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the counterfeit presentment of the peculiarly
sheepish-looking Belgian lion sitting on his
hind-legs, with the legend "Union is strength"
(and, indeed, I think it would take a good
many of those lions to make a strong one),
and a posse of custom-house officerskindly,
but pudding-headed in appearancetold me
that I was in the Royaume de Belgique.

I am, under ordinary travelling
circumstances, exceedingly fond of the compact little
kingdom of King Leopold. I look at it as a
fat, sensible, easy-going, respectable, happy-
go-lucky sort of country. Very many pleasant
days and hours have its quaint, quiet cities,
its roomy farm-houses, its picture galleries,
and sleepy canal-boats, its beer, and tobacco
afforded me. I cannot join in the patriotic
enthusiasm about "les braves Belges," because
I consider the Belgiansbeing a sensible
peopleto be the very reverse of valiant;
neither can I sympathise much with the
arch├Žological public-spiritedness of those
Belgian savants who are anxious to restore
the Flemish language to its primeval richness
and purity, and have published the romance
of Reynard the Fox in the original Low
Dutch. As I think it to be the most hideous
dialect in Europe, I would rather they had
let it be. And, to say the truth, I am rather
tired of hearing about the Duke of Alva,
and of the Countess of Egmont and Horn
though both worthy men in their way,
doubtlesswhose decollation and behaviour
prior to and following that ceremony the
Belgian painters have a mania for representing
only second to our abhorred Finding of the
Body of Haroldophobia. And specially do I
object to, and protest against, in Belgium the
Field of Waterloo and all appertaining
thereto; the knavish livery-stable keepers in
Brussels, who swindle you if you take a
conveyance to the field; the beggars on the
road; the magnified dustheap with the abashed
poodle fumbling with a ball of worsted on
the summit, and called the Mountain of the
Lion; the disforested forest of Soignies; the
indifferent outhouse called the farm of
Hougomont, and the Voice from Waterloo, by
the deceased Sergeant Major Cotton. But
I love Belgium, neverthelessso did Julius
C├Žsar. Antwerpthough the multiplicity
of Rubenses give me almost as much of
a surfeit as a month's apprenticeship in a
pastrycook's shop would doAntwerp is my
delight: I can wander for hours in that
marvellous amalgam of the Alhambra, the Crystal
Palace, and a Flemish mansion, the exchange,
and on the port I fancy myself in Cadiz, now
in Venice, now in some old English seaport
of the middle ages. Of Brussels it behoves
me to speak briefly, and with retinence, for
that charming, sparkling, lively, genial, warm-
hearted little capital holds the very next
place in my affections to Paris the beloved.
Yet I stay only as many hours in Brussels, as
were I on another errand I should stay days.
Due North is my destination, so I go to
Liege. I can't help gazing till I am satiated at
the wondrous panorama that stretches out
before me as we descend the four or five
hundred feet gradient of descent that leads
into the valley of the Meuse, and as the train
slides down the precipitous almost fearful
inclined plane I drink in all the marvels of
the scene, enhanced as they are by the golden
evening sunlight. I watch the domes and
cupolas and quaint church spires, and even
the factory chimneys, glorified into Oriental
minarets by the delusive rays of the setting
sun. Much should I like to alight at Liege,
and seeking my inn take my rest there; but
an inward voice tells me that I have no
business in Liege, that still Due North is my
irrevocable route, and so I let the train go on
its rattling roaring route, and compose myself
to sleep till it shall carry me at its gruff will
and pleasure over the frontier of Prussia.

So; at last at Herbesthal, and beneath the
sway of the Belgian lion's harmless tail no
longer. I am testy and drowsy, and
feel half inclined to resent, as a personal
affront, the proceedings of a tall individual
cloaked, moustachioed, and helmeted, who
appears Banshee-like at the carriage, pokes a
lantern in my face, and, in the Teutonic
tongue, demands my passport. I remember,
however, with timely resignation, that I am
going Due North, to the dominions of Ursa
Major, the great Panjandrum of passports,
and that I am as yet but a very young bear,
indeed, with all my passport-troubles to
come; so I give the Baron Hyde of Hindon's
letter of recommendation to the man in the
helmet, and fall into an uneasy sleep again. I
hope it may do him good!

Was it at Liege or Pepinstern on the Spa
Road (how different from that other Spa
Road station, I know, on the Greenwich Railway,
where attic-windows blink at the
locomotive as it rushes by, and endless perspectives
of the ventilated brick lanes and fluttering
clothes-lines tell of the ugly neighbourhood
where outlying tanners dwell, and railway
stokers live when they are at home;
whereas this Spa Road is a delicious little
gorge between purple underwooded hills,
with gaily-painted cottages, and peasant-
women in red petticoats, and little saints in
sentry-boxes by the way-side, and along
which I see ladies on horseback, and
moustachioed cavaliers careering towards Spa, one
of the most charming little watering-places in
Europe);—at which station was it, I wonder,
that we changed the lumbering, roomy,
drablined first-class carriages of the Nord,
with their sheep-skin rugs, and zinc hot-
water boxes, for these spruce, glistening,
coquettish carriages, so daintily furbished out
with morocco leather, and plate-glass, and
varnished mahogany—(when will English
railway-travellers be emancipated from the
villanous, flea-bitten pig-boxes, first, second
and third-class, into which, after paying
exorbitant fares they are thrust)—when was