The poet Charles Beltjens > Biography: From home to boarding school

The house and shop of Beltjens in the Limbrichterstraat, photographed ca 1935Charles Beltjens was born on 2 May 1832 in the Limbrichterstraat in Sittard. His father was a trader in household goods. Charles was a good student, and was already admitted to secondary school at the age of ten. He first went to school in Sittard, but was later sent to boarding school by his father, to preparatory seminary Rolduc near Kerkrade. The preparatory seminary had been opened to non-priest students, and had quickly developed a solid reputation among the citizenry. French was mandatory at this boarding school, not just during classes, but also among the students. Whoever was caught speaking Dutch or any dialect could expect to be disciplined.

Charles left the Rolduc preparatory seminary in 1849. Around that time, he composed his first French verses. The oldest surviving manuscript bears the title 'Deuxième cahier de poésies' and is dated 1851.
Back in Sittard, beautiful Isabella, doctor De Borman's youngest daughter, soon became an important source of inspiration for Charles. The doctor was, among other things, one of the city councillors, and he organised musical soirees regularly. Charles was sometimes invited to these, being an outstanding violinist. But the fiery romance that blossomed between Charles and his daughter did not meet with the physician's approval. The doctor was a man of high social standing who considered Charles an unfit match for his daughter. He forbade them to consort with each other any further.

From home to boarding school | Quest for identity | Posthumous recognition

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