[Monday 23 of December 17 [...].] Dr. Davenant's OPINION Anent the Salt and Malt-Taxes IN ENGLAND.

THE Doctor in his Essay, upon the probable Methods of making People Gainers in the Ballance of Trade, Printed Anno 1700, after enumerating several Taxes, and giving his Opinion anent the dangerous Consequences of heavy Impositions on Trade, sayes page 95, 96. and 97. That, during all the War, there has been levied here great Sums every Year, and many of the forementioned Funds are to continue so long, that it will be several years be­fore our Annual Payments can be considerably diminished, and there is such a Difference between a Twentieth, and an Eighth or indeed a Twelth Part (which yet we shall not come to in some time) as must inevitably affect the Nation's Trade and the whole Body of its People.

[Page 2] When their was raised no more than about a Twentieth Part, there were great Sums of Money to circulate in Foreign Traffick, and to Imploy in enlarging our Home-manufactures, which two Fountains of our Wealth must be dry, when the Springs, which hitherto fed them, are diverted and let into another Channel.

There is scarce any of these new Revnues which do not give Trade a desperate wound; the Additional Duties on Beer, and Ale, and the Tax upon Malt, are apparently a Burden u­pon the Woollen Manufactures, affecting the Carder, Spinner, Weaver and the Dyer, who all of them must be raised in their Wages, when the Necessaries of Life are raised to them. The Consequences of which will be, that our Woollen Goods must come at a Heavy and Disadvantageous Price into the Foreign Mercats.

There is no Man will pretend, that high Customs are not pernicious to our Commerce Abroad. A Nation is not Gainer in the general Ballance of Trade, by the Dealing of a few, who are able to Imploy in it great Stocks, such may make to themselves an immense Gain, but they go but a little toward Inriching the whole Publick, which seldom Thrives, but when in a manner the Universal People bend their Thoughts to this Sort of Business, when every one is ready with his small Stock and little Sum, to venture and rove about the World; of these some prosper and others are undone: However in the way of Merchandise, Men who do not Thrive themselves, may yet contribute very much to make their Country Rich, which gets by the Dealings of all, and does not suffer by the unfor­tunate Conduct of here and there a Merchant. But when the Customs are high, all these Undertakers, who all along in England have made up the chief Bulk of our Trading Men, must hold their hands, tho in Skill, Industry, Intentive Parts, and Witt, they may exceed Merchants of more Wealth and [Page 3] of a higher Rank. Nor is it indeed practicable for Men of but a Moderate Fortune to deal at all, when more than triple that Sum is necessary to have ready now to pay the King, which formerly would have set up a Substantial Trader, and main­tain him in sufficient Business.

But of all the new Impositions, none are so dangerous to the very Being of Trade, nor so hurtful to all its Parts and Members, as the high Duties lately laid upon Salt. First, They affect the Common People in the whole Course of their Living, whose chief Nourishment is Bacon and other Salted Flesh, so that this Excise has an universal Influence upon all Manufactures whatsoever. But the general Prejudice it may bring to Navigation, is yet of a higher Consequence.

Page 100, he says, Reckoning long and short Voyages toge­ther, the principal Expense of fitting out a Trading Vessel, is Drink and Meat. The Excise and Duties upon Malt, with­out doubt, make Drink sufficiently Dear to the Fraughter. And the Duty upon Salt, makes Victualling a very heavie Burden upon him; all which must end, in lessoning our Na­vigation from time to time, for undoubtedly Foreigners ob­serving, how dear Freight is with us, will Trade in their own Ships as much as possible.

In Barrelling up Beef and Pork, we heretofore made Use of St. Martines's, &c. or Oleron and English Salt mixed to­gether; and with these Materials the Flesh was best prepared, both for Wholsomeness and long Keeping, our own Salt with­out Mixture being Fiery, Corrosive, and very Scorbutick. As we are informed, the St. Martins and worser sort of French Salt, from 1676 to 1688 was delivered in London at about 2 l: 5sh: per Tun, and fourty Bushels to the Tun, and that from Oleron from 2 l: 10sh: to 2 l: 15 sh: per Tun. But now the very Duty for 40 Bushels of Oleron Salt amounts to 13 l: 6 sh: 8 d: beside the 25 per Cent ad valorem, of which formerly the [Page 4] Prime Cost came to but 2 l: 15 sh: at highest. The Duty likewise upon 40 Bushels of Lisbon Salt comes to 13 l: 6 sh. 8 d. of which the Prime Cost was formerly at highest but 3 l▪ 10 sh: And as to our Newcastle and Limington Salt, which is now generally made use of in Salting Beef and Pork for Trading Vessels, the very Duty for 40 Bushels amounts to 6 l: 13 sh: 4 d: which before the War the Prime Cost came but to 3 l: at the dearest Mercat. In so much, that we are credibly infor­med, that a Merchant can Store himself in Ireland with Salt Beef and Pork ready Packed up, almost as cheap, as he can Buy the Salt in England.

So that for long Voyages, the Merchant will either victual in Ireland, or salt his Beef and Pork on some Foreign Coast, as he sails along, where Provisions shall be cheap: which must be a great Damnage to the Landed Interest here: Or if he does not so, Victualling will be so Expensive to him, as to make Fraught much dearer than ought it to be in a Country that expects to thrive by Trade.

The Consequence of all which will be, That the Body of our Merchants must ly under a general Discouragement, they will neglect looking after National Gain, which English Merchants have perhaps heretofore as much considered in their Dealings, as any Trading Men in the whole Commercial World. They will have an Eye to nothing, but their own tem­porary Profit, & suffer Strangers to go away with those Gains, which England was wont to make by Freight. From whence it will follow, That we must decay in our Stock of Shipping, and decrease every Year in the Brood of Sea-men; and when this happens, we must no more pretend to such a Naval Strength, as hitherto has made us terrible to all our Neigh­bours.

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