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cessions of country-people) is the population of
the towns. Smith, in his Travels in 1824, gives the
following, perhaps not quite authentic, amounts :
Taormina 3500, Bronte 9000, Alicata 11,000,
Castrogiovanni 11,000, Monreale 12,000, Syracuse
13,000, Piazza 13,000, Acireale 14,000, Girgenti
15,000, C:;itanisctta 16,000, Caltagirone 20,000,
Marsala 21,000, Modica 21,000, Trapani 25,000,
Messina 61,000, Catanea 74,000, Palermo 180,000
— and these amounts had since increased, till the
cholera came and thinned them. To this increase
have certainly contributed the abolition of restric-
tive monopolies and guilds, the diminution of the
influence of the high nobility, the rise of the inferior
nobility and of the third estate, the suppression of
oligarchical communal administrations, &c. Ter-
* Karaczay, Mauiiel du Voyageur.


mini, for instance, which formerly had no income
from its communal property, in 1821 received an-
nually 80 ounces;* Marsala, instead of 30, receives
300; Mazara, instead of 31, now has 31 S, &c.
This was partly a consequence of pasture-jurisdic-
tions, partly of other measures, by which interested
lettings were rendered difficult or impracticable.

It is considered by many as an important privi-
lege that Sicily is not subject to any compulsory
levy of soldiers ; and yet the want of all military
training ought rather to be regarded as an essential
loss. This privilege certainly led to the enlisting
of dissolute persons and to the sending over of
many Neapolitans, especially military officers, to
Sicily. The Neapolitans insist too that towards the
yearly supply of 8000 men Sicily ought by i-ight
to furnish 2000 ; that this unjust privilege of course
increases the Neapolitan burdens, inasmuch as 2000
more men are obliged to serve as soldiers, or to pay
a high price for substitutes. To these complaints
the Sicilians reply that such a calculation is unfair,
because it treats rights of the highest antiquity as
though they had never existed. In the course of
time, rejoin the Neapolitans, unjust privileges of
this kind, which tend to weaken, nay even to
ruin, the state, must be abolished, and a uniform
social life commenced.

This is the proper place for passing to another
* An ouiice is abuut iUs. English iiiuuey. — T.


point of contention — the gendarmerie and police.
In the year 1833 a law was issued relative to the
formation of a body of watchmen for the internal
safety of Sicily. In proportion to the population,
from 30 to 200 were to be elected in every town
from among the civil officers, proprietors, capitalists,
shopkeepers, and others of reputable character.
They serve gratuitously, and at their head is a cap-
tain appointed by the intendant. The election
takes place through a committee consisting of the
judge of the place, the burgomaster, the clergyman,
and two decurions chosen by the intendant. Every
ten days at furthest, from 3 to 12 persons take upon
them the night-watch, and render assistance where-
ever it seems necessary for the preservation of the
public peace.

On occasion of a new organization of the gendar-
merie in Naples, these regulations were modified in
certain points by subsequent laws of 1837 and 1838;
the armed companies, as they were called, were dis-
solved in Sicily, and the whole protective police was
placed in the hands of tlie gendarmerie.

Those companies were established nearly one hun-
dred years ago, for the safety of persons and pro-
perty in the country, and improved in 1812. At
the head of each was a captain, who chose his men
at pleasure, and who was bound to make compen-
sation for all robberies and thefts committed in the
day-time on the high roads within his district. The


companies were paid out of the public coffers. So
far back as 1816 the gendarmerie began to perform
the same kind of duty along with them, but they
have only just been abolished. The whole institu-
tion, said its adversaries, originated in a time when
the government was weak, no central point existed,
and too much was left to the communes. The new
institution has more general objects, and is not
intended merely to prevent the commission of rob-
bery and theft in broad day. It is destined to keep
every one, both by day and by night, within the
bounds of legitimate order, which the SiciHans have
of late but too frequently overstepped.

The Sicilians, on the contrary, complain in this
manner. The old institutions attained the end ; the
new must fail to do so. For the guarantee of
compensation for loss sustained through robbery,
theft, and the like, is at an end. Those hitherto
engaged in this duty were acquainted with the
people, their characters, connexions, retreats, con-
cealers, &c. — the Neapolitans sent hither know no-
thing about these matters, and wear themselves out
to no purpose, while robbery and plunder are gain-
ing the upper-hand. There was not the least cause
for these alterations, unless it were the intention to
annihilate whatever is Sicilian, and to cut out every
thing after the same pattern. To increase the evil,
the principal board of police for the whole island,
which sat at Palermo, has been dissolved, and every


intendant and subintendant has received orders to
place himself in immediate comQiunication with the
ministers. Hence not a creature knows anything of
matters beyond his own district, and a glorious era
is commencing for rogues and robbers.

These evils are the less likely to be remedied by
the administration of the laws, since the Sicilians
themselves acknowledge its defects, the superabun-
dance of lawyers, and the inordinate fondness of
their countrymen for litigation.


Sicily — Decline of its Prosperity — Trade — Commerce.

Palermo, August Stli.
When one speaks of the decline of a country,
one is accustomed to compare the present with the
nearest, or at least no very remote, period of the
past, and to investigate the cause of the more re-
cent evils, as well as to pronounce at whose door the
blame of them must lie. But the decHne of Sicily
commences with the wars against Carthage ; it dates
before the time of Verres. Since then there has
been a continual rising and sinking ; though the
country never again attained its first splendour, and
therefore chooses rather to view itself in reflec-
tion, and to seek food for the great national pride in
the past, rather than outdo that past, or at least to


equal it by the efforts of the present. That this
has not been done, and is not done, is the fault (so
say most Sicilians) of the vicious governments, and
not of individuals, or of the people. For my part,
however, I have always great scruples to set up such
an unqualified antithesis, such an abrupt separation,
and thereby to deny the reciprocal action and re-
action, as well as the participation in honour and
dishonour. Many things may be amended without
the interference of governments, and even a bad,
a partial government must be pleased with such
changes. The construction of roads, the founda-
tion of schools, the improvement of the condition of
the country-people, exemplary attention of the great
to agriculture, introduction of finer breeds of cattle,
more careful manuring, abolition of many evils of
the feudal system, transition from short to longer
leases, division of common lands, the avoiding of
debts and of all needless lawsuits — these and many
other things of the kind, which one misses in Sicily,
where the country favoured by Nature has not kept
pace by any means with less favoured lands, have
not been prevented by the government, cannot be
prevented by any government. If then a little more
serious self-knowledge were associated with the com-
plaints of the Sicilians about their government, and
activity were to rise to the acquisition of new laurels
for themselves, the country and the people would be


essentially bettered, and they might then oppose the
vicious laws with double right and double energy.

As my opinion, influenced by no partialities, as, I
may say, my conscience, has impelled me to pass this
judgment which may possibly offend many, so I will
now endeavour to show by two important matters
that the complaints of the government about the ob-
stinacy and the refractory spirit of the Sicilians like-
wise go a great deal too far, nay that the latter are
perfectly right in regard to essentials, though indi-
viduals may have suffered themselves to be hurried
into errors and perversities. I allude to the free
navigation {libera cabotaggio), as it is called, and the
trade in sulphur.

The undeniable truth that the combination of
agriculture, trade, and commerce has proved most
advantageous to many nations, could not pass unob-
served in Sicily, and the wish to move also in this
track was natural and commendable. It was not long,
however, before its governments fell into oft-refuted
and ever-recurring errors ; it wished suddenly to
create manufactures, for which capital, preliminary
practice, and many other requisites were wanting;
as all these efforts failed, it strove by excessively
protecting duties to cut itself off not only from
foreign countries but likewise from Naples; it for-
got, in extravagant zeal for a few favoured indivi-
duals, the prodigious burdens of those who were to
enrich the proprietors of factitious manufactories.


Many Neapolitans took up the same ground, and
wished in Uke manner to be protected against the
importation of Sicilian produce, for instance, wine
and corn.

Faulty as are the principles which the Neapolitan
government always applies towards foreign coun-
tries in regard to the system of duties, still it was
perfectly right when it resolved to break down all
barriers between Naples and Sicily, and to establish
a free trade. Those Sicilians, on the contrary, were
wrong who advocated the cause of a shackled trade,
and beheld in seclusion from all the rest of the world
the foundation of infinite prosperity ; they were
wrong, instead of urging the full application of the
principles of free trade, and the removal of indivi-
dual defects, to desire for their little island a conti-
nental system which must ultimately have cut off
village from village.

Just as erroneously did many Neapolitans refer
to the English corn-laws, in order to justify the pro-
hibition of Sicilian wheat, as did the Sicilians to
justify a prohibition of Neapohtan manufactures.
Those English laws serve rather to prove what
great pains it requires to bring back an artificial to
the natural state. Or, to take an example that
lies nearer at hand : — the increased duty laid on
Genoese paper has only produced a monopolistic
rise of the Neapolitan prices. The Genoese imme-
diately made cheaper paper boxes, got into their


hands the trade in southern fruits to Trieste, and,
owing to excessive protection, most of the Sicilian
houses were ruined.

Where then lies the fault, where the true ground
of complaint against the free trade established since
1824 between Naples and Sicily ? It lies in this,
that, notwithstanding all the high commendations of
liberty and equality, no such thing exists ; but that
a great many restrictions, mostly to the prejudice of
Sicily, are still in force. It is to this point that
attention should be directed, and the Sicihans must
insist on the thorough execution of the new system,
not (out of impatient despair) on a return to old
perversities, or even an aggravation of them.

Sicily then is injured, for example, inasmuch as
the Neapolitan government monopoHes (tobacco, salt,
gunpowder) prevent the export from Sicily to the
continent ; while there is no such bar to the intro-
duction of any Neapolitan produce into Sicily.
Sicilian wine, moreover, pays a considerable import
duty in Naples, but not the Neapolitan when it is
brought to the island. In justification of this pro-
ceeding, it is alleged that the Sicilian wine is better
than the Neapolitan and must therefore be more
heavily taxed. The Sicilians reply that their pro-
duce is less, though the expenses of production are
greater. By calculations of this kind one never
arrives at a simple, rational system of taxation ; on
the contrary, every different sort of wine (from the


Somma, Ischia, Capri, Calabria, &c.) must, in this
case, have its own particular rate of duty, and the
number of custom-house lines, blockades, or sur-
charges, be increased ad infinitum. ]\Iore stress
might be laid on the circumstance that the state
monopolies subsist only in Naples not in Sicily,
whence the latter country has the advantage in
another respect. On the other hand, it is a mistake
to assert that the wine-duty in Naples is merely a
city impost, as the state reserves by far the greater
part for itself.

As a further proof how far trade still is from
being free, 1 give you the following passage in a
letter from a person conversant with the subject :
" All foreign goods sent from Naples to Sicily pay
the whole duty a second time on their arrival, no
matter whether they have the leaden mark of the
king of Naples or not. Shipments from Sicily to
Naples are in the same predicament.

" The whole island pays ten per cent, less than
Palermo, the capital : but goods which have there
paid the 10 per cent, and are exported again, have
no claim to drawback.

" Articles not subject to the leading (jewelry,
for instance) pay every time on transmission from
Messina to Palermo the whole duty over again."



Sicily — Sulphur Trade and Sulphur Monopoly.

Malta, August 20th.

You recollect, no doubt, from your early days,
that it was formerly customary to give schoolboys
Latin passages in which all sorts of blunders were
purposely made in grammar and syntax, that they
mioht correct them and thence learn how Latin
ought not to be written. The same course seems
to have been pursued in Naples in the regulation of
the Sicilian sulphur trade ; it may be clearly shown
from the more recent laws and contracts, how, con-
sistently with true wisdom and experience, things
of this nature ought not to be managed and treated.
The contract between the government and the house
of Taix and Aycard is pre-eminently a monstrum
horretidum, higens, cui lumen ademptum^ such as
is scarcely to be matched in the modern financial
history of Europe. Charges of this kind are severe ;
but it will not be difficult to prove them.

Some years ago, when the price of sulphur, the
most important of the exports of Sicily, declined,
owing to various natural causes, all the sellers com-
plained, as usual, and many represented that the
government ought to do something for the purpose
of raising the price and the profit upon it, as though
any government can regulate the buying and selling


price of goods at pleasure Interested persons look
advantage of this error, and a M. Taix presented a
grand plan for affording relief to the sellers ; the
nature of it shall presently be explained. Though
Sicilian commissioners rejected this plan for very
good reasons, M. Aycard, nothing daunted, sub-
mitted a second and finally a third, in which he said
that it was foolish to allow the owners of sulphur
mines to exhaust them by working them immo-
derately ; that the state ought to interfere to cramp
self-interest, and to dispel the empty dream of free
trade. It ought to secure and maintain against
foreigners the monopoly of the sulphur trade, which
nature has given to the island. It would be advan-
tageous for Sicily to produce but little sulphur, and
for that little to obtain a high price. A private
commercial company could alone lead to this desi-
rable end, and Messrs. Taix, Aycard and Co.,
were willing, out of sheer generosity, to take upon
them so dangerous a business, and to construct
roads, dispense alms, compensate proprietors, and
found a mineralogical cabinet at Palermo, into the

Phrases and baits of this kind gained many un-
enlightened persons ; means of a different sort were
employed in other places ; an examination of the
matter in full council of state was avoided, and the
management of the affair was committed chiefly to
07ie minister.


Loud complaints were ritisecl athe same time in
Sicily against the mill-tax, which had recently been
very much increased, and certain persons solicited
its reduction, not from a sense of justice, or because
the revenue from it might be dispensed with, but
because it would then be no longer possible to avoid
the salto mortale for founding a sulphur company.

Accordingly, on the 27th of June, 1838, was
issued a royal ordinance signed by St. Angelo, the
minister, the preamble to which says : For the
benefit of our beloved subjects, in order to pay
debts in Sicily, to alleviate burdens, to diffuse great
wealth, and to call forth public works, which the
island has such need of, a contract is concluded
(without listening to plans of rights and privileges)
with Taix, Ay card and Co. for ten years, to the
following purport : —

1. As the great production of sulphur is the cause
of every calamity in Sicily, the same shall be re-
duced from 900,000 quintals to 600,000 per annum,
consequently diminished one third.

2. The average produce from 1834 to 1837
shall determine the quantity of the two thirds, be-
yond which no sulphur shall henceforth be allowed to
be raised.

3. The price at which the company buys and at
which it sells shall be officially fixed.

4. It pays to the king 400,000 Neapolitan ducats
per annum.


5. The proprietors have full and unlimited liberty
to sell their sulphur to whomsoever they please, and
to send it whither they will, in case they do not
choose to dispose of it to the company.

Thus favourably to liberty runs this clause in the
ordinance of the 27th of June, 1838, but in the
contract concluded by St. Angelo on the 8th of
August with Taix, after the word " company" is
inserted a single line — " provided that the owners
pay to the company 20 carlines per quintal."''

Such is the substance of a contract which (I re-
peat it) can scarcely be matched in the history of
finance. Though it needs no explanation, I cannot
forbear adding a few remarks.

1. It is true enough that the quantity of a pro-
duction may exceed the consumption and the de-
mand. The prices then fall, and this transient or
permanent sign serves to warn every intelligent pro-
ducer and maker to curtail the supply here and
there, more or less, or perhaps not at all, in the
prospect of a favourable change of things. In the
infinite variety of relations of persons and things,
it is only the individual who can form just con-
clusions on this subject ; and it is a palpable folly to
pretend to prescribe the course to be pursued by
numbers at one and the same time. Every regu-
lation of this kind rests on mere caprice, and always
shows something too much or too little.

2. It is one of the grossest errors to attempt to
VOL. II. p


increase the wealth of a people in commanding by
law the diminution of productions and industry.
The old fabulous story that the Dutch threw their
spices into the sea, in order to keep up their price,
is reduced to practice in our so-called enlightened
age, and upon a larger scale. To be consistent,
the government must, for the prosperity of Sicily,
limit also the production of wine, oil, wheat, &c.,
and all for the purpose of amassing wealth, paying
debts, and so forth. What conjuror, what oracle,
can have inspired and revealed the normal standard
of two thirds and one third ? If an English minis-
ter were to propose similar measures in regard to
the working of the coal mines, it would be thought
high time to send him to Bedlam.

3. One blunder leads to another. The average
produce of three years is to decide the future ex-
tent of the trade, without regard to good or bad
times, scanty or abundant capitals, without per-
mission to advance. As soon as the two-thirds, to
pound and ounce, are above ground, the business
must stand still ; nay, one-third of all the workmen
is, for the increase of wealth, suddenly thrown out
of bread, and almost forced by want to take up the
trade of robbing and stealing. The government
itself has undertaken the task of founding an inex-
haustible nursery of wretchedness and crime, and
the paltry profit is almost entirely swallowed up by
the regiments of soldiers that must be sent to Sicily


for the preservation of order. The more we enter
into detail the more conspicuous becomes the folly.
Thus an American house expended in the years
1834 to 1837 very large sums on opening sulphur
mines, but they have hitherto produced nothing.
And, according to the wise law, there is no better
prospect for the future. Of arbitrary proceedings,
concealment, fraud, impossibility of superintend-
ence, and redoubled distress of small proprietors,
only too man}' instances are enumerated.

4. How tyrannical and absurd it is to fix buying
and selling prices for years to come, every one
knows who has learned the a b c of national
economy ; and the company which imagined that
it had calculated so cleverly for itself may find at
last that it has miscalculated.

5. But if it should even make no profit whatever,
the 400,000 ducats which are taken from the pro-
prietors of sulphur mines, (in order to increase their
wealth,) would be a most oppressive and most un-
just tax. But one can scarcely tell whether the
most galling and intolerable part of the business
may not be this, that the man who drew up the
above law speaks with incredible hardihood of
hatred to rights and privileges, and eulogizes per-
fect freedom of trade, while he confers, in the 20
carlines per quintal, a monopoly upon the company,
and renders a free sale absolutely impossible for
every proprietor.

P 2


At the same time the company knows how to
evade purchasing at the fixed prices, attempts are
every where making to find sulphur out of Sicily,
and a discovery myde at Manchester already fur-
nishes a substitute for many purposes. In spite of
ail repentance and all changes, stupid rulers will in
a short time have so eifectually destroyed the chief
trade of Sicily, that this already so wretched and
discontented country will be past recovery. Averse
as I am to join in the too frequent complaints
against authorities, in this case boundless ignorance
is displayed ; or there might have been at the
bottom more reprehensible motives, on which people
in Naples and Sicily speak so loudly and so per-
sonally that I dare not venture to repeat what
they say.

But the Sicilians themselves are not blameless.
For though one may be disposed not to be too
severe upon many, because they were ignorant of
the genuine principles of political economy, yet
speedy experience and the outcry of the country
ought to have enlightened them. Instead of this,
however, not a few, belonging even to the first
families, presented to the king when in Sicily an
address of thanks for establishing the sulphur com-
pany. Whether then it were ignorance, error,
cowardice, flattery, interest, or all these put together
that led to this step, so much is certain that these
silly panegyrists have no right whatever to com-


plain, or the assailed rulers may scornfully hold up
to them their own hand-writing like a Medusa's
head. If, meanwhile, country and people sink
lower and lower, who cares for that ? Or those
who do care have no legal means of redress at their
command, and their sense of right will not permit
them to employ illegal ones.


Sicily — Corn Trade — Land-tax — Revenues and Expenditure
of Palermo and Messina — Foundling Hospitals.

Messina, August 23d.
What I have related to you in my last letter
alx)ut the sulphur monopoly far surpasses (a retro-
grade step of course) all the singularities and follies
that were formerly practised for the ruin of the
corn-trade, but gradually abolished. In the middle
of the month of August, namely, the authorities
formerly met, and decided what should be the price
of corn in the current year, how much the govern-
ment laid under embargo for the country, and how
much the local magistracy for the place, how much

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