National Geographic : 1924 Nov
THE GRAND DUCHY OF LUXEMBURG A Miniature Democratic State of Many Charms Against a Feudal Background BY MAYNARD OWEN WILLIAMS AUTHOR Of "LATVIA, IOME OF THE LETTS," "AT THE TOMB OF TUTANKHAMEN," "SYRIA, THE LAND LINK OF IISTORY'S CHAIN," "ADVENTURES WITH A CAMERA IN MANY LANDS," ETC., IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE " IT tight and wait" is the best ad vice one can give a newcomer to the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg; for, although he is liable to be offended at first, he will become fond of both land and people. c "What do you want a thirty-centime stamp for?" snaps the postal clerk, and one is tempted to reply, "None of your business." But it is only his way of ask ing, "Do you know the foreign rate has just changed ?" "Plenty of tables," laughs the head waiter, as with the timidity of solitude and strangeness you wait to be shown to a seat in the dining room. "Take any seat that pleases you," is what he means. Within a week your postal clerk will tear apart a whole sheet of Marie-Ade laide stamps to give you a few of the best printed, and the head waiter will be lend ing you maps, telling you of old customs and places, and seeking to acquaint you with the poems and proverbs of his peo ple, if they interest you. Did you ever have a maitre d'hotel in full regalia, and in the midst of his dining room kingdom, hum you a song, so that you could check it with the tune sounded by the carillon? My excellent friend, who unwittingly offended me at first, did. THE NATIVE KNOWS HIS RIGHTS AND DEMANDS THEM Passionately independent, the Luxem burger inhabits a land plastered with pre-war "Verboten" and post-war "De fendu" signs, of which he is as blissfully oblivious as one is of the birthmark on the face of an old friend. Not only does he sit tight as to his rights, but he examines the teeth of all authority in a way that makes one wonder why he is not more frequently bitten. A letter signed by the Prime Minister did not help me to enter the town hall during a church celebration, although numbers of people were being admitted. The con cierge would not even read the letter after looking at the signature. "It's the Mayor, not the Prime Minister, who rules here," he proclaimed. The land is like the people. One must truly fraternize with it. After a I25-mile motor ride in a country only 50 miles long, I returned disappointed. Since then I have tramped hundreds of miles and cycled hundreds of miles more and en joyed them all, sunshine or rain. Survive the first day and you will enjoy, and re gret, your last. The Grand Duchy has an area of 999 square miles, marked down from four times as many, and a population of 270, ooo, also much below the maximum of former days. Ligurian, Celt, Gaul, Belgian and Tre verian, Roman, Frank, Vandal and Hun, Merovingian, Carolingian, and Norman have all had their parts in the evolution of the people. ONCE AN INLAND GIBRALTAR For ages Luxemburg was an inland Gibraltar and a mighty fortress. It pre pared for war and got it. Raise and raze was the constant game. In 1867 the fortress was dismantled. This was no blow to the pride of the people. Far from it. The guard that marched out was Prussian. Not only was the erstwhile forbidding city now open to all, but it be gan to grow outward. Beautiful parks, laid out by the man who made a floral paradise of the Casino at Monte Carlo, have taken the place of the old fortifications. The Adolphe Bridge, spanning the gorge of the Petrusse, makes the ap proach to the former fortress too simple.