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STORY OF A VISIT TO THE "DRIED MONKS" OF FLORIANA



A Tale of Malta

On the morning of a beautiful spring day in the year 187-Lieut. Edgar Haughton; of Her Majesty's-Regiment of Foot, was standing at the bottom of the Marsamuscetto steps anxiously awaiting the arrival of the P. & O. Steamer "Suez" from Southampton, his old school-fellow and Sandh\lrst chum, Lieutenant Guy Dacres, who had recently exchanged into that regiment being on board.
These young men had been stanch friends during their acquaintance; it was, therefore, with feelings of great delight that Haughton was looking forward to a renewal of the intimacy that existed in days gone by. .
It was one of those glorious April days, of which Malta can proudly boast; the sun's rays streamed dazzlingly down from out the clear blue sky, shimmering and dancing on the rippled surface of the tide-less sea, whose azure hue vied with that of the canopy above; while a gentle breeze imparted a delicious coolness to the atmosphere. Across the harbour lay that picturesque suburb. of Valletta, Sliema; bathed in a flood. of sunshine, and between these two places, boats, laden with passengers, were passing and re-passing.
Haughton was much interested in watching the various persons as they ascended and descended the steps, the countenances of many being expressive of that joy, which, after the long and somewhat irksome period of fasting, was the natural outcome of the near approach of Easter; for this was the day after Good-Friday, and people were eagerly looking forward to the advent of the festive season.

The early morn of the morrow was to witness a presentment of the Resurrection, a large wooden image of our Saviour, his sacred head encircled with a halo of brass, bearing aloft the banner of victory, being borne on men's shoulders, and carried through some of the streets of Valletta.
Such exhibitions are regarded with much reverence by the Maltes~, who are. devoted in their religious worship, and faithful in the observance of the rites and ceremonies of their church, following the teachings of the clergy with obedience and consistency.
The strictest decorum is preserved amongst the Maltese during the progress of religious processions through the streets, and woe betide any person who should dare to attempt any infraction of the rules observed on these occasions. It is pleasant to contemplate the amount of fervour exhibited in the presence of these processions here is no acceptance of sham, but a manifestation of simple belief in the reality and usefulness of the ceremonies, which the natives are taught to participate in.

II.

Haughton had served in Malta for some years, and being a young man of an enquiring turn of mind, and one anxious to study the character of the people With whom he was brought into contact, had cultivated the society of the Maltese, mixing much amongst the educated classes, whose courteous manners and general intelligence, coupled with their knowledge of the English and other languages, won his good opinion. He had also a good opinion of the Maltese generally, finding them civil, honest and obliging.
The writer would here take the opportunity of expressing his opinion in reference to certain classes amongst the Maltese, that opinion being founded on long experience, he having served in Malta at different periods since the year 1865, and has had numerous employees, consisting of clerks, foremen, artificers, messengers and labourers under his command, all of whom with scarcely an exception, have conducted themselves in a praiseworthy manner, performing their duties with fidelity and zeal, earnestly striving to win the confidence of their superiors, and showing a fervent desire to give satisfaction. The writer is therefore proud of being able to testify to their honesty, sobriety and general good behaviour, hardly ever having had occasion either to punish or reprimand anyone of them.
He is also glad to be enabled to state that all classes of the Maltese of his acquaintance have evinced civility and good-feeling towards him, and those whom he has been instrumental in either bringing into or advancing in the department, have shown a grateful appreciation of what has been done for them.

But of course there are bad amongst the good in all classes of society, and such will be the case everywhere while the world lasts, and no exception can be taken in regard to Malta. Considering, however, the large number of Maltese employed under the writer, whose characters, as far as he is aware, may be regarded as uniformly good, he is of opinion that this circumstance may fairly be accepted as a criterion in respect of the Maltese generally belonging to similar grades.
Moreover, it must, he thinks, be conceded that good behaviour on the part of the Maltese is conspicuously evidenced by the absence of -rows or disturbances of any kind during lest as, and especially during the more exciting Carnival season when nothing prevails beyond hilarity and joyous 'amusements of a harmless character, presenting in imagillation, a striking contrast to what would be likely to happen were similar festivities carried on in any town in England.
The writer is a Protestant, but he finds a good deal that is worthy of admiration in the Raman Catholic religion as practised in Malta, especially In regard to the restraining Influence exercised by the clergy, which cannot but have a good moral effect; priests by precept and example causing many to keep aloof from evil, and thus building up that self-respect which keeps people in the paths of virtue and religion.
Morality is the stepping-stone to religion, and without morality there is no real religion, therefore what leads to one must necessarily lead to the other.


III.
Haughton had been waiting for some time when he beheld the "Suez", slowly steaming into the Quarantine Harbour and as she neared her moorings opposite to the dismal looking Lazaretto, she was followed by numerous dgkaisas propelled by bare-footed Maltese boatmen, bent on taking passengers ashore; and, in a short time, several of the boats were brought into requisition by persons wishing to land, who seated themselves amid the frantic gesticulations and shouts of excited, unemployed boatmen.

Haughton went on board to meet Dacres who, after having warmly greeted him, introduced him to some fellow-passengers whose acquaintance he had made during the voyage, and whose escort in sight-seeing he asked Haughton to become.
The party consisted of a Mrs. Gray, the wife of an officer whose regiment was serving in India; her daughter Florence, a girl of eighteen; her sister-in-law, Miss Gray, who was a somewhat elderly spinster, an old gentleman of the name of Lawson, in whose charge the ladies had been placed, and his grandson, a boy about twelve years of age.
Mrs. Gray and her daughter were on their way to Bombay to join Colonel Gray, and were to be accompanied thither by the Lawsons; while Miss Gray had come with them as far as Malta, intending to return to England after a short stay in the island.
The party, having landed, proceeded to Dunsford's Hotel in Strada Reale, and during their progress thither the violent ringing of Church bells suddenly commenced, the clang of which, swept through the streets of Valletta.
Strada Reale was thronged with pedestrians, and as the party passed along, they were struck with the beauty of some of the young girls whom they met, whose bright black eyes and characteristically modest countenances were disclosed beneath that becoming article of attire the black silk faldetta.

Luncheon having been ordered-a meal which is indispensable after a voyage, when there has not been time to do justice to a good breakfast on board ship-Dacres, accompanied by Haughton, went to Barracks and reported himself to the colonel by whom
he was introduced to such of his brother officers as were present.

IV.

On their way back to the hotel the two friends paid a visit to the well-known and highly respected Mr. Marich at his famous Cigar Divanin St. George's Square. Dacres had made his acquaintance several years previously when- en route to India, but had altered considerably in appearance since then; Marich, however, with his remarkable faculty for remembering faces, recognized him at once, and greeted him with that courtesy and kindness of manner which formed one of his prominent characteristics. The writer, who knew Marich for many years, cannot allow this opportunity to pass without paying a tribute to the memory of so excellent a man. Possessing all the attributes of a gentleman, being always courteous and obliging, and ever ready to do an act of kindness, he won the confidence and esteem of all who knew him. He never indulged in that most odious habit of backbiting; but, on the contrary, showed a desire to say a good word for everybody. Unostentatiously charitable to the poor, and keenly sympathetic towards those who suffered from affliction, he was regarded as one of the best and most unselfish men in the island.

Poor Mr. Marich! he is now no more, having recently passed into a happier world deeply regretted by all his friends. His are worthy sons of a worthy father, being excellent young men, and their good qualities afford a proof of the character of their father in the admirable training which they received from him. That they may continue to follow in the footsteps of their father, is the earnest and sincere wish of the writer.

V.

On their return to the hotel Dacres and Haughton found luncheon awaiting them, and to that most welcome repast they sat down with healthy appetites and exuberant spirits, glad to. re-join the ladies.
It could be seen at a glance that Dacres regarded Florence Gray with a large measure of admiration, if not affection, she being an amiable, lovely girl, with charming and fascinating manners, and as he was an attractive man, both mentally and physically, it seemed probable that the regard was reciprocal.
"Haughton," said Dacres, as they were discussing the good thing, on the table, "suppose we all go to the Capuchin convent at Floriana? I remember going there, when I was here before, and was rather amused." "All right," replied Haughton, "if it be agreeable to the ladies." "What do you say, ladies", asked Dacres, "would you like to see the dried monks?" "I should above all things," answered Miss Gray; "but why are they called "dried monks?" I suppose they have become so emaciated through fasting, and doing penance, that they are so termed. Poor creatures! I greatly admire such men, men who practise self-denial, and set a noble example to others. I consider that ; self-abnegation, as exemplified in the lives .~ of such noble characters as Francis of Assisi Xavier, and others whom I could name is one of the loftiest attributes of humanity." Dacres smiled at the enthusiasm of the old lady, but allowed her to remain in ignorance as to what she would have to witness.

And so it was arranged that after the party had seen some of the churches and other objects of interest in Valletta, they were to pay a visit to the Capuchin convent.

VI.
They first visited the Garrison ~library, which is a fine, handsome building, situated , in St. George's Square near to the Main-guard and opposite to the Governor's Palace.
The library contains upwards, of twenty thousand volumes, many of the books being of considerable importance and value; but some of them, especially works of fiction, have, apparently been selected. Without, regard to taste, being either objectionable in a moral point of view, or of a trashy nature.
But their selection might have been the result of ignorance on the part of the choosers, advertisements having probably been the only guide to the selection.

It should, however, be remarked that the present Committee have shown much judgment in the choice of books, which are now, for the most part, worth reading.
Mr. Camilleri, the Sub-Librarian, has held that post for many years, and is very popular, being always civil, courteous, and obliging. It is surprising that, among such an enormous number of books contained in the library, which cannot, without much difficulty, be placed in convenient order, the librarians are enabled at once to find any particular work that may be required.
Having inspected the library and reading. rooms, and had an agreeable chat with that general favourite, the affable and good natured Assistant Sub-Librarian, Mr. Martin, the party proceeded to the Governor's Palace, which they explored with the greatest interest and delight, being particularly struck with the Armoury and the handsome and spacious ball-room, their admiration extending also to the Council Chamber, and to the beautiful marble-paved corridors.
Their next visit was to the Church of St. John, with the exterior of which they were somewhat disappointed, the faÁade being rather plain, the absence of statues in the niches giving it a bare appearance. But the interior presented such a picture of beauty and grandeur that those of the party, who had not previously seen the church, stood transfixed with amazement and delight.
It needs the pen of an able artist to adequately describe the beauties of this most magnificent edifice, the writer, therefore, cannot do more than briefly allude to some of the principal features.
The coup d'oeil on entering the building is most striking; before the spectator is the vast nave with the choir and apse, the former having an aisle on each side divided into side chapels which are beautifully decorated, and adorned with pictures, marble statues &c., and over the altars are pillars and pilasters of the richest marble. In some of the chapels are handsome marble tombs, wherein rest the remains of some of the Great Masters of the Order of the Knights of St. John.

The arched roof, which is resplendent in its decorations of gilding and painting, is divided into zones on which are richly painted pictures in oils, representing events in scripture history.

The pavement is composed of several hundred slabs of marble elaborately inlaid. Most interesting are the silver gates opening into one of the chapels, which, at the time of the French invasion in 1798 were painted black, in order to deceive Napoleon Bonaparte who took possession of most of the treasure contained in the church, and whose greed would probably have led to the
Removal of the gates as well.

VII.

After visiting two or three other churches of which no mention need be made and as the time for re-embarking on board the "Suez" was drawing near, the party hurriedly betook themselves to the Capuchin Convent and after having inspected the chapel and other parts of the building, they descended a flight of steps, and found themselves in a long corridor through which daylight was but scantily diffused, and there they beheld a spectacle which fairly took away Miss Gray's breath, for in the corridor and also in the vaulted chamber leading therefrom,∑ ranged in niches along the walls, and in an upright position, supported by pieces of wood placed across the opening, were several dead friars garbed in the dress of the Order, which they had worn when alive, consisting of a long cloak of coarse brown cloth, with a cowl thrown over the head, and a girdle of white cordage tied round the waist.
"Bless me!" exclaimed Miss Gray in a tone of profound astonishment, "what are these! "
"Allow me, ladies," replied Dacres, "to
Introduce you to the 'dried monks". 'Why Goodness Gracious" said the old lady, I expected to see living men, but so attenuated as to present a dried up appearance and I was looking forward to the pleasure of making the acquaintance of some of them, in order that I might express my great admiration for their self-sacrificing habits. But can such things as these be allowed in this, the enlightened nineteenth century! "asked Miss Gray of Haughton.
"Well, I believe, Miss Gray", he replied, "that this is not the outcome of superstition, but merely the relic of an obsolete custom; which custom was not originally established in Malta, but emanated from Sicily, and that the exhibition was designed and allowed under papal authority solely to show the vanity of human pride and greatness.

Sic transit gloria mundi. The dead bodies of friars, however, are no longer subjected to a drying process, and exhibited here as you see these before you, but are now buried in the Addolorata Cemetery".

But here were these poor bodies exhibited to the public gaze in the ghastly irony, the hideous mockery of resemblance to the living.

It was a sickening spectacle; the skin, of a blackened parchment-like appearance still adhering to the bones of the face; the empty eye sockets; the white teeth gleaming in the uncertain light; the head covered with a cowl; the body enveloped in a heavy cloak-all presented a most grotesque appearance, producing feelings of sorrow, and giving rise to the thought that, while the souls of these friars were perhaps in the abode of eternal bliss, their decaying bodies were exposed to the vulgar gaze.

VIII.

Dacres and Florence Gray seemed more amused than otherwise by the ghastly exhibition, for, occasionally, a peal of laughter rang through the dismal chamber. But this merriment was destined to come to an abrupt and painful end. Dacres and his fair companion with young Lawson were in the vault, while the rest of the party stood in of the corridor ready to take their departure, when suddenly, a fearful shriek fell on the ear, and Florence Gray was seen rushing towards her friends with one of the dead friars seemingly hanging on to the skirt of her dress.
It appears that, while she was standing close to, and With her back to the friar engaged in an animated conversation with Dacres young: Dawson, in a spirit of mischief surreptitiously pinned her dress to, the friarís cloak, and she, on moving from the spot, felt a tug at her dress, and in turning
quickly round to ascertain the cause, pulled the body from Its support, and it fell against her. With a shriek of terror she fled towards the entrance, and on reaching the spot she looked round and beheld the awful object apparently clinging, to her, and then, With a frightful yell, which was ~ echoed and re-echoed througl1 the gloomy chamber, she fell senseless to the ground. The consternation created by this terrible incident was appalling; Mrs. Gray fainted; Miss Gray went into violent hysterics; the boy who was the cause of the misadventure was deeply distressed; old Mr. Lawson seemed powerless to do anything, being quite unnerved, and Dacres was almost beside himself with alarm.

Haughton, how∑ ever, kept his self-possession, and speedily relieved Florence Gray of her ghastly burden, which had fallen on her when she fell, and then, with the assistance of Dacres, he bore her inanimate form into the open air, and every effort was made to revive her, but all in vain; so, placing her in a carriage" the two young men conveyed her back to the hotel, medical aid being at once summoned; but for many hours she remained in a state of unconsciousness. At length consciousness returned, but for a brief period only, when she again sank into a state of insensibility, brain fever having supervened, and for weeks she lay hovering between life and death.
Owing, however, to the careful nursing which she received from both her mother and her aunt, and to the unremitting attention:" on the part of a well-known Maltese doctor; she gradually recovered, and when strong enough to be moved she returned with Miss ï Gray to England, Mrs. Gray proceeding to Bombay.

In the meantime Dacres constantly called at the hotel to inquire after Florence, and as soon as she was convalescent and able to leave her room, he was her daily visitor, and soon, the intimacy, as might be expected, ripened into an ardent affection on both sides.
Dacres proposed and was accepted, Mrs. Gray gave her consent to the engagement, and it was arranged that the marriage should take place as soon as Dacres obtained his company. Three years later, accordingly, Haughton had the pleasure of being present at the wedding of Florence Gray, Captain Guy Dacres, to whom he acted as best man, being the happy bridegroom .
Thus was exemplified the old adage-that, "out of evil comes good," for had it not been for that untoward event Dacres and Florence might never have met again, and their destinies would have been different. But we are not the arbiters of our own destinies; they are ruled over by an unerring providence, and what may appear to us to be, chance, is really the outcome of God's designs.
He knows what is best for us and shapes our lives according to His will.
Dacres and Florence lead a happy life, and they never allude to the painful episode which nearly brought her career to a fatal termination.

It is affirmed that such an incident as that above described actually occurred, many years ago, but in that case the result was fatal, the lady having lost her reason, and died in a mad-house.
The story is told, but it is so brief that the writer ventures to offer a few further remarks
in reference to Malta and the Maltese, hoping that his observations will not be unacceptable, and thinking that, should this little narrative fa.ll into the hands of any of the, English, who may have been acquainted with the island in days gone by, they might
be glad to learn something of the changes and improvements that have taken ¢ace since then.

IX.

During the rule of Sir Gaspard Ie Marchant, several improvements were effected; the noble opera-house, built after the design of Covent Garden Theatre, was erected, and for architectural beauty it stands unsurpassed amongst local modern buildings, and is one of the most attractive and ornamental, edifices in the island. This theatre, however, was not completed until after the departure of Sir Gaspard, and when Sir Henry Storks, was Governor.
The writer was present at both the opening of the house in 1866, and Its re-opening in 1877, after the fire which had partially destroyed it in 1873, and never can be forget the enthusiasm created on both occasions

The spacious market was also built, and was regarded as one of the greatest boons conferred on the inhabitants. And, too, was erected the red granite obelisk embodying drinking-fountain, which stands in the midst of a lot of trees in the small square (?) at the back of St. John's Church. Sir Gaspard Ie Marchant did a good deal for the benefit of the Maltese, and a grateful recollection of his kindness IS cherished by many of them.
One of the most pleasant has been the planting of treesin various spots, especially in the neighbourhood of the Ta-Braxia Cemetery, where the shady avenues of a species of the sumach, running along both sides of the road leading to Pieta, and also on one side of the San Giuseppe road. These trees are not only ornamental, but they afford a shelter from the rays of the sun, and impart a sense of coolness which is most refreshing in hot weather. In Floriana also, trees have been planted, the "granaries," are now margined with them on ~ the road alongside the long garden, and they present an attractive appearance.

The introduction of trees is an immense improvement, affording, as they do, great relief to the eye after the bareness that formerly existed.
On the Marinas: at Sliema, and also along strada It-torre numerous Tamarix trees of elegant growth with foliage of a feathery nature are now growing, and these are said I to be the only trees in the island that will grow close to the sea.

During the time of Sir Arthur Borton, a , railway was constructed between Valletta and Notabile (Citta Vecchia ), having intermediate stations at the most convenient places thereby enabling persons to take trips ito the country both comfortably and cheaply, and thus affording facilities for travelling to and from Valletta to those who have their business in the city and their homes in the country.
The fares are very reasonable, and now many of the working classes ride to and from their work, instead of walking, as in former times.
In 1882 the steam launch service was established between Valletta and Sliema, and although somewhat detrimental to the interests of boatmen, who used to have the monopoly of passage, was a most desirable innovation, and has proved to be a great advantage to the public generally, both in regard to speed and safety, and also comfort, and the fare each way is only a penny. Daring the summer launches run between Valletta and Saint Julian's Bay, affording people a pleasurable sea-trip, the charge being two pence each way. They also run between Valletta and Misida Bay.

XI.
One of the most important improvements in the island has been the drainage, which was designed and commenced in Sir Arthur Borton's time, and completed after the arrival of the present governor, the work having been carried out under the able management of Captain Tressider, R. E.; with the valuable assistance of G. C. Schinas, Esqre., Ph. D. C. E., Valletta, Floriana, and the three cities having been drained, the sewerage being carried far away into the sea.
It is to be hoped that, ere long, the drainage will extend to Sliema, which is rapidly becoming a very populous place, the number of inhabitants being already upwards of six thousand, and the absence of proper drainage must render the locality more or less unhealthy.
Houses are being continually built, the demand for them being great. This increasing accommodation serves materially to relieve. Valletta, which is too densely populated.

Silema is much frequented during the summer, and on Sundays a numerous concourse of people generally assembles in Str. It- Torre, which is an attractive promenade on the sea shore, having plenty of stone seats, and a handsome Kiosk, in which light refreshments are served. A dwarf-wall surmounted by iron railings runs along the edge of this promenade, on the rocks which are fringed by the sea, and extends from near to the "Qui-si-sana" Place to Sliema Fort. An excellent band frequently plays there. A trip to this quiet little watering place after the labours of the day are over is very enjoyable, and is also conducive to health, the air there being fresher than in Valletta. Although, for the reasons above stated, a continuous residence in the place is not to be recommended.
A branch of the Malta Union Club exists at Sliema, and is open during the summer months, and a most agreeable change is experienced by many of the members to whom dinner is served outside the house under an awning, and while the dinners enjoy the fresh air, they occasionally derive further enjoyment from listening to a military band which discourses sweet music within the club. enclosure.
Mr. Cassar, the head waiter, is indefatigable in his endeavours to meet the wants of the Members, altho' the prescribed period of notice of intention to dine is often departed from.

XII.

What may fairly be regarded as an improvement of the highest Importance is that of the new system of supplying water. This system was designed and adopted under the administration of the present Governor, Sir Lintorn Simmons, G. C. B., the plan having been devised by Osbert Chadwick Esq., C.E. (now C.M.G.) whose scheme was so clearly and admirably propounded by the Lieut. Governor, the Hon. W.Hely-Hutchinson C.M.G. in Council on 17th. December 1884. "
Formerly, water from the Wignacourt aqueduct was conveyed into Valletta &c., and distributed through stone channels, while the supply for the three cities was similarly conveyed from the Fawwara Aqueduct. It was .discovered, however, after searching investigations on the part of Capt. Tressidder R.E., and Mr. Chadwick, that the stone channels were faulty, and that water carried through them was frequently exposed to contamination, thereby endangering health. These stone channels were therefore abolished and Iron pipes substituted.
There are now two distinct supplies of 1vater, one for drinking, and the other for washing and flushing purposes, the former being conveyed into Valletta and Floriana &c., thro' a main from the reservoirs at Tal Qali to San Giuseppe, and thence through pipes into these Cities. The latter is derived from wells sunk in the Tal Armier district and is pumped up by means of a powerful engine, and conducted into the five cities in the way specified.

A reservoir in connection with the supply for Valletta &c., bas been constructed for each description of water at St. James' Cavalier, while for the three cities there is a reservoir at St. Clement's Parade. Connected with the main are smaller pipes, running thro' the cities, attached to several of which are public taps from which water is drawn.
These pipes have been carried into many of the houses, each having a separate tap, over which is indicated in large letters the description of water supplied.
The value of this improvement cannot be too highly estimated, for now a supply of pure potable water is ensured, and can be drunk without fear, whereas, formerly, water became so frequently contaminated, as to be unfit to drink and was productive of disease.
The present mode of forcing water into pipes and giving a constant supply, is a vast improvement on the old system, which involved a considerable amount of domestic labour daily, the water in many houses, having to be pumped up from wells into cisterns above
One cannot feel too grateful for this most welcome change, which has conferred such an inestimable benefit on the inhabitants.
As this narrative is intended to be short the writer is unable to give more than ~ brief account of this matter, other subjects in a mighty improvement has been effected, which affects the health and happiness of a large community.

XIII.


Strada Reale has been considerably improved of late, the old pavement between Porta Reale and Str. Mezzodi, and between Strada Britannica a.nd Strada Vescovo having been. replaced by asphalt of a hard and durable nature, rendering the vehicular locomotion easy and almost noiseless. But owing to the slope between Strada Mezzodl and Strada Britannica, it appears to have been thought advisable not to lay down asphalt, on account of the seeming danger to horses, consequently that portion of Str. Reale has been roughly paved with granite, and the noise caused by the traffic of vehicles over it is so great as to be a source of annoyance to the inhabitants of the locality.
This little bit of pavement could hardly be deemed less dangerous than if it were asphalted over, for accidents frequently occur through horses falling down on It; but m point of danger it cannot be compared to that portion of the road outside Porta Reale, which is covered with an objectionable reticulated lava pavement.
One of the changes in Malta worthy of notice is the disappearance of that hideous vehicle the caleche, which ought to have become obsolete half a century since, and also the side seated, spring-less, skake-ye-to-pieces, "Go Cart," which had a cylindrical shaped piece of iron across, raised about two inches above the bottom.
The writer has a vivid recollection of the rides he was compelled to take in these carts, for not only was he frightfully shaken, but if he happened to place his foot on the transverse iron rod, he experienced a shock like that from a galvanic battery, or if, by chance, he placed his foot beneath the rod, it was nearly crushed, the motion of the abominable vehicle causing the iron to rise and fall.

The introduction of Carrozzini or Four wheelers in lieu of the above, is an immense improvement, for now, one can travel about with ease and comfort.
The railway, however, has materially lessened the traffic with these vehicles, the owners and drivers of which must have more or less suffered; as have the boatmen through the introduction of Steam Launches.
But improvements which are for the benefit of the community at large, are sometimes prejudicial to the interests of a few individuals. Those, however, who apparently suffer from such change, must put up with them, trusting that a time may arrive when they also will derive benefit.
Mention must be made of the handsome, "Victoria Gate," near the "Nix Mangiari" steps, which was erected some two years ago, after the road leading to the Marina had been levelled, in order to facilitate the traffic between the city and the commercial landing places on the Marina.

XIV.

There. is such poverty amongst the Maltese, owing in a great measure to inability to obtain employment, the demand for work being greater than the supply. But such poverty would,. doubtless, .be greater were it not for families rendering assistance to their poorer relations, and it is worthy of remark that this readiness to help one another is one of the most admirable features in the Maltese character.
With the rapidly increasing population~ of the island and the consequent greater difficulty in finding employment, it must eventually become imperatively necessary to encourage emigration as much as possible, every facility being afforded and inducements held out to the Maltese to emigrate. But the love for their relations and friends, and for their little island is so strong that the majority of the Maltese object to leaving home, except for short periods, and for no distant places. A good many, however, of the lower class of the Maltese migrate to the Coast of Barbary and to Egypt, and this migration should be encouraged, since the same class of people, who are not familiar with the English language, could not, with advantage, proceed to a British Colony. Persons of the middle class and lower middle class are those who should emigrate either to the Colonies or to the United States of America.

There are plenty of young men, whose education and intelligence would tit them for any position, loafing about the streets, being idle through no fault of their own, who would doubtless be successful, were they to try emigration, some obtaining clerkships in Mercantile houses where their knowledge of languages would be of great advantage, while others could probably find employment suited to their individual tastes.

XV.

Social life in Malta presents the same features as of old. Hospitality is abundant balls, concerts, dinner parties &c., being frequent during the winter months, and the season of 1886-7 was perhaps the most brilliant on record, the presence of Royalty giving Èclat to the entertainments.
There is, however, one, great improvement worthy of notice. The old restrictions in regard to the dress of officers attending the Palace entertainments, have been considerately and kindly relaxed by Sir Lintorn Simmons mess dress being permitted to be worn excepting on special occasions. And officers cannot feel too grateful to His Excellency for such a privilege.


The magnificent ball given by Admiral His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and the officers of H. M. S. Alexandra and Surprise respectively at the Dockyard, must stand out in bold relief as having been the most splendid entertainment of the season.
The delightful "At Homes" at the Palace; the numerous balls at the Union Club; the varied entertainments on board H. M. Ships; the extremely agreeable parties at the Borsa; and the Carnival Ball at the Palace, Which was the grandest the writer ever witnessed? the majority of the Visitors being in fancy dress and the costumes being of great variety the scene presented was strikingly picturesque all these entertainments combined with the performances at the Italian Opera and an occasional concert served to make last season a memorable one.
These gaieties coupled with the delicious climate of Malta from November to May, afford abundant enjoyment; but, during the summer there is little or nothing to be done. The heat, especially during the prevalence of the scirocco wind, is almost insufferable, the mosquitoes are a torture, and ennui is the natural consequence. Bathing, perhaps, makes an agreeable break in the monotony of one's existence, but that is often attended with trouble and fatigue.

Happy those who are able to. get away during the hot season!
A trip to Gozo and back makes a pleasant change.
The writer, by the bye, had forgotten to allude to the steam boat traffic between Malta and Gozo. This service, which is much appreciated, ,was established, some two or three years since, by Mr. Gollcher, the Swedish Consul, who conferred a great boon upon the Public in affording means of not only visiting Gozo in an easy and pleasant way, but of deriving salutary benefit from the voyage to and fro.
The fares are very reasonable, return tickets, first class being half-a-crown only and one shillmg and six pence second class.
Mr Gollcher has two steamers available for this service; but the "Gleneagles" a most comfortable little craft, is the one usually employed, and she has occasionally been used to fetch the mails from Sicily when accident has prevented the arrival of the usual Italian Steamer.
Special mention must also be made of
that magnificent building, the Conservatovio Bugeja on the San Giuseppe Road, which was erected some ten years ago at the sole expense of the, now, Marquis Vincenzo Bugcja C.M.G. It is a home for orphans, who are under the governance of Sisters of Charity.
It was built at an enormous cost, and the Marquis has guaranteed an annual sum for the support of the institution.
Too much praise could not be awarded to the noble benefactor for such an act of munificence in the cause of charity, and of him his countrymen may well be proud.
The changes and improvements that have taken place in Malta of late years have been such as to render the place considerably more attractive, and English visitors are much more numerous than formerly; and in regard to the fair sex, twenty years ago, there was always such a preponderance of gentlemen at the balls, that nine tenths of them could get no partners in the dance; now, however, the proportion of young men and maidens is fair, and only a middle aged gentleman need despair of getting a partner.

The presence of cholera in the island, at the present time, is greatly to be deplored, for it has seriously affected trade and thrown numbers of persons out of employment, bringing much misery into families. But every thing has been done to ameliorate the distress, work of an adventitious character having been generously given to some, while to others relief has been afforded in either money or food, a fund having been raised for that purpose, and so liberally contributed to by His Excellency the Governor, and others.
The writer feels that he cannot conclude his remarks without referring to certain tradesmen and others, with whom he has had dealings, and of whom he cannot speak too highly.
Mr. Falzon of No. 19 Strada Reale is an excellent tailor; making clothes of good and durable material, and, moreover, making them to fit well. He is also very reasonable in his charges, and is most civil and obliging.
The brothers Segond of Strada San Giovilonni are to be recommended for the good quality and style of their furniture &c., and their goods, of which there is a great variety, are so admirably arranged that their establishment is well worth a visit. Mr. Vassallo, Grocer, Strada Reale, close to the Union Club, is to be recommended for the good quality of his goods.
Mr. Gasciulli, collarmaker and Saddler, of Strada Reale, can be strongly recommended. His charges are moderate.
His nephew, Mr. Vincenzo Gasciulli, Livery-Stable keeper and horse dealer, the writer has known for upwards of twenty years, and he has much pleasure in testifying to his activity, energy, honesty, and intelligence. He is much patronized by officer's of both the army and Navy, and deservedly so, too, having won the good opinion of those who have employed his services.
But the writer has no desire to be in any way invidious; he has merely mentioned the above persons, as knowing them personally, and to show his appreciation of
them; for the tradesmen generally of whom he has heard, but does not know, have a good reputation, and may perhaps merit equal praise.

Of the hotels in Valletta, from personal experiences, the writer knows nothing, except that kept ~ Mr. Belluti, in Strada Stretta, the Hotel d'Angleterre where he once stayed with his family for some days, and he is glad to have this opportunity of testifying to the excellent accommodation provided there. A good table is kept, food being abundant, and of good quality, and the charges are moderate.
Both Mr. Belluti and his son are highly respected, winning the regard of the visitors, by their civility and courteous attention.
Other hotels in Valletta are highly spoken of, as also is the Imperial Hotel at Sliema, which is situated on high ground in a healthy locality. Mention too, must be made of the well-known Villa de Paris Hotel at Casal Lia, which is kept by Mr. Spiteri, the able caterer at the Malta Union Club.
This is a charming place at which to spend a few hours, or even days. It is much frequented by officers and others who are fond of spending a pleasant hour or two in the country. The accommodation is good and the charges very reasonable. A good dinner can be served at a short notice, and light refreshments are alwaysís obtainable.
The writer is glad of this opportunity of drawing attention to a most useful man, who is. well known in Malta, Andrew Spiteri, who is much employed in transacting business on behalf of officers and others. He is highly intelligent, honest and trustworthy and cannot be too strongly recommended. He generally to be found at MarichsíCigar Divan in Strada Teatro.

The writer is about to leave Malta and feels deep regret at the prospect of being severed from those with whom he has been so pleasantly associated and he will ever cherish a joyous recollection of the very many happy days he has spent in the island, of the kindness he has received, and of the cheerful and ready assistance that has at all times been afforded him in times in carrying out his duties by his brother officers and others serving under him.


THE END.
Valletta
October, 1887




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