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Remarks on the Trade, 8c. of Sicily. — This noble island contains about 10,500 square miles, being the largest in the Mediterranean, and one of the most fertile and best sitie ated in the world. Its population is about 2,100,000. In ancient times, Sicily was celebrated for the number, magnitude, and opulence of its cities. Notwithstanding, however, that its population was then probably treble its present amount, it obtained, from its furnishing vast supplies of corn and other articles of provision for the use of Rome, the appropriate epithet of horreum Romanorum, and is said by Livy to have been Populoque Romano, pace ac bello, fidissimum annonæ subsidium. — (Lib. xxvii. cap. 5.) But (quantum mutatus !) there are now few countries in which agriculture and the arts are in so degraded a state! It does not, however, appear very difficult to account for this melancholy change. After the overthrow of the Roman power, Sicily was occupied successively by the Greeks, Saracens, Normans, and French, till at length it became a dependency, first of the crown of Spain, and more recently of that of Naples. It is to this dependence, and to the introduction of the feudal system by the Normans, that its backward state is principally to be ascribed. The multiplied abuses which grew up in Spain under the reign of Ferdinand and his successors of the Austrian line, flourished with equal luxuriance in Sicily, and have proved no less destructive of the industry and civilisation of its inhabitants than of those of Spain. Misgovernment, the abuses of the feudal system, insecurity, and unequal and arbitrary taxes, have here, as every where else, paralysed industry, and impoverished the people.
But the grand curse of Sicilian, as of Sardinian industry, will probably be found in the oppressive restrictions that have been laid on the exportation of corn. Down to a late period, no corn could be exported without leave being obtained from the Real Patrimonio, a body that pretended to take an account of the crops, and which determined whether there were to be any exportation ; and in the event of its being allowed, it issued, or rather sold, licences to a few favoured individuals *, authorising them to export certain specified quantities! Even had Sicily been ten times more productive than she really is, it is quite impossible that agriculture could have flourished under such discouragements. Luckily, however, these oppressive restraints have recently been abolished, and there are no longer any obstacles to the free exportation of corn. Oppressive taxes, the want of leases of a reasonable length, and of practicable roads, are at present, perhaps, the greatest obstacles to agriculture.
The property of the island was valued in 1811, when the English garrison and fleet occasioned a great demand, and high prices for produce of all kinds; and this valuation has been continued to this day, as the basis on which the land and house tax (fondiaria) is levied. A rate of 7) per cent. on the valuation was first charged, which was subsequently raised to 12} per cent., at which it is now fixed. Owing, however, as is stated, to the fall in the price of agricultural produce since 1811, this tax is alleged by Mr. M Gregor to be more than equivalent to a duty of 25 per cent. on the produce of the soil taken at its present (1840) value, and to be a very great obstacle to improvement. We believe, however, that its influence in this respect, though considerable, has been much over-rated ; and that the backward state of Sicily is principally owing to other and different causes.
Though there be in Sicily a very considerable number of small proprietors, by far the greater part of the land belongs to the crown, the church, and the nobility, some of whom have very extensive and valuable estates. Down to a recent period, these were held under a system of strict entail, and their occupiers, as well as those of the estates of the crown and the church, usually held under triennial leases, and were in a state of feudal bondage, and subject to numerous exactions on the part of their lords. Under such circumstances, even though there had been neither restrictions on exportation nor a land tax, the depressed condition of the peasantry, and the low state of agriculture, need not be wondered at.
But we are glad to have to state that the dawn of a better day seems to have arisen, and that several important changes have lately been introduced. We have already noticed the reinoval of the restrictions on exportation ; and in 1812 and 1838 laws were passed for the abolition of the feudal system, and the complete emancipation of the peasantry. And, notwithstanding the poverty and ignorance of the latter will binder them from speedily profiting to the extent that might be anticipated from the passing of these laws, this cannot fail, in the end, to be productive of the best effects. It was also enacted in 1819, that in future, on the death of any individual possessed of an estate in land, and having more than one son, the half only of the estate should descend to the eldest son, and that the other half should be divided in equal shares among the other children. This law, which appears to have been framed on the model of that which regulates the succession to property in France, will probably have nearly similar effects. In both countries, the abuses of entails might have been obviated without running intra
• The late Queen is said to have been a great dealer in corn on her own account !
the opposite extreme, and establishing a system that can hardly fail in the end to occasion the too great division of landed property.
Exclusive of wheat and barley, hemp, flax, and cotton are raised with but little labour. The culture of the last is said to be extending of late years, especially in the neighbourhood of Mazzara. It is mostly short-stapled, and but little is exported, and that only to Naples and Trieste. It is probable, however, that by attention to its culture, and the introduction of improved varieties, its quality might be improved, and it might become an article of some importance. The sugar-cane was formerly a staple product of the S. shore of Sicily. But owing to the introduction of cheaper sugar from the W. Indies and Brazil, the culture of the cane is now restricted to some small plantations near Avola, and will probably at no distant period be wholly abandoned.
The district round Marsala is the principal seat of the wine culture; and, thanks to the exertions of some English capitalists established in that city, the production of wine is become an important branch of industry, and it forms a principal article of export. (See WINE.) But, except in the English establishments, little care is in general bestowed on the vintage. Along the N. coast, the mountain slopes and valleys are almost wholly covered with olive groves; though elsewhere they are rare, and do not furnish sufficient oil for the inhabitants. But for the imperfections in the mode of its preparation, the oil of Sicily would be excellent. The olives, however, are permitted to hang on the tree till they come off with shaking, or beating with light canes; and they are then kept in vats till they get quite black, so that the oil becomes pungent and rancid, and, though fit for the lamp, is totally unfit for the table. It is only near the capital and in a few other places, that a more improved process is followed.
Lemons and oranges, which grow luxuriantly, are of excellent quality, well adapted for long voyages, and, when intended for exportation, are collected with more care than any other agricultural product. They are largely exported, and are altogether highly important. Almonds, pistachios, dates, madder, the barilla plant, hazel-nuts, the Ricinus palma, or castor oil plant, saffron, tobacco, &c., might all be raised in any quantity ; but their culture is for the most part neglected, or ill-conducted. The mulberry is grown in the vicinity of Messina, and in the N. E. part of the island; but the produce of silk does not exceed 400,000 lbs. a year. The manna ash is grown near the capital, and, manna not being monopoli ed by the government in Sicily, as in Naples, it might be a much more extensive and profitable article of trade than it really is, if there were any public enterprise. Liquorice is found growing wild in several parts of the island, and considerable quantities of juice are exported. The culture of shumac is a good deal attended to, and it forms a principal article of export.
Formerly there were only certain ports from which corn could be exported; a limitation which gave rise to the establishment at these ports of public magazines or caricatori, where the corn may be deposited till an opportunity occurs of shipping it off. Provided it be of good quality (mercantibile or recetibile), and provided it be brought in immediately after harvest, or, at farthest, in August, it is warehoused free of expense ; what it gains in bulk after that period (about 5 per cent.) being sufficient to defray all expenses. The receipt of the caricator, or keeper of the magazine, is negotiable like a bill of exchange, and is the object of speculative purchases on the exchange at Palermo, Messina, &c. according to the expected rise or fall in the price of corn. The depositor of a quantity sells it in such portions as he pleases, the whole being faithfully accounted for. The public magazines, in some parts of the island, are either excavations into calcareous rocks, or holes in the ground shaped like a bottle, walled up, and made water-proof, containing each about 200 salme of corn, or about 1,600 English bushels. The neck of the bottle is hermetically closed with a stone fastened with gypsum. Corn may be thus preserved for an indefinite length of time; at least, it has been found in perfectly good order after the lapse of a century. ---( Simond, p. 540.; Swinburne, vol. ii. p. 405. For an account of the oil caricatori of Naples, see OLIVE Oil.)
The fisheries are chiefly conducted by corporations of fishermen, or monied individuals. That at Palermo employs, during the season, from 900 to 1,000 boats, and 3,500 fishermen; and the produce is valued at from 20,000/. to 25,000l. a year. Tunnies, the fish principally caught on the Sicilian coasts, and which were in great request in antiquity, as well as in modern times, are of large dimensions, being generally from 4 to 8 feet in length, with a nearly equal girth. Their flesh is highly nutritious. The shoals of tunny enter the Mediterranean early in the year. The tonnare, or fishing establishments, on the Sicilian coasts, are more extensive and valuable than those of any other part of the Mediterranean. The nets belonging to the one in the Bay of Palermo are so very strong as to be able to arrest the progress of a ship when under sail. The fishery of the sword-fish is confined chiefly to the Straits of Messina, and the anchovy and pilchard fisheries to Siculania. Lentini has some trade in botarga, made of the roe of the mullet. The coral fishery, near Bona, in Africa, is prircipally
frequented by fishermen from Trapani, at which city the coral is polished, and brought for exportation to Catania, Naples, Leghorn, &c.
The minerals of Sicily are important and valuable. Sulphur ranks first ; it is found in great quantities imbedded in blue marl, or in gypsum and limestone, over most of the central and S. parts of the island. The sulphur mines have been wrought for upwards of 300 years; but it is only since 1820 that any extraordinary quantity has been prepared for exportation. Subsequently to 1833, the trade with this country increased so much that the export of sulphur to the U. Kingdom rose from 19,122 tons in the above year, to 38,654 tons in 1838. In this year, however, the Neapolitan government granted to a French company the monopoly of the trade in sulphur, the production of which was to be limited to 600,000 quintals, to be supplied to the company by the proprietors of the mines at certain fixed prices, on condition of the latter paying to the government a bonus of 400,000 Neapolitan ducats a year! It is needless to dwell on the impolicy and absurdity of such a project. Instead of attempting to limit the export of sulphur, government should have given it every possible facility ; and taking the export under a free system, at only 1,000,000 quintals, it would have yielded, at the low duty of 28. a cwt. on export, a larger sum than was to be paid by the company for their monopoly. Luckily, however, a firm remonstrance by England occasioned the suppression of the monopoly, and the sulphur trade is again restored to its former state. Some sulphur mines are wrought by English speculators, with ma. chinery brought from England, and workmen from Wales, Cornwall, and Scotland; but in most of the other mines the processes are very rude, and, in melting, a great part of the sulphur is allowed to escape in gas, to the destruction of the surrounding vegetation. Sicily furnishes saltpetre of excellent quality in sufficient quantity for her own consumption, but from want of enterprise none is produced for exportation. Rock salt, bitumen, gypsum, and marble of different kinds are found in various places; and good salt is made at Trapani, and other coast towns. There are also ores of copper, lead, mercury, and iron, but very few of these are wrought. There are no iron foundries in the island, and iron and tin goods are principally imported from England, lead from Spain, and steel from Germany.
Were the bounty of nature towards Sicily not counteracted by vicious laws and insti. tutions, she would undoubtedly be one of the richest and finest of European countries. All that she requires is security of property and freedom of industry. Let but these be given to her, and a few years will develop her gigantie resources, and elevate Girgenti, Termini, and Sciacca, to a very high rank among corn-shipping ports.
PALM OIL (Ger. Palmol ; Fr. Iuile de palme, Huile de Senegal ; It. Olio di palma; Sp. Aceite de palma) is obtained from the fruit of several species of palms, but especially from that of the Elais Guineensis, growing on the west coast of Africa, to the south of Fernando Po, and in Brazil. When imported, the oil is about the consistence of butter, of a yellowish colour, and scarcely any particular taste; by long keeping it becomes rancid ; loses its colour, which fades to a dirty white; and in this state is to be rejected. It is sometimes imitated with hog's lard, coloured with turmeric, and scented with Florentine iris root. The inhabitants of the coast of Guinea employ palm oil for the same purposes that we do butter. Our supplies of palm oil are almost wholly derived from the west coast of Africa, of which it is the staple article of export. - (Lewis's Mat. Med. ; Thomson's Dispensatory.) Account of the Quantities of Palm Oil entered for Consumption in the U. Kingdom, with the Amount
of Duty received thereon, during cach of the 3 Years ending with 1812.
d. 317,376 3 303,992 O 356,222 0 20,638 8 19,949 12 13,641 13 6
13 The duty on palm oil was reduced in 1834 from 25. Od. to ls. 3d. a cwt., and in 1842 it was farther reduced to 6d. a cwt.
PAMPHLET, a small book, usually printed in the octavo form, and stitched. It is enacted by 10 Ann. c. 19. $ 113. that no person shall sell, or expose to sale, any pamphlet, without the name and place of abode of some known person, by or for whom it was printed or published, written or printed thereon, under a penalty of 201. and costs.
It is enacted by the 55 Geo. 3. 6. 185. that every book containing 1 whole sheet, and not exceeding 8 sheets, in svo, or any lesser size; or not exceeding 12 sheets in 410, or 20 sheets in folio, shall be deemed a pamphlet. The same act imposed a duty of 3s, upon each sheet of one copy of all pamphlets published. This duty, which was at once vexatious and unproductive, hardly ever yielding more than 1,0001. or 1,1002. a year, was repealed in 1833.
PAPER (Ger. and Du. Papier; Fr. Papier; It. Carta ; Sp. Papel; Rus. Bumaga ; Lat. Charta ; Arab. Kurtas ; Pers. Kaghas). This highly useful substance is, as every one knows, thin, flexible, of different colours, but inost commonly white, being used for writing and printing upon, and for various other purposes. It is manufactured of ve
getable matter reduced to a sort of pulp. The term paper is derived from the Greek FOTÚPOS (papyrus, see post), the name of the plant on the inner bark of which (Liber, BiBaos, whence our word book) the ancients used to write. Paper is made up into sheets, quires, and reams ; each quire consisting of 24 shects, and each ream of 20 quires.
Historical Sketch of Paper. Difference between ancient and modern Paper. - Some of those learned and ingenious persons who have investigated the arts of the ancient world, have expressed their surprise that the Greeks and Romans, though they possessed an immense number of books, and approached very near to printing in the stamping of words and letters, and similar devices, should not have discovered the art; the first rude attempts at typography being sufficiently obvious, though much time and contrivance have been required to bring the process to its present state of perfection. But they should rather, perhaps, have wondered that the more civilised nations of antiquity did not invent paper, an invention which, it may easily be shown, necessarily preceded that of printing. But this was an exceedingly difficult task; the more so, that the vast importance of paper could not be appreciated, or even imagined, till after it had been generally introduced. At first, the memory of important events appears to have been handed down by inscriptions cut on rocks, pillars of stone or marble, and the walls of editices; and this primitive usage is still retained in the monuments in our churches and cemeteries. In a later, though still very remote age, men were accustomed to write upon portable surfaces of various kinds. Everybody knows that the Decalogue was written upon tables of stone; and Joshua wrote a copy of the law upon the like materials, (Josh. c. viii. v. 32.) The Greeks and Romans engraved laws, treaties, contracts, and other important documents, on plates of brass; and it is stated, that a fire which broke out in the capitol, in the reign of Vespasian, consumed above 3,000 such bronze muniments. - (Noureau Traité de Diplomatique, i. 451.) But exclusive of plates of this sort, which were necessarily inconvenient, costly, and quite unfit for ordinary use, thin and flexible plates of lead and other metals, (Job, c. xix. v. 23, 24.) thin pieces of wood, skins, parchment, linen, and a variety of similar substances were used in writing. Cheaper materials, such as the leaves and bark of trees, palms, &c., were also used from a very remote period for the same purpose; but leaves (xaptas, charta) being, when dry, apt to split in the direction of the fibres, it was found to be necessary, in preparing them for writing, to glue them together, so that the fibres might cross each other in opposite directions. The texture of the leaf, of sheet, if we may so call it, is thus greatly strengthened; and when it has been smoothed, polished, and fitted for use, it is less inconvenient and better looking than might be supposed. Such, in fact, is the principle on which the paper of the ancients was formed. This, however, which was called Charta Egyptiaca, from the place of its manufacture, did not consist of leaves, but of the inner bark of the famous reed or rush, the Cyperus Papyrus, found along the banks of the Nile, or rather in the pools and ditches which communicate with the river. The ancients applied this useful plant to an immense variety of purposes; but here we shall only notice that from which it has acquired an immortality of renown. The inner bark having been divided by a needle or other sharp instrument into very thin and broad layers or filaments, portions of these were placed side by side longitudinally, and glued together at the ends; another portion being glued crosswise on the backs of the latter, to give the page the requisite strength. Pliny and other writers have described the process (Hist. Nat. lib. xiii. c. 11, 12, 13.), which has been farther elucidated by Hardouin and other commentators. But the fullest and ablest discussion of this curious subject is contained in the very learned and elaborate work, the Noureau Traité de Diplomatique (i. pp. 448—524.), where the most interesting particulars respecting the history and manufacture of papyrus, as well as of the greater number of the other writing materials used in antiquity, have been collected and set in the clearest point of view. -- (See also the Dictionnaire Diplomatique of De Vaines, art. Pupier, ii. pp. 165–174.) Bruce has given a summary of the authorities in the seventh volume of the octavo edition of his Travels; and, not satisfied with this, he attempted to make paper from the papyrus, in which not being very successful, he imputes his failure to errors in the statements of Pliny; not reflecting that, had he endeavoured, trusting to written directions, without experience and traditional art, to make modern paper, or even a pair of shoes, he would, most probably, have been equally infelicitous. Egypt enjoyed for a lengthened period a natural monopoly of this valuable article ; and even attempted, in anticipation of a later policy, by prohibiting the growth of the papyrus, except in certain localities, and limiting its supply, to sell its produce at an artificially enhanced price !-( Ameilhon, Commerce des Egyptiens, p. 238.) But this policy ceased on the conquest of Egypt by the Romans, who, having imported the plant into Rome, succeeded in preparing from it a very superior article. Pliny enumerates the various kinds of paper, from the coarsest, which was used, like vur brown paper,
for packing, to the most expensive and finest. The latter, which was made of the innermost filaments, was of a snowy whiteness ; and when properly dressed and polished, was easily written upon. The consumption was very considerable; and being, after the foundation of Alexandria, principally made in that city, it formed an important article in her commerce, and furnished employment for many workmen and much capital. Flavius Vopiscus relates, that in the Sd century, the tyrant Firmus used to say there was so much paper there, and so large a quantity of the glue or size used in its preparation, that he could maintain an army with it: - " Tantum habuisse de chartis, ut publicè sæpe diceret, exercitum se alere posse papyrô et glutino.” doubt whether the value of the paper at present belonging to any single city would do the like. Charta Egyptiaca is very ancient, having, notwithstanding the assertion of Varro and Pliny to the contrary, (Hist. Nat. lib. xiii. cap. 11.,) been in common use long before the age of Alexander. This is evident from the statement of Herodotus, who, though he lived about a century before that conqueror, tells us, that in former times, when papyrus was scarce, the Ionians wrote on the skins of goats and sheep; and that that practice continued to be customary among several barbarous nations. - (Lib. v. cap. 58.)
Though white, smooth, durable, and not ill-adapted for writing, ancient paper was not suited for the printer : by reason of the closeness of the grain, it would not have received the ink from types more kindly than shavings of wood, and such like materials; and its texture was so very brittle, that it would have shivered to pieces under the press. It was, in truth, an inartificial mass (“ viscera nivea virentium herbarum”), no great invention or ingenuity being discovered in its preparation. Modern paper, on the other hand, is wholly artificial; and the contrivances for its manufacture are marvellous alike for the sagacity evinced in their design and their practical efficiency. Like the paper of antiquity, it is formed of the filaments of various sorts of vegetable substances, derived principally from the tearing to pieces or pounding cotton and linen rags, and similar materials, mixed with water. This process is called beating them into pulp ; and when examined with a microscope, the floating filaments are found to be well fitted for adhering together, being jagged and rough, and mixed in every possible way. A portion of this mixture or pulp being, when properly prepared, poured upon moulds or sieves of fine woven wire, the water is drained off, and the suspended fibres, falling to the bottom, form a layer or sheet, which, being consolidated by pressure and dried, becomes paper; its strength and goodness depending, of course, in a great measure, on the quality of the rag or other material of which it is made. Paper used to be manufactured by dipping sieves or frames into the pulp ; the portion of filaments so lifted up forming the sheet of paper. But the application of rotary motion to the manufacture has effected a total change in the mode in which it was carried on: instead of dipping the sieves or frames into the cistern of pulp, a circular web, or round towel of woven wire. revolves horizontally under the vessel, (technically called the vat,) receives the deposit, conveys it away, and, by an adjustment of extraordinary delicacy, transfers it uninjured, though as fragile as a wet cobweb, to a similar revolving towel of felt: thus an endless web of paper is spun, as long, at least, as the machine continues to move, and pulp is supplied.
The pervious and spongy texture of paper make it readily imbibe and retain the ink impressed on it by types in printing, and by the pen in writing ; its toughness hinders it from being easily torn; and, in a well-bound book, under favourable cir. cumstances, its duration is indefinite, and, for all practical purposes, eternal! It is true that legal documents are sometimes written or printed on parchment, which is less liable to be torn, or injured by rubbing; the luxury of typography occasionally, also, exhibits a few impressions of a splendid work upon vellum; and, it is farther true, that these substances were used for writing upon by the ancients: but they are necessarily expensive, and the cost of either far exceeds the means of the great majority of book buyers; so that it would be altogether unprofitable to cast types, to construct presses, and to incur the various and heavy charges of an establishment for printing, unless we possessed a cheaper material on which to print.
Almost all the more ancient and valuable existing Greek and Latin manuscripts are written either on parchment or vellum, but generally on the latter. It is singular, however, that while such is the case, all or almost all the very old charters and diplomas are written on papyrus. Indeed the learned authors of the Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique affirm that no parchment charter has been discovered anterior to the 6th century. (i. 479.)
It appears to be sufficiently established that paper, fabricated like that now in use, of cotton and other vegetable materials, and of silk, has been manufactured in China from a very remote epoch — (Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique, i. 519.): the Arab historians state that similar paper was manufactured in Mecca in the beginning of the 8th century — (Andres, Origine e Progressi d'Ogni Letteratura, i. 202., ed. Rom. 1808,