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European fruits and vegetables in the greatest degree fection. The most ample supplies might here be obtained both for the building and equipment of our fleets, were not the poverty and ignorance of the inhabitants, and the treachery of the Regent, an insuperable bar to any such commercial speculations. No bargain can ever be made but in the presence and under the terror of a cousiderable naval force, a mode of dealing that, it may be readily conceived, in no small, degree enhances the price of whatever commodities may thus be obtained. It is questionable, indeed, whether a thorough revolution must not take place before we can drive an extensively advantageous trade with those countries;an event which, considering the present condition of this portion of the world, the general aspect of Europe, and the very slow pace, even under the most favoured circumstances, at which national improvement proceeds, can be viewed only at a very remote distance, In the mean time, however, the resources to be derived from these countries, may, no doubt, be rendered to a certain degree available. But to effect this purpose it seems absolutely necessary that the state of our diplomatic corps should undergo a considerable change. At present, we are informed, the salaries of the consuls resident at Tripoly and Tunis are not merely inadequate to support that imposing character which, to be efficient, an ambassador should assume, but even the rank and station of a private gentleman. The consequences of this parsimony are prejudicial to our interests in various forms. It compels our agents (in order to make some slight addition to their slender means) to engage in commercial adventures, and thus to become the slaves of the local government for the benefit of their own private speculations. Let it be considered too, that among these barbarians shew is every thing; and that their knowledge of foreign nations, is principally derived from these resident representatives, who by appearing thus destitute of the insignia of dignity and authority, are not very likely to impress any formidable idea of the power of those by whom they are sent out in a manner so little suitable to their station. The parsimonious allowance to this part of our diplomatic corps is the more singular, when contrasted with the enormous sums that are annually paid, as pensions of retreat, te persons who have been ambassadors to obsolete states. D'
Mr. Blaquiere displays a laudable earnestness in calling the attention of the British government, to repress the incursions, which, notwithstanding our immense naval superiority, are frequently made by these barbarians from the opposite coast; upon the shores of Sicily for the purpose of plunder.
The mode hitherto adopted (says Mr. Blaquiere) by the Barbary cruizers of disembarking on the coast of Sicily and its dependencies, requires to be noticed. Those enemies of the human race, availing themselves generally of the darkness of night, arm several boats, land in the vicinity of some unprotected village, and carry off whole families; these, on arriving here, are exposed to public sale in the market place, and bought by some proprietor whose hearts has never been warmed with any sentiment of benevolence; they are conveyed to a distant province, destined either to lead a life of miserable bondage, or, as more frequently happens, to fall under the stripes and oppression of a merciless master.' p. 123.
It is a singular and melancholy fact, that more captives have been made, and the general succeeses against Sicily greater, than at any former period since the island of Malta] has been in our possession.' p. 219.
The next place to which our author leads us is Malta. the importance of this station to British interests, and the policy of our conduct in regard to it (a discussion involving a consideration of some of the most intricate points of political economy) we have not at present time to enter. We shall content ourselves with following our author through the description he gives of the present state of the island. In circumference it is about sixty miles, twenty long, and twelve broad. At a distance it presents nearly a plain surface, its highest parts not rising more than 400 yards above the level of the sea. staple commodity is cotton: but of this the quantity cannot be very considerable, as we are told that one-third of the island, small as it is, is composed of waste land. This is in a considerable degree to be attributed to the wretched ignorance of the inhabitants, who, though they are several centuries behind us in the scientific and mechanical branches of agriculture, resist with the most perverse and persevering obstinacy every attempt to introduce among them European plants and modes of culture. Since the island has been under the British dominion, it does not appear that its population has experienced any increase except in the article of foreigners, who, as might be expected from Mr. B.'s description of the native islanders, have supplanted them in various branches of industry, and driven many into the church who would gladly have embraced a more active sphere of life. But if the Maltese owe us but little gratitude for the marked encouragement we hold out to strangers, (who are exempt from a variety of burthens that are imposed upon the inhabitants) they are indebted to us still less for any anxiety we have shewn to advance their moral improvement: on the contrary, says Mr. Blaquiere.
The degree of instruction has been very much curtailed; and as
if with an intention of precluding the possibility of this admirable institution (the Universata) being regenerated, nearly two-thirds of the edifice have been granted to the British merchants, for the purpose of forming an Exchange and Bank; thus making learning and morality subservient to commerce, which should, in the opinion of many, be regarded as a secondary object in legislation.' p. 293.
The comparatively uncivilized state of the Maltese peasantry, our author proceeds, may be easily conceived, when I inform you, that outside the walls of Valetta, there is not a single place of public or private tuition, if we except the convents, which are, of course, shut to those who do not inhabit them, yet how easily might this be remedied.' p. 295.
When glancing his eye over foreign countries, there is scarcely any topic upon which an Englishman is more apt to felicitate himself, than upon his laws. Whatever be the propriety of this congratulation, however, as it respects our own "happy island," we no not seem to improve matters greatly by taking the task of legislating into our own hands. At Malta the case is notoriously bad. According to our author, justice is little more than an empty sound, and the people have nearly forgotten that they were once governed by laws which secured property, punished crimes, and promoted that degree of confidence so necessary to the well being of a state.' He gives a great number of curious details on the subject, and inserts a letter addressed in 1812 by the commercial body of the island to the civil commissioner, in which is pointed out at considerable length the imperfections of the various parts of the Maltese code by which they are most peculiarly afflicted. If this representation be not excessively overcharged (and we observe no ground for supposing it to be so) the state of the law in these islands calls aloud for a prompt and thorough reformation. In a country subject to the British government by which the effect of publicity in judicature is so duly appreciated, it is scarcely credible that justice should still be suffered to be administered in secret. Yet such is the fact:
In addition to the imperfections of the code,' say the remonstrating merchants, we have a mass of objectionable matter to enter upon in the method of conducting a process, chief evils are the correspondentive way of carrying on a suit, and consequent multiplicity of voluminous writings; the want of oral proceedings; of confrontation of parties; and due examination of witnesses. More fully to explain this subject, it will be necessary to give some detail of the method of conducting a suit at law. The plaintiff after the citation, which is answered by a written paper, makes out the ground of his complaint in a document called the Scrittura,' this is deposited with the actuary of the consolato del mare,' and the same " is imparted to the defendant in a notice of scrittura presentata,' which is to be seen by him in order to form the answer. In this stage of VOL. X.
the cause, the reciprocal correspondence may go on, in charges and replies almost indefinitely, but the party aggrieved, anxious for redress, soon makes out the notice entitled 'conchiuso in causa,' intimating that the scrittura' go up to the judge; these papers then contain the matter upon which the judge forms his opinion, and they are taken to his dwelling house; where the parties, or their advocates, severally and alone, visit him for the purpose of explaining and urging their cause.' pp. 310, 311.
The decision, however, when thus obtained, is not final. An appeal is allowed to a superior court, where all the delays in the subordinate undergo a repetition and extension, and it repeatedly happens that from the expence that is thus occasioned, the whole of the subject matter of litigation is swallowed up by fees to justices and law agents. With such a prospect before them, however clear the right may be, it is not surprising that people are frequently deterred from seeking protection from the law, choosing rather to suffer the oppression of individuals than be exposed to systematic plunder by the judicial tribunals. Nor is this all. Not only are the rights of property thus subjected to violation, but personal liberty seems equally insecure, at least where the persons exercising the right of government conceive themselves in any way interested.
From the extreme promptness," (says Mr. Blaquiere) and severity with which offences, tending to interfere with the civil government authority, have on several occasions been punished by the courts of law, it would appear that the original code is by no means so defective as some imagine. In a recent instance there was an English merchant, of the utmost respectability, who happened to give some trifling offence to a late public secretary. He was immediately sent for to the palace, on a pretence that the civil commissioner wished to see him on arriving there the commissioner was reported to be absent, and when about to return home it being Sunday, a party of soldiers seized him in the porch, and lodged him in the guard house all night; he was next day conveyed to the prison, from whence he could not get out until after paying a large fine and making the amende honourable to the Governor's Secretary, &c. His process, it should be added, was concluded in six days! Bail to any amount was offered in this case but without any effect.'
Malta having been considered of so much importance as a naval station, an attempt has been made to form an tablishment there, not only for the repairs but for the building of ships. On this point it is obvious to remark, that whatever establishments of almost any description are formed at a distance from the seat of controul, it is impossible that the checks can be prompt and efficient, how
ever judicious may be the system of general regulations. Abuses will be sure to creep in, and impair, if they do not counterbalance the advantages that in other shapes might be supposed to be available. In an island, circumstanced like Malta, particularly where the administration of the government, except in cases where the personal interests of its functionaries is immediately concerned, is peculiarly lax, the danger of abuse is much increased. But even supposing this objection to be removed by some unwonted exercise of skill, it is still a question whether the expence of constructing the necessary works for forming a Dock-yard, together with the high price that labour must bear when imported thither from this country, and the increased costliness of nearly all the necessary materials, might not very fairly be set against the trouble and delay of performing the repairs in our own dock-yards. By the death of Mr. Bray, the person whom government had entrusted with the formation of the necessary works, the progress of this project has been for the present suspended, and we cannot but express a hope that before it is resumed some enquiry will be entered into respecting the probable profit of its completion.
Timber seems to be the only important naval commodity that is likely to be obtained at a cheaper rate in the neighbourhood of Malta than in England. But in estimating the price of this, as of other articles, all the contingencies by which it is liable to be enhanced, must be taken into the account.
"We have not as yet availed ourselves (says our author) of half those resources which might be drawn from surrounding countries, partly owing to the state of the war, but much more so to bad management. Larger quantities of timber might, with the utmost facility, be procured from the Adriatic, Albania, the Morea, and even Caramania, which has not been yet tried, but the charge of getting it has hitherto unfor tunately fallen upon persons who were above all others, the worst calculated to succeed in any undertaking that required a talent for negociation. In one instance which occurred within my own recollection, and while Captain Percy Frazer was naval commissioner here, there were above thirty thousand dollars embarked on board a foreign mer chant ship, entrusted to the care of a Mr. Laird, who had been British consul at Ragusa, that gentleman proceeded to Durazzo, where, having quarelled with the Pacha, he was put under arrest; so that not above two or three cargoes at most have come from that port, whereas the money sent was nearly sufficient to purchase a whole forest. At another time, and while Commissioner F. was there, there was a person sent to the Morea, for the purpose of examining the quality of the timber there: he was an Englishman. totally unacquainted with the language, and set out from Petrass, determined, if possible, to execute the object of his mission; he was, however, scarcely three days absent when he lost his way, and being most severely