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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 102, June 11, 1892   By:

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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI

VOL. 102

JUNE 11, 1892

A DAY AT ANTWERP.

(BY THE "VACUUS VIATOR.")

In the Place Verte. "The traveller," according to Bædeker , "should at once direct his steps to the Cathedral." Not going to be bullied by Bædeker ! Shall assert my independence by directing steps somewhere else first. Carillon tinkling fitfully up in tower. Like an elderly ghost with failing memory, trying to play every tune she ever knew all at once on a cracked, old spinnet. Fancy I detect fragment of " The Heavens are Telling ," tripped up by the " Old Hundredth ," and falling over " Haydn's Surprise ." Ghost tries back, and just as she seems about to arrive at something definite suddenly gives it up as hopeless. To Church of St. Paulus, to see the Calvary. Small but highly intelligent Belgian Boy, who speaks English, insists on volunteering services. (Why aren't our street boys taught French and German in Board Schools? make all the difference to foreigners in London.) Boy takes me up avenue of heroic sized scriptural statues, introduces me to "Moïse," "Dahvit mit de 'arp," and others. Kind of him but I wish he would go. Offer him twopence. Boy declines with indignation. Young Belgium evidently high minded and sensitive. He informs me that, in a certain church he refers to as "Sin Yack," there are "RUBENS' peecture moch fine," and plainly proposes to conduct me thither. Mustn't hurt his feelings again so accept. Boy clumps on ahead, down alleys, and through back streets, and round corners, looking round severely at intervals to see that I am not giving him the slip. Nice friendly little fellow but despotic. Don't seem to be much nearer; "Sin Yack" evidently a saint of retiring disposition.... At last. Boy points him out triumphantly. Thank him, with apologies for taking him so much out of his way. Boy demands two francs. Hint, as delicately as possible, that I consider this estimate of the value of his time and society somewhat high. Boy peremptory. Give him fifty centimes. Boy abusive; follows me with uncomplimentary remarks. I can not go about Antwerp all day with a hostile boy harassing my rear like this! So undignified. However, shall find sanctuary with "Sin Yack." Every door closed. Boy at a distance chuckling, I am afraid. Shall walk on not hurrying , but briskly. Boy gone at last thank goodness! with Parthian yelp of "Rosbif!"

[Illustration: "Rosbif!"]

In the Cathedral. Being shown round by Sacristan, in company with two respectable young Britons. "You shee dot oltarbiece, gentlemens," says Sacristan, "paint by RUBENS, in seexteen day, for seexteen hondert florin." Whereupon both Britons make a kind of "cluck" with their tongues. "Dat vos von hondert florin efery day he vas paint," explains the Sacristan. Britons do this division sum in their heads, check it as correct, and evidently feel increased respect for RUBENS as capable for an artist of driving a good bargain. "RUBENS baint him ven he vas seexteen," which younger Briton considers "very creditable to him, too!" They inspect the High Altar, with more clucks, and inform one another, with the air of Protestants who are above prejudice, that it's a marvellous piece o' work , though, mind yer! Sacristan points out holes underneath choir stalls. "De organ is blay over dere, and de mooshique he com out hier troo de 'oles, so all be beoples vas vender vere de schounds com from!" First Briton remarks to me that "That's a rum start, and no mistake." I agree that it is a rum start. I shall find myself clucking presently, I know! "Haf you scheen yed de bortraits of GLATSHTONE and Lort BAGONSFELDT?" Sacristan asks us "... 'No?' then I show you." He leads us up to the finial of one of the stalls, which is carved in the figure of a monk. "Is not dat de Ole Grandt Man himself?" he asks, triumphantly. Second Briton agrees "It's a wonderful likeness, reelly." His Companion admits "They've got old GLADSTONE there to a t " but adds that "come to that , it might do for either of 'em... Continue reading book >>


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