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of getting the required air-blast, we will say
nothing. It is all too much like what we have
heard a hundred times before, and what we
know to have been said among our forefathers
whenever any new thing was proposed.


HAVING, last autumn, too short a holiday
to allow of a long tour, I determined to make
for the nearest bit of the picturesque: directing
my travels to the shores of the beautiful
Meuse, a river which may vie with the
Neckar, if not with the Rhine, in interesting
sites and luxuriant hills and vales. From
the pleasant, clean, and cheerful old town of
Namurwhich I quitted while the whole
population was busy staring at a very grand
wedding of one of its burghers, the preparations
for which had been occupying the
indefatigable host of the Hôtel de Harscamp for
a week beforeI took the steamboat which
runs to Dinant, between the narrow but
pretty shores of the river. Nothing could
have been pleasanter than the voyage, except
that the incessant snorting of the engine a
little shook my resolution to forget all
disturbative thoughts in this my tour.
However, the snorting was to some purpose, and I
was at length safely landed at the opening of
a black gulf, redolent with odours not of the
most fascinating: the only means by which
the traveller can reach the upper air and the
main street of the curious, little, irregular
town of Dinant, which rises, with all its rocks
and the remains of its castle, close to the
river's brink.

I took up my abode at an hotel at the
corner of the great square or market-place
leading to the bridge, one side of which is
occupied by a strange, weird, old church,
having an extravagantly-shaped tower of
disproportionate height, such as is only to be
met with in this part of the world, and the
porch of which opens on two sides, and is
still pretty, in spite of its defaced ornaments
and empty niches. Close at the back of this
churchso close that it seems in danger of
being crushed at any momentrise,
perpendicularly, enormous cliffs, perched on the
highest point of one of which stands the citadel,
the winding way to it marking the face of
the rock in zig-zags, occasionally more clearly
defined by the glittering arms of the climbing
soldiers, who toil along in single file to reach
their post in the clouds.

Except this citadel, there is nothing left in
Dinant to indicate that it was ever a town of
vast importance, and of a most warlike
character. The houses are built in and out,
and without order or regularity; and modern
improvement has knocked down most of
those which kept their antique aspect. This
clearing away has doubtless been salutary;
and it is to be desired that the same process
were extended to the dirty hole of ascent
from the shore, which, at present, gives the
traveller a poor opinion of the cleanliness or
decency of the Dinantois. However, all in
good time; progress is sufficiently apparent
in the changes which a few years have made
in all the towns along the banks of the charming
river, bordered with more wild flowers
and in greater variety than I ever beheld
elsewhere. A walk by its margin, for as
many miles as the pedestrian is capable of,
will disclose more beauties of rock, meadow,
and stream, than he is likely to find in most

After having taken a stroll of this kind
towards the rocks of Anseremme, and rested
in a flower-filled meadow near the beautiful
modern chateau of Freyr, I returned to my
hotel: being ferried across the river by a
laughing damsel in a large straw hat, who
told me that I was lucky in having come to
Dinant in time for the fête, at which she
hoped to dance that very evening.

On reaching my inn I was soon made
aware that the important eve had arrived,
for the wide street leading from the market-
place was alive with hilarious mirth, caused
by a riotous gamea favourite one in
Belgiumin which the object of those
engaged is to avoid being soused by the
descending waters of a well-filled pail, borne
on a tumbrel driven at full speed. Whether
there was at any period anything religious in
this game I know not; if so, all traces of
the anything religious are entirely lost; and
an antiquary in search of confirmation of
some favourite theory would be baffledas
he would equally be in endeavouring to
discover solemnity in the remains of the circular
dance once honouring Diana, which these
clumsy amusements precede.

As night closed in, the market-place began
to glitter with lights, an orchestra was
erected in the centre, a band struck up, and
dozens of young couples suddenly appeared,
who soon almost filled the square, starting
rapidly off in rounds, with a perseverance
and energy which it seemed impossible to
tire, and, at intervals, exciting themselves
still more by shouting a chorus at the top of
their voicesperhaps a hymn in praise of
their Godsbut being in an unintelligible
patois, I find it impossible to determine. In
the pauses of this headlong movement, the
partners walked about arm-in-arm, each
keeping the same all the evening. As the
darkness increased, the animation became
still more fast and furious, the time of the
musicians was quicker, and the renewed
whirling grew bewildering in its rapidity
After standing for some time amongst the
crowd of spectators, I went back to the
hotel, where I had not been long when I was
aware of a tremendous riot and noise of feet
below. On descending to the usual public
dining-room, I was astonished to find that it
had been taken possession of by an apparently
frantic mob of dancers, who had forcibly
entered the house, and, without leave, had

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