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But this sad narrative of the woes of authorship, quæque ipse miserrima vidi, is a digression. We were remarking that the public did not pay. a total sum in consequence of the duty on paper bearing the proportion to the sum drawn by the Exchequer, of £1, Os. 10d. to 4s. 8ļd., inasmuch as the books printed are not all sold at regular price; large quantities of them being sold at greatly reduced prices, or made waste paper. In the case of newspapers, the proportion between what the Exchequer receives, and what the public pays, we have calculated to be about 4s. 8ļd. to 8s. 7d. In the case of books, the article has to pass through one hand more than in that of newspapers, and is, from its nature, the subject of a far less steady trade than the supplying of newspapers. These circumstances will make the difference between the sum paid by the public, and the sum which reaches the Government coffers, greater than in the case of newspapers. We should guess the proportion to be about that of 12s, or 13s, to 4s, 8 d., or nearly 3 to l.
At the same time that we admit that the public are not fleeced to be. pond three times the sum which the same good and patient public receives into its treasury, it is nevertheless true, that all those members of the community, who purchase new books at the regular publication prices, pay the greater proportion first stated. Upon that part of the retail price of the book which has been caused by the duty on paper, the purchaser actually pays at the rate of L1., Os. 10d. that the Exchequer may receive at the rate of 4s. sid. The rate is not uniform; but that is about the average of it. On cheap journals, on magazines, reviews, and all those numerous works now published in monthly volumes, at a low price, the overcharge to the purchaser, or the loss to the revenue, is considerably less than the average ; while, upon expensive quartos, or fashionable novels, at 10s, 6d. per small octavo volume, the loss is often greater than the above average, applicable to books sold at retail prices--that is to say, the loss in this last description of purchases often exceeds 16s. 1£d. out of 1.1, Os. 10d. Once more, contemplate the effect of indirect taxation.
We have called the sum which the public draws in excise duty less than the increased sum which the public pays as purchasers of excised commodities, loss, not rashly, but advisedly. It will probably occur to some persons, that there is no loss in the case ; for what the Exchequer does not get, is so much gain to the different dealers through whose hands the excised commodity passes in succession; so that, granting that the last purchaser of the commodity pays twice or thrice the sum, in consequence of the duty, which the Exchequer receives, his loss is the dealer's gain, and the public at large lose nothing. This is plausible ; suffi. ciently so, to be uttered by a Vansittart, a Goulburn, or those honourable gentlemen who maintain that the national debt, being only the debt of one portion of the community to another portion, the British public is, strictly speaking, not in debt at all! Many observations, as little true, and not more plausible, have been made in the House of the People's Representatives, not merely by knowing hypocrites, like Sir Robert Peel, but well-meaning dunder-heads, of which the House never fails to pre sent, in mercantile phrase, an extensive assortment, and every variety. The observation is, nevertheless, a very superficial one. Who does not see, the instant it is pointed out to him, that, were the duty on paper abolished, the publisher would not have published to a less amount, the wholesale dealer would not have distributed among the retailers to a less amount, nor the retail bookseller sold to the public to a less amount. If, when books are rendered more expensive than their natural price, by the paper duty, and its successive enhancement, by passing through so many hands, a gentleman spends £20 a-year on books, would that gentleman spend a less sum on books when they should become cheaper? No. He would assuredly spend rather more than less, tempted by superior cheapness; and others, who had not purchased books at all, would begin so lay out a little money in that way. A reduction of price is always followed by a greater sale ; provided the circumstances of the customers remain the same as they were.
The evil effects of indirect taxation are, indeed, great and manifold. Indirect taxation hinders trade, operating as a contraction, or partial prohibition of the sale of any taxed commodity. Indirect taxation falls most unequally upon the rich and the poor ; oppressing the poor, and allowing the rich, comparatively, to escape. The proportion of the poor man's income, or that of one of the middle classes, taken from him by indirect taxation, exceeds the proportion of the rich man's so taken, to an extent that is little suspected. We shall shew this to be the case in an early number. Indirect taxation occasions always a great loss to the payer, between the sum which he pays, and that which the Exchequer receives—of which we have shewn one example-without any person gaining by that loss. Indirect taxation causes a great expense in the collection, grievous annoyance and expense to manufacturers, and all the evils of smuggling. Lastly, indirect taxation can easily be evaded altogether by the very classes who ought to bear the heaviest share of the national burdens, forasmuch as they and their fathers were the persons who occasioned them. A nobleman or gentleman can, when he chooses, step into the steam-boat, on his way for Brussels, Boulogne, or Paris, and wave “ adieu" to Taxation and to his friends on shore, at the same time. Nay, some of the rogues have the effrontery to avow their principal object in going abroad with their families, to be, to escape the burden of the taxes and high prices of this country; the prices being high, solely, be it recollected, on account of the indirect taxes, and the restraints thrown on trade. When all these concomitants of indirect taxation are considered, who will defend so vicious a system?
There are only two reasons for maintaining the present system of indirect taxation; not good reasons, but such as will ensure that system being kept up as long as possible. First, by indirect taxation, the amount taken is concealed. The tax lurks unseen in the price of every article purchased, and so excites no murmurs, however really oppressive. Secondly, were anything like the amount now taken from an individual in the indirect way to be demanded directly by the tax-gatherer, there would not only be serious murmurings about the amount, but inquiries into the manner in which the sums demanded were to be disposed of. Concealment would soon be impossible. John Bull would insist upon knowing the wherefore, and to what purpose, so much of his money was wanted. Conceive John's looks while reading the following items of a tax account, which he had previously ascertained, by a glance at the bottom, to be a demand for one-third of his income. John Bull, Dr.
To the Tax Collector General of the British Government. To Assessment for the Interest of the Debts contract
ed by the Government in the time of your Great
To Assessment for the expenses of Monarchy, including
L.435,000 to the King, and L.218,822 to the Royal
sadors, poor Relations of the Nobility, &c.
tent as was required in time of war, now necessary to
affected, if required
Irish How, we say, would sturdy John Bull look first at such an account, and then at the presenter of it ? Perhaps the items might not be so plainly expressed as in the above account, especially the last item ; but the purpose of them all could not be concealed. John would soon find reason to class himself among those for whose sake the last item was found necessary.
There are better means of ensuring John's patient submission to every just and necessary tax than the sight of the constable and jail in the foreground, and the army in the distance. John is of a nature essenti. ally honest, and even generous. Let him have the means of instruction. Take off the Taxes on Knowledge. Allow periodicals of all descriptions the freest circulation, with no tax but a stamp-duty sufficient to cover the charges of transmission by post, with a moderate profit to the Post Office; and we will answer for the people, that no injustice, no spoliation, shall either be called for, or permitted. The pensioner may fear ; the sinecurist may tremble ; but the national creditor will be safe.
THE WILD GAZELLE.
The wild gazelle hath dreams of bliss,
In bounding o'er the arid sands;
For his the waste and trackless lands,
With such a love as God hath blest ;
That maid the young bride of your breast,
To seek the desert's lovely rest.
From out the waste, in joy and love;
Where hatred sternly sits above :
(EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS FROM AMERICA)
St. Ann's, Lower Canada. Amongst the many matters which you in your curiosity imposed on me was, if I mistake not, a command to describe, for your edification, the scenery of this New World to which I was bound. I have now wan. dered over many of its various regions, and believe myself, therefore, not wholly incapable, as regards this country, of discussing these knotty points of taste with you. Would that you were now by my side, and that together! we might survey the lovely landscape that is now spread in boundless magnificence at my feet! The spot from which I write is a small parish, situated on the north bank of that monarch of waters, the St. Lawrence, about thirty miles from Quebec. A friend and myself, a few days since, determined to explore this almost unknown region; and, for that purpose, shipped ourselves, shooting and fishing-tackle, sketching apparatus and wardrobe, into one of the country waggons, drawn by a round, untiring, hardy, little Canadian pony. We started in a thorough. ly light-hearted mood, on one of the many joyous summer days with which this country is blessed. Sure am I that I shall never feel warm again amidst the green fields, and surrounded by the grey air of our old fashioned country. You will laugh at this as mere traveller's rant. -Had you been with us, however, you would feel and talk as I do. Our journey commenced early, and as we wound down the steep sides of the impregnable fortress of Quebec, the sun rose over the blue hills of Cap Tourment. This town of Quebec (to fortify which England is spend. ing, I might almost say, millions,) is built on a promontory, which ends in a bold, bluff point, round the base of which sweeps the St. Lawrence. Along the ridge of this precipice, overhanging the lower town, which is level with the water, runs a long battery, called the Grand Battery. I have now been over many lands—I have seen many far-famed scenes, but never has it been my fate to see aught that would bear comparison with the panoramic view from this spot. At the moment when we were scampering along the road at this point, disturbing the quiet priests from their morning slumbers by the rattling of our somewhat crazy vehicle, the sun began to shew his glittering disk above Cap Tourment. Mountains of the most graceful forms stretched in a semicircle before us. At our feet swept the clear, broad waters of the St. Lawrence ; in the midst of which lay the fairy Island of Montmorenci, studded with white cottages, snugly embosomed amidst the woods. To the left, a long ridge of mountains, covered now with floods of light, and dressed in every gorgeous hue the imagination can conceive, shut that part of the scene. To the right, the eye stretched over an interminable sea of woods. Just discernible were some pearly grey hills, the delicate hues of which I never hope again to see equalled. Imagine this scene, and then, if your cold island soul can, fancy the atmosphere around us. I have seen many a sun rise in England; I have watched him often struggle with mist and cloud, and fight his difficult path into the upper air. Poets, that is, English poets, will be in raptures on this matter; but, prithee, believe me, who now have had experience of what nature can do, your English sun-rise is a frigid commonplace affair. Your dull grey atmosphere chills one's blood; and damps, not merely the physical, but the mental man. Here the bright, brilliant atmosphere was of purple
deep-love-creating, gorgeous, luxurious purple. It floated around, and about us, giving and heightening beauty. The “ rosy fingers of the morning” is an epithet I can now understand. Hill, tree, steeple, and the tall-masted ships that lay in multitudes at our feet, were all bathed in floods of this glorious light, as the sun shot above the hills, and looked out in unclouded majesty upon the beautiful scene below him. We paused but a few minutes to gaze upon the goodly prospect. We had many miles to go; and the fresh air of the morning would soon give place to the sultry air of the mid-day. We rattled through the fortified gate, and down the precipitous road ; soon reached the level ground below, and crossed the small river St. Charles, which winds through a beautiful valley at the base of the ridge, the point of which we had just left. After leaving the bridge, (a long, curious wooden affair,) the first thing that catches your eye is a sort of country house belonging to the Catholic priests. Instead of going by the road, we took our course over the hard track of the St. Lawrence, the tide being out, in order to get a good view of the town, and the land on which it stands. In doing this, we passed close to the good fathers' dwelling. The taste of the Catholic clergy in the selection of the sites for all their buildings, has often been to me a matter of surprise: no matter of what people, place, or time, their works are marked by a character which, if it be not of perfect taste, is yet always free from the imputation of commonplace. In our own land, the remains of their despoiled abodes and places of worship are always beautiful, both by their position and intrinsic merits. The same thing occurs here. Excepting in one or two of their more modern doings, they have managed to free their abodes from that air of commonplace and vulgarity which attaches to almost everything done by man in this country. The building which we passed on our road to the village of Beauport, though a very simple, plain structure, and merely a school for the young men intended for the priesthood, yet wears a very different aspect from all around it, and bespeaks a refinement foreign to the scene, We quickly, however, left the priests, and their scholars, and their quiet house behind, and were soon clambering along the side of the hills that rise up on the north side of the St. Lawrence. As we rapidly traversed the little scattered village of Beauport, the villagers were coming abroad, and, as we passed, saluted us with much courtesy, and with something of a submissive bearing, rare in this country of democracy. We crossed the river Montmorenci, a few yards above its falls, (which falls, by the by, are some 240 feet in height.) This river, some other day, I must describe to you : it puts to shame all your much talked of streams: your famous W'ye is a vulgar ditch when compared with it. We hurried on, regardless of its many beauties; casting, however, a wistful glance on its dark brown waters, and along its wooded banks, half doubting whether we should put off our more distant journey, and content our. selves with rambling along its beautiful shores. We kept on our course in spite of the temptation; and, after some hours' hot travelling, ar. rived at the river St. Anne, the exploring of which was the object of our journey.
Before I take you up this mountain stream, you must look back with me over the road we have come. We were now some thirty miles from Que. bec, far down in the landscape we had admired in the morning. The bold promontory from which we had gazed with such rapture now formed the chief feature of the scene ; coming down into the bright waters at its feet, with a bold yet graceful sweep, it stood out from all surrounding ob