Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

is expended on them, the mania far figu- could be only by stout defence and hard ra, as the Italians say, a passion for cut fighting on the Sesia, the Ticino, the ting a handsome figure in this world, Adda, the Mincio, and the Po. leads them to be equally extravagant, in Under such circumstances, it would proportion to their means, in the construc. seem to be the part of discretion for Italy tion of their navy. The famous ironclad, to study to remain on excellent terms the “Duilio," cost 720,4801., indepen. with one and all of her neighbors, and dently of her armament; and she is only certainly never to provoke or irritate one of three floating sea-monsters, which them; and in the speech addressed by carry guns twenty-five per cent. heavier the Italian prime minister on the 8th of than any even this country can boast. this month to his constituents at Stra. Then there are a host of smaller, but still della, which carries all the more weight costly vessels, like the “ Principe Ama: for being delivered on the eve of a gen. deo," the “Roma” and the “Venezia." eral election, perhaps the most prominent Apparently, the Italians aspire to trans- features were protests on behalf of peace, form two of their loveliest spots, Castel- and promises of military economy. Sinlamare and Spezia, into naval arsenals; gle-handed, Italy would still be no match whilst at Genoa ship.building for com. on land for either Austria or France; and mercial purposes is at a standstill, and at she possesses a most inconveniently large Venice it has practically died out. At extent of seaboard, that only makes her the same time the minister of war has more vulnerable to an enterprising ene. long been asking for 20,000,000l. to ex- my. Englishmen have lost nothing of pend on land fortifications, without which their sympathy with Italy, despite the it is declared that Turin and Rome are recent hostility displayed by the Italians alike open to the invader. No doubt the towards this country. They wish for it a Italian frontier is an unsatisfactory one. distinguished and prosperous future ; but The southern slopes of the Alps in the it is precisely because such is their 'feelTicino and the Grison district, down to ing, that they see with regret the Italians the Lakes Maggiore and Lugano, form a wasting their resources in vainly striving part of the Swiss confederation; and to be as powerful as Germany on land, Austria thrusts her territory of South and as commanding as England on sea. Tyrol like a wedge between Lombardy Most of all, they lament the spiteful and and Venetia, right away to the north of petulant spirit the Italians have recently the Lago di Garda, and to the opening of exhibited against powers with whom they the valley of the Adige. Any one who feel unable to compete. The Italians has studied this question attentively, is would do well to remember the advice of aware that the direction of the forts, a woman of the world to some young fel. which were once the defences of Austria low's who were starting in life with abun. against Italy, would have to be altered, dance of capacity and fire, but with some and in a great measure reversed, before want of consideration for others, “Soy. they could be used against an invading ez aimables.” The Italians would do enemy from the north. This is equally well to show a little more amiability, if true of the famous Quadrilateral, more only for the sake of getting it returned. especially of the fortresses of Peschiera They may yet need it. and Verona. With Switzerland and Aus- The astonishment with which we must 'tria, however, Italy may hope to remain needs contemplate the levity Italian at peace; at least, if she were to quarrel statesmen display in imposing such a with them, it would be through her own heavy and gratuitous load upon their fault. But if there be a war that would countrymen, and the admiration it is imbe popular in France, it would be a war possible not to feel for the patience with against Italy, which has committed the which this burden is borne, are greatly unpardonable offence, in the eyes of increased when we consider the limited Frenchmen, of forgetting gratitude to her national wealth that has to contribute the elder brother to the extent of claiming to national budget. Nor can any due estibe his equal; and Italy could be invaded mate be made of the sacrifices demanded by the French through several passes of from the Italians as the price of their the Maritime, Cottian, Graian, and Pen-national unity and national greatness, unnine Alps. The loss of Savoy and Nice less account be taken likewise of their has opened Piedmont to the French in- communal burdens. These in Italy are vader. It would be hardly possible to enorinous. In the year 1879, the local stop him in the mountains; and if central taxes of England amounted to 29,000,000l. and southern Italy was to be saved, it In Italy they approximated to the same figure. If we assume the imperial and per cent. Moreover, it touches the smallthe municipal taxation of Italy in that est incomes. Let us suppose an Italian year to have amounted together to 73,000,- is entitled to 100l., and only fool. per anoool., which it unquestionably did, the num, from the public funds; 131. 45. is Italian people are taxed at the rate of 21. deducted for income-tax. If his iool. prous. per head. In this country taxation ceeds from the profits of trade, he has to per head is at the rate of 21. 185. But pay 91. 155. If it comes in the form of then we have to take into account the dif- salary, he is mulcted of 81. 55. A profes. ferent dimensions of the national incomessional man in London making 300l. a year, from which the two sums respectively are had, till Mr. Gladstone clapped on threeobtained. Professor Leone Levi puts the pence more to pay for bis Egyptian war, annual income of the United Kingdom at to pay only 1l. 16s. 80. A professional a thousand millions; and computing im- man in Rome earning the same income, perial and local taxation in round numbers has to hand over 241. 155. at 100,000,000l., which is pretty near the We are therefore fully prepared to bemark, the State and the local authorities lieve, both on the faith of trustworthy between them get on an average ten per statistics and from experience of our own cent. of our whole incomes. Anyone can upon the spot, that the taxes of Italy judge for himself if taxation is anything amount to thirty-five per cent. of its inlike as heavy as that in this country; and come. The teachings of political econwe entertain no doubt that Professor omy would be worthless, and the laws of Leone Levi, painstaking and able as he human nature have no fixity, if fiscal buris, has considerably under-estimated the dens of so heavy an incidence did not total income of these realms. But we discourage alike the rapid accumulation suspect he is not far wrong in saying that and the vigorous employment of capital. the income of the Italian people cannot In this country, as in France, the wealth exceed, even if it reaches, 200,000,000l.; of the community is being hourly added and in that case their taxation is a certain to by extensive and prosperous manusacthirty-five per cent. against our doubtful tures; and there are so many fixed inten per cent. Should it appear incredible comes and so many well-to-do people to that a community should be paying thirty- tax, that the hand of the chancellor of the five per cent in taxation, we can only say exchequer is but little felt by individuals that Italian landowners themselves bave in the community. But in Italy the main memorialized the government in the fol- wealth of the country is agricultural; and lowing words:

man has never succeeded in devising,

and probably never will devise, a method The average taxation on land throughout of extracting from nature more than a Italy amounts to 30 per cent. on the returns modest and steady competency for his actually got from the property. In some prov. capital and his enterprise. Agricultural inces, in Lombardy for instance, it rises to 40 wealth never proceeds by "leaps and or even 45 per cent, and in parts of Cremona bounds ;” and in Italy agriculture is the to as much as 60 per cent., without counting mortgages or costs of registration, which have milch cow, alike for the community and to be paid when the property changes hands. the taxpayer. In Italy, which has now a

population of twenty-eight inillion souls, These figures are quoted by Mr. Beau- only three hundred and eighty-two thouclerc, in one of his admirable reports to sand persons are employed in the greater the Foreign Office on the condition of industries, and of these not a third are Italy; and though he adds in a note that male adults. Moreover, many of these this high scale of taxation is based upon industries are carried on in a small and a very old valuation of land, and that the therefore a costly manner, with insufficient price of land has increased considerably capital, insufficient machinery, and insufin many places, yet even if we were to ficient knowledge. Yet progress has been suppose it has increased in value by one made, as the returns of the export and fourth, which would be an exaggerated import trade of the new kingdom show. estimate, it would still leave a state of In 1862 the total imports and exports fiscal oppression unparalleled in any civil. were, in round numbers, 62,000,000l. ized community. Another way of testing They have now risen to over 100,000,000l. the accuracy of the computation, that the It must, however, be borne in mind that, people pay thirty-five per cent. of their in the interval, Venetia and the Papal income to the State or the communes, is States have been added to the account; to remember that in Italy the income tax and 1862 represents, moreover, a period alone is between thirteen and fourteen when industry was naturally slack by rea

[graphic]

а

66

[ocr errors]

ness.

son of the prevailing political excitement. State - to which they belong is sadly out Our own trade with Italy gives anything at elbows. but a satisfactory record. It was rather Still, with all the drawbacks that necesless in 1880 than it was in 1870. In the sarily attend a community oppressed with former year, it was represented by 10,- taxation, and in too great a hurry to oco 137,000l. In the latter it had sunk to cupy a position for which its natural 9,718,000l., though about halfway through resources scarcely adapt it, all that is the decade, or in 1875, it had reached wanted to enable Italy to secure for her. 12,803,00ol., the highest figure yet at- self that material progress without which, tained. Perhaps the most satisfactory in these days, no State can be lastingly feature that can be quoted of Italian prog- strong and exercise continuous authority, ress is the great increase of the sums is a combination of energy and enterdeposited in savings banks. They now prise. As Lord Beaconsfield said in the reach 34,000,oool., a considerable advance House of Lords, when speaking of a during the period we are considering. Of strategic frontier for Turkey against Rusthe equilibrium at last attained between sia on the Balkans, that the only sure de. expenditure and revenue, of the approach- fence of nations is “the vital spirit of ing abolition of the paper currency, and man,” so the vital spirit of man is the of the steady and remarkable rise in the only resource by the help of which Italy public funds, despite the heavy taxation can overcome her commercial sluggishto which, as we have said, they are ex- If the example of Turin were sol. posed, the Italians have much reason to lowed by the whole country, the question be proud. In 1872, the highest point would soon be solved. In 1865, when these reached was 691. During the pres- Turin was deprived of its dignity and ent year they have touched 90. No more position as the capital city, great depres. conclusive proof could be adduced that, sion fell upon the brave sub-Alpine race, though the increase of wealth in Italy and its population sank from two hunmay not be so great as its best friends dred and twenty to two hundred thouwould desire to see, eppur si muove, and sand. Its population in 1880 had risen the world entertains sufficient confidence to 236,658 souls, and, as Mr. Colnagbi in the resolve of the Italian people, no tells us in his excellent consular report matter what their poverty or what their for that year, the old headquarters of the imposts, to meet their obligations and court, the government, and the army, by maintain a reputation for financial integ. all of which it has been abandoned, has rity. It is, moreover, an encouraging since been converted into a flourishing symptom, that the export of coal and cot. industrial centre. During the last ten ton yarn and twist from this country to years nearly fifteen hundred new houses Italy is steadily on the increase; a fact have been built in Turin; half a million incompatible with either retrogression or of money having been spent in building stagnation in Italian manufacturing indus in the two years 1877 and 1878 alone. try. Railways are being steadily made, “ The streets,” says Mr. Colnaghi, "are and Italy now possesses between five and furrowed with lines of steam and horse six thousand miles of what the Italians tramways, which meet in the centre of the call iron roads. But no one can travel in city, and which are spreading their conItaly without observing that many of the necting links to the neighboring towns railways are badly constructed and imper. and villages. Their employment is also fectly kept in repair. Cavour was in a extending to the country districts of Pied. hurry to “ make Italy; " so he asked no mont.” No fewer than thirteen trainway questions about money when a plébiscite lines have been constructed for the serwas to be held or a province to be an. vice of Turin and the environs; and the nexed. In the same way, Italy was in a average number of passengers carried hurry to have railroads; and provided she per annum is six millions. The rolling got them, she troubled herself little about stock originally came from Belgium, but engineers' estimates and contractors' new cars are built by Messrs. Locati, in work. She is now paying the penalty of their works at Turin. The engines, howe her patriotic precipitation. There are ever, came from Cassel; and, as we learn some splendid stations in Italy, as at elsewhere, Germany continues to supply Turin and Milan. But most of the in Italy with rails, telegraph wire, and matermediate balting-places show, in their chinery. Milan competes with Turin in buildings, a lamentable want even of paint extending its population, its borders, and and whitewash, and give the notion that its industry. During the last decade its the company – in many instances the population has increased by forty thou.

[ocr errors]

sand, and it now contains three hundredi in the execution of a difficult task. The thousand souls. Milan is the headquarters Via Nazionale, now the finest street in of the Alta Italia Railway, and the pierc- Rome, which runs from the Baths of ing of the St. Gothard Tunnel cannot fail Diocletian to the Corso, has been interto add considerably to the importance and rupted in one place in order to preserve a opulence of the old Lombard capital. portion of the Servian Wall, which is emBut, as we move farther south, the record bedded in shrubs and flowers, and has grows less pleasing. Florence has not been diverted in another in order that it yet recovered from the transfer of the might skirt the piazza that contains the capital to Rome; and Rome has not prof. Column of Trajan. The excavations in ited in a material sense by the transfer the Forum are being prosecuted with as much as might have been expected. steadfastness and learning, without injurThe Florentines incurred enormous debts ing, indeed to the benefit of, the traffic that when the honor, of which they were by passes along the Sacred Way. On the no means solicitous, devolved upon them. Janiculum, a drive, lined with parterres They improved the occasion still further and shrubberies, through which wind to embellish their beautiful city, and the grassy paths, has been constructed, from State has since had to recoup them a por- which a view of Rome, the Campagna, tion of this expenditure. The Tuscans the Alban and Sabine Hills, is to be had, are an easy-going rather than an ambi- that is matchless for natural beauty and tious people; and many of them regret classicals associations. In Rome, at least, the light taxation and cheap living of the the motto of the Italians seems to have good old days of Leopold, when every been, “Chi va piano va sano." Between body could lead a pleasant life if only be Santa Maria Maggiore and the gate of left politics and theology alone. In Rome San Lorenzo, a new quarter has sprung the bulk of the population appear to live up, whose streets bear the name of the pretty much as they did ten or even twenty most illustrious contributors to Italian years ago. Their houses remain the same unity, whether with the pen or with the in their spacious squalor; their food and sword. If only Naples could boast a drink are the same, for if wages are higher more satisfactory progress, and Venice so are victuals and wine; and they are, could be roused froin a sluggishness that without exception, the worst-dressed peo. seems borrowed of its waters, the story of ple of any capital city in the world. Away the principal Italian cities during the last from the inain thoroughfares one feels it ten years would be a cheerful one. But hard to believe oneself in a capital city. the two Sicilies, which together contribute Nevertheless, during the ten years that a third of the population of Italy, lag beRome has housed the sovereign, the Par- bind the other provinces in almost every liament, and the great departments of particular. It was hardly to be expected State, much' has been done to accommo- that their evil traditions of sloth, apathy, date it to its new clignity, without depriv. and superstition, would be got rid of in ing it of the more permanently interesting twenty years. Yet even here something features that have made it alike for the has been done during the last decade. student, for the artist, for the man of let. But the motto of Italian statesmen, more ters, and even for people of pleasure, the particularly as regards the southern pormost delightful and attractive of all cities. iion of the kingdom, should ever be, We may lament, with Mr. Hare, the ex. Nil actum credens dum quid superesset agencessive passion for neatness which, strip.

dum. ping from the Coliseum all the garb of natural beauty with which the merciful The principal problem, however, weigh. centuries had draped it, has made it for ing upon the minds of thoughtful and the present look rather like a new build patriotic Italians, is the condition of agri. ing not quite finished than an ancient culture, which, as we have said, is the building in decay; and we may be angry chief staple of Italian industry; and with with the tidy Goths who have transformed the condition of agriculture is necessarily the Baths of Caracalla, where Shelley associated the condition of the agricultural wrote his “ Prometheus," into a sort of laborer. We have spoken of the heavy open-air museum, ticketed, labelled, and weight of taxation that prevails in Italy, partitioned. But if we consider dispas- and unquestionably the burden is imposed sionately all the Italians have done to with most relentlessness on the land. preserve ancient and embellish modern Here is what Mr. Beauclerc, in one of his Rome, we shall be obliged to confess that reports, says of Lombardy, notoriously no little discrimination has been exhibited one of the richest portions of the penin

"

sula, and of Virgil's still “miserae Cremo. I will be required. Surely this is a case in nae :

which there will be danger of the steed The fertility and prosperity of this fine region starving while the grass is growing. Is is counteracted, however, hy the monstrous it wonderful if, laboring under the burden taxes imposed upon it. Reference has been of such imposts, the landowners of Italy made to this subject in my previous report, can do little or nothing for the improveand I recur to it only to give further proofs of ment of their estates, and if the smaller the enormity of the taxation by means of one proprietors, and those holding under the or two cases in point. In some provinces of inezzadrin or métıyage system, are in Lombardy, under old valuations, the taxes still worse case ? In some of the most amount to 40 or 45 per cent., not of the valua- fertile districts of Italy, wages are misertion merely, but of the net returns. This is especially the case in the lower plains. In ably small, food is pitifully poor, and the Cremona the taxes are more out of all propor- general condition of the laborer deplortion to the returns than.in any district in Eu-able. In the province of Mantua huts rope; and they rise to 60 per cent. on the net are to be met with, built of mud and returns, not of the variable production of the thatched with canes, after the manner of year, which may be very large or very small, the dwellings of Australasian aborigines. but 'on the fixed basis of the nine or twelve Heavy mortgages, family settlements, and years' lease valuations as obtained by public the cost of registration fees on each transauction. For instance, the Great Milanese fer or lease, conspire to render it impossiHospital, which is the largest landholder in ble for a landowner to do anything tothe basin of the Po, is taxed to the extent of wards the inprovement of these wretched 35 1-2 per cent., exclusive of the expenses of administration.

tenements. Nor must it be supposed that The average amount of land-tax paid by these evils spring in any degree from the every Italian is 9 fr. 15 c., by every Lombard accumulation of land in few hands. On 12 fr. 13 c., and each inhabitant of the province the contrary, the compulsory division of of Cremona has the unjustifiable privilege of property among all the children of the paying 18 fr. 55 C., though many territories are possessor prevails in Italy as in France; richer than his!

and there is no mischief more frequently The principal beneficent institutions of Cre. referred to by those who have reported mona holding land are taxed nearly 41 per on the subject than this division and subcent., exclusive of administration charges, division of land, with the consequent whilst some have to pay 45, 48, 59, and even diminution of capital for its cultivation. 65 per cent. on the rent valuations. When expenses of annual repairs, mainte

The materials from which to draw nance, and administration, are added to this whilst descanting on this theme are perabnormal weight of taxation, the net returns plexing in their quantity; and a long artisink to zero. Again, the taxpayer receives the cle might be written on the condition of the visits of the collectors regularly every two agricultural laborer alone. “ La Voce d'un months, and the payments for maintenance and Contadino,” which is named at the beginrepairs cannot be postponed, whilst it is the ning of this paper, is apparently what it rent return which is invariably delayed in a case of a bad year or what not. Hence, a

professes to be; and it gives an unvarsmall owner is often poorer and less safe than nished and heartrending account of the a ploughman and his family on a good estate.

food, dwelling, clothing, and general staThe Hagrant injustice of such taxation as tus of the agricultural laborer in the north this is known and recognized by all. Cremona of Italy, where his condition is certainly seems predestined to spoliation ever since Oc- not at the worst. But the most complete tavius confiscated the province for his veterans. storehouse of information upon the subNot until real reparation is given for the ject is the “ Atti della Giunta per la Inhardships complained of will the people be chiesta Agraria," published by the Italian able to say, with more truth than Virgil did, Senate, and of which twenty five bulky Deus nobis hæc otia fecit.

volumes have been already issued. We A commission has been appointed by will confine ourselves to Volume V., the legislature to collect data for a proj. which we have selected at random, and ect of law for the readjustment of the will quote only from one of its reports, land-tax, and originally it was intended merely adding that all the reports practithat the work should be done in ten years. cally tell the same tale. It is scarcely an But, from a despatch by Sir Augustus exaggeration to say that they seem Paget to Earl Granville of the end of form one long indictment against the July of this year, it appears that the pe. revolution by which the unity of Italy has riod has been extended to twenty years, been attained. The condition of the during which time, it is computed, the agricultural laborer has sensibly changed labor of three hundred civil engineers for the worse. He has to work much

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

to

« VorigeDoorgaan »