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indefatigable care and labour bestowed upon its cultivation, for the natural soil consists almost wholly of barren sand, and its great fertility is entirely the result of very skilful management and judicious application of various manures. The undulations in the surface of the northern districts are very slight, and the northern parts of the province of Antwerp are less varied and fertile than any other. The soil is, for the most part, composed of pure sand, very partially mixed with argillaceous earth. The largest unbroken plain Belgium is called Campine, comprising the north-east portion of Antwerp and north-west of Liége. It consists of marshes, desolate moors, peat bogs, and extensive tracts of sand, covered with heath, broom, and firs. Some parts, however, consist of natural prairies, that serve as pasturage for extensive herds of excellent horses, and the portion of Limbourg on the banks of the Meuse, is fertile and carefully cultivated. The character of Brabant resembles that of Flanders with respect to its beautiful fields, gardens, and luxuriant trees. In the province of Liége the north bank overlooks a fertile plain, producing all kinds of grain and vegetables, and affording excellent pasturage for cattle and for dairy husbandry ; but the country on the south bank of the river belongs to the mountainous districi which constitutes the provinces of Luxembourg and Namur. The course of the Meuse, from Dinant to Maestricht, offers some very picturesque combinations of landscapes and rock scenery. The river is closely shut in by lofty cliffs of various hues. Here they overhang the river, and are beautifully shrouded with bushes of box, wild myrtle, and ivy, and there they slope away to its margin, or are suddenly cleft asunder, presenting through the chasm a delightful view of highly-cultivated farms and villages, half hidden by trees, in the distant highlands. The wild state of nature in the provinces of Namur, Liége, and Luxembourg, the various fossils and mineral products, and the charms of the scenery, have long made this part of the country a favourite of the naturalist, the geologist, and the painter.

LAND TENURE.—Short leases of nine years are the rule. Rents are high. There are many tenant farmers and many peasant owners. For example, in the province of Brabant, there are 54,000 owners and 29,000 tenants ; in Antwerp province, 21,000 owners and 27,000 tenants.

CLIMATE.—The climate of Belgium is pure and healthy, but subject to much variation in its general character.

The GOVERNMENT is a limited constitutional monarchy, and the succession to the throne confined to the direct male issue, perpetually excluding females and their descendants. The legislative power is vested in the King and two Chambers—the Senate and the House of Representatives, the members of which are elected by the people paying 30s. direct taxes annually. The number of representatives cannot exceed one to every 40,000 people, and in all cases the representative must be a Belgian by birth or paturalisation. The King has the power of dissolving the Chambers, either together or separately, but the decrees of dissolution must contain an edict convoking the elective body within 40 days, and the Chambers within two months. Both Chambers are elected by the people, and the upper one, or Senate, consists of but one-half the number constituting the lower Chamber. A senator must be a Belgian resident within the kingdom, and 40 years old, and be rated as paying annually 1,000 forins direct taxes--something about £84 sterling. The Representatives are paid at the rate of £16 16s. monthly for their services during the session, but the senators, or members of the upper chamber, receive no pay.

The public INCOME (1884) was £12,615,465 sterling, against an EXPENDITURE of £13,074,829. The public Debr is nearly 67} millions. The ARMy on the peace establishment numbers 46,300 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, 8,000 artillery, and 204 guns. The Garde Civique active numbers 31,000. Belgium does not possess any navy. The flag is red, yellow, and black, in perpendicular stripes. Motto-L'Union fait la Force-Union is Strength.

FRANCO-GERMAN War of 1870-1.-On 29th July, 1870, Count Bismarck published secret despatch in reference to the offer of Napoleon III. to incorporate Belgium. Its neutrality was thereupon guaranteed by England, with France and Prussia, i.e., with each against the other; and this was strictly respected by both parties during the war. After Sedan, several thousand men found refuge in Belgium. On 28th March, 1871, the peace negotiations between Germany and France commenced at Brussels.

ARTS AND SCIENCES.-Since Belgium became an independent nation, a great spirit of emulation and desire of improvement has arisen among all classes of the population. There are universities at Brussels, Ghent, Liége, and Louvain. Energies have been awakened which have already achieved much in the cause of social and intellectual advancement, and which promise to accomplish more in the same honourable career. The government sustains and encourages the progress of science, learning, the fine arts, and literary tastes. Pensions are given to talented young men to enable them to develope the powers of their genius in foreign countries, by studying the works of the great masters; and a national exhibition is opened every year, in the large towns and cities successively, in which are displayed the paintings, sculptures, engravings, and designs of the best artists. The most meritorious works are rewarded by medals of gold, silver, and bronze.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.—The Belgians have been successively subjected to the influence of so many different governments, that they, consequently, possess no distinctive and peculiar national character. The apathy and persevering industry of the Dutch is blended with the vivacity and self-assurance of the French, without producing an agreeable compound. The different provinces exhibit some variety of character and manners. On the borders of Holland the people are generally similar to the Dutch, and adopt their customs, amusements, and dress. But in the southern

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districts they differ little from the French, in appearance, habits, manners, costume, or language. In some parts there is an admixture of Spanish blood, dating from the 16th century.

The Belgians have always displayed a passionate love for social liberty, an impatience of control, that embroiled them with all their different rulers. Writers of all ages agree in describing them as the most restless, unruly, tumult-loving mortals in existence, always treating their best rulers the worst, while the bad overawed them. In the history of no other country do we find such unbounded liberty, with such an inveterate disposition to abuse it.

LANGUAGE.—About one-half of the population speaks the Picard and Walloon dialects of French; the rather larger half speak Flemish, closely resembling Dutch. It may be said that the boundaries of the Walloon and Flemish languages are marked by a line, drawn east from Gravelines to the Lys, and along that river to Menin, and thence east again to the Meuse, by the south of Brussels and Louvain, between Maestricht and Liége. South of this line Walloon is spoken, as at Verviers, Liége, and Namur; and Flemish north of it, including Brussels. A more undulating line, drawn from Menin to the frontier near Chimay, and intersecting the country between Valenciennes and Mons, would draw a demarcation between the two dialects of the French spoken in Belgium. On the west of this line the Picard dialect is spoken, and the Walloon on the east of it. French is the language of the educated classes.

Works of ART.—SCHOOL OF PAINTING.—Belgium can boast of a brilliant bistory, not alone in reference to architecture; in her school of painting, we find an eminent degree of perfection characterising its productions, whilst its masters and students have been signally remarkable for their perfection in the art. This school may be looked upon as dating from two separate epochs, and may be designated the schools of Van Eyck and Rubens. The founders of the early school were the brothers Aubert and John Van Eyck, who are said to have lived between 1370 and 1445. The tone and character of their works, with those of their scholars, and the degree of perfection with which they had been executed, may be easily gleaned from their numerous productions still existing in Belgium, forming, with the great architectural attractions of the country, a study of special interest in a Belgian tour. The traveller of taste will appreciate them as equalling, if not surpassing, in their excellence, the productions of their European contemporaries. So far back as 1358, a guild of painters was established at Bruges. This corporation of artists, in the reign of Philip the Good, enjoyed a deservedly eminent reputation, and in the days of Van Eyck we find, registered on its records, above three hundred names, constituting, as a whole, the most celebrated school of that period.

Though Van Eyck cannot be said to be the inventor of oil painting, yet he cannot be denied the credit of having been the perfector of the art, and may, in some measure, be esteemed its father. The perfection to which he brought oil painting is

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fully seen, to the present day, in the deep brilliancy and liveliness discernible in all his works, which, by the freshness and perfect preservation of their colours, excite the wonder and admiration of every traveller. And it is also certain that this school must have achieved a high character for proficiency in this department, since we find Antonello of Menina, an Italian artist, travelling into Flanders in order to acquire a knowledge of it, though, two hundred years previously, oil painting had been practised in Italy.

With the works of Van Eyck and his brother must be associated those of Hans Hemling, or Memling, another artist of the same school, whose chefs d'æuvre are found in Bruges, in the Academy and Hospital of St. John.

In studying the productions of the early Flemish school we must not forget that their path was a new and entirely original one. Without the classic works of antiquity to guide them, or the great models of later times to imitate, they were forced by the necessity of circumstances to fall back upon the volume of nature; from it they took their models, and hence that formality and stiffness and meagreness of outline, so unpleasantly combined with a want of refinement in their works, which defects are more than covered by the conscientiousness, solemnity, and truthful force of expression marking them. An examination of the works of Quentin Matsys, Frans Floris, Van der Weyden, Van der Goes, Mabuse, Čoxcie, Breughel, Jordaens, De Vos, the Bringhaes, &c., down to Otto Veen or Venius, Breughel, Teniers, and Rubens will clearly show the development and progress of the Flemish school.

SCHOOL OF RUBENS.—Rubens and his illustrious pupil Vandyke may be looked upon as the presiding geniuses of the second epoch in the history of the Belgian or Flemish school. We cannot, in any language of our own, better exhibit the character of the school, than that in which the head of it is described by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in the following extract:-“ The elevated situation in which Rubens stands in the esteem of the world, is a sufficient reason for some examination of his pretensions. His fame is extended over a great part of the Continent without a rival; and it may justly be said that he enriched his country, not in a figurative sense alone, by the great examples of art which he left, but by what some would think a more solid advantage—the wealth arising from the concourse of strangers whom his works continually invited to Antwerp. To extend his glory still further, he gives to Paris one of its most striking features, the Luxembourg Gallery ; and if to these we add the many towns, churches, and private cabinets, where a single piciure of Rubens confers eminence, we cannot hesitate to place him in the first rank of illustrious painters.”

In the present age, Belgium possesses a School of Living Artists, whose productions, especially those historical ones of Wappers de Keyzer, Bufre, Maes, Gallait, and Van Lerins (died 1876), can bear competition with the best productions of the other schools of the present day,

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ARCHITECTURE has been carried to its highest degree of perfection in the construction of the cathedrals and town halls of Belgium, which display the finest specimens of the ornamental Gothic style of the middle ages. In England, Gothic architecture is confined chiefly to churches, but in Belgium it is shewn to be equally suitable to civic edifices and private dwellings. Fronts richly decorated with quaint and fantastic sculptures, lofty sloping roofs, full of windows, pointed gables, castellated towers, battlements, and projecting windows, combine to produce a general effect, which, from its grandeur and intricacy, delights the spectator.

PRODUCTS.—Of 74 million acres, one-half is arable, one-fifth meadow, and another fifth is woodland. It yields wheat, rye, barley, flax, hemp, tobacco, potatoes; copper, zinc, lead, iron, and coal.

MANUFACTURES.—The industry of the Flemings has, within 200 years, converted a tract of land, once a sandy and barren heath, into a beautiful garden; and the product of its wheat is often not less than sixteen to one, and oats ten to one, whilst scarcely in any part of Britain does wheat give more than eight or ten to one. East and West Flanders alone produce, annually, flax to the amount of £1,600,000, employing above 400,000 persons. Hops, beetroot, chicory, and tobacco are also grown. The coal mines of Hainault, &c., produce annually 12,000,000 tons, valued at £5,000,000 sterling; about 3 million tons are exported. About 1,000,000 tons of iron ore are annually raised. The cloth manufactures of Verviers employ 4,000 men; and the cotton manufacture, notwithstanding the loss of the Dutch colonial markets, has improved steadily since 1830, and now represents a capital of £3,000,000 sterling. The woollen manufacture may be said to constitute the staple manufacturing trade of Belgium ; at all events, it is the object of immense industry, and a quantity of foreign wool, to the value of 14,000,000 francs, or about £600,000 sterling, is consumed annually. Hardware, cutlery, and fire-arms are produced at Namur, Mons, and Liége ; lace at Brussels, Malines, Louvain, and Bruges. Carpets, flax, and linen also constitute important items in the manufactures of Belgium. Its cotton manufacture represents a capital of 60,000,000 francs in buildings and machinery, and the number of hands employed is at least 122,000. A brisk trade is likewise carried on in silk, ribbons, hosiery, hats, leather, oil-cloth, paper, and lithography, iron and steel rails, locomotives, &c.

COMMERCE has greatly increased in Belgium lately. The principal Exports are the productions of its flourishing agriculture and numerous manufactures, such as corn, coal, oil, lace, woollen and cotton cloths, linen, canvas, arms, cutlery, iron rails, and ironmongery. The average amount of value of the Imports and Exports is £220,000,000 sterling, of which £31,000,000 are with England. The exterpal commerce of Belgium

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