« PreviousContinue »
ishing; for spies are to be found everywhere plying their vile trade under a thousand disguises. Before 1859 they covered the whole of Italy, with the exception of Piedmont; to-day unhappy Venetia alone is left to them, and there they literally swarm. It is therefore very difficult to examine, on the spot, the condition of Venice. The authorities are always on the watch; and any stranger who prosecuted inquiries, and frequented Venetian society (or rather the ghost of it which still survives), would not be allowed to remain long in the city.
I cannot describe better the state of Venice than by saying that it is exactly that of Milan previous to 1859; the same tyranny and the same hatred, the same suspicion on one side, and the same irritation on the other; the same absolute separation at all times, and in all places, between the Austrians and the Venetians; the oppressors and the oppressed. Often have I heard from the traveller just come from Venice such language as the following :-“How beautiful are the Venetian buildings and remains ! but what a city of the dead ! how miserable it must be to live there!" Such exclamations are naturally uttered by every one who visits such admirable specimens of art, in a city which suffers the bitter degradation of servitude. I will, however, cease to dwell upon such sentimental sorrows, and proceed to show from facts and material results what is the condition of Venice. Their testimony is yet more convincing than the voice of complaint.
A recent report of the Venetian Chamber of Commerce gives, in Austrian florins, the value of the exports and the imports of the port of Venice from 1860 to 1864. The Austrian florin is as nearly as possible two francs and a half. The report is dated 31st January 1865, and gives the following returns :
Amongst the trades which contributed, according to the report of January 1865, to this great decay of Venetian commerce, that of glass manufacture must be specially mentioned. The president of the Chamber of Commerce, speaking of it, says :-“This industry falls off notably, and is in danger of complete ruin, unless the government comes to its rescue.” The same is true of other branches of industry and commerce; as, for instance, soaps, jewellery, and hardware, metals wrought and unwrought, colonial produce and drugs, cheeses, and animals for butcher's meat. There are, however, some exceptions to this general decline, as in the case of the wood trade, colours and colouring material, hemp and cordage.
* In 1865 and 1866 the imports and exports were :-
This latter year (1866) was the last of Austrian rule, as the Austrians evacuated Venice 19th October 1866.
The Venetian Chamber of Commerce also published in January 1865 a report of the number and tonnage of the vessels which entered and cleared out from the port of Venice from 1859 to 1864. These statistics are an irrefutable proof of the ruin which appears in store for this unhappy city. The President of the Venetian Chamber of Commerce says :“From the war of 1859 dates a period of decay in Venice so rapid, that it is probably impossible to find a like example in the history of our commerce."
1859. 1860. 1861. 1862. Vessels 4,581 4,250 3,788 3,382 Tonnage 537,285 436,416 364,792 332,413
VESSELS CLEARED OUT.* Vessels
4,251 3,756 3,295 3,241 3,093 Tonnage 519,241 450,980 375,015 336,483 310,968 303,539
Thus, in five years there has been a diminution of 1458 vessels and 235,948 tons entry; and of 1373 vessels and 215,702 tons of exit. While Venice +
Vessels cleared out
299,329 The Venetian coasting and river trade, which in 1858 was valued at 36,000,000 florins, had fallen in 1865 to 15,600,000 florins.
+ The following facts and statistics given by a correspondent of the Indépendance Belge, of the 3d May 1866, are worth recording : “ Venice has a population of about 118,000, and a garrison of about 8000 or 9000. It is a free port, and the capital of a province of Do you wish some statistics which will show you better than all arguments the decay of this city, which ought to be a centre of pleasure and business, and which might have increased visibly since Italy is free, just as Naples and Milan have in. creased in population and riches ? I will take an article of daily consumption (butcher's meat), and I will compare the statistics of 1860 and 1865:
has had such cruel losses -inflicted upon it, Genoa has doubled its commerce in six years, and the port of Naples is not sufficient for its growing trade.
Though the resources of Venice diminish, its taxes grow heavier. Savings banks and benefit societies are few and far between in Venetia ; no wonder, therefore, that want increases. Austria maintains herself in that province by means of an army of 150,000 men resting on the famous Quadrilateral. The fortifications of Venice itself have been considerably augmented since the war of 1859. The Venetian territory has been covered with numerous strategic works. The necessity of being always on the watch produces in Austria financial difficulties of the most serious kind. The fact is, that Venetia is a heavy burden upon the government of Vienna—a burden which is exhausting the resources of the empire. Without Venetia, everyone knows, even at Vienna, that Austria would be without doubt richer and stronger, for she would be able to reduce considerably both her army and her expenditure. Indeed, if the true frontier between Italy and Austria, that of the Alps, 2,500,000 inhabitants.
1,630,621 Is it necessary to enumerate the miseries hidden beneath these figures ?”
were wisely accepted in accordance with the natural order of things, not only would an end at once be put to the hostility which exists between the two countries, but there would, moreover, spring up between them a trade equally beneficial to both. Austria could thus at a single stroke diminish her military expenditure and augment her commerce. Now, on the contrary, Italy (who if mistress of her national territory would be occupied solely with the development of her agriculture and industry) is ever on the look-out for an opportunity by which to set Venetia free; she holds herself ready to rise whenever an offer to aid her in that work is made by an enemy of Austria. How everything would be changed if this latter power undid, of her own accord, the chains of Venice, which weigh so heavily on Austria herself! Much indeed is said of the strategic necessity which obliges Austria to hold the line of the Mincio, and the Germans themselves not unfrequently assert it. Such a pretension is altogether exaggerated, and on the part of Austria it is a mistaken idea. The Italians number, with Rome and Venetia included, about 25,000,000; the German confederation numbers 44,000,000; Austria, without Venetia, 32,000,000. Between these German and Italian lands rises the barrier of the Alps. It is really impossible to discuss seriously the claim made by the stronger power, to possess on the other side of that great Alpine barrier a province naturally belonging to its weaker neighbour, on the ground of the danger to which the former and stronger power would be exposed, by