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Edmond François Valentin About
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about The Roman Question.
no more than 178,943 individuals are known to have changed their abode from one province to another:  therefore our subjects are all happy in their homes.”

I do not deny the eloquence of these figures, and I am not one of those who think statistics prove everybody’s case.  But it seems to me very natural that a rich country, in the hands of an agricultural people, should feed 75 inhabitants to the square kilometre, under any sort of government.  What astonishes me is that it should feed no more; and I promise you that when it is better governed it will feed many more.

The population of the States of the Church has increased by one-third in thirty-seven years.  But that of Greece has trebled between 1832 and 1853.  Nevertheless Greece is in the enjoyment of a detestable government; as I believe I have pretty correctly demonstrated elsewhere.[2] The increase of a population proves the vitality of a race rather than the solicitude of an administration.  I will never believe that 770,000 children were born between 1816 and 1853 by the intervention of the priests.  I prefer to believe that the Italian race is vigorous, moral, and marriageable, and that it does not yet despair of the future.

Lastly, if the subjects of the Pope stay at home, instead of moving about, it may be because communication between one place and another is difficult, or because the authorities are close-fisted in the matter of passports; it may be, too, because they are certain of finding, in whatever part of the country they move to, the same priests, the same judges, and the same taxes.

Out of the population of 3,124,668 souls, more than a million are agricultural labourers and shepherds.  The workmen number 258,872, and the servants exceed the workmen by about 30,000.  Trade, finance, and general business occupy something under 85,000 persons.

The landed proprietors are 206,558 in number, being about one-fifteenth of the entire population.  We have a greater proportion in France.  The official statistics of the Roman State inform us that if the national wealth were equally divided among all the proprietors, each of the 206,558 families would possess a capital of L680 sterling.  But they have omitted to state that some of these landed proprietors possess 50,000 acres, and others a mere heap of flints.

It is to be observed that the division of land, like all other good things, increases in proportion to the distance from the capital.  In the province of Rome there are 1,956 landed proprietors out of 176,002 inhabitants, which is about one in ninety.  In the province of Macerata, towards the Adriatic, there are 39,611, out of 243,104, or one proprietor to every six inhabitants, which is as much as to say that in this province there are almost as many properties as there are families.

The Agro Romano, which it took Rome several centuries to conquer, is at the present time the property of 113 families, and of 64 corporations.[3]

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