By Pieter François
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Additional info for ‘A Little Britain on the Continent’: British Perceptions of Belgium, 1830-1870
This attitude was strongly embedded in the broader search for authenticity and the rejection of new groups of travellers. As a result the aristocracy stopped writing their travel accounts at the moment the middle classes were convinced they were behaving aristocratically by setting up a journal. The omnipresent British trav- British Perceptions of Belgium, 1830-1870 31 eller who quickly wrote some notes down in his journal or drafted endless letters to his family at home suffered numerous snubs: They have afflicted our generation with one desperate evil; they have covered Europe with Tourists, all pen in hand, all determined not to let a henroost undescribed, all portofolioed, all handbooked, all ‘getting up a Journal’, and all pouring their busy nothings on the ‘reading public’, without compassion or conscience78.
He exclaimed, as he bundled me out63. The British in their turn became very suspicious of the Belgians, especially when they tried to speak English. There was the constant fear of being overcharged. Some travellers felt nervous the moment they left the hotel and hoped to be able to leave without being stopped by all sort of commissionaires, guides and ‘friends’ who wanted to show them around for a small fee. The big advantage of travelling in a group was precisely to be able to avoid these persons hanging around at the customs and hotels.
Murray’s Handbook for Belgium and the Rhine had more than twenty editions during the nineteenth-century and by 1875 Baedeker’s Belgium and Holland. Handbook for Travellers already counted four editions in the English translation and surpassed Murray’s Handbook in copies and editions by the end of the century. George Bradshaw’s Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook for Travellers in Belgium, up the Rhine, and through portions of Rhenish Prussia counted eight editions for the period 1853-1866 alone65. In the 1850s, the period that Murray’s Handbooks were dominant, Alexander Gregory still managed to sell in a few years more than 10,000 copies of his A Practical Rhine Guide, with the leading routes through France, Belgium, Holland.
‘A Little Britain on the Continent’: British Perceptions of Belgium, 1830-1870 by Pieter François