Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.
Source: Melita Historica : Journal of the Malta Historical Society. 2(1956)1(56-57)
Charles A. Price, Malta and the Maltese: A Study in Nineteenth Century Migration. Georgian House Melbourne, 1954. Pages xvii — 272. Price 45/-.
Today when so much depends on carefully planned emigration, Dr. Price’s survey of Nineteenth Century Emigration is of special importance and should be perused by those interested in the problems of emigration.
Dr. Price has done much research work in this field and the Appendices are most informative. His work covers the period 1798 to 1885. The author brings before us the [p.57] problems that beset these overpopulated Islands and he divides the whole question of emigration into two parts: “unorganized” and “organized.” Unorganized emigration took some of our people first to Africa and the Levant, and later, as far as Canada, Australia and the United States. Under organized emigration an attempt was made to settle our people in various places such as Cephalonia, the West Indies and other countries. The difficulties and failures of the migration schemes are ably brought to the fore by Dr. Price who makes use of all possible sources in the compilation of his work.
The problems of migration cannot be surveyed separately, but should be taken together with all other problems confronting the social life of a community. That this is so may be seen by the work under review, how its author has analysed the Maltese structure in its entirety, i.e., economic, political, cultural and religious. The author has also shown how other characteristics of our daily life, such as “occupational training, thriftiness and industry, dislike of loneliness and pioneer farming, sanitary habits, dietetic prejudices, tenacity to the faith, readiness to intermarry, and so on,” have affected the venture, successful or otherwise, of Maltese migrants wherever they settled.
Another aspect of Maltese migration is the interest it awoke in Maltese politicians of the time who showed their views either by speeches in the Council or by letters in the local press. Such views were not always shared by the British officials in Malta, or by British Consular Officers abroad, and their impact upon one another reveals to us to what an extent progress was made in emigration.
As stated above the work covers the period 1798-1885, less than a century in the long history of these Islands. This work opens up a new line of research on a very important subject in the social history of our population: the struggle for existence. We hope that this book will not only induce others to undertake a deeper study of the subject, but that it will also stimulate Maltese and other scholars to compile similar works by extending the period covered by this book and also by treating more deeply the many questions raised in this field of study.