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the different guilds or associated trades of the cities. The town-hall of Brussels belongs of course to the first of these classes.
The situation is appropriate. The Place in which it stands is surrounded on three sides by old houses, many of them guild-houses, which with the Town Hall form a fine mediaval square, now used as a market-place. Here, in 1568, Counts Egmont and Horn were executed, together with twenty-three other nobles, by command of the Duke of Alva. A monument, removed in recent times and re-erected in front of the Palace of the Duke of Arenberg, formerly the residence of Count Egmont, marked the site of the scaffold. Egmont was one of the bravest and most honourable men of his age. He refused to follow the example of William the Silent, who escaped while there was time. After an imprisonment at Ghent and Brussels, he died a martyr to the cause of liberty. His life and death furnished Goethe and Schiller with materials for two noble tragedies, which have done much to revive in modern Europe the fame of their subject. Egmont and Horn spent the night before their martyrdom in the Halle au Pain, now known as the Maison du Roi, immediately opposite the Hôtel de Ville. This building has been re-erected in the original style. The other guild-houses, most of which were seriously damaged during the bombardment of 1695, are, on the south side of the Place, the Butchers' Hall, adorned with a carved swan; the Hôtel des Brasseurs, with a gable containing an equestrian statue of Charles, Duke of Lorraine, for forty years Governor of the Netherlands under the Empress Maria Theresa ; the Hall of the Archers; the Hall of the Skippers, with a gable in imitation of the stern of a vessel of war; and the Carpenters' Hall, which is elaborately gilded.
The Hôtel de Ville itself now claims our attention. It is an irregular quadrangle, about 200 feet long and 165 feet wide, and is in the Gothic style of the fifteenth century.
The building was commenced in 1402, the eastern wing being the older portion. It was much damaged by the French in 1792, and the spire was struck by lightning in 1963. The façade has been restored with much care. The tower with its graceful spire rises to the height of 370 feet, and the vane at the top, which is a gilded figure of the Archangel Michael, the patron of the city, measures 16 feet. Singularly enough, the tower does not, as one would expect, spring from the centre of the façade ; but this departure from the usual arrangement is scarcely noticeable, and is certainly no defect. The architectural mouldings of the windows are exceedingly well executed, and the various sculptures are in the best taste. There are three storeys, exclusive of the basement and attics. Entering the principal portal under the tower, the visitor arrives at the interior court, which encloses two fountains in white marble, one representing the river Scheldt, by Kinder; the other the river Meuse, by Plumiers. The principal rooms are on the first floor, to which access is gained by a handsome staircase, with pictures on the walls by Janssens, Van Helmont, and Van More, representing events in the history of Flanders. In the council chamber, the scene of the condemnation of Counts Egmont and Horn, are magnificent specimens of Gobelin tapestry representing the abdication of Charles the Fifth (an event which took place in the city, though not in this room), the coronation of Charles the Sixth, Emperor of Germany, and the entry of Philip the Good into Brussels in 1430. The keys of the city, presented to Philip on the occasion of his entry, are still kept on a table in this room, on a fine repoussé salver representing Adam and Eve in
paradise. The ceiling, the work of Janssens, represents Olympus. The painting of a trumpet, which is blown by an angel, is so arranged that it appears to be turned towards the spectator wherever he may stand, and is a curious tour de force. The general decorations of
the chamber are very rich, though somewhat heavy. The large hall, a fine room measuring 195 feet by 81, fitted in modern carved oak, has been the scene of some famous banquets and meetings. The corridors and other rooms are handsome, and the pictures of the older city in some of these are well worth notice. The views from the front windows over the Place present an animated scene, especially in the morning, when the market is being held, and on such evenings as the band plays, when the people of Brussels assemble in large numbers.
A short street, the Rue au Beurre, leads from the north-west corner of the Place to the Bourse or Exchange, which lies between the Rue des Fripiers and the Boulevard Central, and is one of the modern additions to the public buildings of the city, having been opened in 1873. It was designed by Suys in a classical style. The broad and imposing portico is supported by eight Corinthian pillars, and the tympanum contains reliefs representing Belgium, Commerce, and Industry. A cornice running round the entire building supports an attic storey with Ionic columps. Entering by the principal door, we pass across a vestibule with a mosaic floor into the grand hall, which is in the shape of a cross, and is covered by a low glass dome. Four smaller halls occupy the rest of the principal floor. Underneath are enormous cellars. There are two staircases by which access is obtained to the gallery, where, during business hours, the curious spectator can watch the lively scene below. Popular balls on a large scale are sometimes held here, and thus the Exchange of Brussels not only serves as a place for merchants to congregate, but also for the gathering of men and women bent on pleasure rather than on serious affairs. The building cost 4,000,000 francs, and is likely to be an enduring monument of the public spirit of the city.
Crossing the Boulevard Central we reach the Halles, built in 1875, on the model of the Halles of Paris. This is at once the meat, poultry, fish, and vegetable market of Brussels, and here may be seen all classes of people buying and selling the food of everyday life. The fish auctions are conducted on the Dutch plan, the auctioneer naming a high price for the lot to be sold, and gradually reducing it until he finds a purchaser. Many curious Flemish costumes are seen here, and the variety of vegetables would be surprising if one did not remember that Belgium contains some of the most fertile soil in Europe, and that the small well-cultivated holdings are best suited for the profitable growth of different kinds of vegetable food. Much of the prosperity and contentment of the people of Belgium is due to the sub-division of the land amongst numerous owners, all of whom are anxious to make the most of their little plots of ground, and work very hard, because they know they are working for themselves and their children, and not for another, who at any moment may step in and raise their rent, or turn them away from the little farm.
The Boulevard Central, with its northern and southern continuations, the Boulevards de la Senne and the Boulevard du Hainaut, bisects the older part of the city. This magnificent street is quite modern, and its construction involved the removal of many old houses, and the covering in of the Senne. Handsome shops, cafés, and hotels now occupy the site of dingy buildings and narrow alleys, and the stream of traffic circulates freely along the broad roadway and wide pavements on either side. At the end of the Boulevard Central an old church has been allowed to remain, for the present at least. Surmounted by a gilt cross, and with people entering by the western door at all hours of the day, one might suppose that this building was allowed to remain because of its hallowed associations, and that it was still the resort of pious worshippers. The outside has all the appearance of a church ; but if we enter we shall find that it is now the Post Office, and indeed seems well suited for that purpose; of course, the whole of the interior is completely changed. People still circulate along the nave, but the side aisles and chancel are reserved for the officials, while the poor-box, which always stands near the entrance of a Flemish church, is replaced by the letter-box. It is intended to build a new Post Office, and the Temple des Augustins will then be removed and the uniformity of the Boulevard Central will be complete.
An older line of streets, consisting of the Rue Neuve, Rue des Fripiers, and the Rue du Midi, runs almost parallel to the Boulevard Central. At right angles to them another line of streets leads to the Montagne de la Cour and to the Place Royal, the centre of fashion in Brussels. In all these are good shops, many devoted entirely to articles of luxury, which seem to be almost necessities in a city of pleasure. The Galerie or Passage St. Hubert (not a very appropriate name, for St. Hubert is the patron of hunters), a covered arcade 231 yards long, has also many attractive shops like those of the Palais Royal of Paris. At night, when the Passage is lighted, the scene is very brilliant and animated, and large crowds of people of every class meet there to promenade, to buy, or to gossip. There are several cafés and a small theatre in the Passage St. Hubert.
Brussels possesses several palaces. The king has two, one overlooking the park and another in the suburb of Laeken. The former, called the Palace du Roi, is a large though rather plain building, erected in the last century, and consisting of two wings, joined in 1827 by a colonnade of Corinthian pillars. The State apartments, which are not generally shown, are well furnished, but the chief attraction is a good collection of ancient and modern pictures, mostly of the Flemish and Dutch schools. The Palais Ducal, formerly the palace of the Prince of Orange, is now used as a museum by the Royal Academy of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, and the Royal Academy of Medicine. The museum contains a valuable collection of casts of ancient and modern sculpture. The large hall of this palace is decorated with seven noble frescoes illustrating the history of Belgium from the time of Julius Cæsar to the establishment of independence in 1831, and five frescoes representing the fine arts, music, ancient art, modern art, and science. The Palais de la Nation, built by Maria Theresa as a meeting-place for the deputies of the Council of Brabant, was used for the sittings of the States-General during the rule of the King of Holland, and is now the Parliament House of Belgium, in which the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies hold their meetings.
The new Palace of Justice at the end of the Rue de la Régence, begun in 1866, and finished in 1881, at a cost of 50,000,000 francs, in a somewhat severe classic style, was designed by the architect Poelaert. The site was cleared and levelled at a great expense, and occupies about 37,000 square yards. The building, which is rectangular, having sides measuring 600 feet and 560 feet respectively, is the most ambitious architectural attempt of modern Belgium. The pyramidal dome in the centre of the building rises to the height of nearly 400 feet. The architectural details are very simple, but more appropriate perhaps to a Temple of Justice than elaborate ornament, to which indeed the style does not lend itself. The people of Belgium may well be proud of a capital which, within fifteen years, has received two such important additions to its public buildings as the New Bourse and the New Palace of Justice. The former was erected at the expense of the city, and the latter at the cost of the nation.
It might reasonably be supposed that in a city where so much money has been spent on architecture, the art of painting would not be neglected. Although Brussels cannot vie with Antwerp, Ghent, or Bruges as regards the older schools of art, many eminent modern painters have set up their studios in the capital, which is now the chief seat of contemporary Flemish art. A large number of valuable pictures has been brought together in the Musée National, which is by far the best collection in the country, and includes works which illustrate the progress of painting in Belgium from the earliest times to the present day. These are divided into classes, the first including pictures dating from the origin of painting to the time of Rubens; and the second, the works of Rubens and his successors. Of the former there are about 150 examples, and of the latter about twice that number. The Dutch and German schools are fairly represented, and there are also a few pictures by Italian, French, and Spanish masters. One of the oldest and most interesting works is the “ Adam and Eve” of Hubert and John van Eyck, which originally formed part of the famous “Adoration of the Immaculate Lamb" in the Church of St. Bavon at Ghent. A portrait of Sir Thomas More, by Holbein, will have more than an artistic interest for Englishmen. Rubens and Van Dyck are both represented, though not so well as in their native city. There are several characteristic works by Teniers, Hobbema, F. Hals, Jan Steen, and other Dutchmen, and some good landscapes and figure paintings by modern artists.
There is another good collection of pictures in the palace of the Duke of Arenberg, in the courtyard of which stands the monument of Egmont and Horn, originally erected in front of the Hôtel de Ville. The palace, once the residence of Count Egmont, was built in 1548, but has been enlarged subsequently. The pictures include several important works by Dutch artists, amongst which the “Female Miser” of Gerard Dow deserves especial mention, and there are some good examples of Flemish and French art. There is also an admirable collection of furniture, ancient and modern, and some Etruscan vases. The gardens of the palace are well laid out and carefully kept.
The Musée Wiertz is one of the most curious sights in Brussels, and appears to exercise a strange fascination upon visitors. This gifted but eccentric artist was born near Dinant in the Ardennes in 1806, and died in 1865, when his residence and paintings were bought by the Government. The museum contains about sixty finished pictures, many of a large size, a few sculptures, and a great quantity of sketches. Wiertz delighted in tragic scenes, which he depicted with terrible realism, although he knew how to treat pleasing subjects. The titles of some of his productions will give an idea of the bent of his disposition-e.g. “Polyphemus devouring the Companions of Ulysses,” “The Beacon of Golgotha,” “ The Vision of a Beheaded Man,” “Hunger, Madness, and Crime,” “ The Suicide," “Premature Burial,” and “Napoleon in the Infernal Regions." These are all skilfully painted, but with such force and exaggeration as at once to rivet the attention of the spectator, while they shock his finer feelings. Yet the gallery is much visited, and is one of the most popular exhibitions of the city.
It is a relief to leave the Musée Wiertz for the adjacent Zoological Gardens, which are well laid out, and attract a large number of visitors, especially in summer, when concerts are given every evening. The site forms part of the ancient forest of Soignes, and some of the old trees recall the days when the woods extended to the walls, and even enclosed the eastern and southern quarters of the city. Three centuries ago, Granvelle, Chancellor of Charles V., and father of the famous Bishop of Arras, the well-known