Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
BELGIUM. History. Considered as the creation of the treaties of 1815, modified after the successful insurrection of 1830, Belgium is one of the youngest states of Europe. Considered as a nation, it is one of the most ancient, its origin dating back 2,000 years.
—Three or four centuries before the Christian era, and six or seven before the incursion by the Franks, the Belgians—a German or Teutonic race on the right bank of the Rhine—crossed that river and conquered the northern part of Gaul. This extensive country, which the Romans called Belgic Gaul, was divided into Upper and Lower Germania, and First and Second Belgium. Within these historical limits, Belgium comprised Strasburg, Speyer, Worms, Mayence, Coblentz and Andernach; Cologne, Nimègue, and Leyden; Treves, Metz, Verdun, and Toul; Bavai, Tournai, Cambrai, Thérouanne, Boulogne, Arras, Amiens, Beauvais, Soissons, Reims, and Châlons-sur-Marne.
—The coasts of Brittany and of other more distant regions were settled by Belgian colonists. Saint Jerome, in the fourth century, traveling in Asia Minor, recognized among the Galatians, to whom the apostle Paul addressed one of his epistles, the language used in the vicinity of Treves. Ireland was peopled by the Menapians, the original inhabitants of Flanders.
—The Belgians who, says the historian Florus, fought for liberty, were, according to Cæsar in his Commentaries, the most valiant of the Gauls; a testimony which can not be said to be exaggerated, when we consider what little sympathy exists between the victors and the vanquished. Propertius, a writer almost contemporaneous with Cæar, says: "It is folly for you to paint your face after the manner of the Belgians. Believe me, there is no true beauty but that of nature, and Belgian colors can only render homely a Roman head." It is true that the emperor Claudius raised the Belgians to the highest dignities, such as those of senator, knight, consul, perator and general. But this was not without opposition on the part of the people of Rome.
—The warlike disposition of the Belgians did not belie itself during the centuries which followed, and up to the time of the empire of Napoleon I. At the battle of Raab, in Hungary, on June 14, 1809, a regiment, the 112th of the line, composed entirely of Belgians, won the distinction of having the cross of the legion of honor fastened to its victorious colors.
—In other respects the Belgians, true to the faith of their fathers, have been counted among the most zealous of Catholics. Francis Xavier, writing from India, used to say: "Send me Belgains." The first leaders of the crusades were Belgians. Au equestrian statue of Godfrey de Bouillon has stood, since 1848, in one of the public squares in Brussels.
—Territory and Population. The southern provinces, having been violently separated from the northern provinces of the Netherlands, formed themselves into an independent state under the title of the kingdom of Belgium, and adopted a constitution after free deliberation. This constitution was voted for and promulgated by representatives of the people assembled in a national congress. The first article of the constitution enumerates, in alphabetical order, the great divisions of the kingdom called provinces in conformity with historical traditions. This enumeration we may complete by the full number of urban and rural communes, the area of the country according to the official land registers, the population according to the census of Dec. 13, 1869.
—2,945,516 hectares are equivalent to 11,373 English square miles. On Dec. 31, 1876, the population of the kingdom, by provinces, was as follows:
Belgium is the densest inhabited country in Europe. In 1876 its population averaged 469 per square mile.
—In 1856 the people were engaged as follows: in agriculture and sylviculture, 1,062,115; exploitation of mines, ores and quarries, 73,292; metallurgie industry and working of metals, 58,657; glass works, pottery, etc., 6,012; flax and Lemp industries, 199,779; woolen industries, 22,044; cotton mills, 24,746; setiferous industry, 4,486; leather dressing, skins, carriage works, saddlery, etc., 30,021; articles of food, 45,146; clothing, 252,517; building, 108,418; furniture and ornaments, 16,167; chemical products, printing and various other industries, 25,662 commerce, 156,803; general administration, 15,888; administration of justice, 9,100; religious communities, 22,450; public instruction, 9,005; sanitary service, 5,206; literature, arts, and sciences, 5,862; police force, 36,106; property holders, persons living on their income, pensioners, 50,314; domestics, 86,974. The remaining 2.202,790 inhabitants, or nearly the half of the whole population, include persons without profession or occupation, and also old men, women and children.
—The census of 1866 shows that in Belgium the population is remarkably sedentary. On an average in every 1,000 inhabitants of a Belgian commune, 694 were born within its limits, 227 within same province, and 63 in some other province; leaving a remainder of 16 foreigners. The foreign element which, in 1856, was 21 in every 1,000, therefore diminished during the following decade.
—In proportion to its population Belgium contains a great number of large cities. It has 4, with a population of more than 100,000 each. Brussels, the capital of the kingdom, had, in December, 1876, 376,965 inhabitants; Antwerp, 150,650: Ghent, 127,653; and Liège, 115,851.
—Two distinct languages are spoken in the country: Flemish in the north, in the provinces of the two Flanders, of Antwerp and Limburg, also in the districts of Brussels and Louvain in Brabant. French or Walloon is spoken in the south, including Nivelles and its district in Brabant, the provinces of Hainaut, Namur, Luxemburg and Liège. This contiguity of two races speaking different languages, may be explained by the fact that the first Belgian colonists did not succeed everywhere in their attempt to supplant the native inhabitants. The part of the latter who remained in the country were called Walloons, a corruption of the world Gaul, while Flemish is a low-German dilate perfected in the thirteenth century. It is somewhat remarkable that the line of demarcation of the two languages is about the same which divides the country into two large valleys: the Escaut in the north and the Meuse in the south. Numerically, four-sevenths of the Belgian population are of Flemish or of German origin, while the remainder are of Walloon or of Gallic extraction. Out of the 35,356 Germans enumerated in the census of 1866, 20,799 inhabited the eastern frontier of the province of Luxemburg, and 10,793 the province of Liè.
—The use of either language is optional in Belgium, according to article 23 of the constitution; but the French prevails generally, even among the Flemish inhabitants, notwithstanding their ceaseless opposition to it, which does more credit to their patriotism than to their intelligence. But it is certain that the use of French, as it spreads into the Flemish provinces, will not suppress the primitive language.
—Political and Administrative Organization. The Belgian constitution of Feb. 7, 1831, gives its sanction to the most liberal principles in matters of public right. It may suffice here to mention the most salient of them.
—Art. 6. There exists in the state no discrimination between classes. All Belgians are equal before the law. Only Belgians are eligible to civil and military offices, save the exceptions which may be established by law to meet particular cases.
—Art. 14. Liberty of conscience, liberty of the public practice of religion, and also liberty of speech in all matters, are guaranteed; but crimes or misdemeanors committed under the pretense of the exercise of these rights are punishable.
—Art. 17. Education is free; every preventive measure is forbidden; the repression of misdemeanors is to be exercised only by the law.
—Public education, given at the expense of the state, is also regulated by law.
—Art. 18. The press is free; no censorship shall ever be established over it; no bond of security is required of writers, publishers or printers.
—When the author of a writing is known, and domiciled in Belgium, the publisher, printer or distributer can not be prosecuted.
—Art. 20. All Belgians have the right of free association, and this right can not be submitted to any preventive measure.
—All powers emanate from the nation. They are exercised in the way prescribed by the constitution.
—In the enjoyment of these liberties loyally respected by the depositaries of power, Belgium has progressed in every direction. The sovereign, identified with the Belgian character, is beloved by the people, as was the duchess of Parma, governess in the place of her brother, king Philip II. According to Strada, in his Historie des guerres de Pays-Bas, the duchess of Parma used to say that terror is a bad means to win the affections of the Belgians or conciliate them. A law of Dec. 23, 1865, fixed the civil list at 3,300,000 francs, with the use of the royal palaces. The endowment of the king's brother is 200,000 francs.
—Art. 68 of the constitution, which confers upon the king the right to declare war and to make treaties of peace, provides, besides, that no cession, no exchange, no addition of territory can take place except by virtue of some law.
—Three principal enactments determine the public law of Belgium, and the position of the kingdom in relation to foreign powers: 1. The law of Nov. 7, 1831, which authorized the government to sign the treaty called the Treaty of the Twenty-four Articles, concluded on Nov. 15, 1831, between Belgium and the plenipotentiaries of the five great powers assembled in London, but the fundamentals of which the king of the Netherlands accepted only in 1839. 2. The law of April 4, 1839, which authorized the king to conclude and sign the treaties regulating the separation of Belgium and Holland, upon the basis laid down in the London congress, on the 23rd of the preceding January, 3. The law of Feb. 3, 1843, approving the boundaries between Belgium and the Netherlands, definitely fixed by the treaty concluded at the Hague on the fifth of November in the year previous.
—In consequence of the constitutional principle already mentioned, that all power emanates from the nation. Belgian citizens are entitled to direct election to the legislative chambers, the communal councils and the provincial councils. The body of electors is composed of all citizens who pay direct taxes, the minimum of which is fixed by law. Formerly, in 1830, the liberal professions were also admitted, without further qualification, as electors to the national congress.
—The electoral law relating to the formation of the chambers, was passed March 3, 1831, and modified by several successive amendments. The communal law and the provincial law have each been modified 17 times, and the electoral law 25 times, since their promulgation. According to the terms of article 26 of the constitution, the legislature is composed of a senate and a chamber of representatives. Since the law of June 2, 1856, the apportionment of the members of the legislative chambers is based upon the general census of the kingdom taken every 10 years. Their numbers, as determined by the law of May 7, 1866, is 124 for the representatives, which would be at the rate of 1 representative for each 40,000 inhabitants; and 62 senators. The latter hold office during 4 years, and every 2 years a new election takes place for one-half the number of representatives.
—The enactments of June 3, 1859, and Feb. 29, 1860, fix the number of provincial and communal judges according to the latest returns of the number of the population.
—The number of provincial and commercial councilors was increased according to laws passed in 1872.
—The offices established by the organic law of March 30, and April 30, 1836, in the communal administration, were those of burgomaster, aldermen (échevins), college of burgomasters and aldermen, and the communal council. In the provincial administration the offices are those of governor, provincial council, standing committee of the provincial council, and arrondissement commissioner. The governors and arrondissement commissioners, corresponding to prefects and sub-prefects in France, are appointed by the king, as are also the burgomaster and the aldermen or échevins, who correspond to the mayors and deputy-mayors in France. The provincial councilors are elected for a term of 4 years, and the communal councilors for 6 years. The burgomasters and the aldermen (échevins) are likewise appointed for the term of 6 years. The king's ministers, 7 in number, in the departments of foreign affairs, the judiciary, the interior, public works, war, finance, are the heads of the general administration, each within his own sphere. Assembled in council, they deliberate upon the subjects which the king submits to them, or which any one of them proposes. There are also ministers without portfolio, entitled ministres d'état, with or without admission to the council.
—Finance. Official documents establish the fact that Belgium, during the 15 years of her union with Holland, annually contributed more than 81 million francs to the expenditure of the state. This was one of the principal grievances which brought on the revolution of 1830. After the separation, there was an increase of expenses, instead of the diminution which had been expected. During the period of 27 years, between 1981 and 1857, the average revenue was 127,220,100 francs per annum, while the average expenditure was 127,439,900 francs, showing a deficit of 219,800 francs a year, for which provision was made by the emission of treasury notes.
—These deficits greatly increased during the ensuing years, the final accounts furnishing the following figures: Receipts, 155,880,739 francs for 1858; 158,349,646 francs for 1859; and 169,709,218 francs for 1860. Then 209,641,495 francs for 1868, against 223,404,893 francs for the year 1867. A loan of 50 millions is included in the amount for 1867, and a loan of 33 millions in the amount for 1868.
—Revenue and expenditure of Belgium, from 1870 to 1879, (the figures for the years 1870 to 1875, both included, are the actual figures, the others are estimated):
Every year the chambers decree the law of accounts, and vote the budget estimates. All laws relative to the revenue and expenditure of the state, or to the appropriations for the army, must first be passed by the house of representatives. (articles 27 and 115 of the constitution).
—Summary, under proper heads, of receipts and expenses, according to the official financial statement for the year 1879:
Condition of the national debt of Belgium on Jan. 1, 1879:
—Military Organization. The Belgian army consists, on a peace footing, of 42,933 men, officers included, and of 8,791 horses; the war effective is 104,658 men, officers included, and 15,052 horses These numbers comprise the gendarmerie, with 1,562 men and 1,114 horses.
—The army is recruited by voluntary enlistment and by conscription. In times of peace the service of the volunteers and militia-men lasts 8 years, or from the age of 19 to 26.
—Barracks are established in 38 places, for the accommodation of 80,000 men and 10,000 horses.
—Sleeping accommodations are provided by a company, and also by cities, which have undertaken, for a compensation, to furnish quarters for the troops.
—The military workshops and the school of pyrotechny are located at Antwerp. Liège has a foundry for casting cannon and an establishment for the manufacture of arms.
—In 1872 there were 11 strongholds, forts and fortified posts in the kingdom; while the garrisoned towns, or posts not fortified, occupied by the troops, were 20 in number.
—There are military bakeries in 18 towns. The ration of provisions during a campaign consists of 75 décagrammes of bread, 25 déagrammes of meat, 3 déagrammes of rice, 16 grammes of salt, 5 centilitres of gin, 4 centilitres of vinegar. The ration of firewood is 1.375 of a stère. Each soldier in camp receives 5 kilogrammes of straw for bedding, every fornight.
—The ration of forage, for horses of heavy cavalry and artillery, is 4½ kilogrammes of oats, 4 kilogrammes of hay, 4 kilogrammes of straw. For the horses of light cavalry, 4 kilogrammes of oats, 3½ kilogrammes of hay, and 4 kilogrammes of straw. The military pensions registered in favor of retired soldiers, from 1830 to Jan. 1, 1872, inclusive of pensions transferred by Holland, are in number 13,534, reduced by expiration to 4,084, and amounting to 3,815,162 francs. The pensions to widows amounted to 4,198 francs.
—The state navy, formerly reduced to 1 brig and 1 schooner, now comprises 5 steamers. An allowance in the budget has been proposed to build a sixth steamer. In 1878 the commercial marine consisted of 48 vessels, inclusive of 23 steamers.
—The civic guard is in Belgium what the national guard was in France. It numbers about 22,000 men. On June, 1, 1879, the effective force was thus distributed: 23,983 infantry, 5,339 cavalry, 6,937 artillery, 1,262 engineers, and 3,069 other troops.
—Besides this active civic guard, there are yet 668 battalions of civic guard in reserve, representing an effective force of 200,400 men, with commanders and staffs.
—Public Education. On Dec. 31, 1869, there were in Belgium 1,522 primary schools for boys, 1,854 for girls, and 2,265 for both sexes, making, together, 5,641 public and private schools. At the same period there were 5,178 male teachers, and 4,350 female teachers. On Dec. 31, 1869, there were 593,379 school children, of whom 290,510 were boys, and 302,869 were girls. 366,572 boys and girls received gratuitous instruction. The subtraction of 593,379, the number of children in attendance at school, from 753,200, the number of children from 7 to 14 years old, would leave a remainder of 159,821 not receiving instruction. But of this number, at least 20,000 children attended the middle schools, the athenæums and colleges, or special institutions such as schools in almshouses, poor-houses, penitentiaries, and reformatories at Ruysselade and Beermen. Other children attended private classes at home or schools in military garrisons. In 1869 there was one school to every 890 inhabitants. The proportional number of pupils to the populations, in 1869, was 11.8 to every 100 inhabitants. Of 44,179 militia-men inscribed for the levy of 1869, 16,337 could read, write and cipher; 13,811 could only read and write; 2,626 could only read; 10,943 had no school education whatever; and there were 462 whose degree of proficiency in education was not known. Independently of the primary schools, there were, on Dec. 31, 1869, in asylums and infant schools, 27,219 boys and 33,371 girls, or 60,590 altogether; of whom 37,133 were admitted gratuitously. In midday, evening and Sunday schools for adults, there were 112,787 males and 104,381 females, or 217,168 altogether; of whom 214,213 were admitted gratuitously. Among these 217,168 pupils were included 97,737 children under 15 years of age, a large part of whom attended also the primary or industrial schools. In the industrial and manufactory schools and charity workshops (ateliers de charite) there were 1,310 boys and 25,873 girls, or 27,183 children altogether; of whom 18,928 were admitted gratuitously. In the schools connected with hospitals, almshouses, reformatories and prisons, there were 3,713 boys and 1,851 girls, or 6,564 children altogether. Industrial and manufactory schools, charity workshops and schools for apprentices, etc., are found almost exclusively in the provinces of Hainaut and the two Flanders. Most of the children who attend these schools also attend Sunday schools and their number is included in the figures above, which represent the attendance at the Sunday schools. In 1869 the expenses incurred for the ordinary maintenance of the primary schools amounted to 14,500,518 francs. This sum consisted of the following items: Cash balance in hand, 236,155 francs; received from the state, 5,675,036 francs; from the provinces; 1,633,313 francs; from the communes, 5,258,366 francs; from public and private donations, 487,990 francs, and from tuition fees, 1,009,651 francs. From 1867 to 1869, 12,370,910 francs were expended for the construction, purchase, etc., of schoolhouses and residences for teachers. There are two state normal schools, one at Lierre and the other at Nivelles. There are also seven Episcopal normal schools, and five normal sections connected with the middle schools at Bruges, Ghent, Huy, Couvin and Virton, where pupils are trained to become teachers. Female teachers are trained in 15 model schools connected with establishments for the education of young ladies. These establishments are situated in different provinces. At the royal institute of Messines there is, for the daughters of soldiers, a normal school, including a section for the special training of teachers of infant schools.
—The law of June 1, 1850, relative to education in the middle schools, limited the number of athenæums to 10, 2 for Hainaut and 1 for each of the other provinces. The establishments, 50 in number, of the next grade below, are called state middle schools (écoles moyennes de l'état), 18 of which belong to the lower class, 25 to the intermediate, and 7 to the higher class. There are, besides, many communal colleges and communal middle schools, almost all of which are subsidized by the public treasury. There are also some private institutions or boarding schools in the different provinces. In 1869 there were 312 prefects of studies, professors, masters and tutors connected with the athenæums; 506 directors, professors, regents, teachers and assistants in the state middle schools; 181 directors, professors, etc., in the communal colleges which received a subsidy from the public treasury; 96 in the subsidized communal middle schools; 33 in the middle schools exclusively communal; 100 in the colleges; and 43 in the middle schools patronized by the state. At the same period there were 3,569 students in the royal athenæums; 8,313 in the 50 middle schools of the state, 1,453 in the subsidized communal colleges, 1,374 in the subsidized communal middle schools; 456 in the middle schools exclusively communal; 1,236 in the colleges; and 723 in the middle schools patronized by the state. The number of scholars in private schools is not known. 691 pupils are admitted to the athenæums gratuitously or on reduced terms; 1,911 to the state middle schools; 341 to the subsidized communal colleges; 158 to the subsidized communal middle schools; 9 to the middle schools exclusively communal; 195 to the colleges; and 77 to the middle schools patronized by the state: total, 3,382. In 1869 the funds of the middle schools amounted to 2,391,451 francs. Of this sum the state furnished 1,051,773 francs; the provinces, 6,800 francs; the communes, 724,298 francs; tuitionary fees, 554,272; bequests, 19,995; and the balance of cash in hand from the accounts of the previous year, 34,312 francs. The normal institution for the training of teachers in the higher middle schools, is divided into two sections: one for the humanities and the other for the sciences. The humanities are taught at Liège, and the sciences at Ghent. There is a normal institution at Bruges and another at Nivelles for the training of teachers in the lower middle schools. There are two schools of practical agriculture, an agricultural institute, and a veterinary college. There are naval academies at Antwerp and at Ostend, a higher commercial school at Antwerp, more than 80 workshops for apprentices in eastern and western Flanders; 11 institutions for deaf-mutes and the blind, a royal institution exclusively for the benefit of soldiers' daughters, and a reformatory school for boys and one for girls.
—The higher branches of education are taught in a state university at Ghent and another at Liège, in the Catholic university at Louvain, and in another free university at Brussels. A school of civil engineering is connected with the university of Ghent, and a school of arts, mines and manufactures with the university of Liège. During the academic year 1866-7, there were 2,313 students in the four universities, including the special schools connected with the university of Ghent and the university of Liège.
—During the year 1877-8 the number of students attending the various branches of study in each of the four universities was as follows:
—The military school in Belgium is intended for the training of officers for the infantry service, the cavalry, the artillery, the corps of engineers, and also the marine. From the foundation of this school in 1834, until Dec. 31, 1871, 1,424 young men were received into the establishment and afterward admitted to the different branches of the army. The other schools organized in the army are the war school intended for the training of staff officers; the target school for the artillery; the pyrotechnic school; the cavalry school; the special school of subordinate officers of infantry and cavalry, etc; the regimental schools; and the company of soldiers' boys, composed at present of 257 pupils.
—Public Charity. The charitable institutions include three principal classes: 1. The local institutions which afford relief or an asylum to the indigent in sickness, old age, in case of desertion, want of work, and accidents of every kind. 2. The state institutions which are particularly designed to prevent and repress vagrancy and mendacity, to reform beggars and vagabonds. 3. The institutions which are intended to secure the independence of the working classes by fostering among them a spirit of foresight. These institutions are under the patronage of the state.
—Besides these public institutions there are many private establishments of charity, organized by citizens and benevolent associations. These establishments are not under the control of either state or municipal authorities.
—Public charity is dispensed through relief offices and almshouses.
—According to the terms of article 92 of the communal law, every commune must have a bureau of charity for the distribution of provisions at the homes of the needy.
—On an average, from 160,000 to 170,000 indigent families, representing 600,000 or 700,000 persons, are yearly registered in the offices of public charity. In years when great distress prevails, there may be registered 200,000 pauper families or 800,000 individuals. The provisions distributed are valued at eight or nine million francs. A law of Feb. 18, 1845, laid down the principle that a pauper is entitled to public assistance by his native commune, provided he has not removed from it. He must have resided during eight consecutive years in one place, before he can become entitled to draw assistance from the communal bureau of public charity. Every pauper has a claim to assistance by the commune in which he happens to be. A commune which furnishes relief to an itinerant pauper has the right to demand re-imbursement of his commune. Donations and bequests made by private citizens, for the benefit of charitable institutions authorized by the terms of article 910 of the civil code, have been valued, in an average year, at more than a million francs.
—In 1869 there were in Belgium 439 almshouses and hospitals, with 30,000 inmates. Their expenses amounted to some 7,500,000 francs per annum.
—In some of the provinces poor-farms (fermes-hospices) were established.
—There are special lying-in hospitals at Brussels, Louvain, Ghent, Bruges. Nieuport, Tournai and Liège. The Brussels hospital, the most important of all, annually receives from 700 to 800 women, who receive all the necessary assistance during their confinement.
—In some of the larger cities of the kingdom there are societies organized to aid friendless women during confinement, and for the maintenance of infant asylums.
—In some 20 towns there are special institutions for the benefit of foundlings and abandoned children who, under the protection of these institutions, are sometimes boarded in the country with farmers. The tours or receptacles for foundlings, introduced by imperial decree on Jan. 11, 1811, have been gradually discontinued. Since the discontinuance of these receptacles, the number of foundlings born of unknown parents has noticeably, even considerably, diminished. The expense of the maintenance of these children formerly amounted to more than 150,000 francs per annum. It has been reduced to 50,000 francs. The last receptacle for foundlings, at Antwerp, was closed in 1860.
—In Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp there are special establishments for the treatment of sick and deformed children.
—There are 10 institutions for the maintenance and instruction of deaf-mutes and the blind. The number of these unfortunates received at the expense of the communes, the province, and the state, is about 300. In 1869 there were 617 blind persons and 521 deaf-mutes in the different asylums, almshouses, etc, besides 3,058 blind persons and 1,468 deaf-mutes living at home. There are 58 insane asylums, of which 18 are public and 40 private, including the colony at Gheel, the only one of its kind, with 1,200 inmates. The number of insane is reckoned at 5,000 in the public institutions, and 2,000 eared for at home.
—There are ophthalmic institutes at Brussels, Mons and Namur.
—In manufacturing towns there are savings banks, most of which are founded by financial corporations.
—There are 22 monts de piété. The capital loaned on pledges amounts to 10 million francs. There are only 3 poor-houses left: one at Stoogstrachin, the other at Bruges and the third at Reckheim. The poorhouses at Mons and Cambre have been discontinued; but a new agricultural colony for the benefit of able-bodied paupers has been established at Merxplas. The inmates of the poorhouses number 1,800. In the reformatory schools at Ruysselade and Beermen there are also 500 boys and 250 girls, committed on account of mendicancy or vagrancy.
—In the cantons there are committees appointed to aid liberated prisoners who manifest a disposition to engage in some honest pursuit. Children acquitted by the magistrates for having acted without discernment, and likewise young beggars and vagrants, are indentured or placed in apprenticeship through the instrumentality of these committees. But most of these committees have gone out of existence. At Namur, Mons, Antwerp, Brussels, Liège and Ghent there are houses of refuge for girls and women, discharged from custody, who show a disposition to renounce the ways of vice. There are also charity workshops for the poor and for those who can not procure work elsewhere.
—Mutual benevolent societies, more than 200 in number, are organized for the benefit of workmen when sick. These societies are regulated by a special law of April 3, 1851. There are savings associations for the purchase and distribution of provisions in winter.
—There are savings institutions for mining laborers, laborers of the state railways, fishermen and seamen. These institutions extend their benefactions to workingmen when sick, wounded, or otherwise disabled, and likewise to their widows and children.
—A law of March 8, 1850, created a general caisse de retrade for the special purpose of providing, by the payment of a certain sum during life, a sure way for any provident person to lay up means against old age. This institution, under the management of the government, was reorganized by a law of March 16, 1855, which added to the institution a savings bank. Deposits in this bank may be effected through any postoffice.
—Religion. The population of Belgium is almost exclusively Catholic. There are only some 13,000 Protestants, and about 1,500 Jews.
—The country is divided into 6 dioceses: the archbishopric of Malmes, including the provinces of Antwerp and Brabant, and the bishoprics of Bruges, Ghent, Liège, Namur and Tournai. The archbishopric has 3 vicars-general and a chapter of 12 canons, and each of the bishoprics 2 vicars-general and a chapter of 8 canons. In each diocese is an ecclesiastical seminary. There are few endowments, and the clergy derive their maintenance chiefly from fees and voluntary gifts. The state pays a salary of 21,000 francs to the archbishop; 16,000 francs to each of the bishops; 2,000 francs to canons; and about 700 francs to parish priests According to the last census there are 1,322 religious houses, 178 for men, and 1,144 for women, with an aggregate number of 18,196 inmates.
—There are 8 ministers of the English Episcopal church, and also 8 chapels—3 in Brussels, and one each in Antwerp, Bruges, Ostend, Spa and Ghent. There is a central Jewish synagogue in Brussels 3 branch synagogues at Antwerp, Ghent and Liège, and 2 of an inferior class at Arlou and Namur.
—Justice. The civil and criminal laws of Belgium are based upon the laws of France, to which country Belgium was long united. Many of these laws have been revised, particularly the penal code, the laws on mortgage, and the legislation in reference to bankruptcy and judicial organization.
—Justice is administered under the control of the cour de cassation (highest court of appeal), by appellate, military and assize courts, by tribunals of first resort, tribunals of commune, councils of war, justices' courts, and councils of prud'hommes. The cour de cassation is located in Brussels. There are 3 courts of appeal, one at Brussels, another at Liège, and the third at Ghent. There are 26 tribunals of first resort, one in each arrondissement; and 204 cantons, each having a justice of the peace.
—The officers of the courts and tribunals are the following: 30 first presidents, 24 presidents and vice-presidents of chambers, 149 counselors and judges: 37 examining officials; 30 attorneys general and king's counselors (procureurs du roi); 8 general and military auditors; 59 attorneys general and substitutes of inferior courts; 30 clerks of courts; 97 deputy clerks; and 48 secretaries and clerks to the prosecutors.
—The tribunals of commerce consist of 74 members, including the presidents and 14 clerks. There are 203 justices of the peace.
—In the budget estimates for the year 1872 the sum of 3,395,850 francs was appropriated for the administration of justice.
—The jury takes cognizance of criminal matters and of political offenses as well as offenses of the press.
—In 1870 the costs of the courts amounted to 722,608 francs. In the same year the fees accruing to the treasury aggregated 246,530 francs.
—Agriculture. Belgium is rich in agricultural products, although its cereals do not suffice for home consumption. In has, considering the relative extent of its area, as much live stock as any other country in Europe. According to the numeration taken at the same time with the census of the population at the close of the year 1866, there were 283,163 horses, 1,242,445 horned cattle, 586,097 sheep, and 632,301 swine in Belgium.
—In 1866 there were 2,663,753 hectares of land under cultivation, of which 1,309,795 hectares (the hectare equals 2,4711 acres) were cultivated by the owners of the soil, and 1,323,958 hectares were leased. These 2,663,753 hectares were divided among 744,007 cultivators, comprising 246,302 owners of all the land which they cultivated; 74,670 owners of more than half the land which they cultivated; 279,433 lessees of all the land which they cultivated; and 143,603 lessees of more than half the land which they cultivated. Cereal and farinaceous products covered 867,135 hectares: vegetables, 37,909; roots, 200,204; grasses and forage, 495,051; plants used in manufactures, 115,308: woods and forests, 434,596; health, brushwood and fallow ground, 262,477 hectares.
—1871 was a good year for crops, except wheat, spring rye, buckwheat and potatoes, of which the crop was only middling. During the year the average yield to the hectare under cultivation was estimated to be as follows: Summer wheat, 16,70 hectolitres (the hectolitre equals 2.75 bush.); bearded wheat, 26 hectolitres; spring rye, 15.87 hectolitres; summer barley, 30 hectolitres; buckwheat, 22 hectolitres; pease, 19 hectolitres; potatoes, 8,838 kilogrammes (the kilogramme equals 2.67951 lbs. troy); summer colza, 19 hectolitres; flax, 561 kilogrammes; meadow grass, 3,931 kilogrammes; clover grass, 20,319 kilogrammes.
—Official statistics of a subsequent date show that agriculture is making steady progress in different part of the country. This is especially apparent in actual improvements, new manures employed, new modes of cultivation, agricultural implements, the use of plaster in fertilizers, the increase in the market value of land the price of farm rents.
—Between 1847 and 1869, 28,289 hectares of waste land belonging to the communes, were converted into arable lands; 28,277 into forests, 3,878 into meadows, and 260 into gardens; which gives an average of cleared land amounting to 2,640 hectares a year. There still remain 102,455 hectares susceptible of improvement.
—Industry. The main branches of industry, generally prosperous, are constantly improving, according to the official statistics of the mines and foreign commerce.
—In 1869 there were in exploitation 285 coal mines, covering an extent of 140,640 hectares. These mines yielded 12,944,000 tons, valued at 136 million francs, and furnished work at wages showing an upward tendency to 89,900 laborers. In 1865 there were only 82,000 men working in the coal mines.
—In 1869 the metallic mines gave employment to 8,526 workmen who worked in 99 mines, and 81 communes having free mines. The yield of these mines represents a value of 5,708,943 francs for the iron, 2,941,065 for the lead, and 2,638,509 for the calamine. In 1840 the corresponding figures were 1,470,896, 12,147 and 804,990.
—In the same year, 1869, there were 322 welding furnaces for the manufacture of iron and cast-iron, employing 23,024 workmen, and yielding products valued at 135,507,352 francs, against 125 millions in 1866, 117 in 1865, 09 in 1867, 103 in 1868, 81 in 1860, and 30 millions in 1850. In other establishments, during the same year, the product of zinc amounted to 34,001,670 francs; of glass, to 28,652,500 francs; of lead, to 5,078,798 francs; of copper, to 4,576,000 francs; of steel, to 2,190,000 francs; of alum, to 331,014 francs; and of nickel, to 152,100 francs. The products of the quarries, 2,361 in number, with 21,262 workmen, amounted to 27,289,509 francs in 1869, a figure slightly different from that of the four preceding years, but ten millions above that of 1860.
—Seraing, near Liège, Verviers, Tirlemont, Brussels and Ghent are the principal places for the manufacture of machinery.
—In Liège and the neighboring communes there are more than 20,000 artisans, men, women and children, engaged in the manufacture of arms. The cannon foundry of Liège is a monopoly of the state. It ships iron and bronze cannon to every country on the continent, and also to countries beyond the see.
—Among other metallurgical industries of Belgium we might mention the cutlery of Namur, the flourishing manufacture of nails, and especially of zinc in its various forms, at Vieille-Montagne, Corphalie and Nouvelle-Montagne, the three great establishments in the province of Liège. The factory of Corphalie turns out also large quantities of lead.
—Woolen industries have long existed, in Belgium, in a prosperous condition. For many years they have proved a source of comfortable livelihood to the people in the Flemish districts. Woolen factories, like all others, had to be centralized and subdivided into several branches, such as spinning, weaving and bleaching, separately conducted in large factories. Uniformity of management and the magnitude of the capital invested have been the principal factors of a cheap production such as the times demand. In the inevitable crisis which ensued Flanders came out victorious. The spinning mills turn out threads of a quality at least equal to the threads manufactured by the best mills in other countries. Belgian textiles fabrics compete as exports with the English in many a market.
—The manufacture of woolens and cloths, which formerly constituted the wealth of Flanders, has had to undergo the same pauses of transformation as the manufacture of flax and linens. At the opening of this century Verviers resolutely adopted the steam woolen spinning which was to supersede band spinning. Woolen factories are now ranked among the most rapidly developing industries in Belgium. Verviers and its suburbs continue to be the center for these factories. A considerable number of mills and more than 18,000 operatives are kept busy turning out woolen fabrics, cloths and fancy stuffs.
—Carpet factories are mostly found at Tournai. For some time past there has been an important carpet factory also at Ingelmünster in western Flanders.
—It is estimated that 28,000 persons are engaged in cotton industries, only one-third of this number being in eastern Flanders. Calicoes made at Ghent still find buyers at Manchester, the center of English manufactures. Cotton industry, which was planted in Belgium at the beginning of this century, grew rapidly during the French empire and the union of Belgium with Holland. After having remained almost stationary from 1830 to 1845, commencing at this last date cotton industry entered on an era of prosperity, such as marked the progress of other branches of manufactures in Belgium. Hosiery, a branch of industry which is constantly improving, is carried on mainly near Tournai and the French frontier. Besides the workmen regularly employed in these factories, these establishments furnish work to a large number of women and girls, who derive great benefit from it. Ribbon-making, one of the old industries of the country is rising from the decay into which it had fallen. The passementeris is also advancing, and its contributions to foreign markets become more important every year in consequence of improvements introduced into this branch of industry.
—Lace-making, one of the principal branches of manufacture in Flanders and the provinces of Brabant and Antwerp, gives employment to about 125,000 women and girls, 20,000 of whom are engaged at work in Brussels, which is celebrated for its lace works. Nets, the best of which formerly came from Scotland, are now manufactured at Brussels in such perfection that the best houses in Paris important them from Belgium to apply on them the flowers which for some years past are being manufactured in France. The Mechlin, made of linen, the Grammont, made of cotton and silk, the Brussels and the Valenciennes, are the four principal laces manufactured in the kingdom.
—The manufacture of silks is not sufficient for home consumption. There are about 600 looms in operation, divided among some 30 manufacturers, in the provinces of Antwerp and eastern Flanders, and also at Brussels. Belgium has a rich population, who consume perhaps more silks than any other in Europe, and among whom silk materials are yearly entering more largely into the manufacture of garments and upholstery.
—Breweries and distilleries, sugar refineries, cigar and tobacco factories, manufactories of paper and articles of gold, have received a great impetus and yield large profits every year.
—Commerce. From 1841 to 1850 to import and export business of Belgium amounted, in the aggregate, to 6,500 million francs. From 1831 to 1860 this figure was more than doubled, having risen to near 14,000 millions; and from 1861 to 1870 it was quadrupled, or amounted to 25,850 millions. These figures need no comment.
—In 1870 the "general commerce" amounted to 3,282 million francs, of which 1,760,200,000 was for imports and 1,521,800,000 for exports; or 2,094,800,000 francs by land and by river transportation, and 1,187,200,000 by sea.
—The value of the general commerce in the year 1878 was represented by 2,450,858,592 francs for imports, and 2,084, 341,792 for exports. The "special commerce" was as follows in the year 1878: imports for home consumption, 1,457,240,512 francs; exports of home produce, 1,117,278,288 francs.
—Means of Transportation. The number of highways constructed since the independence of Belgium is truly marvelous. During this period more roads have been opened than had been constructed for centuries before. In 1869 there were 1,053 leagues (of 5,000 metres) of state roads, 289.71 leagues of other roads, and 127.61 of leased roads, making altogether, 1,473.15 leagues.
—The first railway in Belgium from Brussels to Malines, was opened for traffic on May 5, 1835.
—In 1869 there were 589 kilomètres or railways belonging to the state, and more than 259 kilomères of lines constructed by private companies, but operated by the state. Travelers to the number of 13½ million were carried by the roads belonging to the state. There are more than 2,000 kilomètres of roads operated by private companies.
—On Jan. 1, 1880, there were in operation: state railways, 2,662 kilomètres; private companies' railways, 1,350 kilomètres; total, 4,012 kilomètres.
—The opening of parish roads is also encouraged by the government. A law of April 10, 1841, provided for the preservation, improvement, maintenance and police of these roads. At the close of the year 1830 there were 1,494 kilomètres parish roads of all classes, and in 1855 there were 9,866 kilomètres. From 1841 (when the state assumed a part of the expenses of roads then inaugurated) until the year 1866, the various sources of revenue applied to the defraying of these expenses amounted to 66,927,054 francs. By means of these subsidies about 11 million metres of roads were paved, ballasted and finished.
—In Belgium there are 851 kilomètres of canal and 974 kilomètres of river navigation. The two longest canals are the Campine, which unites the Meuse to the Escaut, and measures with its branches, 168 kilomètres in length; and the Charleroi at Brussels, which is 89 kilomètres long, including its branches. Since 1830 only one-half of the length of these canals has been open to navigation. Several other canals and rivers have undergone improvements since 1830. The principal navigable rivers are the Escaut (233 kilomètres), the Meuse (186), the Lys (115), the Sambre (94), the Dendre (75) from Ath to Termonde.
—BIBLIOGRAPHY. There are many works of reference on Belgium. Confining ourselves to political history and statistics, we may mention the following: Essai historique et politique sur la révolution belge, by J. B. Nothomb, third edition, Brussels, 1833, 1 vol. 8vo; La Belgique sous le règne de Lépold I. Etudes d'historie contemporanie, by J. J. Thonissen, 2nd et., Louvain, 1861, 3 vols. 8vo: Les foundateurs de la Monarchie belge, by Thomas Juste, Brussels, 12 vols. 8vo, (1872); Statistique générale de la Belgique, Exposé de la situation du royaume, période décennale de 1841 à 1850, published by the minister of the interior, Brussels, 1852, 1 vol. 4to. The ensuing period, from 1851 to 1860, appeared in 1864—5, in 3 vols. 4 to, Annuaire Statistique de la Be gique, published since 1870, by the department of the interior; La Belgique; ses ress nurces agricoles, industrielles at commerciales, by H. Tarlier, Brussels, 1879, 8vo; La révolution belge de 1830, d'aprés des documents inédits Brussels, 1872, 2nd ed.
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