Things will work out. Don’t worry.

What would your wife have you do, run to England like her brothers? Give up this life you’ve worked so hard to build? 

Look at Bruges: this city of two hundred thousand people is amongst the richest in the world; home to the royal court, famous artists, even the Englishman Caxton, printing his books. Bruges’ cloth is renowned around the world. Traders come from as far away as Russia and the Middle East. Your Flemish tradition of weaving began in Roman times. The population was high, even then, and farmers had to supplement their income. That’s how you Flemish are; you solve problems. 

In the thirteenth century, when local timber ran out, the city shipped it in. When silt first started to block the Zwin estuary in the fifteenth century, out-ports were built nearer the sea. 

It’s true that over the last hundred years the out-ports have silted up, and farmers have moved their cattle off the exhausted land onto the coastal dunes, defying the ancient charters. Rumours circulate that Antwerp will take your trade, that your city’s days are numbered, but you ignore them. 

You cannot imagine that by the mid 1800s your city will be the poorest in Belgium; practically deserted. It’s impossible; Bruges will pull through. 


Alex Harvie

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