Gaston de Latour

Walter Horatio Pater

1. A Clerk in Orders: 1-25
2. Our Lady's Church: 26-47
3. Modernity: 48-72
4. Peach-Blossom and Wine: 73-90
5. Suspended Judgment: 91-115
6. Shadows of Events: 116-131
7. The Lower Pantheism: 132-end

The white walls of the Chateau of Deux-manoirs, with its precincts, composed, before its dismantling at the Revolution, the one prominent object which towards the southwest broke the pleasant level of La Beauce, the great corn-land of central France. Abode in those days of the family of Latour, nesting there century after century, it recorded significantly the effectiveness of their brotherly union, less by way of invasion of the rights of others than by the improvement of all gentler sentiments within. From the sumptuous monuments of their last resting-place, backwards to every object which had encircled them in that warmer and more lightsome home it was visible they had cared for so much, even in some peculiarities of the very ground-plan of the house itself--everywhere was the token of their anxious estimate of all those incidents of man's pathway through the world [2] which knit the wayfarers thereon most closely together.
Why this irregularity of ground-plan?--the traveller would ask; recognising indeed a certain distinction in its actual effect on the eye, and suspecting perhaps some conscious aim at such effect on the part of the builders of the place in an age indulgent of architectural caprices. And the traditional answer to the question, true for once, still showed the race of Latour making much, making the most, of the sympathetic ties of human life. The work, in large measure, of Gaston de Latour, it was left unfinished at his death, some time about the year 1594. That it was never completed could hardly be attributed to any lack of means, or of interest; for it is plain that to the period of the Revolution, after which its scanty remnants passed into humble occupation (a few circular turrets, a crenellated curtain wall, giving a random touch of dignity to some ordinary farm-buildings) the place had been scrupulously maintained. It might seem to have been a kind of reverence rather that had allowed the work to remain untouched for future ages precisely at this point in its growth.
And the expert architectural mind, peeping acutely into recondite motives and half-accomplished purposes in such matters, could detect the circumstance which had determined that so noticeable peculiarity of ground-plan. Its kernel was not, as in most similar buildings of that date, [3] a feudal fortress, but an unfortified manor-house--a double manoir--two houses, oddly associated at a right angle. Far back in the Middle Age, said a not uncertain tradition, here had been the one point of contact between two estates, intricately interlocked with alien domain, as, in the course of generations, the family of Latour, and another, had added field to field. In the single lonely manor then existing two brothers had grown up; and the time came when the marriage of the younger to the heiress of those neighbouring lands would divide two perfect friends. Regretting over-night so dislocating a change it was the elder who, as the drowsy hours flowed away in manifold recollection beside the fire, now suggested to the younger, himself already wistfully recalling, as from the past, the kindly motion and noise of the place like a sort of audible sunlight, the building of a second manor-house--the Chateau d'Amour, as it came to be called--that the two families, in what should be as nearly as possible one abode, might take their fortunes together.
Of somewhat finer construction than the rough walls of the older manor, the Chateau d'Amour stood, amid the change of years, as a visible record of all the accumulated sense of human existence among its occupants. The old walls, the old apartments, of those two associated houses still existed, with some obvious additions, beneath the delicate, fantastic surfaces of the chateau [4] of the sixteenth century. Its singularity of outline was the very symbol of the religion of the family in the race of Latour, still full of loyalty to the old home, as its numerous outgrowths took hold here and there around. A race with some prominent characteristics ineradicable in the grain, they went to raise the human level about them by a transfer of blood, far from involving any social decadence in themselves. A peculiar local variety of character, of manners, in that district of La Beauce, surprised the more observant visitor who might find his way into farmhouse or humble presbytery of its scattered townships. And as for those who kept up the central tradition of their house, they were true to the soil, coming back, under whatever obstacles, from court, from cloister, from distant crusade, to the visible spot where the memory of their kindred was liveliest and
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