“The racking clouds were eddying fast / Upon the bosom of the blast” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—The Oxford English Dictionary defines racking as “driven before the wind” when used “of a cloud”, citing examples ranging in time from Elizabethan drama through Walter Scottʼs Marmion (1808), which contains the line: “‘Of middle air the demons proud, / Who ride upon the racking cloud’” (“racking, adj.3”, OED Online, accessed 4 September 2015). In Marmion, these lines (canto 3, stanza 22) occur in the tale told by an inn host, as Lord Marmion broods over his abandonment of Constance de Beverley, whose death has been hinted by the Palmer. In the tale, the magician Lord Gifford speaks of demons who have hollowed out and constructed his subterranean Goblin Hall (Scott, Works, 47:114).
The editors of the Library Edition point out the similarity of this line to the opening line of “Chamouni”, “The wreathing clouds are fleeting fast” (Ruskin, Works, 2:380 n. 1).


“The drawbridge rung, we past the gate” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—According to a guidebook of the period, if approaching Brussels from Calais via Lille and Tournai, as did the Ruskins, one entered the city through the Porte dʼAnderlecht. At this date, the medieval ramparts were in process of being transformed into modern boulevards, but the gate at Anderlecht remained “a heap of ruins” (Travellerʼs Guide through Belgium, 97, 166). Since the approach to this gate crossed both the Charleroi Canal and the Senne River, there may well have been a modern drawbridge. By mentioning this detail in connection with the entrance to Brussels, Ruskin may also have wanted to allude to the supposed origin of the cityʼs name in Brug‐Senne—i.e., bridge over the Senne River.


“Hotel de ville” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—In Prout, Facsimiles of Sketches Made in Flanders and Germany, which helped to prompt the Ruskinʼs Tour of 1833, Hotel de Ville Brussels is the first plate in the volume of lithographs. The artist shows the building towering over the marketplace; see Samuel Prout (1783–1852).


“Julys dreadful night” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—On 16 June 1815, the allied forces under Lord Wellington and the Prussian army under General Blücher engaged with the French under Napoleon near Brussels in the Battle of Quatre Bras, and on 18 June 1815 the allies defeated Napoleonʼs army in the Battle of Waterloo. Ruskin mistakes the date as falling in July, but in referring to the “midnight . . . repose” of Brussels being “broken” on that “dreadful night”, he clearly alludes to Byronʼs description in Childe Haroldʼs Pilgrimage, canto 3 (1816), of the “sound of revelry by night” when “Belgiumʼs capital had gathered then / Her Beauty and her Chivalry” (stanza 21)—the ball held on 15 June by the Duchess of Richmond for Wellington and his officers. The ball was interrupted in the early hours of 16 June by the news of Napoleonʼs advance, and Wellington hurried to prepare to engage at Quatre Bras (Byron, Complete Poetical Works, ed. McGann, 2:84).


“huge square cathedral towrs . . . contrasted strangely with the delicate sharp spireness of the steeple of the hotel de ville” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—As John Murray III explains in his 1836 guidebook to the Continent, Brussels “is divided into the upper and lower towns, the former being the newest as well as the most fashionable and healthy quarter, and built on a height. It contains the Kingʼs palace, the chambers, and the chief hotels. The lower town abounds in fine old picturesque buildings, the residences in former times of the Brabant noblesse, now occupied by merchants and tradespeople: the Grande Place, with its splendid Hôtel de Ville in this quarter, is beyond doubt unrivalled as an instance of Gothic splendour in civic edifices” (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 134). The view reminded Ruskinʼs cousin, Mary Richardson (1815–49), of her native Perth (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, p. 6).
J. M. W. Turner drew a distant view of Brussels for the 1834 volume of Walter Scottʼs Miscellaneous Prose Works, published by Cadell. The view was reproduced in a steel‐engraved plate by William Miller. This volume contains the Waterloo travel narrative, Paulʼs Letters to His Kinsfolk (1816). The plate shows a sideways silhouette of the cathedral nave and towers of St. Michael and St. Gudula, which massively overhangs the town sloping uphill and around the church toward the upper town, while, on the level terrain below the hill and to the right of the picture, the outline of the thin spire of the Hôtel de Ville marks the lower town (Scott, Miscellaneous Prose Works, 5: frontispiece; and see Herrmann, Turner Prints, 268 [R519]). Ruskin could have seen this plate no earlier than September 1834, when Cadell published the fifth of the monthly volumes of Miscellaneous Prose Works (Millgate, Scotts Last Edition, 47–48, 105–6; Finley, Landscapes of Memory, 171–210). If the plate directly influenced Ruskinʼs composition, its September date—considered even as terminus a quo—would situate draft of “Part of Brussels” months later in 1834 than what is suggested by other evidence; see .


Paris would look like an assemblage of brick kilns beside it” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—Brussels cultivated a reputation as a “little Paris”. In 1836, John Murray III compared the city favorably to the French capital: “Those who are acquainted with the French metropolis will find here many similarities, which give Brussels the character of Paris on a small scale. Besides the language, which is the same, and a certain affectation of French manners and habits perceptible in society here, the town of Brussels has its little opera in imitation of that of Paris, its cafés in the manner of those of the Palais Royal, a palace garden which pretends to a similarity with those of the Tuilleries, and miniature Boulevards around the town” (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 134).


“It was waxing dark . . . It makes one shiver” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—Ruskinʼs romantic and grotesque impression of a twilight arrival in Brussels contrasts with Charlotte Brontëʼs grimmer depiction of the cityʼs “lights . . . like unnumbered threatening eyes” glimmering through the “black scowl of the night” at Lucy Snowe (Charlotte Brontë, Villette [1853], 57 [chap. 6]). Despite either of these reactions, Brussels was not an alien place to the English, the city having accommodated “the largest British colony on the Continent”, according to John Murray III in 1836, owing to “the cheapness of living”, although he also remarks that large numbers of the British residents had been dispersed by the Belgian Revolution of August 1830 (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 134). In 1833, Frances Trollope (1779–1863), too, was warned that, because “many families, both native and foreign, had forsaken” the city, “pleasure and business went on sluggishly”; nonetheless, she found “Brussels . . . still delightful” (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 1:52).


“Facilis descensus Averni” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—“The descent of Avernus [is] easy”, referring to Virgil, Aeneid, book 6, line 126.


“Sed sed” (MS VIII); “sed” (MS IX; Works [1903])—A setting in Latin of an English ejaculation, perhaps “but . . . but”.


“Ay thereʼs the rub” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 3, scene 1, line 65.


“The Hotel de Bellevue at Brussels” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—The Ruskins stayed here, according to Ruskinʼs cousin, Mary Richardson (1815–49), although she refers to it as the “Hotel de Ville . . . in the Place Royale”. Here she negotiated her first encounter with a valet de chambre, to whom she handed curling tongs for heating, although she was en déshabillé ( Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 6). The Hôtel de Bellevue was built in the final quarter of the eighteenth century on the site of the Hapsburg imperial residence, which burned in 1731. The hotel premises were extended by construction throughout the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Today, the buildings house a museum of Belgian history ( ). In John Murray IIIʼs 1836 guidebook to the Continent, the Hôtel de Bellevue, Place Royale, is listed as a principal accommodation. It was located in the upper town, between the Place Royale and the Parc de Bruxelles. Murray comments: “The Park was the scene of the principal combat during the revolution of 1830. It was occupied by the Dutch troops, and the trees still bear marks of the wounds they then received. The Hôtel de Bellevue, standing between the Place Royale, where the Belgian insurgents were posted, and the Park, was the centre of action, and was actually riddled with shot. To gratify the curiosity of travellers, the landlord retained some of the cannon‐balls in situ as long as the Belgic revolution remained a subject of curiosity” (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 134, and see 133).


“We left Brussels on Wednesday morning for Waterloo ” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—According to Mary Richardson (1815–49), the family departed for this destination at 6:30 AM on 22 May 1833, which was indeed a Wednesday (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 9).


“the aged trees of the Forest of Soigny” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—The ancient Sonian Forest or Forêt de Soignes stretches between Brussels and Waterloo. In his travel narrative, Paulʼs Letters to His Kinsfolk (1816), letter 8, Walter Scott explains the approach to Waterloo through the forest: “The forest of Soignies, a wood composed of beech trees growing uncommonly close together, is traversed by the road from Brussels, a long broad causeway, which, upon issuing from the wood, reaches the small village of Waterloo. Beyond this point the wood assumes a more straggling and dispersed appearance, until about a mile farther, where at an extended ridge, called the heights of Mount St John, from a farm‐house situated upon the Brussels road, the trees almost entirely disappear, and the country becomes quite open” (Scott, Miscellaneous Prose Works, 5:100). In stanza 1 of Scottʼs poem, The Field of Waterloo (1815), the tourist speaker finds the forest more somber and oppressive than does Ruskin:
Thy wood, dark Soignies, holds us now,
Where the tall beechesʼ glossy bough
For many a league around,
With birch and darksome oak between,
Spreads deep and far a pathless screen
Of tangled forest ground.
Stems planted close by stems defy
The adventurous foot—the curious eye
For access seeks in vain;
And the brown tapestry of leaves,
Strewed on the blighted ground, receives
Nor sun nor air nor rain.
No opening glade dawns on our way,
No streamlet glancing to the ray
Our woodland path has corssed;
And the straight causeway which we tread
Prolongs a line of dull arcade,
Unvarying through the unvaried shade
Until in distance lost
(Scott, Works, 48:317–18)
In Childe Haroldʼs Pilgrimage, canto 3, stanza 27, Byron imagines the soldiersʼ rush to battle from Brussels: “Ardennes waves above them her green leaves, / Dewy with natureʼs tear‐drops, as they pass, / Grieving, if aught inanimate eʼer grieves, / Over the unreturning brave”. The poet explains in a note: The “wood of Soignies is supposed to be a remnant of the ‘forest of Ardennes’, famous in Boiardoʼs Orlando [i.e., Orlando innamorato (1483)], and immortal in Shakespeareʼs ‘As you like it’. It is also celebrated in Tacitus as being the spot of successful defence by the Germans against the Roman encroachments.—I have ventured to adopt the name [i.e., Ardennes] connected with nobler associations than those of mere slaughter”. Byronʼs editor, Jerome McGann, comments that Byron, among other errors, misidentifies the forest as Ardennes, which is located in Luxembourg, and he associates the wood with Shakespeareʼs Arden, which is “out of the question” (Byron, Complete Poetical Works, ed. McGann, 2:86, 302).


“Glister” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—The Oxford English Dictionary defines as “a glistering; a bright light, brilliance, lustre”, citing an 1808 example from Walter Scott, Marmion (canto 2, stanza 21): “It did a ghastly contrast bear / To those bright ringlets glistering fair” (“glister, v”., OED Online, accessed 9 November 2014). The lines refer to the pallid countenance of Constance de Beverley, who broke her convent vows to become the mistress of Lord Marmion, disguised as his page. Abandoned by Lord Marmion owing to her jealousy of Clara, whom Lord Marmion pursues, Constance is here exposed and judged by abbey leaders who condemn her to be walled up alive deep in the abbey vaults (Scott, Works, 47:76–77).


“This is the field of Waterloo” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—In 1833, with recent revolution vying for travelersʼ imagination, the attraction of viewing the battlefield of Waterloo had become “‘somewhat musty,’ and decidedly out of fashion”, according to Frances Trollope. Despite nearly two decades elapsing since the battle, however, Trollope admits that “all my English feelings were as much awakened at the idea of seeing [the battlefield] as if its glory had arisen but yesterday”, and she gives a moving account of the experience of visiting the site (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 1:75).


“Oh tread on it softly” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—Echoing Byron, Childe Haroldʼs Pilgrimage, canto 3, stanza 17: “Stop!—for thy tread is on an Empireʼs dust”! (Byron, Complete Poetical Works, ed. McGann, 2:82).