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MALTA


In the Coralline Limestone the following fossils have been noted 1-Spondylus, Ostrea, Peclen, Cylherea, Area, Terebratula, Orthis, Clavagella, Echinus, Cidaris, Nucleolites. Brissus, Spalangua; in the Marl the Nautilus zigzag; in the Yellow, Black and Greensand shells of Lenticulites complanalus, teeth and vertebrae of Squalidae and Cctacea; in the Sandstone Vaginula depressa. Crystallaria, Nodosaria, Bfissus, Nu¢:leolites, Pecten burdigallensis, Scalaria, Scutella subrotuuda, Spatangus, Nautilus, Ostrea mrvicularis and Pecteu cristalus (see Captain Spratt's work and papers by Lord Ducie and Dr Adams). The Blue Clay forms, at the higher levels, a stratum impervious to water, and holds up the rainfall, which soaks through the spongy mass of the superimposed coralline formations. Hence arise the springs which run perennially, several of which have been collected into the gravitation water supplies of the Vignacourt and Fawara aqueducts. The larger part of the water supply, however, is now derived by pumping from strata at about sea-level. These strata are generally impregnated with salt water, and are practically impenetrable to the rain-water of less weight. The honeycomb of rock, and capillary action, retard the lighter fresh-water from sinking to the sea; the soakage from rain has therefore to move horizontally, over the strata about sea-level, seeking outlets. At this stage the rain-water is intercepted by wells, and by galleries hewn for miles in the water-bearing rock. Large reservoirs assist to store this water after it is raised, and to equalize its distribution. The climate is, for the greater part of the year, temperate and healthy; th; thermometer xgiscgrds ag angual mean of 67° F. etween une an eptem er the temperature ranges gunzziud from 75° to 90°; the mean for December, January and Vg ' February is 56°; March, May and November are mild. Pleasant north-east winds blow for an average of 150 days a year, cool northerly winds for 31 days, east winds 70 days, west for 4days. The north-west “ Gregale ” (Euroclydon of Acts xxvii. I4% blows about the equinox, and occasionally, in the winter months, with almost hurricane force for three days together; it is recorded to have caused the drowning of 600 persons in the harbour in 1555. This wind has been a constant menace to shipping at anchor; the new breakwater on the Monarch Shoal was designed to resist its ravages. The regular tides are hardly perceptible, but, under the influence of barometric pressure and wind, the sea-level occasionally varies as much as 2 ft. The avera e rainfall is 21 in.; it is, however, uncertain; periods of drought have extended over three years. Snow is seen once or twice in a generation; violent hailstorms occur. On the 19th of October 1898, exceptionally large hailstones fell-one, over 4 in. in length, being brought to the governor, Sir Arthur Fremantle, for inspection. Mediterranean (sometimes called “ Malta ”) fever has been traced by Colonel David Bruce to a Micfococcus melitensis. The supply of water under pressure is widely distributed and excellent. There is a modern system of drainage for the towns, and all sewerage has been intercepted from the Grand Harbour. There are efficient hospitals and asylums, a system of sanitary inspection, and modernized quarantine stations. It is hardly possible to differentiate between imported and indigenous plants. Among the marine flora may be mentioned Fl I Porphyra laciniata, the edible laver; Codium tomentosum, °' ' a coarse species; Padina pai/onia, common in shallow water; Ulva lalissima; Haliseris polypodioides; Sargassum bacciferum; the well-known gulf weed, probably transported from the Atlantic; Zostera marina, forming dense beds in muddy bays; the roots are cast up by storms and are valuable to dress the fields. Among the land plants may be noted the blue anemone; the ranunculus along the road-sides, with a strong perfume of violets; the Malta heath, which flowers at all seasons; Cynomorium coccineum, the curious “Malta fungus, " formerly so valued* for medicinal purposes that a guard was set for its preservation under the rule of the Knights; the pheasant's-eye; three species of mallow and geranium; Oxalis cemua, a very troublesome imported weed; Lotus edulis; Scorpiurus subvillosa, wild and cultivated as forage; two sgecies of the horseshoe-vetch; the opium poppy; the yellow and c ret-coloured poppy; wild rose; Crataegus azaralus, of which the fruit is delicious Ipreserved; the ice-plant; s uirting cucumber; many species of Um elliferae; Labiatae, to which the s icy flavour of the oney (equal to that of Mt Hymettus) is ascribed; snapdragons; broom-rape; glass-wort; Salsola soda, which produces when burnt a considerable amount of alkali; there are fifteen species of orchids; the gla/iiolus and iris are also found; Urginia scilla, the medicinal squill, abounds with its large bulbous roots near the sea; seventeen species of sedges and seventy-seven grasses have been recorded.

There are four species of lizard and three snakes, none of which is venomous; a land tortoise, a turtle and a frog. Of birds very Fl". few are indigenous; the jackdaw, blue solitary thrush, spectacles warbler, the robin, kestrel and the herring-gull. A bird known locally as Hangi, not met elsewhere in Europe, nests at F ilfla. Flights of quail and turtle doves, as well as teal and ducks, staylonglenough to afford sport. Of migratory birds over two hundred species ave een enumerated. The only wild mammalia in the island are the hedgehogs. two s ecies of weasel, the Norway rat, and the domestic mouse. The lVi)altese dog was never wild and has ceased to exist as a breed.

Malta has several species of zoophytes, sponges, mollusca and crustacean. Insect life is represented by plant-bugs, locusts, crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, dragon-flies, butterflies, numerous varieties of moths, bees and mosquitoes.

Among the fish may be mentioned the tunny, dolphin, mackerel, sardine, sea-bream, dentice and pagnell; wrasse, of exquisite rainbow hue and good for food; members of the herring family, sardines, anchovies, flying-fish, sea-pike; a few representatives of the cod family, and some flat fish; soles (very rare); Ceruus which grows to large size; several species of grey and red mullet; eleven species of T riglidae, including the beautiful flying gurnard whose colours rival the angel-fish of the West Indies; and eighteen species of mackerel, all migratory.

The real population of Malta, viz." of the country districts, is to be differentiated from the cosmopolitan fringe of the cities. There is continuous historical evidence that Malta. popuiatyan remains to-day what Diodorus Siculus described it in -'md the rst century, “a colony of the Phoenicians”; L“”g""g° this branch of the Caucasian race came down the great rivers to the Persian Gulf and thence to Palestine. It carried the art

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of navigation through the Mediterranean, along the Atlantic seaboard as far as Great Britain, leaving colonies along its path. In prehistoric times one of these colonies displaced previous inhabitants of Libyan origin. The similarity of the megalithic temples of Malta and of Stonehenge connect along the shores of western Europe the earliest evidence of Phoenician civilization. Philology proves that, though called “ Canaanites ” from having sojourned in that land, the Phoenicians have no racial connexion with the African descendants of Ham. No subsequent invader of Malta attempted to displace the Phoenician race in the country districts. The Carthaginians governed settlements of kindred races with a light hand; the Romans took over the Maltese as “ dedititii, ” not as a conquered race. Their conversion by St Paul added difference of religion to the causes which prevented mixture of race. The Arabs from Sicily came to eject the Byzantine garrison; they treated the Maltese as friends, and were not sufficiently numerous to colonize. The Normans came as fellow-Christians and deliverers; they found very few Arabs in Malta. The fallacy that Maltese is a dialect of Arabia has been luminously disproved by A. E. Caruana, Sull' origiue della lingua M altese.

The upper classes have Norman, Spanish and Italian origin. The knights of St John of Jerusalem, commonly called “of Malta, ” were drawn from the nobility of Catholic Europe. They took vows of celibacy, but they frequently gave refuge in Malta to relatives driven to seek asylum from feudal wars and disturbances in their own lands. At.the British occupation there were about two dozen families bearing titles of nobility granted,