The work is framed as a series of letters sent to an acquaintance back in Britain, the first of which is dated barely fifteen months after the Battle of Waterloo, and some of his observations are stark in their closeness to the conflicts which dominated the late eighteenth century: ‘it was at Ostend, that many of the gun-boats for the invasion of Britain, during the last war, were constructed, the greater number of which remain there until their decay’.
Extremely eclectic, the book offers a fascinating insight into Continental travel at the time, and is a mine of information for customs and topography, as well as historical details—generally about the places visited—which run to some length. Smithers provides potted disquisitions on subjects as varied as history of printing in the Low Countries and vegetable production, as well as some brilliantly esoteric observations on manners and customs: ‘The females are very fond of dress; they are peculiarly nice about their feet’.
Smithers thanks William Johnson, ‘an Englishman now living in Brussels’, for the etchings which constitute the naïve but rather charming plates. The frontispiece shows Dutch yeomanry relaxing outside a tavern; the others are studies of contemporary Belgian costume.
WorldCat records no copies outside Europe.