FEW Englishmen, in time of peace, trouble their heads about Malta. We suspect that Mr. STANLEY shares the general igno- rance and indifference ; and that his Under-Secretary, Mr. Hay, is not over anxious to direct his attention to its wants and grie- vances. Malta, however, contains above a hundred thousand in- habitants, who are deeply sensible of what they suffer from the neglect with which they are treated by the Mother Country. We connect the ideas of Malta with those of Turkish Sultans, Chris- tian Knights, and the military glories of the middle ages; but never inquire into the moral and political state of the present in- habitants.
We hope that when the next vote for the Military and Naval establishment of Malta is proposed, Mr. STANLEY will be asked for an account of the manner in which the revenue raised in the island is disposed of. This eevenue is stated by MACCULLOCL at 100,0001. ; and we suspect that a true account of its application
would be a very curious one. If the inquiry is followed up,—and the Reformed House of Commons should consider it a point of duty to ascertain the actual condition of their Maltese fellow sub- jects,—the result would be any thing but creditable to this country and its rulers. The propriety of instituting such an in- vestigation is, on that account alone, indisputable. We have been led to make these remarks by the perusal of a
letter, written in Italian; by an inhabitant of Malta, to a certain Baron DE PIRO, who, in dedicating a History of the last Plague in Malta to the Lieutenant-Governor of the Island, appears to have paid some very undeserved compliments to the British autho- rities. So far front joining in these compliments, the letter-writer, who signs himself " Un Plebeo Maltese," exhibits a string of formi- dable accusations against the Government, which we are given to understand can all be substantiated. He complains— That the tax on bread sometimes amounts to 50 per cent.*
That a percentage is levied on the amounts claimed by litigants in the courts of justice ; and that these are sometimes repeated in passing through three tribunals, before an appeal can reach this country. That a customhouse and bonded warehouses, with every variety of petty exaction in the way of port and other dues, are suffered to exist, as if to scare the trade away; which can only be attracted to such a poor and barren spot by an entire freedom from every exaction.
• Mr. Macculloch, in his Commercial Dictionary, article "Malta,"says that this duty was imposed.under thepretcnce of protectiny the agriculture of this barren rock.
"That notiithstanaing iheienelleird change in the Quarantine- laws, effected nearly ten years since in this country, Malta, though a British possession, is yet defrauded of her just share in this ne- cessary change.
Then, three out of five of the persons who were employed to construct a new code of laws for the island, were totally ignorant of the existing leak habits, and wants of its inhabitants ; and two of these five, sensible of their incompetency, wisely gave up the attempt : the funds anciently devoted to public instruction have been diverted from that purpose : the University is managed in a narrow and mercenary spirit : in short, the absolute power of the Governors, and their frequent proclamations—the malad- ministration of justice—the inefficiency and expense of the nume- rous tribunals—the vicious division of duties, which presses iniqui- tously on the most needy classes—the want of encouragement to public industry, shipping, and commerce in general—form a sum total of grievances, enough to break the spirit of any people, and to reflect deep disgrace on the powerful nation which has per- mitted them to exist under her dominion.
Mr. STANLEY, whatever may be his faults as a statesman, has never been considered a patron of peciilation or injustice. More- over, we are mistaken in his character, if he suffers himself to be led by the nose by any Tory subaltern in his office, who may find it suitable to his purposes to gloss over and perpetuate a system of impolicy and oppression. If Mr. STANLEY does his duty, the state of things in Malta will be put on a different footing without delay : if he declines the task, let him be pestered in the House of Commons till he takes it in hand.