SMITHERS, Henry.
A BELGIAN TOUR
SMITHERS, Henry. Observations made during a Tour in 1816 and 1817, through that Part of the Netherlands, which comprises Ostend, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Malines & Antwerp; with Remarks on the Works of Art, in Carving, Painting and Sculpture; and Enquiries into the present State of Agriculture, Political Oeconomy, Literature, the Arts[,] Laws, Government, and Religion. To which is added, from the most authentic Information, several original Anecdotes relative to the Battle of Waterloo, and the humane Conduct of the Inhabitants of the City of Brussels, on that Occasion. In a Series of Letters. By Henry Smithers, Lecturer on Historical Geography, and Author of “Affection” a Poem.
Brussels: Printed for the Author, and to be had of him, at No. 950 Rue Verte near La Place Royale, and of the principal Booksellers in Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, and Great Britain.  [c.1818.]
8vo (175 × 114 mm), pp. [4], iii, [1] subscribers’ list, 269, [1], with an etched frontispiece and 2 plates; title-page a little dusty; contemporary green speckled boards, slightly rubbed; contemporary ms. list of postage rates to the rear pastedown.
First edition, scarce. A fascinating post-Waterloo guidebook to the Low Countries, with illustrious subscribers including Dutch royalty, the Duke of Wellington, and the future Governor of Massachusetts, William Eustis.

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.

£600   
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