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are very wide of each other, our author estimates at 1,600,000, a very unaccountable diminution, it must be confessed, from the 5,000,000, that it is said to have contained in the days of Hiero and Timoleon. In regard to the climate, it is observed that, 'with the exception of mal-aria, it is equal to the finest in Europe :' but this exception forms a very material drawback; as not only the low grounds, but even towns built on the highest hills are sometimes affected by it.
In one village in particular, (Rucello di Termini) out of a population of three hundred and fifty souls, not one was free from the characteristic disorder : and, though nearly half of them were actually confined by it to their houses, yet such was their wretched poverty, that no medical assistance was to be had within the distance of fourteen miles.
The first place of which our author gives a description, is Palermo; the situation of which, in common with most of his travelling predecessors, he represents as being singularly beautiful,* while the condition of a large proportion of the inhabitants forms a melancholy contrast to the fair exterior.
• I have often heard,' (says he) of the Conco d'Oro, or Golden. shell, the appellation by which the poets of Sicily have long de signated the enchanting vale of Palermo : and I confess that the singular gratification I experienced on my first seeing that beautifully diversified scenery by which this capital is surrounded, far exceeded all I had been led to anticipate from the account of others.
• The town is built close to the sea with a luxuriant and extensive v plain, stretching on each side and ascending in the rear to the base of a lofty chain of mountains that form a semi-circle round the capital, containing a circumference of about forty miles. Mount Pelegrino rising majestically on the right, affords shelter from the northern blasts, and gives an uncommon degree of picturesque effect, while towards the East, Cape Zaffarano, the Bagaria, and the hoary Nebrodi covered with eternal snow, in the distance, form a picture which the hand of nature is alone capable of drawing.' Vol. I. pp. 36, 37.
Among the public establishments of Palermo (of which our author takes a comprehensive survey) is a public hospital upon a very ample scale. It is administered by a nobleman, a merchant, and two rectors, and all the inferior offices are filled by some capuchin friars. But notwithstanding it is situated in the most healthy part of the town, and near the royal palace, it is usual,' says Mr. B. for more than half of
* • Our readers may compare Mr. Blaquiere's account with that taken from Mr. Galt's Voyages and Travels in our Rev. for July, 1812.
the orphans to perish for want of cảre: this, it is said, had often been represented to the deputation appointed to govern the hospital, who are chosen by the senate, but no steps whatever have been taken to remedy so melancholy an evil.' This deplorable neglect does not appear to arise from any want of funds; for our author tells us, they are said to be very great--though all his attempts to obtain an exact account of the revenues of the establishment were ineffectual. The institutions for public education in Palermo are numerous, but unfortunately they are all of them under the direction of priests. The university is a sumptuous pile of buildings, but only one half of what was the original design has been completed : and though it appears to possess the materials for a good system of education, its spiritual superintendants take especial care that no other knowledge shall be acquired under their tutelage, than what may tend to the advancement of their own sinister views.
There are (says our author) professors here for every branch of science, a very large and extensive cabinet of curiosities, together with a collection of wax figures representing the most interesting anatomical preparations: the library is said to contain nearly 40,000 voluines, and many valuable manuscripts, but the regulations which admit strangers into this part of the institution, are loudly complained of by the inhabitants of Palermo, and I was confidently informed that if a literary character is so unfortunate as to want any book upon subjects not relating to religion, he is peremptorily refused the privilege of reading it; this arises from the libraries being invariably superintended by a priest.
• With respect to the mode of instruction, it appears that scholars of every age are admitted, by paying a certain sum annually, about seventy five dollars. The defects so remarkable in this establishment, are confined chiefly to the tutors being selected from the convents, and to the system of teaching latin, to the exclusion of more useful intruction. I may add for the information of the inquisitive, that neither English nor French is taught here, although I presume either one or the other would be infinitely more useful to the students than any of the dead languages.'
From Palermo our author proceeded to Messina. The number of public functionaries at this place seems worth remarking. Out of a population of 90,000 of which it is said Messina consists, ' the respective, civil officers and deputations which superintend the public establishments, are not fewer than 300;'
sufficient, as our author observes, one would imagine, to administer the affairs of a kingdom. After this statement we are little surprised to find that there is no populace in Sicily more dissatisfied with its local administration than the Messinese.
Quitting Messina, our author arrived at Çatania, with the fine situation of which he was greatly delighted ;-and indeed he recommends it, beyond all other spots in Sicily, as a place of residence for those who may design to remain any time in the country.
• In closing (he says) this short account of Catania, I ought to add that the state of manners in that town are infinitely superior to what they are in any other part of Sicily : the rules of strict politeness, true hospitality and social intercourse are so rigidly attended to that it would be very unjust not to bestow on them that meed of praise which they so justly merit. While in Palermo you might imagine yourself in the midst of Carthaginians and Romans, from the low cunning and haughty pride of the people. You are led on entering Catania, to fancy yourself in the centre of a Grecian colony; and the being received in every society with a degree of attention and respect, seems the result of good education in those that manifest it, and is calculated to render the continuance of strangers highly agreeable here. There is throughout the year an unlimited intercourse, and the most pleasant parties formed, both in the town and country; at these the utmost decorum and regularity prevails, and instead of that fatal and vitiated disposition to gaming, see prevalent at Palermo and Messina, music and dancing are substituted The minor accomplishments are no less objects of solicitude with the Catanese than those of a more solid nature, and you enter into no society in which there is not found very fascinating personal beauty, combined with an elegance of manner and address, rarely to be met with in any country. There are very few of either sex who are not at an early age, iustructed in music, drawing, and dancing, and the solicitude with which mothers superintend the conduct and education of their daughters, might be held out at a lesson to some other countries.' Val. I. pp. 103—4.
In regard to the government of Sicily, though nominally the crown is subject to certain restrictions, it is, in effect, by corruption on the one hand and venality on the other, become an absolute monarchy. The parliaments which formed a part of the ancient constitution, and which operated as checks upon the supreme authority, have been converted into mere instruments for the more convenient and less offensive plunder and oppression of the people. To trace the various steps by which this revolution has been accomplished, however curious it might be, is however of less moment than to ascertain what remedy the acknowledged evils admit of, and to determine the means by which that remedy may with the least inconvenience be applied. The expedient which has been adopted by the ministry of this country for this purpose, is that of giving the Sicilians a constitution like our own, Considerable objections, however, have been started, by thinking persons both against the policy of the entire plan, and of the mode by which it has been attempted to be carried into execution. Leaving our right to legislate for Sicily out of the question, they accuse it of driving on with a headlong precipitancy, which childishly expects to find that accomplished by a single stroke which can only be the work of time and perseverance. Here are we endeavouring to introduce a constitution, the very vital principle of which consists in a due performance of the elective franchise, among à people who possess neither fit persons to act as electors nor persons fit to be elected! Whoever considers, for a moment, the state of the great mass of the people in Sicily, and even of the very highest classes, will inevitably come to this conclusion. For a man usefully to exercise the elective franchise, he must possess a competent knowledge of the true interests of the state, in order that he may ascertain whether the individual he has in view, as the object of his choice, is possessed of the essential pre-requisites for securing them. But how can this be expected of the Sicilian people? Not only are they not encouraged to aim at this knowledge, "but, according to Mr. Blaquieres, they are purposely and studiously kept from the means of acquiring it. From their wretched' debarred of poverty, from the apparent total want of any accessible means of education, and by the restrictions imposed on the press, the lower classes, are kept, throughout the country, in the most profound ignorance : and in such a state is the education of the higher classes, that the priests by whom this important instrument of national happiness is almost entirely monopolized, take the most effectual measures for keeping out of the hands of their pupils books upon any other subject than those relating to the Catholic superstition. It seems therefore sufficiently plain that, before we can reasonably look for any radical amendment in the condition of the Sicilian people, we must begin with a system of general education. The people must be taught what they ought to be, before they can become so. Any such operation as this, however, besides being attended with considerable diffieulties, and requiring somewhat longer time for producing visible fruits than is likely to be bestowed on it, is not a boon, we fear, that the people of Sicily can calculate upon receiving at the hands of our government. It would be utterly inconsistent with the genius of our plans. The credit of a measure must be immediate, or it is not attempted: for what ministry would lay the foundation of a plan which is only gradually to ripen into
perfection, and the glory of which will be reaped by their successors who are probably their political enemies?
The idea of conferring upon the Sicilians a parliament similar to that of Grcat Britain, probably arose from their already possessing assemblies bearing that name, though they have little more in common than this sameness of denomination. It consists of three branches.
The ecclesiastical branch, at which the archbishop of Palermo presides, is composed of archbishops, bishops, abbots, and priors. The military branch is composed of titled barons, those who possess fiefs, and all who are subject to military service. The demesnial branch consists of deputies from the universities, cities, and lands subject to the regal authority, and is presided at by the pretor of Palermo.' Vol. I. p. 223.
These assemblies were appointed to meet a year, and the members of each branch sat (without any annoyance from strangers) in three separate chambers. The parliament was opened by the king, or bis viceroy.
• The address, (our author observes) generally consisted of the usual compliments from a sovereign to his people, and concluded with a recapitulation of his pecuniary wants.
These being. settled between the respective branches, and the supplies voted, they then proceeded to state the grievances and difficulties under which the country laboured; and drew up statements called, Grazie concordat domandati (favours unanimously demanded ;) these were generally written in a very spirited stile, and contained whatever the body wished to say relative to the abuses, also suggested remedies, improvements, &c. These were signed and registered by the prothonotary and transmitted to the king, who sent his answers back through the viceroy, or governor of the island for the time being. But the most important parliamentary privilege remains to be mentioned. This is the practice of electing four members from each branch, which gives a species of un. interrupted perpetuity to the body. They are chosen at the end of every meeting and are entitled, the deputation of the Kingdom (Deputazione del Regno); these having a suitable number of officers and attendants, enforced and superintended the levying of taxes, and all other subjects connected with the duties of the three estates*. Vol. I. p. 227.
* It is very remarkable that no person holding a place or enjoying a pension under the government can sit in the parliament. This admirable rule was over scrupulously attended to, except in one instance, and that was only for a very short period. It is said, however, that the first step of the present minister was to procure an order from the executive government of Sicily to dispense with that restrictive rule, that they might sit in the next parliament and influence its deliberations. Şhould such an event take place