No. 468.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Evarts

No. 105.]

Sir: The appearance of the dreaded Phylloxera in Spain seems to me of sufficient importance to warrant my calling your attention to it. It has certainly shown itself in the neighborhood of Malaga, and is reported in some parts of Cataluña. You know how destructive it has been in France, where it has already reduced the area of land in vineyards by something over one-third, and where, in spite of the offer of large rewards, no effectual way of checking its progress has been discovered, and it is to be feared that in Spain, with laxer habits of administration, it may prove even more disastrous.

The universal depression of business is felt perhaps more severely in Spain than in any other country, and the destruction or diminution of a branch of industry so important as that of wine-making would be a national calamity.

Besides the great exportation of the wines of Xerez, there is another, perhaps even greater, of the rough Catalonian wines to France, whence, after manipulation at Bordeaux, they are distributed to the rest of the world as genuine products of the Bordelais. The ravages of the phylloxera in France and favorable changes in the tariff seemed likely very much to increase this trade, and accordingly, should the evil spread, it threatens to have a very serious effect on the prosperity of a country already overburdened.

The remedy thus far proposed and in part adopted, as most effectual, is the uprooting of a belt of vines in order to isolate the infected district. But the weakness of this method lies in the natural temptation to conceal the existence of the evil on the part of small proprietors, dependent on their patches of vineyard for subsistence.

On every account it is to be hoped that Spain, whose resources would be greatly strengthened by a few years of regular government, may not be the victim of a misfortune which, by increasing the already great misery and discontent, might even lead to grave political consequences.

I have, &c.,

J. R. LOWELL.