The Unique City: Ypres

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By ARNOLD BENNETT.


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I : I ;. i th I ‘ , 1ti l , It II cen u , Ju 11 .( t 1 0 inll ita nt . l t i u I.I I U l Iit nntot in, i’ llhnhabitcd. d ii ‘]iyiv I t o I ‘ [t I I. t. I t I tt1- ttas tni ltc had bie n I~irl , j, I”IIl t l pi i I 1t.ll [ (Ifi alIII N 11 illh it ll-h5d il i t. II t – lit ni t ni ‘ 1 I l tit . -ii tttlIn ,lt ai r i i In n1s4 (1111 11 t lt :and ta Sn c irato, 11n nL;11 ~I I~n,,i !h, oh hIl lh, from,; the ilmt shell ]lad sidled btr, k . tt 1 lihte inist abI, ‘urd Io(, Ii tIltr heaI tn. ii i icicit I cl c h it liT tt l il, titter till ue tllanietl iteeas is aI i .n ,llt,’ . l it u l ii, . a dc osilclts ani ow ketdlos ir t h iasl I , l.;; II thll: 1 p·,i , id, dlsp·tdiang the dalulu ge hl aine [hilan i n, ti, ~nIi,, U b rdl nt wlih i” not let S11[1″ l [ . ll 1 1 )l N (.9 V ‘at . I ‘lt t” l -llt I jlust I ea ofl tIl e en ll s )1 the nlall n bl l1i).1n1h lln nt hI adi etrlglllIl into til he iln erior tof the ‘,, hcd ,ud St Ii til 1 Th’s (‘,t thcdral is chic flb t}nttnlit h ( t’lltllr tt,,k. Its toter, hke Ilhat of the ( t’, d 111 at V[aihIne had ] i, r bln ,onlpleted – nor 1lll I it 6be n t buit It I, stiNL. with the ( Lren llon of the I ”l f l11t( loth Htll th” ]ethles, thin”, in Ypres. The ntelx ,I s kel ton , It : the r(e1t of the buthdl. it ilav 1 ~ s.la l that s~,le ot thte wa Il, .lone ubI talilt lee remian. I -the arlic-t past of the Cathedral -Is entirel ullll1 *)[ “. and its south tall Iha vantuhted. The apse has ben 11n1


< (,q, l-·l n Iu. i ra II.1 I i ! I, tn ln lllf S l t, ill0l,0lrlate St In ti ( I. cr it ris, to ti i Iigut oft i , r even tarl, Vql a hI I. ], 0I IHII% o l, r It as , ltt I ]lit I Tr ns the ] Alps I n i [,llbh I H ill or p l s m ss rn iad e u p o f ll llion , d h i i . tii til, h ' It l i ll ll all kindls, iv the I"ii n I hi.1, f i t b ilit halt ti: ('atit l dratl I s-ppc I : lh ll,,< I ,,Ii r ,l o ti II -,u ore til i il niLt St I i ult Ters IIIi i1l It I!I,' Iht of , J rll t l! t. ( at) ] h -it o l(. )in t th I ab l, the i,- tir o i ih1 tire l lilt' iolnur, oii tlh great allar, tio-1 -,' I ti ih In the--i atei, Iolla t 1 i4 I lt ii roughi:I t ui i ::tisl. I og l in asltave the outraged ine tl ierate l t iI IIm it l feet ii l t, atl it has happ rne1, tl 11 ~N Into a grarad, t ln tl atu th ho loe its littered Ilt, , l tc , i b I is h ne, W v i , t ll t hnstilan (he Clot l H hall as a Inure wal td ful tlunq than the t, l l h uI l Lo St 1artin ~k t I, lt all, ,,a, no illt-r


” DETAILED PHOTOGRAPHS OF YPRES OUGHT TO BE DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD : A UNIQUE VIEW OF THE RUINED CITY “YPRES. 1915.” Th. remalkable photograph of the ruins o, Ypres appaared, on a large scale, in our issue of August 28 last. In response to many msquills fhom readers, we have prepared for sale a linuted number of photo- graphs of It. The prints measure 20 inches by 13 inches, on stil mounts, and can be obtained for 7s. 6d. each plus 6d. rland postagel, by applying to L.S.P., “Illutrated London NeeRs,” Milford Lane, Strand, W.C. As Mr. Arnold Bennett says : “Detaled photographs of Ypres ought to be distributed throughout the world.”


than dozens if other cathedrals. There was only one ,li th [lal of the rank o tills one. It is not easy to say’ \hether or not the (‘loth Hall still exists. Its celebratedl three starets Ioadile exists. with it huge hil tlus in it to the left oi the iiddle, alnd, of oursae, mIlnus all glass. The entire tlain he seTmtedl to me to be leaning slightly fortsard ; 1 aIuld not d(ecide whether this twas an optical dehlsion ii at last. The etnormous central tower is knocked to piCt’s, and vet consi r-es soane relllnant of its ioriginal ilnllllls ; its of safttaldlng on the sides oi it stick out at at grtat helught liket damlaged smatiiches. The shItm corner toi-rs ale scar-ceil hurt. E’veerthing of artistic value In the structure of the inlerior has disappeared in a horrible itinfusiollt of rubblle. fThe eastern end of thle Clolth Hall u ifd to be t trnuiated its a imall beautiful lRenaissance edlite called the Niew\ierk. datln frolit the secventeenth t’ntulry. \hat its use \s I never knew; but the Niiiww erk has vanslhed. and the ‘ToI n Hall next door has also t anolhed : broken walls, a few bits of arched nmasoinri, and heaps of reluse alone indicate shere these buildings stoiod m April last. TIlE: GR.NI IE PAI..CE So t]1 luh or the two principal buildings visible frtom the Grande Place. liThe Cloth ilall is in the (;rande Place, and the (athedral asn otns it The ‘ only oither fairly large builihnl in the Place s the Hopital de Notre Dame at the north-east end. liths white-painted erection, with its ornamental gilt sign, had continued substantially to exist as a structural entity : it was defaced, but not seriously. Every other Iuldtlln in the place was smnashed up. To walk right round the Place is to walk nearly half a mile; and along the entire length, with the above excep- tions. there was nothing but imounls of rubbish and fragments of upstanding walls. Here and there in your


peranilbulation you lnac- detect an odour wiith whichl cer- tain trencllhes havIlt e already fallliliarised iiou. Obstinate in- hallitants werel apt to get buried in the cellars ii here they had taken rlefuge In one place iwhat looked like a colossal ts wer hadl been l untinored. I thought at the timlle that the oewelr ‘was i , that large for a city iof the size of Ypres, and it has ionlie ticculrreld to i:e that tllis sewer may have bcln the annt entl bed of the sirealll YVperlee, which in sonic past period ta ar thld over. ” I want to imake a muIllh sketch of all this,” I said to ly companuins in tihe udleh of the G;rande Place, indicating tllw (Ilfth Iall. and the CIatheidral, anti other grouped ruins 1the spe;ltlle wasInd,indeed, majestic in the extreme, ani if tie Illriish (;Governlellnt has not had it officially pholto- irfilhel in the 111 t po-s-ible allnner, it has fullei in a utw bvlloul dutl: detailed photographs of Ypres ought to be distributed tl lllhroughout the worldI. fI”y companions left ine to mscllf. I sat idown onil the edige of a slall shell-hole soile distance in front of the ItorItial. I had been allsed not to relain toil near the Itlding ]cot it light tfall on lme. The paved ftloor of the Place stliet-hlied olult aroiund nie like a treimendous plain, seenung thile vaster ibecause nItl eyes witre now so ulllch neiarer to it Ite el io it. O)n a bit of fagalde tol the left the word ” (CYcI.r ” -stood out in large, black letters on a ntlite grouind. lts worid and tmysiel were the sole hIring things in the Square. In the distance a cloudll of sIlloke iln a streelt sholed that a houlse was burning. Thme other streets vlibllle from lwhere I sat gave no sign iwhatever. Thlie wnl, string enoulgh throughou itll!- visit t
o the Front, was now strolnger than ever. All the windowi-frames and dootrs in the lIospital were straining anl creaking in the


\ind. The lou1d slondi of guns never teased. A large Br itish aeroplane hummed andl IcicZzed at a considserable height over- head. liit drove along. I said to myself . ” A shell might qllte sell fall letre anuy llmoment.” I wsas atraid. But I was less afraid of a shell than of the intense lonelihness. IRheilns t as inlhablted; Arras “as in- habited. In both ctties there were post- tllrn land net spapers, shops, and even caf6s. lBut in Ypires there was notling. Every street tas a desert , every roonl in every hlouse uwas elll ty. Not a dog roamted In search of food. The weight upon my heart was sickening. To avoid colmplica- tions I had promlised the Statt Ollicer not to movte from the Place until lie returnued; neilther of us hadl ally desire to be hunting Icr each other in the sinister labvrinth of the tos n’s thoroughfares. I scas, there- fore. a prisoner in the Place, condemned to solitary conlinement. I ardently wanted lily comlipalnions to come back. . .. c Then I heard echolng sounds of voices and foot- steps Two British soldiers appeared round a ccrner and passed slowly along the Squlare. In the inmtenslty of the Square they madle very small figures. I had a iscll to accost them, but Englishl nen do not ido these things, even in Ypres. ‘lhey glanced casually at nime; I glanced casually at them,, carefully pretending that thile cir- (c ltmstalnceCs los fily sltulation were enmireiv ordinary. I felt safer slhle they were in view; but whien they had gone I was afraid


ago in. I was more than afraid; I was inexplicably uneasv. I made the sketch simply because I had said that I would make it. And as soon as it was done, I jumped up out of the hole and walked about, peering down streets for the reappearance of my friends. I was very depressed, very irritable, and I honestly wished that I had never accepted any invitation to visit the Front. I somehow thought I mTight never get out of Ypres alive. When at length I caught ight of the Staff Officer I telt instantly relieved. My depression, however, remained for hours afterwards. STREETS. Perhaps the chief street in Ypres is the wide IRue de Lille, which runs from opposite the Cloth Hall dlown to the I.lle Gate, and over the moat water into the Iille road and on to the ;erman lines. The Rue de Lille was especially famous for its fine old buildings. There was the iHospice Blelle, for old female paupers of Ypres, built in the thirteenth century. There was the Mauseum, formerly the Hotel Alerghelynck, not a very striking edifice, but full of antiques of all kinds There was the Hospital of St. John, interesting, but less interesting than the Hospital of St. John at Brugs’s. There was the Gothic Mlaison de Bois, right at the end of the street, with a rather wonderful frontage. And there was tile famnous fourteenth-centurv Steenen, which since my previous visit had been turned into the post office. With the exception of this last building, the whole of the lue de Lille, if my nmemory is right, lay in rums. The shattered post office was splendidly upright, andl in appearance entire ; but, for all I know, its interior may have been destroyed by a shell through the roof. Only the acacia-trees flourished, and the flies, and the weeds between the stones of tile paving. The wind took up the dust fronm the rubbish heaps which had been houses and wreathed it against what bits of walls still maintained the


pIrpendl’inlar. lHere, too, was the unforgettable odour, rising through the Interstices ot the lmiashed iasorv which hild subterranean chanlmbers. We turned into a side-street of small houses- probabll the homlies of lace-ilakers The street was too humble to be a mlark for the guns of the (;ermans, who, no doubt. trained their artillery by the alld of a vry large-wsale municipal map on which every bllilding iwas separately indicated. It would seem impossible that a map of less than a foot to a imile could enable theli to produce such wonderful results of carefullly wanton destruction And the assumption must lie that the nlap was oltatined from the local authorities by some agent lasquerading as a citizen. I heard, indeed, that knownii citizen of all the chief towns returned to their toons or to the lculnuty thereof in the uniformn anti with the pleasing mainers of German w arriors, The organisation for doing good to Belgilum against helglllu,’s will was an Intolparable piece of chlcane and pure rascahty. Strange IBelgians iwere long ago convinced that the ,isltation was In-lctably conling, and had fallen Into the habit of dlIsclussugL it placidly over their beer at nights . . . To return ti the side-street. So lar as one coullld sit.


it hadi not recelvedL a dent, not a scratch IlX en the little windows of the little red hiouses were by no mieans all broken. All the front doors storod ajar. I hesitated to walk in. for these ihouss seemed to be mysteriouslye protectied by linifllences Invisible. tBt In the end the vulgar, yet perhaps legltlli ate, cullrlosilt of the sightseer, of the professional reporter, drove mne within the doors The houses here so modest that they had no entrance-halls or lobbies. One passed directl firom the street into the parlour. Apparently the par]ours were com pletety htrnlshed They were in an amllazing disorder, but the furniture was there. Andll the furnishings of all of thenml were ahike. as the fur nistllngs of all the smnall hoiiuses of a street in the IPire TonSns or in a cheap londoln sublurih. The amnbition of these hoiies hadr been to reseimble i e ir another. What ione had all mllust have. I nder ordlinary cirvror, i- stances the powerful common instinct to resemble is pitiable. But here it was absolutely touching. Everything was in these parlours The miserable, ugly ornaments, bought andl cherished and adnired by tile simple, were on the mantelpieces. Thet drawers of the mahogany and oak furniture had been dragged open, bhut not em ptied. The tried floors were littered


wVith Clothes, (1111 a nmiscellanv of odd pos- sessions, with pots and parns out of the kitchen and tilhe scullerv, with bags and boxes. Tile accunmunlat ions of tife- times were displa yed before rne and it was almost possible to trace the slow transforming of young girls into brides, and brides into mothers of broods. W\thin the darkness of the interiors I could discern the stairs. But I was held back iromn the stairs. I could get no further than the parlours, though the interest of the upper floors must have been surpassing . So from hlouse to


house. I handled notlling. Were not the illltary laws against looting of the most drastic character ! And at last I came to the end of the little street. There are many such streets in Ypres. In fart, tthe majority of the streets were like that street. I slid not visit them, but I hase no doubt that ther were in the aullni condition I ldo not say that tile inl!all- tants lied taking naught with thesm. They must oblviouisly have taken what they could, and ihat was at once illost precious andi most portable. iBut they could have taken very little. They deptarted breathless without vehicles, and probably most of the adults had lhildren to carry or toi lead At one moment the houses were homes, functllonlng as such. An alarm, infectious like the cholera, andt at the next moilllent the deserted houses becalme spiritless, degenerated Into intolerable inuseulns for the amazement of a representative of thile ruerican and the BIritish Press Where the scurrying families went to I never evsen inquiredh. Useless to inquire. They just lost thenlselves on the face of the earth, and were henceforth known to mankind by the generic name of ” refugees “-such of them as managed to get away alive.


After this the soilitlude of the suburbs, with their maimed and rusting factories, their stagnant canals, their empty lots, their high, lusty seels, their abolished railway and tram stations, was a secondary matter leaving practically no impression on the exhausted sensi
bility. A few miles on the opposite sides of the toan (ere the German artillery positions, with guns well calculated to destroy Cathedrals and Cloth Halls Around these guns were educated men who had spent years-indeed, most of their lives -in the scientific study of destruction. Under these men were slaves who, solely for the purposes of de- struction, had ceased to be the free citizens they once were ‘These slaves swere compelled to carry iout any- order given to them, under pain of death. They had, indeed, heen explicitly told on the highest earthly authority that, if the order came to destroy their fathers and their brothers. they must destroy their fathers and their brothers: the instruction was public and historic.. The whole organism has worked, and worked well. for the destruction of all that was beautiful min Ypres, and for the break-up of an honourable tradition extending over at least eight centuries. The operation was the direct result of an order. The order had been carefully weighed andl


consideredi The successful executlun ,I It itbrought ijo into imanV hearts high ii tot . Another ]hell 11 ti:’ Caithedral ! i nd lteni s ihook hands I statiltlll i around the excl!lent guns “. hole in the tooter ol the (‘loth hall ‘ (General rcjoiting Th “‘ lie population hais led, and Ypres is a desert i’ ” nexpressible entlhuasii aniini specially e’ducated men, from, the’ highest to) the ]Init. So it must lhale’ bi’e. There was no hlazard about the treatment of Ypres The hells d:d not tome into Yples nut of nowhirs Fach w’ i s the JliInax of a ii on, d. lbraltc ettort orlginating in th;e Iralls of the responsible ceaders Oin’ Is alt (nt ito rget all liu SBut,”, o’ u say, ” this is liar. after all. ‘ Alter all, it just is. T-IE Ft”T 1¢ E The future of YpiCes exer’isls the olId i’ps , Is (unln one amnong many inartr. Ililt, as ilmatters stand it present, it is undoubtedls th, i lcil onet In pnpuornion to thet ir sze, scores of villages ihate sitlred ai s nouil l its prI’- and Sunllic have sulred I lliore I lt noi t( s its o in1( antil. historn al, and artseti, jll n tll lt ant, has, up to onn suill’ ld


“THE TOWER 15 A SKELETON”: THE CATHEDRAL AT YPRES, AND PART OF THE TOWN, DURING A BOMBARDMENT.


THE WRECKED CATHEDRAL, YPRES.


THE MARKE SQUARE YPRES THE. MARKET SOUAR., YPRBS.


Th-e ph,/r,-ph, a – f.kr .- .rnzlr


IN A TOWN WHICH IS “THE VERY SYMBOL OF THE GERMAN ACHIEVE- MENT IN BELGIUM “: YPRES -THE MARKET SQUARE.


in the samell degree as Ypres. Ypres l entlletd to rank as the very svymibol of the German ahlievemeCl nt in Belglllll It stoodl upon the path to Calais; but that was not its crne. Evein if German guns had not left one brick upon another in Ypres, the path to Calais would not therelby have been made any easier for the well-shod feet of the apostles of night, for Ypres never served as a numltart stronghold and could not possibly have so served; and had the Germans know\n how to beat the British Army in front (of Ypres, they could have niarc]ed through the uty as easily as a hyena through a rice-crop. The crmle of Ypres was that it lay handy for the extlreme irritation of an army which, with three timies the imen and three tines the guns. and thirty times the vainglorious conceit, coulld not shift the trifling force opposed to it last autumln. Quite naturally the boasters were enraged In the end, somiethlng had to give way. And the Cathedral and Cloth Hall and oither defenceless splendours of Ypres gale Sniay, not the trenches The yearners after (Calais dil t helinelles no good by extermnuinating fine architecture and breaking up innocent homlles, bIut they did experlence the rehelt lo smashing something. Therein lies the psychology of the affair of Ypres, and the reason why the Ypres of history has come to a sudden close.


In order to tnem i”, tht lltiure o! ; r n, It , nert’.are to g ‘t a tt. a -r ine ri ‘ ,iion ti. t iit lt :t dlni I , l It. Y]p ts i> ntt d “tttrltd I i-hhI (oitl i atl tjihat when’l I saw Iit LI Jui l atl i ti l thIii , lli i ,, , m it i stand iiIn ‘ -t dini Ii ou, h e ,tliiilild Il i


‘last’,but I till tnm tt h dnil “Ill lilt I .L Illl non ‘. nI «6ich …u Inc, than ei fli(llte See: 1,111! in ulull iln ttho t n tn·11 It,] ,e1 irld than stilt! u u111:11 II ýhul unu:ý;ýi ýýIlrm ‘I IlI1 ~c a itnll h ,.u l >. .· II Jilllll the Lille and ýlid . :i.iu- I I I t 3 temp . !/( illj p 1 gn rtý – ý«n ( i, ýd S lur 1.) il 111· .1·:111. .’.li~’I


.u I~(cu l ý nucini l,ýr I’aý Ani ‘.-~ 6nn ha 4 i~nrn.n nt-))i1 iii nn l 1, r i th n – i jim n ni.r t~ t I ybn nia In 1 J ta – in ýý nil * that ii itni I i un .it rt iull In. -,nennnnI


siiatiiixiuxiiu. ‘I 1111 iioil he lii xxx jixxx iflni iii nliii- than a ]iiid it caixili hanul the ai liti iii o the old, and tihe xiii iiixit rci-al xi r an-i,. ot if not for excr. a gi:.x’ti sign and :hlui-tr:i.x ,n ol xiat clpildltx- and lul pulit and lanits can t,, i t- gethier ihien phi-cal xiaoliiieni is thuir instriunicxi. The Iinuxediatie luture xt Y’pri- alter the t ar, is plain It will instantl lutiolme oni, it tie r hu -trpii,,es oi the ixr i lr i lot’i 1 ii ai pptearn iii t t i1i x- sIxi xd, glldes liid to is t li piluiiat it the raihti. iill iix, the tour of thie ruins ll i] iie lxapped out, and tilhe totxrx:ts and unl – tu tt, rI iiof th s il ,le pilan t xiii ill11 that tour ii hatiaii hx]- ke itanii houiu p tlu h iounit till lie isana-ed bl a t ei peronii, out ai tiIhe exh:xition of Ixlltotlliie aixnd 1i e .A illilte-r late r a , – iin nitv i Ne it- hu -,i tih tIliun ainlit xine i si andi It i < xtel ii at it .aul ii ,, l I ,~ li, ,rater the numI Ir at peo1e who t Yprew her t]hu- --chxs, the -griater the hope of progrs- for mankiind It the ,qt de of thi e i l oth tHall xan lhex maid I 'ii su hi i nuriion atsi th luloixni ought to be lm in-d aln lithe hn lgth of it-


TION OF V IOLATING 111] Nt i I Ill I Y OF BIELGIUMI. FOUR D)AYS LATI1R ITlE I I1I(1.1N ARMY INVADED .ELGIL M. LOOK .A1t/ ND” When ‘u1 are alking tlhirolughl thlat nlhb oas Ypis, nothilng arouses a stronger feeling- halt olntln pt, half anger lthan the thoughit of thie ellan, lnu.table t ly, chlihslh, and grotlsque excuses \h]tli tlhe It si ;ermnl.lv: has invented tor hier delberatcls pitlainned i n .Ani nothing arouses a more grit and isniet sall It, nil tthan the thought that slihe already has the gravest riin to regret it. and ,would gilne iher headi not to hlave i nnttd it. lesplite all vauntlllgs, all Iatlle hattcerngs about the alleged co operation of all uInknoilabhle and il anitll ; oil, all shrickings of uity and poiwer, all belointu ags about the perfect assurantc of vwtory, all :l tunt ii e of the fruits of ‘u torv–th l gesalace hladers ot ite deluded are shakllng in their shoes belorie tlhl altiipaltl sequel of an outrage nelltable alike in its banaribar and in its idiocy.



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