BELGIUM. Railways. XV
the language, the fact remains unchanged, that a knowledge of
French is still considered indispensable to all but the lowest agri¬
cultural and labouring classes.
The following peculiarities of pronunciation are common to
Flemish and Dutch: y (in Dutch ij) is pronounced like the Eng¬
lish a-ee (but in West Flanders like e), u like the French u, eu like
the French eu, eeu like the English a (in fate), oe like oo, ae like
ah, ou as in English, ui like the French eu-i, oei like we, sch
like s and the guttural ch in the Scotch loch, and sch at the end
of a word almost like s.
After what has been said, it need hardly be added that a slight
knowledge of French will enable the traveller in Belgium to con¬
verse with every one with whom he is likely to come in contact,
and that an acquaintance with the Flemish and Walloon dialects
will probably be of little use except to the philologist. Those
who are ignorant of French will be glad to know that English is
spoken at most of the principal hotels throughout the country.
V. Churches, Picture Galleries, and Collections.
The Churches (Roman Catholic) are usually open from 6 a.m.
till noon, but in the afternoon the visitor must apply to the sacris¬
tan. If the architecture or the pulpitbe the chief object of interest it
may be inspected in the forenoon, but when pictures are to be seen
the attendance of the sacristan is necessary, as they are often covered
with curtains or concealed in side chapels. The best hours in this
case are 12—4 p.m., when there is no service. Fee for one person
'/>—1 fr., for a party more in proportion. In many churches the
fees are fixed by tariff.
Picture Galleries and Collections are generally open gratis
from 10 or 11 a. m. till 3 or 4 p. m., but on certain days a trifling
fee for admission is sometimes charged. For admission to town-
halls, private collections, and other sights, the average fee is 1 fr.,
but when higher, the fact will be noticed in the Handbook.
The most trustworthy time-tables are contained in the 'Guide
officiel desvoyageurs sur tous les chemins de fer de Belgique\ publish¬
ed monthly, and sold at all the principal railway-stations for 30 c.
In 1874 the lines of railway belonging to government were of
an aggregate length of 1022 M., the private lines 1085 M.
The fares on most of the lines are extremely moderate, and
probably the lowest in the railway world. On 1st November 1871,
the tariff was revised, the fares for longer distances being slightly
raised, and those for shorter diminished. The high rates charged
for international traffic were also reduced to the same rates as for
inland traffic. The charges per league of 3 M. are now 36 c. for