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of the forests in the Neapolitan dominions. The
abolition of the feudal system, the sale of the pos-
sessions of the convents and the domains, as well as
many other laws, could not fail to have great influ-
ence on agriculture. Thus, for instance, a great
deal of landed property was transferred from the
hands of indolent people of quality into those of
active persons, and the number of independent
proprietors increased. Numberless services and
restrictions were put an end to, and hence arose the
possibility of a more free application and greater

This new liberty again had its dark side, not
only in regard to the destruction of wood, which I
shall notice presently, but in many other respects.
Thus the new owners were frequently in want of
the requisite capital; they fell into the hands of
usurers and speculators, and were soon obliged
to dispose of their recently-acquired property.
Wealthy purchasers, on the other hand, who could


not or did not choose to manage their estates them-
selves, trusted to incompetent persons, and thereby
frequently sustained a loss that deterred them from
further attempts.

Economical societies which were established were
not wholly unproductive of beneficial effects, but
could not conquer the repugnance of the great to
study agriculture, and to pursue it themselves.
Hence a writer of this country* observes : " The
country life, as it is called, of the Neapolitans
consists merely in breathing a different air and
spending more money than in the city. More
numerous parties, more ruinous play, more magni-
ficent entertainments, more expensive diversions,
in every thing the reverse of what country life
ought to be — in such things it is that the vil-
legiatura consists." Goldoni has represented and
satirized this perverted practice in much the same

As the right mode of managing the estates of
the nobles has not yet been discovered, so the ma-
nagement of the property of the communes still
leaves much to be desiixd. At any rate, the laws
and the custom of letting them for a short time is
attended with considerable disadvantages ; and, be-
sides, they generally gel into the hands of the per-
sons who have the greatest influence in the place,

• Gala lit i, Napoli,22(i.

M 5


and who exert it in their own favour, or in that of

Peace and war, internal disturbances, want of a
market, &c., have likewise operated detrimentally
on agriculture, and not less so the vacillating prin-
ciples concerning the corn-trade. Hence Pecchio
says:* "In Tuscany and Lombardy, the happy
perseverance of writers has produced a more liberal
legislation on the corn trade; but in the kingdom
of Naples, the old prejudices continued unconquer-
able. From 1401 to the end of the l8th century,
the trade in corn was always conducted there on
false principles. All sorts of the worst restrictions
and precautionary measures succeeded one another;
magazines, depots, the farming of the trade in
bread and flour, fixed prices for corn, &c. — and
the inevitable consequences were scarcity, dearth,
and the dechne of agriculture."

The government long conceived that the best way
to counteract these evils was to command accurate
statements to be rendered of all existing stocks, and
to fix how much each was at liberty to sell, and
how much he was required to store away. This
system gave rise to numberless checks and restric-
tions, and the upshot of all these efforts was — arise
in the price of bread. Though many errors of this
kind were relinquished, nay, though at times the
corn-trade was suddenly thrown quite open, fresh
• Storia dell' economia pubblica, p. 226.


apprehensions continually arose, and the import and
export of horses, horned cattle, oil, and corn, were
(even down to the present day) sometimes allowed,
at others prohibited, which unsettled state of things
opposes prodigious obstacles to the execution of
agricultural plans.*

It was in Sicily, in particular, that the establish-
ment of general corn-magazines, {caricatoji), long
found strenuous advocates, and it was not till very
recently, as I shall show bye-and-bye, that it was re-
linquished ; now, on the other hand, houses for
lending money upon corn, {monti Jrumentarii) are
in great vogue. The communes usually raise, by
means of additional centimes to the land-tax, a ca-
pital for the purchase of corn, which is advanced
to the poor for seed, and repaid at harvest-time,
with an increase of about six per cent. In this
way, it is true, an urgent extraordinary necessity
may sometimes be relieved ; but, upon the whole,
the proceeding is too complicated, tedious, and
costly ; besides, such a practice has in general the
effect of discouraging a disposition to economy and
foresight, and of leading men to the consumption
beforehand of the growing crop, instead of defray-
ing the current expenses out of the savings of the

The debts in which most of the nobility are in-

♦ Agriculture is nevertheless in the mostflourisliing s^tate in
«>me pai to of the kingdom, for instance in Terra di Lavoro.


volved, operate in a similar manner ; nay, through
their own fault and defective laws, they are almost
without credit. If the nobility are too idle or too
proud to follow professions which produce and
bring in something ; if other classes outstrip them
in this respect, while they continue to live beyond
their income — their ruin must be inevitable. The
laws relative to mortgages, valuations, sales by
auction, are so one-sided and defective, the pro-
ceedings against debtors so difficult and dilatory,
that capitalists a re shy of lending money on landed
property. Or such incredibly high interest is paid,
that no sort of employment of the capital can make
a return for it, A loan institution, on the plan of
the Prussian, and conducted with due caution,
could not fail to be of the greatest benefit to the

The suppression of the feudal system and feoff-
ments of trust, the sale of the domains and of mo-
nastic property, the division of the lands of the
communes, &c., proved, as 1 have observed, ex-
tremely beneficial to industry and agriculture :
they led, at the same time, to the felling of woods
and the conversion of the land to tillage. It is
true that many of them were managed in the
worst manner, or wholly unproductive ; it is true
that the turning them into tillage was in many
places a permanent advantage. But in the years
between 1807 and 1811 most people thought only


of the coming day and of immediate profit ; hence
the reckless felling of timber, and the introduction
of tillage in tracts lately occupied by forests, and
mostly situated on hills^ The mischievous conse-
quences were but too soon apparent. After a few
favourable harvests, the soil, left unmanured, was
found to be exhausted ; it was exposed to the re-
doubled violence of storms and torrents of rain,
sudden inundations and long drought, failure of the
springs, the washing away of the mould, the rolling
down of stones, to the great injury of the lands that
lay below.

For these and such like reasons it was at first
forbidden to turn the sites of woods into tillage
without permission ; and a still more general law
was issued on the 18th of October, 1819, by which
the superintendence over all the forests in the king-
dom (of course those belonging to the king, the
churches, the communes, and private individuals)
was committed to a special board, subordinate, how-
ever, to the ministry of the finances and the inte-
rior. No proprietor of forests, it is further said,
shall fell timber without permission, or break up
the ground either for tillage or for new plantations.
The conversion of the ground to the purposes of
tillage shall only take place,

1. When the site is so level, or has so little slope
that there is no reason whatever for apprehension
on account of the lands and roads situated below it ;


2. When the extent of the woodland is insigni-
ficant, when it is separated from other woods, and
is surrounded by land in tillage ;

3. When the soil appears to be permanently fer-
tile ; and

4. When the province abounds in timber.

This law found many panegyrists, but likewise
many opponents. People complained of useless re-
quisitions, erroneous premises, vexatious inter-
ference with property ; hence the efforts to keep
secret what was done, to hold back evidence of
transgression, to quash the sentence against con-
victed persons.

A new law of the 21st of August, 1826, was
issued to put an end to tliese complaints and abuses.
The superintendence of the authorities over private
woods was, therefore, limited solely to the preser-
vation and improvement of them, and the duty,
which the government had previously levied on the
fall of private timber, as a compensation for the
costs of management, was remitted. Woodland
shall not be tilled without permission ; and this
shall not be granted for plots which have a rapid
declivity. Woodland which has been turned to
tillage with or without permission, since 1815, shall
be again planted wnth trees, if the site is steep and
injury arises from the change to the lands situated
lower down. The same must be done if the con-
version to tillage took place before 1815, and the


owner fails within two years to point out means for
preventing the threatened mischief. The forest
officers make the necessary inquiries on the subject ;
but the intendant decides respecting tillage or plant-
ing. Forests which are not yet divided, and are
become absolutely free property, (whether belong-
ing to churches, foundations, communes, or private
persons,) remain under the superintendence of the
state, and are treated and managed as woods of the
state. Irregular falls of wood shall no where take
place, and minute directions relative to their time
and extent, pasturage, &c. shall be enforced.

This law seems calculated to remedy many evils.
It is likewise asserted, (and, it is to be hoped, truly,)
that the cleared ground may be again planted and
covered with wood at a small expense, if only the
cattle, and especially the goats, are kept long enough
from the hills. The immoderate conversion of
woodland to tillage seems now to be checked, but
by no means the immoderate felling of timber.

It is wrong to assume that no want of wood can
take place, because it will always be produced in
proportionate quantity to the demand: for this pro-
duction requires many years ; whereas the owner
derives more profit from cutting it down than from
sacrificing his momentary advantage to the interests
of posterity and the general welfare.

Nay, it is maintained that this well-meant law has
had a directly contrary result, and afforded occa-


sion for procuring a sort of authorization of the
grossest abuses from thoughtless or interested
officers. The very government (in contradiction
with itself) even furnishes occasion for the destruc-
tion of a great deal of wood, since, for instance, it
lays a heavy duty on the importation of coal, or
prohibits the exportation of ship-timber, which is
then used for fuel or for making charcoal, to the
diminished profit of the owner.


Naples — The Domains — The Tavohere in Apulia — Roads —
Commerce — Prince of Cassaro.

Naples, July 15th.

To the preceding accounts I subjoin to-day some
particulars concerning the management of the do-
mains and the very peculiar Tavoliere of Apulia.

Immediately after the accession of Joseph to the
throne, a new board was instituted for the domains,
and the management, not only of the estates of the
crown, but of all vacant church property and all
the possessions of the dissolved monasteries, was
assigned to it. 'J^he domains were sold or let at a
rent, or farmed to the highest bidder. In the latter
case the produce was calculated according to the
amount last given, or by the land-tax, or by the
income of the last two years.


The Tavoliere of Apulia is a mostly level plain
belonging to the crown, of about 74 Italian square
miles, (about 4| German, and 95 English) which
has for ages been used only for pasturage, nay, was
not allowed to be applied to any other purpose. So
far back as 1447, Alphonso I. issued circumstantial
laws relative to the division of the ground, the levy
of rents, the number of the cattle to be driven upon
it, superintendence, mortgages, authorities, &c. In
summer, the herds generally ascended into the
Abruzzi, and in winter they went down again into
the Tavoliere, whereby (as in Spain) much injury
was done to husbandmen and proprietors. Frequent
but unsuccessful attempts were made to remedy
these evils ; but upon the whole the old system was
retained, according to which the use of the ground
was always farmed for one year (or in more recent
times for six years) for depasturing cattle, and every
species of tillage was forbidden. Petitions to per-
mit the latter have been invariably rejected ever
since the time of Charles V., upon different pretexts,
for instance, because then the capital would run
short of butchers' meat, and the just proportion
between cattle-breeding and tillage be destroyed.
Such continued to be the compulsory application of
a tract of land in Europe, as though it had been
one of the steppes of Asia ; and the transition from
the pastoral life to agriculture, or the combination


of the two modes of life, was regarded as a retro-
grade step and a folly.

At all this the French could not fail to take great
offence, and so early as the 21st of May, 1806, a
law was issued which completely changed the state
of the Tavoliere. Instead of the farming for a time,
a fixed rent was to be substituted, and the same was
to be paid at certain periods, calculated at four per
cent, on the capital. Every one was allowed to
apply the land to pasturage or tillage, just as he
pleased. The last-mentioned circumstance and the
transition from insecure possession for a time to
fixed property were a praiseworthy emancipation
and an essential improvement. But even in this
measure compulsory clauses sufficiently betrayed
interested motives. Yet these appeared in a much
worse shape, in a shape that totally destroyed all
the good recently effected, when the rent to be
paid was increased in various ways to such a degree
that a carro, which till then had in fact paid but
24 dollars, was required to pay 66, including the
new ground-rent. Whoever did not within 20
days declare his willingness to accept all these con-
ditions was to forfeit his right and be put out of
possession. Necessity, fear, habits, new and ex-
aggerated hopes, silenced almost all opposition.

Till the restoration of King Ferdinand, however,
partition, cultivation, and improvement, had not
made the expected advances ; and for this state of


things numberless reasons were assigned and num-
berless remedies proposed, only not the right reason
and the right remedy.

On the 13th of January, 1817, appeared a new
law relative to the Tavoliere, which abolished all
that was sensible and beneficial in the former one,
and retained, or even aggravated, all that was absurd
and detrimental. The permission to acquire full
property and credit by a redemption of the rent
was repealed ; the permission to cultivate the land
as the occupant pleased was repealed : on the other
hand, the unreasonably high rent was not only re-
tained but even raised. In order to keep up the
due and natural proportion between pasture and
arable land in the kingdom, no one was ever to till
more than a fifth part of his land, upon the penalty
of paying a tenfold rent. Whoever had done this
(under the sanction of the former law) was declared
an illegal possessor, &c.

A minute analysis of the law would prove how
justly Matteo de Augustinis says of it, that it is a
shapeless mass of prescripts which betray ignorance
of all true theories of administration and political

The distress and the complaints in the Tavoliere
kept continually increasing, so that the government
at length applied to various persons for their opinions.
The numerous printed works on this subject prove
the sincerity of the writers, and, in this particular


case, the liberality of the censors ; but their intrin-
sic value differs exceedingly. While some of those
publications display correct scientific views and great
practical knowledge, others have not yet advanced
to the rudiments of the theory, and descant on
what are proposed as practical plans, though mani-
festly impracticable, nay even absurd. 'J'hus some
are of opinion that the owners of the land should
first drain it, plant trees, purify the air, build houses,
stables, and cattle-sheds, to pattern, and then apply
for permission to till the ground. This permission,
they say, can only be granted when the mathema-
tical and necessary proportion between pasture and
arable land is not likely to be deranged, and it is
found that the future improvement will not produce
deterioration in other places. And this stupid in-
terference is recommended by people who talk at
the same time of extension of liberty !

Let every one do what he pleases with his land,
let him redeem his rent or not as he thinks proper :
general calculations of the supply of butchers' meat
required by Naples, and the quantity which the
Tavoliere should be bound to furnish, are silly and
ridiculous. That improved agriculture increases
the number of cattle seems to have escaped the
penetration of those Solomons ; and still less do
they seem to have considered that every occupant
of land arranges the due proportion of both branches
better than a central board in the capital.


So long ago as 1 832, the proportions had been
scientifically so well discussed and practically so
completely demonstrated that an essential modifi-
cation and improvement might and ought to have
been made in the mischievous law. Nothing, how-
ever, was done, and the Tavoliere is still in the
same wretched condition as ever. A bank esta-
blished in 1834, for the purpose of lending money
to landowners there at the rate of 6 to 7 per cent,
has neither relieved them nor done any good for
itself; and this certainly tends to illustrate the
main point, the noli me tangere — namely : —

1. That unless occupants are permitted to apply
the land to what purpose they please, and to redeem
the rent, no real improvement can take place ; and

2. That, before these amendments, no landowner
in the Tavoliere can obtain money upon mortgage
or loan, so long as

S. The unjustly imposed and exorbitant rent is
continued. Unless a reasonable reduction, suited
to circumstances, take place, the occupant will al-
ways find a want of advances and capital, and the
creditor of security.

Notwithstanding the just censure which must be
pronounced on this and on many other things, even
rigid critics admit that, since 1806, agriculture, the
rearing of cattle, manufactures, trade, roads, &c.,
are essentially improved — a consequence of the na-
tural quality of the land, of native industry, of


peace, and of the legislation. The latter, however,
has sometimes fallen into great errors, and some-
times even nursed and cherished these with particu-
lar fondness. But it is true that the plans and
views of those who are out of the sphere of admi-
nistration, and supply it with good advice, are by
no means always consistent. The same man, for
instance, who complains that the breed of sheep is
no longer improved by the importation of merinos,
hopes to improve that of horses by a prohibition to
import those animals, and thanks the government
for having issued such a prohibition.*

In like manner very many (and particularly the
government in fixing the rates of duties) entertain
the erroneous opinion, that high protecting duties
and monopolies alone can give prosperity to native
manufactures. Of the great experiments proving
the very reverse, which have of late been made in
Prussia and in Germany, people here either do not
know, or will not know, any thing. The cloth,
cotton, and iron manufactures, (conducted mostly
by foreigners,) have recently made advances, partly
it is true by artificial means and at the cost of the
purchasers, of whom, perversely enough, the Nea-
politan legislators invariably think much less than
of the sellers.

' So high a duly is irrationally imposed on the importation
of foreign machinery, that a plough or a spinning-wheel is
not to be procured without great expence and annoyance.


It is well known how deficient the Neapolitan
dominions were till lately in good practicable roads
— a consequence in part of supineness and inactivity.
But, on the other hand, it must not be forgotten
what great difficulties there frequently are here to
contend with — intersected ground, few plains, no
long ridges of hills or valleys, but all up and down,
clumps of hills, deep ravines, mountain torrents,
&c. At length science has gradually learned to
conquer these obstacles : formerly many errors pre-
vailed, and much money was thrown away. Thus
some of the older roads are too steep and carried
right across mountains, on which account heavy
loads cannot be transported upon them. Prejudice
and self-interest, moreover, produced their obstruc-
tions : thus, for instance, most were desirous that
a road should run very near to their lands, but yet
not touch them. Lastly, too much regard was paid
to the line of the old roads, and the situation of old
inns. There are three sorts of roads : 1, Such as
are constructed and maintained at the king's ex-
pence, for instance, those to Rome, Apulia, the
Abbruzzi, Calabria ; 2, provincial, constructed at
the expence of the provinces ; 3, communal roads.
Frequently, when the province has constructed a
road, government has undertaken to maintain it.
This maintenance is usually farmed out upon certain
conditions, but it is not usual to levy any toll.

Before 1806, almost all the commerce was carried


on in Genoese and French vessels. It was rarely
that Neapolitan ships ventured beyond a coasting
voyage, so far as Dalmatia, and never out of the
Mediterranean. Now they sail to the Baltic, nay,
even to America and the East Indies. In place of
the numberless inconvenient petty tolls on naviga-
tion and commerce, a simpler and more sensible
system of taxation was adopted. Respecting the
tonnage of the Neapolitan shipping in former and
later times, statements differ widely : to a certainty
it has much increased. During the year 1838, the
number of vessels that sailed from Naples was
1215 ; of these 976 were Neapolitan, 81 French,
34 Tuscan, and 92 English.

The commercial treaties formerly concluded on
erroneous and now antiquated principles, need revi-
sion and modification ; for instance the clause grant-
ing to England, Spain, and France, a remission of
10 per cent, on all commercial duties ; which indeed
would be the very reverse of a preference to natives,
if the Neapolitan government had not endeavoured
to favour them still more in another way.

In the recent negociations respecting the modifi-
cation of the system hitherto prevailing, and the
conclusion of a commercial treaty with England, all
the old prejudices have again been broached, and
all the old errors defended, though long since refuted
by solid science and comprehensive experience. So
much the greater merit has that illustrious states-


man, who has the patience and courage to cleanse
this Augean stable, and to lead his fellow country-
men into a new and more prosperous track. He
has victoriously demonstrated — 1. That the former
treaties with France, England, and Spain, as well
as the advantages and premiums granted to natives,
were injudicious and detrimental, and that the ad-
vances of commerce were not owing to them, but
in spite of them ; 2, that those treaties are unfair to
other powers, whose flags are scared away (to the
injury of the producers,) and call for reprisals (to
the injury of the merchants) ; 3, that it is unjust
and at the same time silly, to strive to make a pro-
fit in commerce solely by injury done to others and
by monopoly ; 4, that now-a-days the outdoing
others in duties, chicanery, and taking advantage,

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