ortal of the Seven Mountains into the open fields which extend to the German sea. After entering this vast meadow, the stream divides itself into two branches, becoming thus the two-horned Rhine of Virgil, and holds in these two arms the island of Batavia.
The Meuse, taking its rise in the Vosges, pours itself through the Ardennes wood, pierces the rocky ridges upon the southeastern frontier of the Low Countries, receives the Sambre in the midst of that picturesque anthracite basin where now stands the city of Namur, and then moves toward the north, through nearly the whole length of the country, till it mingles its waters with the Rhine.
The Scheld, almost exclusively a Belgian river, after leaving its fountains in Picardy, flows through the present provinces of Flanders and Hainault. In Caesar's time it was suffocated before reaching the sea in quicksands and thickets, which long afforded protection to the savage inhabitants against the Roman arms; and which the slow process of nature and the untiring industry of man have since converted into the archipelago of Zealand and South Holland. These islands were unknown to the Romans.
Such were the rivers, which, with their numerous tributaries, coursed through the spongy land. Their frequent overflow, when forced back upon their currents by the stormy sea, rendered the country almost uninhabitable. Here, within a half-submerged territory, a race of wretched ichthyophagi dwelt upon terpen, or mounds, which they had raised, like beavers, above the almost fluid soil. Here, at a later day, the same race chained the tyrant Ocean and his mighty streams into subserviency, forcing them to fertilize, to render commodious, to cover with a beneficent network of veins and arteries, and to bind by watery highways with the furthest ends of the world, a country disinherited by nature of its rights. A region, outcast of ocean and earth, wrested at last from both domains their richest treasures. A race, engaged for generations in stubborn conflict with the angry elem
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