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A RAMBLE IN BELGIUM. [By our London Correspondent.) Apollo's bow is not always bent, I believe. But the old classic axiom does not seem to apply so well as a more familiar one which tells us of the effect which all work and no play has upon Jack, who is a representa- tive personage. At this time of the year, however, we don't count axioms and adages to palliate the crime of taking a holiday and I venture to think that a few rough notes of a ramble in Belgium may be of some interest. Afflicted with the mal de mer whenever there is the slightest excuse for it, I feel the full force of "sea pas- sage 90 minutes only," and go from one shore to the other where they approach the nearest. There is a good deal to see no doubt at Calais; it is more French than Boulogne but then it is not so "nice," as ladies would say. The municipality of Calais might make it a charming town if they would. Life would be very pleasant," said the late Sir G. C. Lewis, if it were not for its amusements;" but then he was a scholar and „ a studious and sedate man. His remarks at any rate will scarcely apply to towns. Calais would be all the better for some approach to amusement and entertain- ment. You can't alwayisbe walking on the pier; you can see the Hotel de Ville and the Cathedral in an hour or two, and then Calais is used up. So you had better be off. In fact, Calais is only a place to arrive at and start from. Your humble servant, in company with a genial and congenial friend, does the latter, and we ar- rive at Lille. I rather like Lille as a town; it is lively, busy, fall of signs of trade and industry, and is a very fair specimen of a thriving commercial French town. But then for or e-or two-" long in populous city pent" it scarcely affords you the repose and relaxation you want. So, after a tiring walk about the city, winding up with a visit to some very pleasant gardens where there was some capital singing; after earning our night's repose, I suppose, by the labour of pleasure after a comfortable dijedner at the Hotel des Voya- geurs, we take the rail to Ath in Belgium. My friend and I differ about this same Ath (which looks rather an awkward word, but which is easy enough when you know how to say it). He thinks it dull and uninterest- ing I don't. It is bright and clean, and looks happy and prosperous. There is not very much to see, it is true the Tour du Burbard, perhaps, is the principal sight for people who love antiquities, for it is more than seven centuries old; but the town itself is pleasant and agreeable, and if you can't feel pleasure in rambling about and noticing the features of the place, and the manners and customs of the people of the period, it must be your fault, not theirs. I could put up with a couple of months here, and could live very cheaply. What say you to a nice, bright, clean bedroom for a franc and a-half per night for two nights ? And then, doubtless, there would be "an allowance made on taking a quantity of bed But if I could put up with a couple of months at Ath, how much more agreeable to pass that time at Brussels I could even bear a sentence of being -i interni in this charming, lively, animated bustling and yet sedate and sober city. Everybody has heard it spoken of as un petit Paris, and verily it is so; but everything appears to be on a smaller scale and toned- down. The glare and glitter, the flashy gaiety, the v dash and chic of Paris are wanting in their full force, but there is much to remind you of them. As my friend expresses it, Brussels is Paris with the chill off." At all events Brusee's is a most delightful city; busy without some of those concomitants of business which make other cities so disagreeable; lively and cheerful without being dissipated, as far as superficial observers can see with a full complement of working people, but yet free from those signs of squalor which unhappily you see nowhere else so strongly marked as in the United Kingdom. Bat I have no intention of describing Brussels; that haa been often done before; but I would strongly re- commend any who have not seenit, and who may be con- templating a few weeks'holiday, to pay dear, charming Brussels a visit. You can take the opportunity to see Antwerp, with its strange mixture of languages and nationalities, its famed cathedral, and its world-re- nowned paintings; Bruges, whieh carries you back into the Middle Ages; Ghent, lively, prosperous, and business-like; and a number of other places of in. terest, which have historical associations intimately connected with England's chequered career. A sum- mer ramble inBelgiumis more refreshing and invigorat- ing than one in France, and certainly isnotsoenervat- ing as Paris in the summer time; and you will find travelling, hotels, &c. cheaper in the former country than in the latter. Belgium scenery is by no means remarkable for its beauty, but then go where you will you are likely to see memorials of bye-gone age?. Here you may find a Town Hall which dates from centuries back, and you wander about it and ponder on the changes that the lapse of time has produced and then in some other town you are shown buildings that date three or four centuries farther back still Belgium defierves to be studied; she is worth more than a mere superficial visit; her history is rich in stirring episodes, and a house, or a town hall, or a church which one will pass by carelessly, not knowing the historical associations which cling to it, will to another primed with information, be full of deep in- terest. A pleasant railway trip of less than an hour takes you from Brussels to Louvain, which is a town you certainly ought to see. It has a history of a thousand years, and there are ruins of a castle which has had a thousand years pass over it, and the Hotel de Ville, which is more than four centuries old, is about as splendid a monument of Gothic architecture and of the skill of sculptors and artists as you will find anywhere in Belgium, and that is saying a good deal. Here, as in most other Belgian towns, you will find splendid paintings by Rubens. Rubens must have worked very quickly and have been very industrious to have produced all the works that are attributed to him; and perhaps they will not all bear inquiry; but when we ramble in a foreign country for recreation we don't waat to inquire too curiously into the authenticity of what is pointed out to us. Pour moi, I may flatter myself I know a little about paintings, but it may be that it's a precious little, and certainly I am not a Waagen, or a Varsori, or a Rey. nolds, or a Mrs. Jameson for critical acumen. But lean follow the advice which Goldsmith gave to the critics of his time; lean "safely say that the picture would doubt- less have liaen better had the artist taken more paws. and I can praise the works of Peter Perugino, or Rubens, as the case may be and when I am gazing at a grand painting, par Rubens," I don't want to be vexed with the thought that he can't have painted all that are attributed to him and if a worrying friend at my side suggests this much, I prefer to think that Rubens was sui generis, that his style was his own, and that none but himself could be his parallel. The principal products of Louvain, says this same worrying friend, seems to be learning and beer; and certainly breweries abound, so that there is some foundation for the odd remark. Ihe University of Louvain was founded more than six centuries ago, by a Duke of Bra- bant. It played an important part in the learned con- troversies of the Middle Ages, and in the sixteenth century it had acquired such fame as a school of theology that it had 6,000 students and about 40 colleges. Do not leave Louvain without visiting the church of St. Pierre. Founded more than eight cen- turies ago, and twice burned down, the present church dates back only to 1430 (which is not much for Belgium). Its architecture, its painting, its iron-work (by the cele- brated Quintin Matsya) and paintings of the same versatile genius, and ite curved wood-work, are specially remarkable. But Louvain on the whole is not a lively place it is noteworthy for its history and not for its present importance and so — what say you ?-to go to Liege ? The contrast between Louvain and Liege is most striking. The latter is a very busy, thriving, populous town—110,000, I believe, in this year of Grace,-and so high does its manufacturing reputation stand that it has been called the Birmingham of the Low Countries. Every one knows its fame in the manufac- ture of fire-arms, and it is said that for years past it has produced a million a year. What can have become of them ? It is decidedly a fine city, with a well-to-do, prosperous air about it, while its river, its boulevards, and its gardens, give it a cheerful aspect. Liege is indubitably the busiest- looking town in Belgium, though it is not so large as Ghent; Ltege, however, has too many factories, and is too noisy for a holiday trip, and so we will go to Spa. And here again is another great change. The business of Spa is the business of pleasure, of recrea- tion, of idleness, of illness, of lounging, of gaming. There are now at least two visitors to each inhabitant, and nearly all the inhabitants get their living, somehow or other, all the year round, out of the visitors during a few months. It is a lovely place, with charming walks, delicious gardens, and attractive—some of them too attractive—places of resort. Spa suggests bathing and drinking the waters, and it suggests also rouge et noir and roulette. Bathe, if you will, my friend; drink the waters, if you will; but rouge et noir, avaunt! roulette, down, down Who has not read about their gaming-tables? I will net bore you, therefore, gentle and courteous reader, with my im- pressions, reminiscences, or moral homilies. Suffice it to say that Spa on the whole is a charming holiday resort, and you might do a worse thing than visit it, always provided you have suffictlht self-control to keep on the right side of the doors of the gaming. rooms. The London, Chatham, and Dover advertise London to Spa and back for 41s. 9d. by Ostend, or 45s. 6d. by Calais, at through rates; but I prefer travelling bit by bit as fancy dictates, and not on a pre. arranged plan; so that one may go where one likes, or two like. Of course, a speaking knowledge of 1 French is of great advantage, but it is by no means necessary. The Belgians shame us in this respect, and it is not the only thing in which a candid English traveller will own the inferiority of his countrymen. We can't expect to be superior to the Belgians in everything," says my friend. Jast so; and perhaps they don't pretend to be superior to us in everything. We learn by travel; we give and take; we rub off prejudices and acquire" corrigenda," for" by others' faults wise men correct their own." And although the Belgians are our near neighbours, and we see and know much of each other, there are few, if any, of my readers who may not have been there who would not derive mental as well as bodily benefit from a ramble in Belgium." My friend and I had the pleasures of hope when we set out, and we have the pleasures of memory now that we have returned to the great city."


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