Taxes no Charge: IN A LETTER from a GENTLEMAN, TO A PERSON of QUALITY.

SHEWING

The Nature▪ Use, and Benefit of TAXES in this Kingdom; and compared with the Impositions of Foreign States.

Together with their Improvement of TRADE in Time of WAR.

LICENS'D, Nov. 11. 1689.

LONDON, Printed for R. Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Church-Yard. MDCXC.

THE PREFACE TO THE READER.

UPON the receipt of the following Letter concerning the nature of Taxes, and levying of Mony upon the Subject, I immediately resolv'd to commit it to the Press; as conceiving that it might be in­strumental towards the removal of that popular Argument, which the Mal-contents of the Age are so industrious to instil into the Minds of the common sort▪ viz. That frequent Taxes are an ins [...]pportable grievance and oppression to the Nation; and this by so much they the more successfully propagate, by how much 'tis a received Opinion among the Populace, and such as either for want of parts, or not ac­cu [...]om'd to serious reflections, have not throughly consi­der'd this Affair; whence 'tis come to pass, that this vulgar Error has obtained so general a consent and approbation, that it needs not to be much inculcated. This the disaffected Party to the present Government are sufficiently sensible of, and therefore are not unactive in the establishment of an untruth, which has the advantage of making a deep im­pression upon such, whose byass'd and prejudicate senti­ments render them fit Objects of their design: Sed dato, & non concesso, allowing, but not granting, that Taxes were really a burthen to the Nation; yet if it be true that è malis [Page] minimum, of two evils, the least is to be chosen. It will thence follow, that 'tis better for the Kingdom to have purchas'd its redemption from Popery and Arbitrary Power, though at the price of some part of the Estates and For­tunes of the Subject; rather than to have lost all at one throw, by a Tyrannical Invasion upon their Religion, Laws, and Liberties. I presume that even some of those busie Agents who sow these seeds of Discord and Division among us, would have been content to have bought their safety almost at any rate, whilest the Storm was imminent; and now that 'tis happily blown over, and nothing appears at pre­sent, but a s [...]rene Skie, and fair Weather: Why should they either endeavour a reduction both of themselves and others to their former danger, to which their turbulent devices do im­mediately tend; or strive to create unreasonable dissatis­factions against so just an expedient, as each ones discharg­ing a few pence for an ensurance of the publick Peace, and quiet settlement of the Nation?

'Tis surely very unaccountable, that those Men, who discovered so great an alacrity and forwardness in op­posing of Popish Tyranny and Arbitrary Power, should now endeavour to enslave us under the same uneasie Yoke; but with this additional aggravation to our former servitude, that whereas we were then allowed some, we must now make Brick without Straw. This seems so wild a notion of Obedience (the result of the Passive Doctrine) and that the chief Wheel in that unaccountable Engine of absolute So­ver [...]ignty, as is destructive of all Government; inasmuch as 'tis utterly irreconcileable with the preservation, and com [...]n interest of humane Society. But these murmuring, sedi­tious Spirits, after shamefully retracting from their early officiousness, in their encouragement of the late Expedi­tion of the then Prince of Orange, are not content with a compleat enjoyment of their Properties, under the even steerage of this great and skilful Pilot, who so justly manages the Helm of the present Government, as not to invade the Rights of any Man; nor yet to retain their par­ticular sentiments within their own breasts, but they must needs vent and divulge them to others, by which t [...]ey be­come [Page] the publick Incendiaries of the Nation. But as I can­not enough admire both the folly and ingratitude of these Men, who strive to disseminate so poysonous a Contagion; so have I not room left for wonder and surprize, to ob­serve divers innocent well-meaning Persons so unwarily catch'd and infected by it, when not many Months ago, their Lives, Religion, Liberties, all that was dear or acceptable unto them, lay apparently at stake. For which, I pray, do they account the more advantagious, whether their [...]roperties to be infring'd, their Religion violated, their Laws subverted, their Estates confiscated, and they, with their Wives, Chil­dren, and Relations, to be expos'd to the Fiery Tryal, or to be seasonably freed from these amazing terrours, ready to overwhelm them in a full carrere, when they received a sig­nal and miraculous, as well as a gracious deliverance, and that as much above their hopes, as it has since appeared to be beyond their desert?

What would not every honest Man, or good Christian, have given at that time to have had that security under his own Vine, and under his own Fig tree, the liberty of his Religion, the full enjoyment of his Property, and an equal and just ad­ministration of the Laws, which he now enjoys under the benign influence and protection of the present Govern­ment? And then with what face can he deny to contribute his respective share, and proportion, not only to the assuring of his own particular right, but also that of the general in­terest, together with what is infinitely preserable to either, the Protestant Religion in the three Kingdoms.

All this, and much more, which might be offered, and in­sisted upon (were not prolixity improper in a Preface, espe­ [...]ially to so small a Discourse, as is that of the following Let­ter) seems exceeding reasonable upon the former Hypothesis, if Taxes were really a burthen and oppression to the Na­tion, which the following Sheets do abundantly evince that they are not, by shewing that they are so far from being a diminution of, that they really add to the Trade and Riches of a State.

[Page]This the Auth [...]r has fully prov'd from the opulent condition of those Countries where Taxes are most numerous, and after several copious parallel instances deriv'd from Foreign Monarchies and Rep [...]blicks, shewing their great advancement by Tax [...]s, and frequent levies upon the Subject, he under­takes to demonstrate the practicableness, as well as equal ad­vantage of the same to these Kingdoms. This I thought to be of such seasonable and publick importance, in reference to the present state of affairs, as well in order to the recti­fying the afore mention'd general prejudice and mistake, as to silencing of all intemperate and unreasonable mur­murers against the proceedings of the Grand Council of the Nation, in the methods taken for a supply of the Naval and Land-forces, that I thought fit to usher it into publick view, as considering that if these Men who most inveigh against Taxes, could be brought to believe, that they naturally tend to the advantage and interest of the State, and do really conduce to the enriching and improvement of it; they must needs cease from their Seditious clamours against, and Satyrical reflections upon the Government in this respect; and that this would not be the sole advantage which would accrew from the clearing up of this mistake, but that all honest and good Men will joyn more cordially than ever in their una­nimous and chearful contributions to its support, when they are made sensible, that not only the common duty of Subjects, that indispensable Obligation of a perpetual gratitude which they owe to their Deliverer, and the nat [...]ral instinct of self-preser­vation ought to quicken and excite them thereunto; but besides all this, that they are really gainers by this co [...]rse, and consequently what they expend upon that account, does after a due circulation retu [...]n to them with a considerable im­provement and a [...]gmentation.

THE CONTENTS.

  • THE manner and use of Taxes among the Ancient Romans. Page 1, 2
  • Numerous Taxes a great advantage to the Commonwealth of Venice. p. 3
  • —And to the United Provinces. ibid.
  • The contrary shewn to be a great occasion of Poverty, both in the Empire and Spain. p. 4
  • Portugals exceeding them in Taxes, an occasion of its greater riches, than either. ibid.
  • The present state of France represented as to this particular. p. 4, 5
  • The method of imposing Taxes in Germany, Spa [...]n, France, Mo [...]co­vy, Florence, Swe [...]eland, Poland, Denmark and the Common­wealth of Venice, compared with that of England, &c. p. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • The use and employment of Taxes in other Kingdoms shewn to be different from those in this. p. 9
  • Taxes prov'd no Charge, but a Gain, both to the Publick and Private Interest, from Seven Particulars. p. 10
  • I. From the Persons who pay the greatest share of them. ibid.
  • II. From their use and circulation. p. 11
  • III. From their improvement of Trade, and therein a description of the nature of Trade. p. 11, 12
  • IV. Fro [...] the Poors being employ'd by them. p. 13, 14
  • V. From their making Men of no use in the Kingdom, profitable to the Commonwealth. p. 15
  • VI. From the [...] us [...]fu [...]n [...]ss in time of War, for the encouragement of T [...]ade and Manufactories within the Kingdom. p. 16
  • VII. From their dispersing as much Treasure in the Nation in time of War, as T [...]ade d [...]es in Peace. p. 16, 17
  • [Page] A late Paper Confuted, entitled [Proposals humbly [...]ffered to the Consideration of this present Parliament, &c.] p. 20
  • Of Taxes uneasie t [...] the S [...]bject. ibid.
  • 1. Such as are levy'd by way of Fees in Offices. ibid.
  • 2. By Poll Mony. p. 21
  • 3. Benevolence. p. 22
  • 4. Such as are impos'd for liberty in Religion. p. 23
  • 5. Monop [...]lies. p. 23
  • 6. Alterati [...]n in the value of Mony. p. 24
  • 7. Raising Mony from Travellers, as in Holland, &c. ibid.
  • Of Taxes accounted most adviseable in other Kingdoms. p. 25
  • 1. Excise. ibid.
  • 2. Impositions on the Jews. p. 26
  • 3. On Play-houses, &c. ibid.
  • 4. A Tax of labour upon such Malefactors as we punish with Death: The reasonableness of this, and the severi [...]y and unprofitableness of our own Law, in this respect. p. 26, 27, 28

Taxes no Charge: IN A LETTER from a GENTLEMAN, TO A Person of QUALITY.

Worthy Sir,

PUrsuant to my Promise, at our late Conference, I here present you with a short Essay, concerning Taxes, which I su [...]mit to y [...]ur private Censure, and sh [...]ll [...] limit you from sending it to the Press, if in your Op [...]io [...] it may prove serviceable to the Publick.

That T [...]i [...]ute, or as we now ca [...]l it, Customs, Taxes, & [...]. were Originally a Mark of Servitude, is evidenc'd by the Inter­rogatory of an infa [...]ible Author, Of whom do the princes of t [...]e earth take tribute?

But as Government became more humane, the Sav [...]ge Ex­action upon Strangers was less rigid, and the Romans, who were then Masters of Civil Government in the World, sound it con­ducing to the Establishment of that overgrown, and prodig [...] ­ous Empire, to mak [...] every part of t [...]eir [...] easie to the People, and that in point of Taxes they should be univer­sally equal; which seems to be confirmed by that of August [...]s, when he ordered all the World to be Taxed; wherein we [...] no exemption of a [...] above ot [...]e [...]s. They were indeed invested in divers [...] pr [...]viledges, but in [...] [Page 2] Taxes, we find the Wisdom of that Empire to make a distin­ction from any that were under their Conquest and Go­vernment.

In imitation of whose equal, and prudent conduct, all su [...]ceeding Governments have been guided in tempering of th [...]ir co [...]q [...]ests, and not as in the first Ages, making both Persons and Estates the [...] of Victory. By this means, Civilities, Laws, and Christianity have been propa­gated in the World with that advantagiou [...] success, to which they could never have attain'd, if conquest had been pursued, and employ'd as in former Ages, in all the i [...] ­humane acts of Slavery, Violence and Rapine.

The Romans were the first we read of, that regularly paid their Armies: before them, the Barbarians might some­times divide the Spoil of their Enemies, and other savage ways they had, to satisfie their Herds of Men, but no ex­act payments were in use, until the Romans; and for the maintenance and encouragement of so good a Gov [...]rnment, they imposed Taxes, that so in intervals of Peace, their Armies might not be exposed to the nec [...]ssi [...]y of com­mitting the like ravage, they did in times of War, and publi [...]k Hostility.

They soon became Artists in Taxing the People, in­venting ways to bring in Mony. That of Augustus Caesar, in Taxing the whole Empire, seemed to be in the man­ner of a Poll with us. There was also a Tribute im­posed upon Passengers, going from place to place, and a custom levy'd upon Goods and Merchandize.

They had also an Art of raising Mony, from Aliens, upon the account of being admitted to the priviledge of Romans; and many other ways, and devices they had to advance Mony, which if duly considered, was the chief, if not only reason why they were so fam'd in the World for good Government, because that they paid their Army, and Ministers of State so well, that they lay not under the temptation of Violence or Bribery.

I shall here come to a close in relation to Tax [...]s, and im­positions, under the Heathen Roman Emperours; and on­ly in order to the making good my position, That Taxes are no Charge, infer from this done by the Ro [...]ans, that [Page 3] 'twas none in their days, inasmuch as it kept the People from violence, and ravage of the Soldiers, and the worse Exactions and Corruptions of Civil Magistrates.

We will now make an Enquiry into the Taxes, and Impositions of Christian Princes, and then compare them with those of these Kingdoms.

First, Then let us look into the Impositions of Common­wealths, the greatest and most antient is Venice. No [...]e will say that they are a poor State, though all must own that they lie under heavy Taxes, insomuch that 'tis believed in those Countries, that the C [...]ristians un­der the Turks are subject to less Impositions, than such as live under the Venetians, where besides great Customs upon all Merchandize, they pay Excise for every bit of Bread and Meat, nay for the very Salt they eat; and after all thi [...], the poorest Labourer pays his Poll-mony: and yet where is there a Richer People? and no Go­vernment, either Christian or Heath [...]n in the known World of such Antiquity, and without charge, though pester'd with continual Wars, at one time for the space of Seven Years, had all the Christian Princes in Europe in a League, and War against them, except England.

We will mention the next Commonwealth in P [...]wer and Riche [...], the Vnited Provinces: I need not particularize their Taxes, few there are of our Kingdoms, but know them, and that they are so great, that 'tis believed the poorest labouring Man in Holland adds to their Intrado [...] four pounds Sterling a Year, so great is the Excise on every [...]ing they eat or drink: besides upon the occasion of any War, it is usual to raise the fortieth peny upon th [...]i [...] whole Esta [...]s; yet these People vye with all Nations in mat­ter of Trade and Riches, and ' [...]is matter of Controversie which of the two, whether they or Venice, in proportion to their extents of Land, are the Richer. T [...]ey of Hol­land out-do them in their Common People as to Wealth and Coin. Now then it must be allowed that Taxes there do no harm, since the very Peas [...]nts (Bores t [...]ey call them) are so Rich, as frequently to give a Tun of Gold, which is Ten thousand pounds of our Mony, in Portion with their D [...]ug [...]ters.

[Page 4]The naming of these Two Commonwealths may serve for all under that distinction. I shall now come to Taxes un­der Monarchs. To nominate some few, as instances to supply the r [...]st, [...] begin with the Empire, where Taxes are generally low, and consequently the People poor: for it will be so (as I shall hereafter demonstrate) where­ever the Rich Gentry, and others have nothing to fetch Mony out of their Coffers, but their own expence; by which the Commonalty can have little opportunity to i [...]prove themselves.

Spain follows much the steps of the Empire in their Taxes, and although there are numerous causes assigned for the poverty of that part particularly under the name of Spain; yet that of their irregular and uncertain Taxes do powerfully contribute to the indigent State of that King­dom; for that the Country cannot be Planted by reason of the Armies living upon the Spoyl of it, not having a Pen­ny pay for Six Months together; by which means the Coun­try feels little difference from the Conquest of their Enemies, and the Quartering their own Forces.

Portugal is more craving in its Taxes, Impositions being heavy on Importations which are of the worst sort; yet better than none: and seeing it raises a considerable Reve­n [...]e, their Army and Officers of State are well paid, and their Country much richer, and more populous than Spain, that borders upon them.

I shall put a period to that part of my Discourse referring to the Taxes of Foreign Princes, with that of France, which is rather the abhorrence, than example of any Christian Prince; his Tyrannical Impositions being grown to an un­limited exaction upon all Men, both Sacred and Civil and yet so, if the barbarity of the thing could have been separated from the effect, those unbounded Taxes would not have impoverished the Country; if the Mony had not been spent out of his own Dominions in Foreign Con­quests, which rarely prove benefi [...]ial to the Country th [...]t invades.

[Page 5]If we consider France, in the beginning of their Invasions on their Neighbours, we shall find them no [...] so Rich as they were Sev [...]n years after, notwithstanding that great part of their Taxes were sent out of the Kingdom to raise Men, and more spent in paying the Army in the Enemies Country, and buying of Towns. Now, at first view this may seem strange and unaccountable, That Impo­sitions upon a People, and a great part of them carried out of their Country, should make them thrive: Yet, notwith­standing this seeming Paradox, ' [...]is a certain Truth, as in the sequel of the Discourse will be fully evident: And, that France might have managed a War with all Europe, and not have begger'd the Kingdom, as now it is, if they had not destroy'd it by their fierce persecution of the Hugonots; for that has evidently been the Ruin of that Kingdom. Whereas had the French [...]rotestants been encouraged and maintained in their Rights and Religion, they would have been their best and most loyal men, both in Peace and War; for so they prov'd in the Minority of this King, in the general defection of France; and had they been now possest of their Religion and Rights in France, it is to be fear'd, we had not so easily commanded the Seas, most of the French Seamen being of that Profession.

We now come to compare the Taxes of these King­doms with those of Foreign Princes; and to save multi­plying of words, will reduce all under two Heads: First, the Laws, and manner of imposing Taxes upon their Subjects; and, Secondly, the quantum and duration of such Taxes.

For the First, the Laws and Manner of Imposing Taxes; that is as different as the Climates which they are under. I shall not trouble my self, or the Reader, with naming of all the Kingdoms in Europe, but shall only instance some of the most considerable: in order whereunto, I shall begin with Germany▪ the Impositions of which Country may be brought under two Heads; that of the Tenure and Obliga­tion of the Princes, Nobility, and Free Cities, to furnish a cer­tain number of Men in the Wars against the Turk.

[Page 6]The Second, by levying Money in the Dyets, neither of which, if compared with those of England, can be thought easie. That of furnishing Men, is little better than tyranni­cal in the Lords and Nobles, who arbitrarily force thei [...] Tenants, and perhaps Neighbours to compleat their num­bers, without any relief in the greatest abuse, having none to make complaint or application to, to redress their Grie­vances and Violent Usage. Then, for their [...]yets, they are so few for the Commonalty, and so much influenc'd and overpower'd by the predominant Interest of their Gran­dees, that the Impositions can hardly be laid with any [...]qual or just regard to, or right consideration of the Poor.

Taxes in Spain are yet more arbitrarily imposed, the People having no Vote there, but all the Duties laid in effect by the King and his Council: In some Cases they will advise with the Nobility and other Communi­ties, but 'tis no more than meer Complement, or matter of form: for whatsoever the King and Council enact, that they must acquiesce and agree to; and the truth is, it ap­pears so by their irregular, vexatious, and yet most unpro­fitable way of Taxes, in which they are much short, and in­ [...]eriour to any Government in Europe.

France makes a fair shew to the People, and yet makes a better market for the King: He imposes Duties un [...]er th [...] pretence of the Parliaments of each Province laying it on the People; but at the same time, 'tis only the King's Word that makes the Ordinance of Parliament: Not as here in England, where it comes last to the King, for the Royal Assent: But there the King sends the Parliament word, t [...]at he will have so much Money; and all the favour that they can obtain from him, is, to place it on such Com­moditi [...]s, or way [...], as they think most expedient.

And, 'tis not unworthy observation to remark, T [...]at these Parliaments of France are in eff [...]ct no more than Courts of Iudicature, in Matters of Right betwixt man and man, hearing and judging Causes, and their Places bought from t [...]e King, not elected by the People. So that from such Parliaments nothing can be expected but the King's Dict [...]tes.

[Page 7]The great Duke of Muscovia is above all tyrannical in his [...]mpositions, charging on the Subject what he pleases; and yet which is more oppressive to his People, fore­stalls the chief Commodities of the Kingdom, or what comes from others, and sets what price he thinks sit upon them, by which he destroys his own Merchants and Dea­lers; and, where other Kings make themselves and their Subjects rich, by raising Money on them, he makes himself Poor, and his Subjects miserable Slaves, barring them all Industry, by shutting them out from Trade, and agreea­bly to such Oppressions, his vast Dominions are thinly plan­ted, and poor to a Prodigy; and had they the liberty of seeing other Countries, he would yet have a smaller Stock of Inhabitants: but he keeps what he has, by making it Death for all the Kindred of such as go out of his Dominions without his Licence and Permission.

Next to him in Arbitrary Impositions, is the Duke of Florence, who is not bounded in his Taxes, and likewise in­grosses several Trades, and sets what price he pleases upon his own Commodities; by which his Country would al­so be made Poor, but that he has the opportunity of other Help, which the great Duke of Muscovia is not assisted with, (viz.) a Country placed in the Garden of the World; and by his making Legorn a Free Port, made it the Centre of Trade, and by that got the start of all Prin­ces in Europe.

The Kingdom of Swedel [...]nd has many Advantages of raising Money from the Country, rather than People, and yet they are not exempt from Taxes; all which contri­butes to the inriching of that Kingdom, which has little of Arts or Trade to improve it, only that which Nature pro­duces: and She indeed has been liberal to that great King­dom, in Min [...]s of all sorts, though least of Gold or Silver, but abounds in Copper, Tin, Iron, &c. of all which, the King has a tenth, as also of Cattel and Corn; he has like­wise the vast demeans of Bishops and Church-Lands, out of which he only allows a small Competency to his own Bi­shops; and a [...]ter all this, he has liberty, by the Laws of the Land, to raise Money on the Subject, in case of War.

[Page 8]The King of Poland is restrain'd, and can do nothing but by the [...] of the Dy [...]t; yet has by that, Power (upon occasion of sudden Straits and Emergencies in War) to raise Money upon the People by his own Com­man, without assembling the Dyet.

Denmark has a Provision for its support above any King­dom in Europe, God Almighty having (as it were) out of a particular Providence, supplied that Kingdom out of its own production, seeing there is little in it either of Arts or Nature.

The Toll of the Sound is a considerable Revenue to the Crown, and, as before mentio [...]'d, such as no Prince in Eu­rope has the like, for that in all other Kingdoms▪ Taxes are raised on themselves; but this of the Toll front Ships passing the Sound, is from Strangers, that only pass by his Country, and cannot reimburse themselves there: Whereas Duties imposed on Foreigners, that bring in their Com­modities to another Country, is no more than laying it on themselves, only with [...] diff [...]rence, That they make Foreigners the first Collectors of it.

The other Duties on Denmark are not considerable; that on Ca [...]el which they sell in Germany, is of most value; as their Intrado is not great, so is their Country poor.

I need not mention the manner of laying Taxes in Common-wealths, 'tis alwaies with the Consent of the Peo­ple, who are too apt to censure their Representatives, if they give not satisfaction to the popul [...]ce.

And, not withstanding that of Venice is A [...]istocratical, yet have they such numbers in their Senate, that no Tax can be laid, but for the good of the Common-wealth, there being, at least, two thousan [...] five hundred Gentlemen of Venice, which are all of the Senate; and although many of them are engaged in the Wars, and Foreign Employ­ments, yet there can never be less, if but one quarter of them, than our great Council the Parliament.

Thus I have given but a succinct account of the nature a [...]d imposition of Taxes in Foreign K [...]ngdoms, which now in as few words let us compare ou [...]s with, and we shall see how happy a People we are above the best of our N [...]ighbour [...].

[Page 9]And first, let us consider who it is that lay Imposi­tions upon us; 'Tis Men chose by our selves.

The difference indeed is great in the modus of our Taxes, from other Kingdoms, and also in the use of them. For the Modus in other Kingdoms, they generally consider only the Nobility and Gentry, that Impositions may not touch or affect them, and care not how insup­portable or grievous they are to the Commonalty: But with us the Taxes reach every man in proportion to his Quality and Expence.

In other Kingdoms they place Taxes only to raise Mo­ney, and have no regard to the Trade of their Kingdom, that so their Taxes may not prejudice their Commerce. But in England care is alwaies had, that Impositions may not impede our Trade and Manufactories.

Now, as to the Use and Employment of Taxes in other Kingdoms, they also differ much from ours.

In some Kingdoms [...] are imposed to enslave the Peo­ple, and keep them poor, as in Muscovy; in other parts Taxes are laid to enrich the Nobility, as in Poland; in others, to fill the Coffers of the Prince, as in Florence.

Whereas none of these Uses take up our Taxes; they are with great Care and Caution lain out, and by the same Law that raises them, appropriated for a particular ser­vice, and last no longer upon the People, than the neces­sity of the Nation requires; for that we never have Money raised, but for the defence of the Kingdom; tho' as I shall shew in the close of this Discourse, 'twould re [...] dound to the advantage of the Kingdom, if there were more Taxes raised, and these assigned to publick Uses in Peace as well as War.

I shall now come to the chief design of this Discourse, which is, to demonstrate, That Taxes are no Charge either to the Kingdom in general, or to particular Persons; but on the contrary a Gain to all.

But to render this matter the more plain and intelligible, I shall proceed after the following method.

  • I. Shew who in the Kingdom pay the greatest part of the Taxes.
  • [Page 10]II. What Use is made of these Taxes; and how they circulate in the Kingdom.
  • III. How Trade is improved by Taxes.
  • IV. That the Poor are imployed by them.
  • V. That a Sett of Men of no use in the Kingdom, are by Taxes made profitable in the Common-wealth.
  • VI. That Taxes, especially when Trade is stopped by War, is the only Remedy to keep the Trading and Mechanick hands of the Kingdom employed.
  • VII. That Taxes will enrich the Nation, and disperse in it as much Treasure, when there is no Foreign Trade, as when 'tis open.

To begin then with the First Head, Who it is that pay most of the Taxes: They are the worst Members in the Common-wealth (viz.) The Extravagant and Debauch'd. The greatest Duties are, or should be laid upon Com­modities for Pleasure and Sumptuousness, as Silks, Gold and Silver Lace, &c. Now these are wore in the greatest Excess, by the Extravagant of the Kingdom, both Men and Women. A D [...]b [...]shee shall spend more out of an Estate of a Thousand pounds a year, than a regular man will from the annual Income of five times that proportion; and a Miss lay out more on Clothes than a Countess: So in the Excess to indulge the Belly, as well as providing for the Back. The vast consumption of Wines and strong Li­quors, is by this sort of Men; nay, the poorest Debauch, that can rise no higher than to Beer and Tabaco, pays ten times as much in the year, in proportion to his In­come, as the greatest Peer. 'Twill hardly gain belief, that there is many of the meaner People, Labourers and Mecha­nicks, that by their Expence, when they are (as too many be) extravagant, pay to the publick Taxes above one tenth of their daily profit: As, supposing that a labouring man [Page 11] may earn Sixte [...]n pounds a year, he will expend, though not very extraordinarily profuse, one half of it in Drink and Tabaco, upon which, the Duty of Customs and Ex­cise is, at least, two pounds of the eight, which he lays out in idle Expences. Now, it would be vehemently de­cried and exclaimed against, as the greatest Oppression upon the Poor imaginable, if by a Poll or Land-Tax, this man, that vertually pays Forty Shillings, should actually, and above-board, pay so many pence by the year.

Thus we see▪ that most of the Duties and Impositions on the Kingdom light upon such as do least good with their Substance; and since they imprudently fling it away upon their Extravagancies: 'tis certainly a Benefit to the Kingdom, that there are Taxes, to catch something out of it, for the improvement of better disposed men; as we shall see in the next Paragraph.

The Second Particular is, What use is made of these Taxes; and how they circulate in the Kingdom: In or­der to which, there are but two waies, in which they are employed; one is for the King's Court, the other for Pro­visions of War, in the maintenance of Naval and Land Forces. Now, both these are as well the Employment of Trade and Artizans, as they resolve into the Security of the Kingdom, and the preservation of the Publick Peace. There is no Money which circulates so fast, as that which comes into the hands of Seamen and Souldiers. Other men, that get Money, frequently lay it up, and so it becomes of no use or benefit in the Kingdom; But, Men that live by their Pay, generally spend it faster than it comes in, by which means the Money of the Kingdom, like the Blood in the Veins, has its regular, circular motion, and every Member in the Body is warm'd and refreshed by it, which gives Life and Motion in the whole. And thus I pre­sume, this Second Instance of the Use of Taxes proves, That they are of Advantage and Profit to the King­dom.

Thirdly, How Trade is improved by Taxes. Upon this Head there is much to be said; and first, It will be requi­site [Page 12] to say something of the nature of Trade, how it af­fects the Kingdom; for that Trade may in some Cases prejudice a Nation, and make it poor; as the Trade of Spain does that Kingdom. Trade may also effeminate and debauch a Country, as it does Italy.

Now, 'tis certain, that we are not free from both these publick Mischiefs and Inconveniencies in England; though our Fortune is such, that being Islanders, and Ma­sters of one Commodity, which no Kingdom has in that per­fection as our selves, which is Wool that hath put our People upon Manufactories, which is the Treasure of this Nation, and keeps our Exports to a ballance with our Im­ports; otherwise this Kingdom would have been as Poor as Spain, and as effeminate as Italy; but the Employment of our milder sort in Manufactories at home, and the more robust at Sea abroad, keeps us a People in action, and so preserv'd from the Luxury and Effeminateness of Italy, and the Poverty of Spain. I need not spend time to prove how far we are tainted with the Mischiefs before mentioned. Our Trade with France, in all Ages past, suf­ficiently proves, That a Kingdom may be made poor by Trade; as we should have been by the vast treasure their Linnens, Wine, Silks, Toys, and Salt, drew from this King­dom, if our other Commerce in the World, had not bal­lanced our loss there.

Nor are we free from the Effeminateness of Italy, which I take to be the Returns of our Gentry's travels, a mischief to be lamented, rather than expected a Reformation of, since we are arriv'd to that height of Vanity, as to think that man not accomplished who is not become Master of the Delicacies of Italy, and extravagant Modes of France.

But to return to my Province, How Trade is improved by Taxes, for the Proof of which Assertion it seems plain, That some Trade may impair a Kingdom, and such Taxes and Impositions may abate by imposing such Duties as they cannot bear. So far then it will be allowed, that they im­prove Trade, as we commonly say, Saving is Gain; so, if we keep out a destructive Trade by Duties, we may allow that an Improvement of our own.

[Page 13]But to come nearer to the matter; Taxes improve Trade by employing numbers of idle Men in Naval, and Land-ser­vice, that would otherwise be of no use; but on the con­trary a Pest, and Charge to the Commonwealth. We sel­dom see any inlisted into the Army, that are Men of In­dustry, or Labour; such persons are the Wens and Ex­crescencies of the Commonwealth, that de [...]orm, but not strengthen the Body; and these being paid by the Taxes of another sort of Creatures as (before I mention'd) are of no use in the State; but to throw abroad the Treasure left them by their Fathers, is virtually an improvement of Trade: for that all like the Rivers in the Sea, terminate in the hands of Industry and Trade; and perhaps, if duly con [...]idered, more Men, and with more certain profit make Voyages within this Island upon this Fund, than there do to most of our Foreign Trades. And in this place I must touch again upon the nature of Trade, to shew that private hands may raise their Fortunes by a Trade, that may yet be a loss to a Kingdom, as in that of France, already insisted upon, many, I was like to say, too many have acquired great Estates by. Now all the hands em­pl [...]y'd in that Trade were no better than Robbers of the Kingdom, in carrying away our Treasure, as we use the Moors, giving us Gold for Glass- [...]eads.

There is another sort of Trade, that though it may not immediately carry away any of the Stock of the Kingdom, yet it does hurt in taking off Hands, that might be em­ploy'd to the advantage of the Kingdom. Now in both these the Trade of Taxes, for so I will call it for the future, has the advantage, for that it carries nothing out of the Kingdom, nor yet takes off hands that would be better employ'd, but on the contrary takes away the disease of the Country, idlers, and makes 'em at least so profitable, as to spend Mony, which they would not be able to do, if the Publick Revenue were not their Stock.

Fourthly, The poor are employed by Taxes, and are by that means taken off from being a Charge to the Kingdom; many Men of broken Fortunes are brought into the Hospital of the Revenue, which may be so accounted, [Page 14] since 'tis generally fill'd with persons that are reduc'd to such necessities, as qualifie them for Charity.

This is one way, that Taxes employ the Poor, but not the main thing I mean; which is, That the Trade of Taxes employs the poor Artizans, and Mechanicks, and that in a greater measure, than our Virginia, and Plantation-trade, we with so little reason so much boast of, in these King­doms.

By the Observations I have always made in my Traversing the World, I find, that those parts have been most opulent, and the People safest; that filled their own Hives and kept their Swarms at home. That little Commonwealth of Luca to me seems a pattern for all the Princes of Europe, and is as practicable in the greatest Dominions, as that little Sp [...]t, whose Land and Cities (having Luna joyned to it) are all circumscribed within the limits of Six or Se­ven Miles square; yet in that compass they are able to raise about Twenty thousand Horse and Foot: a thing almost in­credible, but known by all that have travelled that way, and were curious into such Enquiries.

These People are of wonderful Industry, and enrich them­selves by their Manufactories, which they go not abroad to seek a Market for, but mind their Work at home, and so become more considerable, than those that spend their time in Travels, being by their settl'd living, able to afford their Commodities they make, cheaper, than the Genoese and Florentines, their Neighbours.

When I see in Foreign Parts, how rich and powerful a little Siegniory, Commonwealth, or State is made by hus­banding their People, I often lament the misfortunes of my Native Country, that might certainly abound with the greatest, and most formidable People in Europe, if they followed their Steps. I have taken up some of your time in this Discourse of Trade; which may seem Foreign to my Subject of Taxes, yet I must be obliged to do it in all my future Arguments, because Taxes both arise out of Trade, and maintain Trade.

[Page 15]To return then to where I left off, That the poor are em­ployed by them in their several Occupations: how many Thousands of Tradesmen have we, that are supported by our Land and Sea-forces, which could have no vent for their Commodities, if they were not taken off at home? Saddles, Bridles, Sword [...], Guns, &c. have no Foreign Market; yet these employ Thousands of Hands, who are pay'd by Taxes.

Fifthly, There is a Set of Men, who like Rats in a Cieling, live upon Prey, and do no good in a Commonwealth, which these Taxes ferret out of their Holes; Those im­positions, I mean, which our Parliament has, with great Wisdom, now laid on Stocks by Pole: for nothing but Land­taxes will reach Vsurers and Misers, who spend nothing but for the supply of the necessities of Nature. Now these Men are the Moths of the Country, it being more mis­chievous to the Kingdom in general to hoo [...]d up Money, than for Robbers to take it by force; and though the Law protects these silent Thieves, yet they are real Criminals, that lock up the Tools of the Industrious, many suffer­ing through want, that could be profitable both to them­selves and others, had they but Mony to set them at work. Usurers are by too many thought a Vermin in the Commonwealth; I cannot but have a better opinion of them, and think that the Pest and Plague of the Nation is a sort of pious Extortioners, who declaim against Usury as un­lawful Gain, but will Buy for half Value any thing they can meet with from a Person in Extremity: and next unto these, are such as adore their Bags, and will upon no Terms part with these Deities: their Bags are no Thorough­fair, only a way in, but none out. These Men are by Taxes made against their wills small Benefactors to their Country, and it were to be wished that our great and wise Council of the Nation would yet pursue them farther, and lay a double imposition upon Mony locked up in Chests, more than what is out at Vsury, which being employed, is on the duty it was made for; but the other is in Captivity; and the Paltroon should be punish'd for his Cruelty.

[Page 16] Sixthly, Taxes, especially in time of War, are the only preservation of all Men employ'd in Trades and Manu­factories; and perhaps not much inferiour to Foreign Trade, if in all respects considered: for as to what is spent in the Kingdom, if it bring nothing in, yet it carries no­thing out; and so far Taxes are profitable, in that the Kingdom is not the poorer for Mony so raised, and so spent; and in times of War, and prohibition of Trade abroad, if Money were not raised by Taxes, and that employed among our Mechanicks and Manufactories, Men would be forc'd to seek their bread abroad, and the loss of Men, is the greatest misfortune that can befal a [...] Kingdom. The practice of the Dutch in burning their Spices when they have such quantities as would lower the Price, might be some­thing of direction in this case, and seems a better Govern­ment to employ all our hands in time of War, as fully in their Manufactories, as ever they were in a Free Trade, though when they were made, they were burnt, it being of dangerous consequence to discontinue Trade. There is no adjourning labour, and Mechanical Arts in a few Months will either lose the Men, or they their Trade by some other course of Life.

Seventhly, That Taxes make the Kingdom rich, and in time of War disperse as much Mony in the Nation, as Trade does in time of Peace.

Here I must touch again upon Trade, and enquire what Trade brings us in Bullion, Gold, or Coin; for we have some of all, though considering the Value of our Native Commodities, 'tis wonderful that we should have so little; and that of those numerous Trades, which our Navigation en­titles us to, that we should by carrying in our Ships, our own Manufactories, out of all those advantages add so lit­tle to the Treasure of the Kingdom, and bring home no Bullion, but by our Trade to Spain, and some little from the Levant, our Guinea Trade, and for some years past, Buckaneers in the West-Indies. But that which is our best Fund, is the Trade of Spain and Portugal; the former is made considerable to us by our East-India Commodities, which [Page 17] fetch from Spain, more than we send out in Specie, though some believe the East-India Company does us hurt, by carry­ing out the Gold of the Kingdom.

Now then if the greatest part of our Trade consists in bringing in Commodity for Commodity, then all the benefit o [...] that Trade is, That it gives employment to our common People in their Mechanick Arts; and if we can do that by our own expence at home, 'tis more the profit of the King­dom, than by sending them abroad; for that we avoid the ha­zard of the Sea, and other accidents abroad: it seems then that Taxes do that, since they issue forth Mony for payment of our Artizans, and Mechanicks, that are em­ployed in making Commodities for our own use, and at the same time enough for that Foreign Trade, which fur­nishes us with Bullion: and by that it appears that we are much greater gainers by the Trade of Taxes, than by all our Foreign Trade, which brings in nothing but Com­modity for our own expence. We see that the Care of our Parliament is, to prevent the Importation of Foreign Commo­dities, and to encourage that Commerce, which brings us in Money for our own. This then is the surest Trade I know for that purpose, of laying such impositions as may fetch out the M [...]sers hoords, which are as remote and foreign to the employments of the Kingdom, as those in the Mines at the Indies; and I know no difference betwixt bringing Treasure out of an Iron Chest by a good Law, and plowing the Seas by long and dangerous Voyages; only the advan­tage seems greater, by getting it from an Enemy at home, than a Friend abroad. But undoubted it is, that the King­dom is as much increased in its Common Stock, as is brought out from the Mony'd Men: it would exceed the limits of a Letter to evince what I am morally sure of, that the Pole and Land-taxes, passed this last Session, has actually brought into the bank of Trade, more ready Mony than came into th [...] Kingdom, during the late Kings unhappy Reign; and 'tis a vulgar error to believe that T [...]xes, even to the meanes [...] Man is a Charge, for that his Mite is with increase re­turn'd by the expence of that, which would never have seen day, but by the force of a Law; so that publick [Page 18] Taxes, expended in our own Country, may be accounted the poor and the M [...]chanick's bank, by which they are em­ployed, and maintained: and as the meaner Sort have advantage by Taxes, so have they of better quality: the Land-Lord has his Rent the better paid by the quick re­turns of Mony: the Merchants, and other Traders, find it in their payments, and receipts; the Country Farmer in the sale of his Corn and Cattle: for this is certain, that most Mens expence either in Cloaths or Food, is ac­cording to their Mony or Fortune, not Appetite or Va­nity: many Men content, or rather confine themselves to a Threepenny Ordinary, that would spend Twelve Pence, if they had it. So that after all the noise and clamour that is made in the Kingdom, inveighing literally against the heavy Taxes, which are on the Subject; this unreason­able declaiming is made for them that no Man loves, the griping Misers, that hoord up Mony: for he indeed seems only aggrieved, that pays out to support Trade, in which he never had the Heart to do good; and even this Man would be a gainer too by Taxes, if he were not separate from humane Society, and trusted neither God, nor Man; whatever he has to do in the World, is to see that he runs no hazard in it, and whoever he deals with must be sure to him, though he cannot be so to himself. And besides this extream Earth-worm that hoords, there is another Se [...] of Men that do little good in the Commonwealth, and that is such as have more Mony by them, than they can employ, and perhaps would gladly put it out to Interest, but cannot: These are less faulty than the former, yet should be obliged to do some good with their Treasures, and the best way seems to lay a round Tax upon that Mony. 'Tis with reason believed that there is now ten times the proportion of Mony in the Kingdom, as was in the Reign of King Iames the First; yet not more stirring in the King­dom, but what is brought out by Customes and Duties; then would it not be as beneficial to Trade by Taxes upon the Misers and Hoorders of Mony before-mentioned, to fetch it out from them, as with S [...]ips to get it from Foriegners: we have rich Mines at home that may keep [Page 19] us in full Trade these Ten Years, if we had none abroad; and nothing but such impositions as may supply the want of Trade, can keep our Artizans and Manufactories to­gether.

Thus I have huddl'd together a mixt Discourse, which I [...]ear may be troublesome to collect, and shape, for your apprehension; but your greater judgment will unite its in­congruities: I can only justifie the matter to be in the main of it, Collections from the practice and usage of other places; for what relates to this Nation, you are a better Iudge than I am, who am guided by the practice of Trade, and that is, I doubt, too often exploded by Ministers of State.

I confess the Fatigues of Government, are above the Con­duct of a Mercantine head, and therefore I acquiesce without much enquiry in to them, only sit often down with doubtful conjectures of the issue of our present Affairs.

I mean not of the present distractions which an inconsiderable number of Mal contents fling among us, whose profession more immediately obliges them to the Characters of Peace-makers, than it does other Christians: these will cease with the Ro­mish Interest, that masks it self under them; but that which I fear, is, a distraction of the Trades, Manufactories, and Industry of the Nation, because I see none concerned for it. The Tumour of the times, looks more like the ris [...]ing of a Camp, than improvement of Trade and Commerce; most Men in Court and City pursuing employments, Civil or Mi­litary, which I take to be an ill Omen, and doubly to be blamed;

First, For Men of Fortune and Employment in Trade, to take away that which should be bread for the decay'd Man.

And then, Secondly, It is mischievous to the Commonwealth to have Men that can employ themselves in it, to be taken off from promoting the publick in their proper Station.

Having thus run through the Nature and Vse of Taxes, with the reasons that seem perswasive, as to the great help they are to the support of this Kingdom; you may [Page 20] perhaps expect I should say something of the way, how Taxes may be most beneficially, and easily layn, but in that I am bar [...]'d by some impertinent pens, who are every day printing their Follies; to which is added an unaccountable boldness, not to say more, by their designing to direct the Great Council of the Nation. I could name several that have taken pains in this matter, but omitting others, I cannot but name a Paper I saw the other day, Entituled, Proposals humbly offered to the Consideration of this present Parliament, being a soft and easie way for raising of Mony in order to the prepetual maintaining, and defending of this King­dom.

The Author there tells you, how the Nation shall be sup­ported by a Miracle; and if it were only so, I might not think it impossible: but as our Faith must be above reason, yet not against it, so I think are miracles; but perhaps that Gentleman has another fund for his Invention out of the Turks Opinion, That Lunaticks and Idiots are inspired, and such may be thought so, that propose to break the most ancient Tenure of England, and to raise up a Treasure, which, to use his own words, No body ever thought of be­fore; a Stock of honesty to pay Fleets and Armies; he's only short in not proposing a way, how to make that Treasure Sailable; for he that has it, will not part with it: and they who have it not, are seldom in love with it, nor will take it in payment without the Gentleman's token, that found out this unknown Treasure.

I beg pardon for this Digression, which I make only to shew the cause, why I am loth to crowd in among the Politicks, as he that gives this advice to the Parliament often mentions.

But though I dare not presume to direct the best and most pro [...]itable way of Taxes; yet I will here name such as I think are not the most desireable, and then mention such as in other parts of the World are thought most agreeable.

For, such as I take to be uneasie to the People, and not most profitable to the State, are, First, Those that are levied on the Subject by way of Fees in Offices. [Page 21] This, that in its original was either to be a profit to the Crown, in bringing in Money to the King's Exchequer, or an ease to the Crown, in saving the Charge of Salleries for Officers about the Law, &c. is now become neither. Per­haps, if an Estimate was made, there would be [...]ound some Millions Sterling raised in this Kingdom on Offices, of which there comes not the Thousandth part into the King's Treasury; nor, that which is more strange, not a Penny saved of the King's Charge in maintaining those Officers. Some have thousands a year in Fees and Perqui­sites, that yet have a large Sallary from the King.

Others have Offices, whose Fees, when first establisht, would but afford an honest Livelihood to the Officer that o [...]ficiated; but in process of time 'tis advanced to ten times that value, and now is managed by a Deputy, perhaps for less than a twentieth part of the profit of the Office. This seems a grievous Tax, and would be thought so, if appropriated to any particular use of the Crown: As for example; If the Parliament should give a certain Tax to the King, for maintaining a War with France, and this Tax, contrary to expectation, amounted to five times▪ the Charge of that War, would it be thought rea­sonable for the King to demand a farther Supply from the People? Or rather, Would it not be thought equal, to ease the Subject of so much of that Tax, as is surplus to the Charge.

The Case seems Parallel in Offices, and if enquired into, there may be thought almost enough there to save the Kingdom from other Taxes; but I would not be under­stood to invade any Mans Property. The wisdom of the Nation might find Expedients to do a general Good, without a particular injury to any man.

Secondly, Poll Money seems an unequal and unprofitable Tax; unequal, if it be by a general way, all Heads to pay alike, the Cobler with the Lord; and unprofitable, if it be by distinction of Qualities: for that it gives great opportunity of Frauds in Collection, and not without some in point of Estate and Quality, broken men thinking [Page 22] it, and too often affecting a Credit, by being returned in the Poll-book of that value, which in truth they may not be.

Thirdly, Such as are raised by Benevolence, are the worst of Taxes, and this of Free Gift is of double consideration. First, as it is from the Subj [...]ct to the Prince, and then as it is from the People one to another.

Benevolence from the Subject to the Prince is dangerous, in that it brings men under discrimination; he that gives not largely, perhaps beyond his ability, will be looked upon as diss [...]ff [...]cted. And such is the unlimitedness of this way of taxing, that Men have no Rule whereby they may be safe, but shall, it may be, be compared to Men of twice their Estates, or that which is worse, with Sycophants, Fools of the times, who are extravagant in their Contributions to that Government, which refunds them equally to their Service.

That of Benevolence one to the other is a frequent Tax in the Kingdom, and in my opinion one of the greatest Mi­stakes in our Government.

There is nothing more common than this, given by Authority, for Losses by Five, and other general Calami­ties. I seldom see it for Losses at Sea, though they are yearly much greater than those by Fire. But to return, this way of raising Money by Benevolence to relieve one another, is a Tax on the best men, and an impu [...]ity on the worst. Good men are apt to commiserate the Ne­cessities of their Neighbours, when bad men too often rejoice at them, and seldome give any thing to relieve them; 'tis God only that can regulate the Affections; Man can compel the outward Conformity. And there seems in nothing a greater want of the aid of Govern­ment, than in this of Payments to any publick use, the want of which renders honest men a Sacrifice for uncharitable Misers.

I have sometimes [...] the Collection for the Poor at Church-doors no better; for, till all men be alike virtu [...]us o [...] [...], that can be no equal Levy that leaves [Page 23] Men at liberty. The Government are best Judges of what the Poor should receive, and the Rich pay; and if that were thought convenient, it seems to me most equall, where every one should give to the Relief of his distres­sed Neighbour, according to his Worldly Substance, not Christian Charity.

Fourthly, Impositions upon Men for their Religion, seems no good way of Taxes. Indeed the truly conscientious Man will think that well bestow'd which purchases the Exercise of his Religion, but that is no warrant for imposing it. We may say, under the Gospel, that which David could not under the L [...]w, That [...]e would not serve God with that which cost him nothing.

I so much doubt my Judgment in my own Province, that I dare not intrude into that Sacred one of Divinity: but think it allowable to take any choice of Opinions in this matter, and with those I join that think no Errour in Fundamentals should be allowed in a Christian Church, nor any difference in Circumstantials purchased by Money.

Fifthly, Monopolies are an ill way of raising Money; for any Set of People to have the particular selling of any Commodity, or using any Arts, though they pay a great Rent to the Government, is yet a great Prejudice and Tax to the People, where no Industry should be restrai­ned.

Yet I am of Opinion against them that think the Tur­key, Hamborough, [...]ast-India, and other Companies, for Foreign Trade, a Monopoly. The Ca [...]e is vastly differing, and so far from hindering a Publick Good, that they pre­serve those Trades in the Kingdom, which would be torn to pieces by a con [...]used and general Trade: It was evi­dent in the time, when the East India Trade was at large; but this requires an ample Discourse of it self.

[Page 24] Sixthly, I take the Alteration in the value of Money to be a Tax, and no good one. We are less afflicted with that than any People in the World; yet some little touches we have had, rather by accident than design, so needs the less to be said on them; but whereever 'tis used, the Sub­ject is the Sufferer; for, call Money what you will, it has its Standard in the World, and is no more than what other Nations account it, according to its Intrinsick Value, not what Name any King or Government gives it.

Now, if a Prince, as the French often do, raise Mo­ney in Name, the Landlord and Officer, that receive Fees and Pensions, are the Losers. The Merchant and Trades­men lose but once, by as much as they have in their hands, at first coming out of the Charge; but those men of real Estates are Losers, as long as it lasts, for that they must take it for what the Government calls it; but the Merchant and Tradesmen will not, because they put a value upon their Commodities accordingly. If the Go­vernment makes twenty shillings three and twenty, the Mer­chant will have three and twenty shillings for twenty shillings worth of Commodities: So that he must value it accor­ding as it bears with the Intrinsick Value; for in propor­tion to that he buys and sells throughout the World, however Kings and Governments give Names to their se­veral Coins. So we see it in France and Holland, where they reckon their Cash by Livres or Crowns, and in Hol­land by Gilders, and Pound Flemish; yet still the Merchant rules himself by the Standard in England, which is thought the best in Europe.

Seventhly, Raising Money from Travellers and Passen­gers over Bridges and through Cities, as they do much in Holland, seems an unequal Tax, and subject to great Frauds. I take it to be unequal, because generally 'tis the poor­est and most industrious that are liable to it, and perhaps it often reaches those that are travailing to find out Charity, or labour for a Living. Now, to exact from them, before they have purcha [...]ed it, is a Severity [Page 25] equal to that of making Brick without Straw or Stubble.

'Tis liable to great Frauds, since ' [...]is impossible to have a check; so that the Gatherers are under great temptations, and the Collectors being men of mean qua­lity, are ap [...]er to be seduced.

Those Taxes seem most beneficial to the Government which pass through few and most solvent hands. And, as 'tis secure for the State, so 'tis most easie for the Peo­ple; and the better that Impositions are collected, the more are the People disburthened from new Le­vies.

I sh [...]ll now come to shew what are thought in other Kingdoms most advisable, and they are these.

First, That of Excise, which is most used in the Vni­ted Provinces, which we should here think intolerable, to be laid on every Bit which we eat; but there it is found useful, and time has made it natural to the People▪ so in Venice and other parts. The great Duke of Flo­rence does the same, by raising most of his Revenue upon Consumptions in his own Dominions, which indeed seems of all Taxes the most equal: for that no man by it can be said to be oppressed, he being his own Asses­sor, and pays but what he pleases, according to his Expence: But laying it, as they do in the Vnited Pro­vinces, upon the food of the Poor, might be thought a Grievance. If that, and one Defect more, could be re­medied, there could be nothing said against this Tax; and that is, the Rich Miser (who starves his miserable Body) goes most free; therefore, as to him, I have before given my Opinion, how he might be reach­ed.

Where this Excise is most used, Importations and Ex­portations are most eased, by which means Trade is greatly improved, and at the same time, the Levies to the King or State much augmented; for that the expence of those Merchants and Seamen that repair thither, tho' [Page 26] they often sell nothing, but come to see a Market, is con­siderable.

Secondly, In other Countries Iews are particularly tax'd, and for which there seems good reason, for that no Tax hardly reaches them, but like the Misers before spo­ken of, they are indeed beyond them, for that Excise touch­eth not them; they neither eat nor drink with Christi­ans; a few Eggs or Herbs are most of their Food; live sordidly, and spend little; have no Lands or Rents to be reached by any Tax: Nor is their Trade profitable to a Kingdom, or advantagious to the Revenue, dealing most in Bills of Exchange, Iewels, and concealable Commodities, that pay no Duty.

These men should be reached by a particular Tax, and so made profitable to a Kingdom.

Thirdly, In some places the Government maintains Playhouses and Matters of Sport and Recreation, paying the Actors Salaries, and taking the profit into their Treasures: and in other parts, as in Holland, the Pub­lick have one that takes part of what is given by Spe­ctators; so that they make a Gain out of that waste Mo­ney, for no better can I term it. If a Calculation was made of all the Money spent in England, by such Diver­sions, it might be thought, a round Sum might be raised to the King. Does it not seem an omission, That a Playhouse which receives twenty thousand pounds a year, should pay nothing to the Publick; when a Coffeehouse, that re­ceives not one thousand per annum, pays twenty pounds? And so it is in Musick houses, Bear-gardens, and Plays in Fairs, &c.

Fourthly, In some parts of the World, as Italy, France, and Spain, a Tax of Labour upon Malefactors condemns such as we here punish with Death, to the Gall [...]es and Mines, which is a Punishment of greater terror and longer example than Death, and at the same time, of profit to the Kingd [...]m I have often thought upon this particular, and spent hours in debate [Page 27] with my self, and therefore shall beg your patience, if I trouble you with a tedious Harangue o [...] [...] part of my Conceptions.

I have enquired first into the Law of God, then into that of other Kingdoms, and find that we differ from both in our punishment for Felonies. The Law of Muses, which is more severe than ours in many things, (as that of Adultery and Disobedience to Parents, the latter of which is by our Law not so penal as a broken Head) yet in Fe­lonies n [...]t so extream as we are; so far from making it Death, as not to i [...]flict a Corporal Punishment. The restoring of four-fold was directed by the Great Judge of Heaven and Earth; and if the Thief had nothing to make satisfaction with, he was to be sold. But our Laws and Customs differ much, when we punish the Kingdom for the fault of an evil Member. It will not be denied, but that the Treasure of Men is of more value than that of Money.

Now, to take away the Life of a Man, is in its pro­portion, equal to a mans cutting off a Limb, because it is sore. A Thief is a Diseased Member, better to be cured than destroyed. 'T will be thought an extravagant fancy, yet to me it seems a real truth, That a Thief is less mischievous to a Body Politi [...]k, than a Miser; for he only makes a wrong transferring of Riches, the other (I mean the Miser) keeps all buried, so that the Communi­ty is wronged by him, and only particular Persons by the other; and, as the taking away the Life of a Man wea­kens the Kingdom, so does it injure the person robbed; for that if the Thief were not able to pay, then might he be sold, and kept at work in Mines, or other Penal Labour, both for satisfaction to the Person injured, and Corporal Punishment to the Offender: And, it may be thought to be of more terror, to have a Spectacle for many years labouring with a shaved Head in Chains, than an Execution of half an hour, that is oftentimes soon for­ott [...]

[Page 28]I have named but these four Heads for all the Foreign Use in Taxes, because I do not remember amongst the [...] waies they have, any other practicable and profitable in these Kingdoms. The two later of these we do not use; but I presume, if they were taken into the consideration of better Heads than mine, they might find a way to make something out of them: forasmuch as I am able to judge, a great Revenue might be made to accrew to the Kingdom, out of the Vermin of the Na­tion, lewd Persons of both Sexes, which now pass as if tolerated in their Enormities; and only one Sett of them that the Law seems severe against, punishing them with Death: which by so much appears to be the worse, by how much we suppose nothing too rigo [...]ous for Offences against our selves, and nothing too little or indulgent for Crimes committed against God.

I am, SIR, Your most humble Servant.

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