Chapter X. Leaving Paris.

On the 6th of August, after a stay of fifteen happy days in Paris, I began to make preparations to leave for Brussels. I had walked during that time according to my daily register, about 140 miles, making an average of over 9 miles per day, for I could not avail myself of the omnibuses and city cars, as I had done in London; because I could not make myself understood in French.

Paris had presented so much that was new or radically different from what I had seen elsewhere in the world, even London not excepted, that I felt justified in addressing the following conclusion to an American journalist: - In Paris, there is such a harmonious combination of civilizing and refining instrumentalities and influences, which, if I do not elsewhere find a nearer approach to than I have thus far, will not only throw sufficient light upon the question, "How does she lead the nations in thought and fashion," that the most thoughtless may be able to solve it, but which will even entitle her to be styled queen of cities and Capital of the social world.

As I had definitely decided to return from Egypt to America by way of Paris, in order that I might see the great city once more toward the end of my tour, and be the better qualified to estimate her true position in the world, I made a little bundle of the guide books and views, which I had already accumulated on my trip, and also dropped some of the superfluities of my wardrobe - these things I gave into the care of my chamberlain, and bade good-by to Paris for a season. My friend and tutor Prof. P.S., accompanied me to the station and bought me a ticket for Brussels, as we call it in our language, but the French and Belgians call it Bruixelle (pron. Broo-[)i]x-el). My friend informed me of this and gave me a drill on pronouncing the word correctly, for if I should have called it Brussels, no Frenchman would have understood what I meant. I was now about to leave the only acquaintance that could speak my language, and go to another people of the same strange language as the Parisians speak, with no right to expect that I should be so lucky again in meeting a suitable companion. I had ordered my mail to be forwarded to Cologne, Germany, until September 1st. At 11:15 p.m., August 6th, the train moved away with me toward Belgium.

I had forgotten to ask how often and where I must "change cars" from Paris to Brussels, and now, where no one understood either English or German, what could be done! Possibly, I need not make a change all night; and perhaps I should at the next station already! How readily my friend could have informed me, had I only asked him! But I managed to keep the right track, though at the expense of considerable anxiety and the sacrifice of some rest and sleep that I might otherwise have enjoyed during that night-journey. I learned a lesson, however, which aided me in avoiding such perplexities in the future. As soon is we reached the first station, I ran to a conductor and, holding up my ticket, cried out, "Broox-el?" He understood me and motioned me to keep my seat. Some accommodating Frenchman soon told me that he was traveling the same way for a considerable distance, (as his ticket also made clear to me), and offered kindly to inform me when I had to leave that train. My peace of mind being thus restored again, I made a pillow of my satchel and went to sleep.

The next forenoon (Saturday, August 7th) we reached Douane, where we had to pass muster under the Belgian custom-house officers. I was now with the wooden-shoed Belgians. A large company of the poor peasants passed muster with me. Each was provided with a pick or a hoe, or both, lying over his shoulder, and a large flaxen bag of other implements, &c., suspended from it. Nearly all wore caps, and the whole company looked very shabby, indeed. My clothes were in strange contrast with their tattered garments, for there was not another well-dressed passenger in the whole company; and I felt like one out of his element, because I did not also have a pick or hoe! A hundred Belgians with a hundred bundles crowded into several small apartments of the station, found little room for their, careers, which consisted of the irony ends of their picks and hoes, so that those occasionally hooked the prominent points of the faces of those immediately behind them! Strange to say, these collisions did not provoke any to insults or the use of vulgar adverbs, but gentle reproofs kept them all cool and steady till we entered the cars again. The reader will pardon me for saying that a similar crowd of persons in this country, placed under the same tempting and exasperating circumstances, would have created a row in five minutes, as would be the natural consequence if there were but a single ruffian in the whole lot. Nothing will strike the American tourist more when he comes to the Old World, than the good order which prevails everywhere. To meet two persons scolding and insulting each other, is an extremely rare occurrence. The orderly behavior of such a company of peasants will impress one more with the importance of teaching the young, lessons of patience, humility and obedience (which latter quality of character is the mother of a hundred virtues), than volumes of dry philosophy on social ethics will generally avail.

I saw an elderly lady kiss a middle-aged man alternately upon each cheek; an incident that is common in European social life, and that shows how the affections of the heart are cultivated and find expression. In Brussels I saw a son rest his hand affectionately upon his mother's shoulder, as they stood amongst the multitude in a public square.

I reached Bruixelle (Brussels) at about three o'clock in the afternoon. In order to see what kind of money was in circulation in Belgium, I immediately bought some pears of a fruit-woman, and handed her half a franc (10 cents). You may imagine how I was perplexed when the lady handed me a dozen coins of various sizes and values, as my change. Knowing, however, that though the coins had different impressions, the-system was the same as that of French money, I murmered to myself, "Blessed be the Decimal System," and went to some retired quarter to count it! One piece was a large whitish coin marked 10c., and worth 2 cents in our money; others were centimes, which are equivalent to but one fifth of our cent! I soon learned to know them all.

After having taken a long walk through the city, I engaged a room at a hotel where one of the boarders could speak a little English, and soon retired to take an afternoon nap. I awoke to broad daylight, but did not at once know whether it was that day, or the next day already; and there was no one about, just then, whom I could have asked! As the sun was standing in the western sky, I concluded that it was more likely that I had slept only a few hours, than that I should have slept 27 hours; and when the landlord was contended with the payment of one night's lodging, I felt satisfied that I could not have stayed two nights with him! On Saturday afternoon, after my nap, I went out again to see the city. Brussels is one of the most progressive capitals in all Europe. Several splendid boulevards lined with fine cafes and large edifices adorned with innumerable balconies, reminded me of Paris and its architectural scenery. It has a passage that compares well, both in brilliancy and magnificence, with some of the grandest in Paris. The Bourse de Commerce, (just completed), with its four elegant facades, would do credit to any city, and its market houses are among the finest that I have ever seen.

On Sunday (August 8th) I found all kinds of business being transacted, just as is done in Paris. On my way to the Cathedral, I met a dozen dog-teams that Sunday morning. Quite a small dog will draw a larger cart load of milk, than I would have expected that half a dozen of them could pull. The milk is distributed over the city by women, principally. It seems strange, how much work must be done by the women, where the men are required to spend a large portion of their time in the service of their respective countries, constituting the large standing armies with which Europe is flooded. Some of these women have large dogs to draw their milk-carts, others have smaller ones hitched to one side and assist them by pulling themselves on the other side of the shaft!

The Cathedral (St. Gudule),

is a grand old church, some portions of it dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. "It is rich in old stained glass and monuments. The carved wooden pulpit by Verbrueggen (1699) represents the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise." The choir renders excellent music. An odd feature in the religious exercises of this church, is the manner in which the choir is noticed when to sing, by the ringing of a common bell.

Hotel de Ville.

Hotel de Ville (the Town Hall) is an elegant building dating from the 15th century. It is four stories high to the roof, besides there are 4 rows of dormer-windows in the roof (four stories in the garret!) Its graceful tower is 506 (?) steps, 364 feet high. The view from the top is magnificent. Behind this building, at the crossing of two fine streets, stands the curious "mannikin - - " statue and fountain, evidently a relic of the shameless age.

I spent some of my time with an intelligent merchant who had been traveling in America, and could, in consequence, speak the English quite well. He informed me that he was not aware that Belgium had any Sunday-laws upon her statutes. Any one may do upon the Sabbath-day everything that he might do on week-days, if he feels so inclined. On Sunday afternoon, I left Brussels for Antwerp (Anvers). Nothing can be more delightful than the rural scenery of Belgium. The whole country is as carefully tilled as a garden - every foot of available soil being under cultivation. Most of the dwelling houses are small, but everything about the houses, yards and gardens is kept in the most perfect order. Occasionally, a beautiful vista opens to a fine residence in the distance. As we rode along in the cars, we would occasionally see an afternoon or evening party seated around a richly laden table glittering with glassware, and enjoy their dinners and suppers under some shade trees in the midst of their gardens. This custom is common in Europe, and presents most beautiful and homely sights.

Soon after I had entered the cars, I noticed that the tone of the conversation among the passengers was different from what I had been accustomed to hear in France and Belgium thus far. I now heard the chatter of the Dutch, but understood no more than if it had been so much French. Dutch and German are two entirely different languages. Dutch print in the newspapers does, however, not look so perfectly strange, as the conversation sounds to the ear.

After arriving at Antwerp I was soon found by a porter who conducted me to a German Hotel. How social and hospitable these Germans are - and, I must add, Europeans in general. Die "Deutsche Wirthschaft" (German Hotel) occupied quite a small building, which presented a very ordinary appearance on the outside, but I shall never forget that carpeted bar-room, the costly furniture of the parlor, and the accommodating landlady which we found there. Taste and comfort are always consulted, even where the greatest simplicity prevails.

Antwerp

is one of the most Catholic cities (some say the most Catholic city) in the world. Its streets are filled with images of the Virgin and Child, the Savior and the Cross. These stand at the corners of the crossings, or preside over the street lamps. On one of its church towers, over a gas light, is represented a candle stick with the rays emanating from its light. On each side, is a little cherub - one has a cross and the other an anchor. Over them, stand the mystical letters "IHS," the cross being combined with the H after the fashion of a monogram. Beneath is the following inscription:

         GELOOFD 
    ZY JESUS CHRISTUS 
  IN HET ALLERHEYLIGSTE 
        SACRAMENT.

In another part of the city I found a representation of the crucifixion, the cross upon which Christ is nailed being about 20 feet high. Effigies of two women in oriental costume stand on either side of it.

In Antwerp, as in Brussels, the spirit of progress: has seized the leading circles, and the hand of improvement has commenced tearing down her ancient houses and building new streets upon the modern plan and style of architecture. One of the most handsome avenues in the world, being from 290 to 350 feet in width, and about two miles long, runs through the very heart of this city. It has several moderate angles, which render it convenient to assign different names to different sections of it. Avenue du Commerce reaches from the northern end of the city to its magnificent squares in the center, known as Place de la Commune and Place de la Victoire. Here begins Avenue des Arts, which, with Avenue de l'Industrie, leads to the southern confines of the city. These avenues consist of three parallel roadways with two broad foot-pavements between them, and wide pavements at the sides. Let us cross this avenue from one side to the other, and estimate the width of its different parts. First we cross a broad payement of perhaps 30 feet; then a roadway of about 50 feet; next a foot-pavement lined by thick rows of trees whose branches form an arch over it; then the central roadway, perhaps 150 feet wide; and afterwards, another foot-pavement, a roadway and the pavement on the other side, corresponding with those already mentioned. The great square in the center of the city occupies about 6 acres. In this section of Antwerp, nearly all the old buildings have been torn down and new ones erected during the last few years; and in many other sections the same work of widening streets and erecting new buildings in place of the old, is being done with reckless haste. It seems as if old houses were regarded as a disgrace to the city. That few images are to be seen in the new sections of the city, is a sure sign that commerce, art and industry (see the names of three avenues which run through this city) have sounded the tocsin of revolution, and that the ancient religion with its emblems, forms and ceremonies, is yielding to the spirit of modern civilization and refinement, as many other cities of Europe have already done.

It is a remarkable fact, that as Catholicism sinks in Continental Europe, its communicants will not stop to join Prodestantism, but go strait over to Rationalism. France, for example, has had these two extreme elements fighting each other for the ascendency, for a long time, and no middle-road sentiment ever gained a foothold. Prodestant Europe will cling to the church the longest, and, do we not already see the indications very planely that after all Europe has turned rationalistic, America will continue to cherish the church and built her a Rome for future generations to bless as the fostering mother of modern Christianity?

Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Cathedral is the most elegant Gothic Church in Belgium, and one of the most famous in the world. Some parts of it date from the 13th and others from the 16th centuries. The spire (403 feet in height) is a proud rival of that on the Cathedral of Strasbourg, and its chimes of 99 bells are deservedly famous. Within the church, are some of the most celebrated paintings of Rubens. Among them are "Descent from the Cross," (considered his master piece), "Elevation of the Cross," "Assumption" and "Resurrection." The interior of this church is ornamented with master paintings and fine works of art in lavish profusion. The cathedral is free in the morning, but at noon the paintings of Rubens are unveiled, and a fee of 1 fr. is charged for admission. There were about 35 other tourists there during the afternoon that I visited it.

The Church of St. Jaques contains the tomb of Rubens, and many pictures, a number of them veiled and shown only for a fee.

The Museum.

The museum contains some of the best (most natural) paintings in Europe. The pencil of Rubens has imitated nature so perfectly that the eye almost fails to detect a flaw in the execution. The spectator may know that he only stands before a flat surface of paper daubed with paint; but his soul will be stirred, his pulse begins to beat faster and his imagination runs away with him, as he looks at such masterly executions of a skillful hand as is the "Dead Jesus" and some others in this museum. The congealed blood in his side, upon his hands and on his head, with the tears of Joseph and Mary and others, so natural that one mistakes the pictures for the reality, create feelings in the beholder such as he seldom experiences elsewhere, even in Europe. He first mourns for the dead and pities the afflicted; then he recovers himself again, and thanks the artist for having given him a key to the thoughts and feelings which he himself must have cherished while executing this painting. It is said, that when Roubiliac was erecting the Nightingale monument in Westminster Abbey, described on page 86, "he was found one day by Gayfere, the Abbey mason, standing with his arms folded, and his looks fixed on one of the knightly figures which support the canopy over the statue of Sir Francis Vere; as Gayfere approached, the enthusiastic Frenchman laid his hand on his arm, pointed to the figure, and said in a whisper, 'Hush! hush! he vil speak presently.'" Can we conceive that Rubens painted the "Dead Jesus" without sobs and tears?

I had seen acres of paintings in the Kensington Museum in London, in the Louvre in Paris and in Palais de Versailles; but it was reserved for me to see the paintings of Rubens and of Van Dyck last, so that I might know their merit.

Near the entrance of the Museum, stands a fine monument and statue to the honor and memory of

  ANTONIO VAN DYCK 
         P. 
   CIC.ICCCC.LVI.

No one would wish to leave Antwerp without having seen the "gilded halls" by the river side, containing some of the most brilliant apartments in existence.

Antwerp has a population of about 120,000 inhabitants, and is the chief sea-port of Belgium. The Scaut Fleuve (River Scheldt) is from a quarter to a third of a mile wide at Antwerp.