THE little Kingdom of Belgium, lying on the northern coast of Europe, and wedged in between the two great States, Germany and France, is at once the most free, the most prosperous, and the most thrifty nation in Europe.

It is a young nation, though inhabited by the Flemings, a very ancient people. 

Down to the year 1830, its territory was included in the kingdom of the United Netherlands, and was ruled over by the king of Holland. In that year, the city of Brussels one of the brightest and fairest cities in Europe revolted against the Dutch crown; and after the Dutch troops had failed to put down the revolt, the present little kingdom of Belgium was crowded out of his dominions, westward of the Rhine. This was done by the intervention of the great powers, especially by those of England and France.

A free monarchy was at length created, and a very wise and able prince, Leopold of Saxe Coburg the widower of the Princess Charlotte of England was chosen as the first king of Belgium. His second wife was Marie Louise, daughter of Louis Philippe, king of France.

From the very first, Leopold's reign was a successful one. It insured complete liberty to his busy subjects; it established education; and it gave every scope to the skillful industries of the people. Belgium was protected in its independence by England, and has been so protected to this day. 

Any threat of violence against Belgium would be at once resented by England, even to the point of war.  Leopold molded his little State on the example of the English Constitution and there is no other European State, which in its government, so closely resembles that of England.

When the great revolution broke out in 1848, which, beginning in France, spread more or less over all Europe, Belgium for a moment caught the infection. Then there were disturbances in several of its towns and in Brussels, the capital, an attempt was made to raise barricades, and to overthrow the monarchy.

But this was soon put a stop to, in a very shrewd way, by the wise king Leopold, he said to his people that there was no need of their rising in revolt against him. "If you do not want me to rule over you," he declared, "I will go away at once. The crown is a burden to me. I do not need any force to compel me to give it up."

This frank speech had an instant effect. The people overwhelmingly declared that they desired nothing so much as that the good Leopold should continue to be their king; and so he remained until his death, in 1865, at a ripe old age.  He was succeeded by his eldest son, Leopold II., who is the present king, and who has continued the wise, liberal, paternal rule of his father.

A few weeks ago, the Belgians celebrated, amid bonfires, music, illuminations, festivals, reviews, and balls, the fiftieth anniversary of their independence as a nation. 

The stately old Flemish cities, Bruges, and Ghent, and Antwerp, and Brussels, and Mechlin, were alive with many crowds, and gay with festoons and flowers.

And well might this peaceful and industrious people rejoice; for while Europe has been again and again involved in war, and while there is scarcely a country in it that has not witnessed the ravages and desolation of battle, and borne the fiery ordeal of revolt, Belgium has waxed rich and prosperous, and has dwelt happily in the security of peace.  Her population has increased more rapidly than that of any other country; she has been obliged to keep up but a small army; her cities, hoary with age, and rich in every romantic association of the past, have grown, and have constantly added to their industries; and the freedom of every Belgian has been carefully maintained and securely guarded.

It is no secret that the mighty Empire of Germany covets Belgium as one of her provinces; but it is to be hoped that it will be long before this thrifty and free little kingdom will be swallowed up by her big and grasping neighbor. 

Youth's Companion.