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Italy page 4

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The expenditure of Italy has grown with an unwholesome rapidity. From thirty-eight million sterling in 1862, it had risen in 1887 to seventy-two million. Her income has not kept pace with this increase, and there have been annual deficits ranging from two million sterling up to twenty-four million. This unhappy disparity has resulted in portentous additions to the national debt. The debt, which in 1862 was only one hundred and thirty-five million sterling, is now four hundred and fifty million, and still increases, although the income seems at length to approach equality with the expenditure.

Unfortunately the progress of Italy in the formation of railways has been much less rapid than the growth of her public expenditure. She has only seven thousand three hundred miles of railway; and so little does private enterprise favour this description of investment, that government has been obliged to construct or to purchase one-half of the lines. Of telegraphs she has nineteen thousand miles. Her requirements in respect of postal and telegraphic communication are still limited. While in England the average number of letters received annually is forty for each individual, in Ireland fourteen, and in France eighteen, in Italy it is only four. Thus, too, while the people of Great Britain receive telegrams in the proportion of nearly one to each of the population, in Italy the proportion is one telegram to five persons.

The modern career of Italy is yet only at its opening, and its character therefore belongs to prophecy rather than to history; but the materials on which prediction may be safely based are abundant. The Italian people are in possession of the ennobling privilege of self-government (All citizens twenty-one years of age, and who pay taxes to the amount of about 1 pound, exercise the franchise. The number of registered voters does not exceed six hundred thousand, - perhaps a fortunate limitation in the present uneducated condition of the people), and they have thus far proved themselves worthy of the trust by an ardent loyalty to their institutions, and a cheerful obedience to the laws which they contribute to frame. They are being delivered by education from the darkness which has so long rested upon them; they have perfect liberty of thought and speech; they are satisfied with their political circumstances, and are therefore peaceable. Industry is bringing them comfort. The great conditions on which prosperity depends are thus present. Italy, which until lately was a constant source of anxiety to Europe, may be expected to make steady progress in enlightenment and power, and to exercise a growing influence in the interests of peace on the policy of the other European powers.

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