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literature]

BELGIUM

its dialects—namely, Walloon; and two and three-quarter millions, Flemish. The linguistic frontier runs from west to the north of Language, to east (from toComines, the northlying of Liege). The sole official language of the country from the 15th century to within the last few years was French (with the exception of the Dutch period, 1814-30). But the Flemish have by degrees succeeded in obtaining for their language an equal footing with French for official business. The introduction of universal suffrage has enhanced the strength of the Flemish movement, because the Deputies of Northern Belgium are now elected by citizens, of whom four-fifths are ignorant of French; indeed, in 1900 there was one Deputy who did not even understand that language. Some of the principal laws on the subject are these—use of Flemish in the law courts (1873); in the documents of public administrations (1878) ; and in middle-class schools (1883); promulgation of laws in both languages (1898). Belgium of the present day affords a picture of a rapid and general transformation. Politically, it is becoming a democracy; economically, thanks to the development of its industries within, and of its commerce and colonial enterprise without, it is one of the wealthiest and most energetic nations of Europe. Its economic progress has determined its political transformation. Situated at the meeting-point of three great civilizations, whose influences it at once feels and assimilates, Belgium is becoming more and more a microcosm of Europe, an active laboratory of political, economic, and social experiences. The political relations subsisting between Belgium and the Congo State date from 1885, when Leopold II., presient t ie can 0fl o ^ The Con Afri ^° received at^ the Berlin International Congress the Association, sovereignty of the African State. The Chambers at once and almost unanimously authorized the King to accept this mandate. In 1890 King Leopold communicated to Parliament a clause in his will by which, on his death, he devised his African possessions to Belgium. In 1895 the Government deposited a Bill in the Chamber making the Congo State a Belgian Colony. The introduction of this Bill had been preceded by the conclusion of two conventions ; one between Belgium and the Independent State, and the other between Belgium and France by which the latter declared that she did not oppose the cession of the State to Belgium, reserving, however, to herself the right to pre-emption should, in the future, Belgium dispose of either the whole or part of her African colony. In view of the violent opposition of the Socialists and of certain Catholics, the Ministry withdrew the Bill. Various laws have associated Belgium in the task of governing the Congo. A law of 1887 authorized the Congo State to issue in Belgium a loan to the amount of 150,000,000 f. Subscriptions were in 1889-95 invited for shares in the railway from Matadi to Stanley Pool, which was opened in 1898. A loan of 25,000,000 f. to the Independent State (1891) was in 1895 increased by a second loan of 6,850,000 f. In return, Belgium obtained the right to elect, in 1900, whether these advances should be repaid or whether the Congo State should be annexed. The Belgian Government was not, however, obliged to come to a decision on the date fixed. In accordance with the Government of the Congo State, the Belgian Government, in July 1901, passed a convention through Parliament, by virtue of which the Congo State is dispensed from payment of its debt to Belgium until an indeterminate date. Belgium reserves its right to annex the Congo at a date equally indeterminate. The Government, moreover, promised to bring in a Bill regulating the relations between Belgium and the Congo, in the event of the annexation of the latter. s^e.

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Authorities.—A. Papers: Annales Parleme'ntaires (compte rendu in extenso des debats des Chambres); EnqvMe Scolaire (1880), 5 volumes, 1881-84 ; EnqyAte dv, travail (1886), 5 vols. 1887-90.—B. Books : Histoireparlementairc de la Belgique (183099), par L. Hymans, continuee par P. Hymans et Delcroix (en cours de publication depuis 1877).—Moke and Hubert. Histoire de Belgique (jusque 1885), 1892.—L. Hymans. La Belgique Contemporaine, 1880. Cinquante ans de liberty 4 vols., 1881 (recueil de monographies sur le developpement politique (M. Goblet d’Alviella), scientifique, artistique, economique, depuis 1830). ■—Giron, Dictionnaire du droit public et administratif, 3 vols., 1895-96.—La Belgique et le Vatican, 3 vols., 1880-81 (anonyme).— Discailles. Ch. Rogier, 4 vols., 1895.—Woeste. Vingt ans de poUmique, 1885.—Vandervelde and Destree. Le socialisms beige, Paris, 1898.—Hamelius. Le mouvement Jlamand, 1894.— Cattier. Droit et administration du Congo, 1898.—Leolere. ‘ ‘ Ptudes sur la Belgique contemporaine ” (revision, partis, elections, enseignement, question coloniale, situation materielle, &c.), Die Nation, of Berlin, 1894-99.—(The works above mentioned are published at Brussels, save when otherwise mentioned.) (l. l.) Literature. Belgian literature, as distinguished from French, has come about through a fusion of two elements, the Flemish and the Walloon, which make up what we call the Belgian race; and it is only somewhat recently that any attempt has been made in literature to fuse these two elements. The Walloon, which is related to the French, brings a nervous sensibility, a delicate mental energy, while the Flemish, which is related to the Dutch, brings a slow, profound faculty of meditation, an almost primitive simplicity, together with a gross animal fervour, deeply rooted in the earth. Belgium is the country of Ruysbroeck and of Bubens, of the most spiritually abstract of mystics, and of the most carnal of the painters of life. In Belgian literature, coming into existence under that twofold influence, one becomes conscious at once of the body and of the soul, each interpenetrating the other in a constantly realized communion with nature. Beginning unconsciously, and under definitely French influences, Baudelaire, Zola, for example, a group of Belgian writers began to detach themselves from the various schools of France; their first public proclamation of a new literature may be dated from the banquet given in 1883 to Camille Lemonnier. Lemonnier had already found out a way for himself, on definitely Flemish soil; Maeterlinck began to concern himself with the soul; Eekhoud with the strange passions of the body; Yerhaeren with whatever was most coloured and violent in body and soul and the external world; Bodenbach with the aged quietude of the little dead cities of his country. It was as if a sluggish body had become possessed of an unexpectedly powerful life; as if restless nerves had come to awaken a stolid nature. It was thus a new quality of imagination which seemed to reveal itself, as the soul became conscious of the mystery of the universe, and the body shivered at new fears, apprehensions, the haunting of a forgotten spiritual sense. It was the soul coming into a literature of mind, and at once the literature of Belgium was distinguished from the literature of France. Camille Lemonnier (born 24th March 1855), though he may have learned something of his method from Zola, is himself a personal force, and perhaps the first personal force to show itself in Belgium. Beginning as an artcritic, his first characteristic books are the Contes Flamands et Wallons and Un Coin de Village of 1879. Then came Les Charniers, 1881; Un Mdle, 1881; Le Mart, 1883; Happe-Chair, 1886; La Faute de Madame Charvet, 1895; File Vierge, 1896; Adam et Eve, 1896; La Petite Femme de la Mer, 1897, &c. His best novels, such as Un Male, are full of a great, healthy, animal life; the life of the earth, rudely yet subtly apprehended, as if by an instinct very close to nature. He knows the peasant, in all his simplicity, brutality, uncouth vigour.