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We are much mistaken if there be not more of mischief than is yet visible, and if the clamour of the few do not derive confidence from a general spirit of restlessness; which, if not soothed or repressed, may, at no great distance of time, ferment into faction more deep and dangerous than the present. Some general principles of government may be laid down, but very few indeed that are abstractedly applicable to all cases, and which do not require to be modified according to the genius of the people for whose benefit they are intended. To an inquiry therefore into what has led to the appearance of discontent, to which we have alluded; to a consideration of tre remedies which may be most capable of arresting its growth; in short, to any discussion of the present political state of Malta, we must bring a sufficient acquaintance with its former circumstances, and above all a knowledge of the genius and manners of its inhabitants. If therefore in the general view which we shall take of the island and things relating to it, we should enter somewhat into detail on this head, or dwell on traits which to some may appear trifling or perhaps ridiculous, we shall answer, that not only such an assemblage of features is absolutely necessary towards forming a fair picture of national character, either in a philosophical or political consideration of the subject, but that, in the latter point of view, such peculiarities are even sometimes individually of much more importance than the world might at first sight be disposed to admit.
Few, unfortunately very few and insufficient, are the sources from which we can hope to derive the information on the various heads under which Malta and its sister islands merit investigation; and we have selected the books before us, rather as a specimen of the class of works to which we would recur, than because they have fulfilled our expectations. The first, however, which is a succinct compilation from older authors, though superficial, contains some account of old Malta, and as full a description of its antiquities as will satisfy any but the professed antiquary. The second is passable as far as it goes, and though the author's place of superintendant of the Botanic garden in La Valletta is, necessarily, as nearly a sinecure as that of riding-master to the doge of Venice; he shews acquaintance with the state of cultivation, such as it is, and in proposing plans for its improvement, has interspersed his essay with some notices respecting the habits and character of the peasantry. The third, though its professions are not very large, amongst other things, (though the author seems to have forgotten his engagement,) undertakes to treat of manners. He has however failed not more egregiously in this than all other parts of his work; some of which, we will not say his supposed education, but mere common
sense and common observation would have been competent to execute with success. Those who have passed a winter in Malta, may judge of the accuracy of his notices on climate, by his remark on the rarity of rain during that season: those who have never travelled but on maps, will duly estimate his geographical information by his assertion, that Lisbon and Naples are the two most southerly parts of Europe; and an idea of the profundity and truth of his medical observations may be formed from his dictum, that society is of benefit to the invalid from its promotion of the cutaneous perspiration. For the stile, or rather idiom, it would shock 'brass-visaged barbarism' himself. But enough of the doctor! We pass to the work of Mr. Eton, formerly superintendantgeneral of the quarantine department in Malta; and if we could draw an omen from the title of the book, or the name and station of the author, this would be a happy ascent in the scale of publications, which we have chosen as subjects of review: but a strange fatality (may we escape its influence!) hangs over this subject; and Mr. Eton has disappointed us equally with the rest. His title is a mere cloak; as his book is a masked battery against the present form of government established in Malta, mounted with an old, rusty, unserviceable, and ill-directed artillery which, if it has not been shaken to pieces by its own fire, may be dismounted by a single hostile discharge. If the first works on which we have commented, were other than what they are, and if there was any thing like a redemption of the promise of his title-page, or candour or consistency in the publication of Mr. Eton, our task would be more simple than it unfortunately is; but insufficient or vicious in various respects as are these different volumes, we see no means of disentangling, or of eking out the perplexed and broken web which lies before us. We are therefore reduced to the necessity of spinning one of our own, making use of such of their materials as we think applicable to our purpose, or giving our reasons for rejecting them where the case appears to require it.
In no country in Europe did the yoke of authority press so grievously as in Malta: a domineering system of policy was the only principle of government with the order of St. John, nor was the systematic rigor to which they were subjected the principal evil which her inhabitants had to endure; they had to bear with the more offensive profligacy and insolence of the individuals who composed it. Next in rank to these were the marquisses, counts, and barons, who for the greater part, we believe, derived, and often purchased, their honours from the grand master, Their nobility was in truth little more than titular, they were treated with no consideration by the knights, and consequently were little respected by the people. There was little commerce, and almost every path
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