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the same time directed to be paid him from the Maltese treasury. The best and most appropriate addition to the applause of his king and his country, Sir Alexander Ball found in the feelings and faithful affection of the Maltese. The enthusiasm manifested in reverential gestures and shouts of triumph whenever their friend and deliverer appeared in public, was the utterance of a deep feeling, and in nowise the mere ebullition of animal sensibility ; which is not indeed a part of the Maltese character. The truth of this observation will not be doubted by any person, who has witnessed the religious processions in honor of the favorite saints, both at Valetta and at Messina or Palermo, and who must have been struck with the contrast between the apparent apathy, or at least the perfect sobriety, of the Maltese, and the fanatical agitations of the Sicilian populace. Among the latter, each man's soul seems hardly containable in his body, like a prisoner, whose jail is on fire, flying madly from one barred outlet to another; while the former might suggest the suspicion, that their bodies were on the point of sinking into the same slumber with their understandings. But their political deliverance was a thing that came home to their hearts, and intertwined itself with their most impassioned recollections, personal and patriotic. To Sir Alexander Ball exclusively the Maltese themselves attributed their emancipation : on him too they rested their hopes of the future. Whenever he appeared in Valetta, the passengers on each side, through the whole length of the street, stopped, and remained uncovered till he had passed : the very clamors of the market-place were hushed at his entrance, and then exchanged for shouts of joy and welcome. Even after the lapse of years he never appeared in any of their casals,* which did not lie in the direct road between Valetta and St. Antonio, his summer residence, but the women and children, with such of the men who were not at labor in their fields, fell into ranks, and followed or preceded him, singing the Maltese song which had been made in his honor, and which was scarcely less familiar to the inhabitants of Malta and Gozo, than God save the King to Britons. When he went to the gate through the city, the young men refrained talking ; and the aged arose and stood up.
tants, might not be dispensed with in the person intrusted with that government. Crimen ingrati animi quod magnis ingeniis haud raro objicitur sæpius nil aliud est quam perspicacia quædam in causam beneficii collati.
* It was the governor's custom to visit every casal throughout the island
once, if not twice, in the course of each summer ; and during my residence there, I had the honor of being his constant, and most often his only companion, in these rides ; to which I owe some of the happiest and most instructive hours of my life. In the poorest house of the most distant casal two rude paintings were sure to be found : a picture of the Virgin and Child; and a portrait of Sir Alexander Ball.
When the ear heard, then it blessed him; and when the eyje satv him, it gave witness to him; because he delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and those that had none to help them. The blessing of them that were ready to perish came upon him ; and he caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
These feelings were afterwards amply justified by his admin: istration of the government; and the very excesses of their gratitude on their first deliverance proved, in the end, only to be acknowledgments antedated. For some time after the departure of the French, the distress was so general and so severe, that a large portion of the lower classes became mendicants, and one of the greatest thoroughfares of Valetta still retains the name of “ Nix Mangiare Stairs," from the crowd who used there to assail the ears of the passengers with the cries of " nix mangiare,” or “nothing to eat," the former word nix being the low German pronunciation of nichts, nothing. By what means it was introduced into Malta, I know not ; but it became the vehicle both of solicitation and refusal, the Maltese thinking it an English word, and the English supposing it to be Maltese. I often felt it as a pleasing remembrancer of the evil day gone by, when a tribe of little children, quite naked, as is the custom of that climate, and each with a pair of gold ear-rings in its ears, and all fat and beautifully proportioned, would suddenly leave their play, and, looking round to see that their parents were not in sight, change their shouts of merriment for "nix mangiare."" awkwardly imitating the plaintive tones of mendicancy; while the white teeth in their little swarthy faces gave a splendor to the happy and confessing laugh, with which they received the good-humored rebuke or refusal, and ran back to their former sport.
In the interim between the capitulation of the French garrison and Sir Alexander Ball's appointment as his Majesty's civil commissioner for Malta, his zeal for the Maltese was neither sus
pended, nor unproductive of important benefits. He was enabled to remove many prejudices and misunderstandings; and to persons of no inconsiderable influence gave juster notions of the true importance of the island to Great Britain. He displayed the magnitude of the trade of the Mediterranean in its existing state ; showed the immense extent to which it might be carried, and the hollowness of the opinion, that this trade was attached to the south of France by any natural or indissoluble bond of connection. I have some reason likewise for believing, that his wise and patriotic representations prevented Malta from being made the seat of, and pretext for, a numerous civil establishment, in hapless imitation of Corsica, Ceylon, and the Cape of Good Hope. It was at least generally rumored, that it had been in the contemplation of the ministry to appoint Sir Ralph Abercrombie as governor, with a salary of £10,000 a year, and to reside in England, while one of his countrymen was to be the lieutenant-governor, at £5,000 a year; to which were to be added a long et cetera of other offices and places of proportional emolument. This threatened appendix to the state calendar may have existed only in the imagination of the reporters, yet inspired some uneasy apprehensions in the minds of many wellwishers to the Maltese, who knew that—for a foreign settlement at least, and one too possessing in all the ranks and functions of society an ample population of its own—such a stately and widebranching tree of patronage, though delightful to the individuals who are to pluck its golden apples, sheds, like the manchineel, unwholesome and corrosive dews on the multitude who are to rest beneath its shade. It need not, however, be doubted, that Sir Alexander Ball would exert himself to preclude any such intention, by stating and evincing the extreme impolicy and injustice of the plan, as well as its utter inutility, in the case of Malta. With the exception of the governor and of the public secretary, both of whom undoubtedly should be natives of Great Britain and appointed by the British government, there was no civil office that could be of the remotest advantage to the island which was not already filled by the natives, and the functions of which none could perform so well as they. The number of inhabitants (he would state) was prodigious compared with the extent of the island, though from the fear of the Moors one fourth of its surface remained unpeopled and uncultivated. To
deprive, therefore, the middle and lower classes of such places as they had been accustomed to hold, would be cruel ; while the places holden by the nobility were, for the greater part, such as none but natives could perform the duties of. By any innovation we should affront the higher classes and alienate the affections of all, not only without any imaginable advantage but with the certainty of great loss. Were Englishmen to be employed, the salaries must be increased four-fold, and would yet be scarcely worth acceptance; and in higher offices, such as those of the civil and criminal judges, the salaries must be augmented more than ten-fold. For, greatly to the credit of their patriotism and moral character, the Maltese gentry sought these places as honorable distinctions, which endeared them to their fellow-countrymen, and at the same time rendered the yoke of the order somewhat less grievous and galling. With the exception of the Maltese secretary, whose situation was one of incessant labor, and who at the same time performed the duties of law counsellor to the government, the highest salaries scarcely exceeded £100 a year, and were barely sufficient to defray the increased expenses of the functionaries for an additional equipage, or one of more imposing appearance. Besides, it was of importance that the person placed at the head of that government should be looked up to by the natives, and possess the means of distinguishing and rewarding those who had been most faithful and zealous in their attachment to Great Britain, and hostile to their former tyrants. The number of the employments to be conferred would give considerable influence to his Majesty's civil representative, while the trifling amount of the emolument attached to each precluded all temptation of abusing it.
Sir Alexander Ball would likewise, it is probable, urge, that the commercial advantages of Malta, which were most intelligible to the English public, and best fitted to render our retention of the island popular, must necessarily be of very slow growth, though finally they would become great, and of an extent not to be calculated. For this reason, therefore, it was highly desirable that the possession should be, and appear to be, at least inexpensive. After the British Government had made one advance for a stock of corn sufficient to place the island a year before hand, the sum total drawn from Great Britain need not exceed 25, or at most £30,000 annually; excluding of course the ex
penditure connected with our own military and navy, and the repair of the fortifications, which latter expense ought to be much less than at Gibraltar, from the multitude and low
wages of the laborers in Malta, and from the softness and admirable quality of the stone. Indeed much more might safely be promised on the assumption that a wise and generous system of policy would be adopted and persevered in. The monopoly of the Maltese corn-trade by the government formed an exception to a general rule, and by a strange, yet valid, anomaly in the operations of political economy, was not more necessary than advantageous to the inhabitants. The chief reason is, that the produce of the island itself barely suffices for one fourth of its inhabitants, although fruits and vegetables form so large a part of their nourishment. Meantime the harbors of Malta, and its equi-distance from Europe, Asia, and Africa, gave it a vast and unnatural importance in the present relations of the great European powers, and imposed on its government, whether native or dependent, the necessity of considering the whole island as a single garrison, the provisioning of which could not be trusted to the casualties of ordinary commerce. What is actually necessary is seldom injurious. Thus in Malta bread is better and cheaper on an average than in Italy or the coast of Barbary: while a similar interference with the corn-trade in Sicily impoverishes the inhabitants and keeps the agriculture in a state of barbarism. But the point in question is the expense to Great Britain. Whether the monopoly be good or evil in itself, it remains true, that in this established usage, and in the gradual inclosure of the uncultivated district, such resources exist as without the least oppression might render the civil government in Valetta independent of the Treasury at home, finally taking upon itself even the repair of the fortifications, and thus realize one instance of an important possession that costs the country nothing.
But now the time arrived, which threatened to frustrate the patriotism of the Maltese themselves and all the zealous efforts of their disinterested friend. Soon after the war had for the first time become indisputably just and necessary, the people at large, and a majority of independent senators, incapable, as it might seem, of translating their fanatical anti-Jacobinism into a wellgrounded, yet equally impassioned, anti-Gallicanism, grew impatient for peace, or rather for a name, under which the most ter