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people at Antwerp seem to have a defeated, a beaten-out look, as if in their lives there might be much labor, little pleasure, and less aspiration. But if I could talk Flemish with them, perhaps they would brighten up. Then the wooden shoes here look clumsy or burdensome. While on a journey I saw a woman at work with a rake, bonnetless, and in rags, so different from French tidiness. I see men upon an allotment of ground preparing to carry grain upon handbarrows or trays, as if they had no working animals, and a man himself dragging a harrow on a bit of ground. In a village street are little boys running to pick up wet horse-manure with their hands. There is a great deal of poverty in Belgium; various pernicious influences are said to have produced a vast amount of pauperism; and it is added that in 1857, out of 908,000 families, 266,000 (more than one-fourth) received support from the state. In 1876 Belgium had a population of 469 to the square mile, being thus the most thickly-settled country in Europe.

So long as Belgium possesses a landed aristocracy, or a few persons possessing a great amount of land, we need scarcely expect that republican institutions like our own will be established here; and before proceeding farther I will make some remarks upon the politics of the country, which will help to explain what follows. A gentleman in Antwerp, a native Belgian belonging to the liberal party, was so kind as to give me some information on the political condition of his country. Belgium is an independent kingdom; it had been joined to Holland, but became independent in 1830. This revolution, says my informant, was not necessary, but they wished to imitate France. Belgium has not the right of universal suffrage, however, as has

France. The senate and lower house are elected directly, but to vote for these one must pay a tax of over forty-two francs. Instead of the mayor of the French township or commune, there is in every commune a burgomaster; and there are a certain number of councilmen for the commune. To vote for this town-council a man must pay a tax of ten francs a year. This does not seem very high,-two dollars or less,—yet in Mrs. Willems' native village of four hundred inhabitants there are only four voters. The law requires, however, that there shall be twenty-five voters in a township; and in such cases as the above, the twenty-five highest tax-payers become the voters. The greater part of the land in Belgium is in possession of great proprietors, noble and Catholic, and the peasants who rent their lands have been obliged to vote for their party. Hitherto, says my informant, they have been led to the polls by the curés, or parish priests, and the ballots put into their hands, but now that is over. About two years ago a law was passed to insure the secrecy of the ballot. Great frauds have taken place in both political parties. The liberals, it is said, caused their clerks to declare their salaries two or three times as great as they really were, and by thus increasing their taxes made electors of them. The clericals made electors of farmers, whose taxes were increased by many fraudulent pretences, one of which was to declare one or more horses to be mixed, that is, both labor and saddle horses, by which means thousands of small farmers and peasants are said to have obtained the legal tax and become voters even for parliament. Instances have been recorded where one saddle was placed with the village priest, each of the farmers using it in turn and riding proudly with it before the eyes of a tax-collector (very often a clerical himself), to prove that the horse was a saddle-horse, and that

they had the right to be taxed, the mixed horse paying an additional tax of ten francs. (The word clerical, used above, I understand to be applied to the Catholic party in politics, the party to which my acquaintance is opposed; he being, as I have said, a liberal. Another person said to me that these additional taxes were paid by the Catholic Association.) But now these things are done away with. The voting committee, with a certain number of legal and sworn witnesses, sit in a room apart; each voter enters separately, receives from the president a ticket, and goes into a box, where he is left totally alone, having, as says my friend, his conscience only in that last moment to direct his actions.

An Antwerp gentleman-a liberal-told me that there is much danger in touching their constitution. Parties are so nearly balanced that, in endeavoring to extend the right of suffrage, changes might be made which they would not desire. After reflection, I asked him whether the liberal party wished to extend the right of suffrage. He answered that some of the liberals are opposed to the measure, so long as the people are ignorant and led by their priests.

Although Belgium now has a system of schools said. to be next in excellence to the Prussian, yet thirty-five per cent. of the people above forty years of age do not know how to read and write. The present system was established in 1842.

Mrs. Willems is animated and fond of conversation. Although a Catholic, yet her husband was, as I have said, Protestant, and her sons are liberal. She says to me, "We cannot read the Bible in our religion; it is prohibited. We can read it in Latin; but if we read it in our own tongue, we must confess it." She adds that there are passages which are improbable when read,—which would confuse

their minds, and says, "At the time that the Spanish governed our country the Inquisition was established here, and I think that they also established confession; and as the Bible does not speak of confession, that is why it is not permitted to read it." She is, however, far in the wrong as regards the Spanish having first established confession.*

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Mrs. Willems tells me that she was at the golden wedding of one of her father's cousins; and out of twenty guests at the table, fourteen were priests. There were also four béguines, or nuns, in the family circle; but they did not come. "I don't know why," she says; "an especial dispensation from the bishop is required for them." "And what did they talk about?" I ask. "Oh, about very gay things. They did not talk about religion. The vicars went and put on the servants' clothes, and had a good pantomime in the court-yard, making believe play on dif

* Since my return to this country, one of my Catholic friends has doubted Mrs. Willems' having spoken to me as above told,—adding that I mistook her. I have Butler's Catechism, with the addition of Milner's Scriptural Catechism,—a work in use in Catholic Sundayschools here. The true position of the Roman Catholic Church-at least in our country and Great Britain—upon the subject of reading the Scriptures will be seen by the following, from the work just mentioned: "Question.—Is it lawful for the laity to read the Holy Scriptures? Answer.-They may read them in the language in which they were written,—as likewise in the ancient Vulgate translation, which the Church vouches to be authentic. They may also read them in approved modern versions; but with due submission to the interpretation and authority of the Church. Question.-Have any great evils ensued from an unrestricted reading of the Bible in vulgar languages by the unlearned and unstable? Answer-Yes; numberless heresies and impieties; as also many rebellious and civil wars."

ferent kitchen utensils. They had each taken a good bottle of wine." (The parish priest is the curé; his assistant, or assistants, are vicars.) "They talked a little about Protestants, that they are more serious than we; that in England they observe Sunday better than we; that the religion of the Protestant English is a religion of their own, but ours is the true religion. There was one priest who said that he was familiar with different religions, and that there are certainly good persons in all. They argued about dif ferent religions; but when one has taken a good bottle of wine the mind becomes confused." "And what did you do at that golden wedding?" I inquire. "Madame, I took a great nosegay of the flowers of the fields to the farmer's wife,red poppies, bluets, and so on,—and ears of wheat and rye. My cousin gathered and arranged them for me. We had a great banquet from two o'clock to about eight, when the priests went away. We were at the table about six hours. We had anecdotes about the different

ways of the villagers. We discussed different religions, but came back to the same point, that the Catholic is the surest for going to heaven; that outside of it one cannot be saved. The conversation was general about housekeeping, farming, and all sorts of things." (Mrs. W.'s narrative is animated; but it will be observed that there is a discrepancy in the above.)

She adds, "When the weather is dry we have public prayers for rain; when it is too wet, the same that it may stop; and also in epidemics. For these things we have candles, and processions, and prayers that they may cease. At this time," she continues, "the village priests, and those in the cities, preach a great deal about politics. My family

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