the makers of this book to introduce, in photograph and in story,—not critically or exhaustively, but suggestively and accurately,—the Cathedral of the Mediterranean provinces as it exists to-day with its peculiar characteristics of architecture and history. They have described only churches which they have seen, they have verified every fact and date where such verification was possible, and have depended on local tradition only where that was all which remained to tell of the past; and they will feel abundantly repaid for travel, research, and patient exploration of towers, crypts, and archives if the leisurely traveller on pleasure bent shall find in these volumes but a hint of the interest and fascination which the glorious architecture, the history, and the unmatched climate of the Southland can awaken.
For unfailing courtesy and untiring interest, for free access to private as well as to ecclesiastical libraries, for permission to photograph and copy, for unbounding hospitality and the retelling of many an old legend, their most grateful thanks are due to the Catholic clergy, from Archbishop to Curé and Vicar. For rare old bits of information, for historical verification, and for infinite pains in accuracy of printed matter, they owe warm thanks to Mrs. Wilbur Rose, to Miss Frances Kyle, and to Mrs. William H. Shelmire, Jr. For criticism and training in the art of photographing they owe no less grateful acknowledgment to Mr. John G. Bullock and Mr. Charles R. Pancoast.
E. W. R.
V. H. F.