April 29 1816: Arriving in Antwerp

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“The Scheldt is a fine river, not so large as our Thames, and covered with ugly Dutch vessels. We  passed our coach in a boat.

On landing, twenty porters ran off with our things to a cart. As they were passing, one in all the pomp of office stopped us, and asked for our passports, which (on handing to him) he detained, giving his directions to the police.

The older parts of Antwerp have a novel and strange effect by the gable-ends being all to the street, ornamented — very acute angles. The Place de Meer is fine. The old street, the finest I ever saw, has some fine houses. Many of the houses have English labels on them. In our sitting-room are two beds. Indeed, the towns are beautiful : their long streets, their houses all clean-stuccoed or white-washed, with strange old-fashioned fronts, the frequent canals, the large places and venerable cathedrals. Their places are much finer than our squares, for they contain trees, and are open without railing.

Went to the cafe, and saw all playing at dominoes. Read The Times till the 23rd. Fine furniture, everywhere of cherry-tree.

At Gand in the Cathedral the cicerone laid great stress on the choir-seats being all made of solid acajou. The master of the inn at Ghent assures me the carriage of Buonaparte was made in Paris — the body-carriage at Brussels : no English work. Plenty of Americans in the town.”

— John Polidori, travelling with Lord Byron, writes in his diary for April 29 1816.

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