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there are a good many English people at Calais, where the boat will land us after our passage across the Straits of Dover.
The dress of the poor people is different. We shall not see any dirty silk gowns trailing along the muddy street, nor hats with faded feathers. No, all the peasant women will have beautifully clean white caps and rather short dresses. Their little boys will be in comfortable loose pinafores.
We shall not see so much pasture-land as in England, but great quantities of corn-fields; and besides corn-fields, vineyards, for a great deal of wine is made in France.
The towns are not so clean as English towns, as far as the streets are concerned, but the cottages are cleaner, and the people live very comfortably, for they do not waste anything. A Frenchwoman keeps an iron pot standing under her grate, and into it she throws little scraps of meat, vegetables, and odds and ends, which many English people would throw away, but which make capital soup.
The French are very polite; they always say “Good morning, sir,” or “ma'am,” as the case may be, when they go in or out of a shop, and never say anything rude and uncivil. Men do a good deal of work which in England is done by women, such as cooking the dinners, making the beds, and sweeping the floors. The French are very merry, and like plenty of amusement.
Paris, on the river Seine, is the capital. A beautiful city it is, with splendid public gardens, wide walks, and beautiful shops. The people of Paris have hitherto been remarkable for spending a great deal of time in amusements, and Paris has been usually one of the gayest cities in Europe. But latterly the troubles caused by the German war have cast a gloom over the city. But the natural temper of the Parisians is gay, and probably before long Paris will again be one of the most cheerful towns on the Continent.
The French are fond of change. They have ruled their country in all manner of ways—sometimes they have governed themselves, sometimes they have had a king. The kings of France have not been very firm on their thrones; one was put to death in the year 1793 by the people for no fault of his; since which there have been several changes of government, the latest monarch being styled an emperor, who reigned for about twenty years, till 1870, when he was deposed because he was unsuccessful in the late war with Germany, and now there is a republic again.
Another large town in France is Lyons, where silk is made and sent to all parts of Europe.
Marseilles, in the south of France, is the port from which vessels on their way to India sail. Many English people who are going to India travel through France to Marseilles, and embark there instead of starting from Southampton.
Rivers.--Seine, Loire, Garonne, Rhone.
Mountains.-Alps, between France and Italy; Pyrenees, between France and Spain.
Religion.—Roman Catholic, but other religions are allowed, and there are a good many Protestants. BELGIUM BELGIUM is a prosperous, flat, rich, little country, more fuil of inhabitants than any part of Europe in proportion to its size; but they are very industrious.
The land is divided into small bits, and they cultivate every inch of ground, collect all the manure they can, and manage, somehow, to make two cabbages grow where other people would only have one. Many of the early vegetables you see in greengrocers' shops come from Belgium. The country is so flat, that rail-roads are easily made; and they have sea-ports, such as Antwerp and Ostend, whence steamers go every day to London.
At Mechlin and Brussels, the women and girls make the most wonderful lace. When you read an account of a very grand wedding, in a London newspaper, you will almost always see that the bride had on a splendid gown of Brussels or Mechlin lace; they cost, sometimes, two or three hundred pounds. But though the Belgians work so hard, they do not neglect school. The government insists upon the children going there, whether they like it or not; but as they work in the open air when school is over, and seem to enjoy it, perhaps they are as happy as if they were kept at home to dawdle about, or to play at marbles when they had the chance.
The Belgians used to belong to Holland, but many years ago they would have a king of their own, and they chose a prince named Leopold, who married our Princess Charlotte. She was to have been our Queen, sent fo
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as Victoria is; but she died, and her little baby also, a year after she married Prince Leopold. He lived on in England till the Belgians sent for him. Having been so much in England, he has taught the Belgians many English ways, and in no place do travellers find so many English comforts as at Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. Leopold was the uncle of Queen Victoria.
Near Brussels, was fought the famous battle of Waterloo, between the English-who were helped by the Prussians and Belgians—and the French On the fields, which once were covered with the bodies of Englishmen who died in defence of their country, now grows the most beautiful corn, but amongst it may still be found bullets and bits of swords, which the people sell to English travellers as relics of the victory. A lady once bought one of these bullets and packed it in her portmanteau with her clothes, and the shaking of the journey, made it wear a large round hole through every gown and petticoat she had with her, which was not a very pleasant reminiscence. It is suspected that fresh bullets are sometimes buried amongst the corn, to gain money from credulous travellers.
Coal is found in Belgium, and the Belgians make steam-engines and all sorts of iron-work cheaper and quite as well as we do. They can make such things cheaper because the work-people do not insist on such high wages, and they can get on with lower wages because they do not want to spend so much as our people do. They do not drink so much, they do not waste money in buying expensive food, but
eat rye bread and bacon for dinner, and drink coffee—not tea. And they spend much less in clothes. The girls who come over here selling brooms are often Belgians, and you must have seen their thick short woollen petticoats, knitted jackets and stout shoes, all of which will last out a dozen of the thin, flimsy, faded things which our people fancy make them look well.
The king of Belgium is a Protestant, but the people are chiefly Roman Catholics ; however, they live peaceably together on the whole, and few countries are so prosperous as the little kingdom of Belgium.
HOLLAND is a small country lying to the north of Belgium. The people who live in it are called Dutch. It is very damp, and for this reason, that a great deal of the land was once under water.
The sea in that part of Europe is very shallow near the coast; and so the people thought that they could easily get more land by draining off the water, and building earthen walls across the part which was drained to keep the sea from returning. These walls are called dams. If you want to see how this was done, dig a hole in your garden, and fill it with water to make a pond, and then dig a little ditch, and let the water run into it; next make a wall of earth to keep the water from running back. That will be like the Dutch dam. However, although the Dutch are always draining the country to make it as dry as they can, it is still very damp. Every