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the miserable proprietors of which have little security against such acts of outrage. Before quitting the place we were conducted by the monks into their refectory, a dark room without a single article of furniture, where a repast was set before us consisting of a dish of rice cooked in oil.” (Holland's Travels, p. 238.) “Though the relative situation of the Turks and Greeks be that of masters and slaves, yet it will be found that all the other signs of degradation belong in greater degree to the condition of the Turks. The Greek town presents in general the aspect of useful and industrious life; and, unless when borne down by some of those circumstances of local oppression which are so common in Turkey, the population have an appearance of comfort.” “In the towns chiefly inhabited by Turks, the most striking circumstance is the air of uniform indolence and unbroken monotony, which pervades every part of the scene. As you walk along the street few sounds of the human voice come upon the ear:—appearances of neglect and decay every where present themselves: houses falling for want of repair; the habitations of the lower classes wretched and comfortless; filth accumulating in the streets without removal; and a general want of those circumstances which give order and propriety to social life.” (P. 268.) “I had myself the opportunity of observing, in part, the terror in which the Turks of Larissa are held by the Greek inhabitants of the place. The house of the Archbishop Polycarp resembled a prison, or a place of secret refuge. The gates conducting to it were always opened with a sort of suspicious anxiety; and an impression of alarm and distrust was ever visible among the inhabitants of this mansion. The Archbishop himself very rarely quits its precincts from the apprehension of insult. On the second day of our abode in his house, while sitting with him in his apartment, a Turk of surly and forbidding aspect, and evidently of the lower class, entered the room, seated himself unceremoniously on the sofa, filled his pipe, and took coffee from the attendants. The Archbishop was obviously embarrassed, but made no comment. After a short interval, he took a coin from his purse and put it silently into the hand of the Turk, who immediately disappeared.” (P. 270.) “The (Greek) habitation, which our Tartar selected as one of the best in the village, consisted of a single apartment with naked mud walls, and a flooring of naked earth; one end of the room occupied by horses, the other inhabited by two large families, with no other furniture than a few wooden and earthen vessels, and the straw mats and woollen coats which they used for their nightly covering. There was an aspect of meagre wretchedness and of absolute privation about them, which I have seldom seen equalled. Our arrival, and the ferocious manner in which our Turkish attendants broke into the house, produced at first much alarm. The eldest daughter of one of the families, who in another sphere of life might have been a beauty, was hurried away into a neighbouring hovel. In the faces and manner, of those who remained, there was silently expressed an habitual expectation of ill-usage, which it was painful to contemplate.” (P. 384.) Concerning Sicily, the last country named in the comparison, we have a cloud of authors, who have left us nothing to desire as to the knowledge of
her internal situation. From Mr. Leckie downwards, through the writings of Mr. Galt, the Abbate Balsamo, Mr. Blaquiere, Mr. Thomson, and a variety of others, one uniform language is held. Houses unroofed, bridges broken down, large towns abandoned, immeasurable tracts of waste land without an inhabitant, are the usual objects which present themselves. “But to describe the sufferings of those, who are driven to mendicity without any resource whatever in their parishes, or the most distant prospect of obtaining employment, is far beyond the power of expression: and while the causes already mentioned must have contributed greatly to increase the number of the poor, agriculture has been gradually declining all over the Island. At no period of its history is Sicily recollected to have been so completely dependent upon strangers for support. It is said that, in the present year, near a million of dollars has been paid for imported corn.” This is the testimony of one traveller. Another writes, “It will hardly be conceived, that although in this fertile soil it is only necessary to put the grain into the ground to ensure plentiful crops;–yet, still in most of the villages there are seldom or never to be found the necessaries of life;—meal never, often not bread. Frequently I have not perceived any appearance of the country being inhabited or cultivated; and even where it is, the population and the habitations are so thinly scattered as sufficiently to prove the oppressed state of the inhabitants.” “There is nothing that conveys so pointed a stigma upon the present order of things in Sieily, as a comparison of the ancient and modern population.” Such are the accounts rendered by travellers of H
credit of the “Sicula arva,” the granary of Rome, and one of the most fertile spots of the ancient world. Mr. Leckie, who long resided in the Island as a proprietor, has with sufficient clearness, traced the evil to its cause, in the tyranny and oppression, not only of the government, but of every petty feudal Lord of a village. Great Britain herself has had a pretty sensible proof of the moral and political degradation of the people, inasmuch as when she had generously given to the country a free constitution, she was obliged to lend eighteen thousand disciplined troops to secure to the inhabitants its full use and enjoyment.
Such is the contrast afforded by the contemplation of different countries, which have all, in the course of their progress, far advanced beyond the agricultural into the commercial and civilized states of society. In those where the people, under a reasonably free government and a fair attention to morals, have been suffered, in their habits, employment, and distribution, to follow the spontaneous impulses given to their minds by the natural events and circumstances of their progress;—there they are found subsisting, even in very inferior climates and ungrateful soils, and notwithstanding their rapidly increasing numbers, in plenty, comfort, and happimess: and I think it may be said, that a greater injury could not be inflicted upon those societies, than to check that tendency to increase in their population, which is to urge them to a still further progress in the career of civilization. On the contrary, where the people, under a tyrannical government and a dissolute state of morals, have had their habits preverted,
their minds debased, and their employments and distribution violently interfered with, there, notwithstanding any superiority of climate and fertility of soil, the people, notwithstanding their rapidly decreasing numbers, have dwindled down to the extreme verge of want and misery: and I think it may be said, that a more atrocious injustice could scarcely be practised against such societies, than to search for means of obviating that grinding pressure of their population against the means of subsistence, by the inconveniences of which they could alone probably be roused to seek the efficient remedy. In the stages of society, therefore, treated of in this chapter, it does, I trust, appear manifest that, under whatever condition of government it may be, nothing but danger and deterioration can ensue from any attempt to tamper with the natural effects of the principle of population, but that it should be left to its appointed and ordinary operation. I do not mean to imply, by the facts and arguments of this chapter, that the adjustment of the due proportions between food and population by the free operation of the laws of nature, as well as the adjustment of every other social interest, is not a more complicated affair in the advanced stages of society than in the earlier and more simple states. very arrangement must of course increase in complexity the more particulars it includes. And when we consider the responsible condition of man, and the constant struggle against the principle of evil which his lot and his duties involve, it is reasonable to suppose that, in proportion to the advantages of knowledge and the facilities of intercourse which attend the progress of civilization, a corresponding difficulty H 2 .
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