possessing self-government in all local matters. For each commune Provinces and communes. of 5000 inhabitants or over, a burgomaster is appointed by the communal council which is chosen by the electors of the commune. As three years’ residence is required these electors are fewer in number than those for the legislature. In 1902 there were 1,146,482 voters with 2,007,704 votes, the principles of multiple votes, with, however, a maximum of four votes and proportional representation, being in force for communal as for legislative elections.
Religion.—The constitution provides for absolute liberty of conscience and there is no state religion, but the people are almost to a man Roman Catholics. It is computed that there are 10,000 Protestants (half English) and 5000 Jews, and that all the rest are Catholics. The government in 1904 voted nearly 7,000,000 francs in aid of the religious establishments of, and the benevolent institutions kept up by, the Roman Church. The grant to other cults amounted to 118,000 francs, but small as this sum may appear it is in due proportion to the relative numbers of each creed. The hierarchy of the Church of Rome in Belgium is composed of the archbishop of Malines, and the bishops of Liége, Ghent, Bruges, Tournai and Namur. The archbishop receives £800, and the bishops £600 apiece from the state yearly. The pay of the village curé averages £80 a year and a house. Besides the regular clergy there are the members of the numerous monastic and conventual houses established in Belgium. They are engaged principally in educational and eleemosynary work, and the development in such institutions is considerable.
Education.—Education, though not obligatory, is free for those who cannot pay for it. In the primary schools instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, history and geography is obligatory. In 1904 there were 7092 primary schools with 859,436 pupils of both sexes. Of these 807,383 did not pay. Primary education is supposed to continue till the age of fourteen, but in practice it stops at twelve for all who do not intend to pass through the middle schools, which is essential for all persons seeking state employment of any kind. The middle schools have one privilege. They can give a certificate qualifying scholars for a mastership in the primary schools, which are under the full control of the communes. These appointments are always bestowed on local favourites. The pay of a schoolmaster in a small commune is only £48, and in a large town £96, with a maximum ranging from £80 to £152 after twenty-four years’ service. It is therefore clear that no very high qualifications could be expected from such a staff. The control of the state comes in to the extent of providing district inspectors who visit the schools once a year, and hold a meeting of the teachers in their district once a quarter. In each province there is a chief inspector who is bound to visit each school once in two years, and reports direct to the minister of public instruction. With regard to the middle schools, the government has reserved the right to appoint the teaching staff, and to prescribe the books that are to be used. The results of the middle schools are fairly satisfactory. Still better are the Athénées Royaux, twenty in number, which are quite independent of the commune and subject to official control under the superior direction of the king. Mathematics and classics are taught in them and the masters are allowed to take boarders. The expenditure of the state on education amounts to about a million sterling. In 1860 the grants were only for little over one-eighth of the total in 1903. In 1900 31.94% of the toal population was illiterate. Considerable progress in the education of the people is made visible by a comparison of the figures of three decennial censuses. In 1880 the illiterate were 42.25% and in 1890 37.63, so that there was a further marked improvement by 1900. Among the provinces Walloon Belgium is better instructed than Flemish, Luxemburg coming first, followed by Namur, Liége and Brabant in their order.
Higher instruction is given at the universities and in the schools attached thereto. Those at Ghent and Liége are state universities; the two others at Brussels and Louvain are free. At Louvain alone is there a faculty of theology. The number of students inscribed for the academical year 1904-1905 at each university was Ghent 899, Liége 1983, Brussels 1082, and Louvain 2134, or a grand total of 6098. Liége is specially famed for the technical schools attached to it. There are also a large number of state-aided schools for special purposes; (1) for military instruction, there are the École Militaire at Brussels, the school of cadets at Namur, and army schools at different stations, e.g. Bouillon, &c. For officers in the army, there are the École de Guerre or staff college at Brussels with an average attendance of twenty, a riding school at Ypres where a course is obligatory for the cavalry and horse artillery, and for soldiers in the army there are regimental schools and evening classes for illiterate soldiers. (2) For education in the arts, there is the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Antwerp, and besides this famous school of painting there are eighty-four academies for teaching drawing throughout the kingdom. In music, there are royal conservatoires at Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Liége. Besides these there are sixty-nine minor conservatoires. (3) For commercial and professional education, there are 181 schools. The Commercial Institute of Antwerp deserves special notice as an excellent school for clerks. (4) Among special schools may be named the three schools of navigation at Antwerp, Ostend and Nieuport. Since the wreck of the training-ship “Comte de Smet de Naeyer” in 1906, it has been decided that a stationary training-ship shall be placed in the Scheldt like the “Worcester” on the Thames. Among the numerous learned societies may be mentioned the Belgian Royal Academy founded in 1769 and revived in 1818. For the encouragement of research and literary style the government awards periodical prizes which are very keenly contested.
Justice.—The administration of justice is very fully organized, and in the Code Belge, which was carefully compiled between 1831 and 1836 from the old laws of the nine provinces leavened by the Code Napoleon and modern exigencies, the Belgians claim that they possess an almost perfect statute-book. The courts of law in their order are Cour de Cassation, Cour d’Appel, Cour de Première Instance, and the Juge de Paix courts, one for each of the 342 cantons. The Cour de Cassation has a peculiar judicial sphere. It works automatically, examining every judgment to see if it is in strict accord with the code, and where it is not the decision or verdict is simply annulled. There is only one judge in this court, but he has the assistance of a large staff of revisers. The Cour de Cassation never tries a case itself except when a minister of state is the accused. The president of this tribunal is the highest legal functionary in Belgium. There are three courts of appeal, viz. at Brussels, Ghent and Liége. At Brussels there are four separate chambers or tribunals in the appeal court. Judges of appeal are appointed by the king for life from lists of eligible barristers prepared by the senate and the courts. Judges can only be removed by the unanimous vote of their brother judges. There are twenty-six courts of first instance distributed among the principal towns of the kingdom, and in Antwerp, Ghent and Liége there are besides special tribunals for the settlement of commercial cases. Of course there is the right of appeal from the decisions of these tribunals as well as of the regular courts. Finally the 342 Juge de Paix courts resemble British county courts. Criminal cases are tried by (1) the Tribunaux de Police, (2) Tribunaux Correctionnels, (3) and the Cours d’Assises. The last are held as the length of the calendar requires. Capital punishment is retained on the statute, but is never enforced, the prisoner on whom sentence of death is passed in due form in open court being relegated to imprisonment for life in solitary confinement and perpetual silence. The chief prisons are at Louvain, Ghent and St Gilles (Brussels), and the last named serves as a house of detention. At Merxplas, near the Dutch frontier, is the agricultural criminal colony at which an average number of two thousand prisoners are kept employed in comparative liberty within the radius of the convict settlement.
Pauperism.—For the relief of pauperism there are a limited number of houses of mendicity, in which inmates are received,